Academy Boys Return from Winter Showcase…with Work To Do
Not your typical article but soccer isn’t always roses. Reality check. And there are no secrets: Work, more work and more quality work.
Indeed, much work lies ahead after a 1-2-3 showing in Sarasota, FL. Neither of the Rush Academy teams have a winning record at the half way point in the season. (A first.) The 18’s are two games from .500. Perhaps playoffs are still in the picture. But to quote former Indianapolis Colts coach, Jim Mora, “Playoffs? Playoffs? You’re talking about playoffs?” Touché. Playoffs are a world away right now. Consistency has plagued both academy teams this season. Both teams have displayed plenty of good soccer moments, but stringing those moments together to form a good game has been frustratingly difficult to achieve. And creating this in back to back games has been in a word, rare.
But this is life. More specifically, this is life in the U.S. Development Academy. It is meant to be testing week in week out. Rush is the only club in Colorado who has qualified every year for the academy playoffs. The club is well deserved of being on the national stage. Even this year Rush was on the right side of a 3-2 thriller against last year’s national champion, FC Dallas. To remain in positions to win these types of games consistently however, more work is needed.
The Rush academy boys train on average 4-6 times per week. Several weeks players have trained 6-7 times a week multiple weeks in a row. The opportunity to work is certainly there. Training is not enough. Quality training is necessary. And even more important, is the work that each individual player contributes inside that quality training. When success is achieved in these areas, then one must look at the frequency in which this success is reached. Director of the Rush Academy program Wes Hart stated, “Our academy is hard working and the players bring a tremendous attitude to training but we can do more. Our players, we as coaches…we can do more. The work is good, but the mentality and belief needed to win big games is not yet here. A team will not achieve great success without these two attributes.”
While in Florida at the Showcase the Nike Friendlies took place. This is an annual event hosted by the U.S. U17 men’s national team. This year, along with the U.S., Brazil, Portugal and Turkey competed for the trophy (USA and Brazil pictured above). Some excellent soccer was displayed by all four countries (with Portugal hoisting the trophy in the end). 16 Academy coach, Mike Piserchio, referenced the friendlies and said, “It was an excellent experience for our players to see not only the best players our country has to offer at their same age, but some of the best players in the world. In watching the Brazilians as an example, not only was the athleticism and creativity on display, but the simple technique and mastery on the ball was … impressive. The hours that those players have spent with the ball to get to this point are clear.” The opportunity is one that will not soon be forgotten by the coaches but did it impact the players? Time will tell.
|Kick off of USA vs. Turkey match||First 11 for Brazil vs. Portugal|
Technical Director, Erik Bushey, shared some of his thoughts. “Our (Rush) players are training now more than ever. The time and dedication given to the game by our players is at a record high. No doubt. And I’m saying it is not enough. Right now the Rush Academy is on break until the first week of January. The break is from team training. It is not meant to be a break from working, a break from training or a break from soccer. If our players are sitting on the couch for the month of December because it’s Christmas time, then they/we will lose valuable time and I dare say, we will not recover this season. And what about next year? Players want college scholarships, they want to travel, they want to be in the Academy. But regardless of whether or not they are in the academy now, playing for another team in the club or a team for another club, I wonder what the players are doing and thinking today. What will they think in June/July prior to tryouts? They say their life depends on getting into the academy but when faced with the dilemma of training or going to the lake on a beautiful summer day, it is all too often the game that comes in second. When a given event, such as the academy winter showcase, arrives as the best single opportunity of the year to receive college exposure, how can it come in second place to taking a break because it is Thanksgiving time? The fact is that the best players are now better than they were even just a few years ago. The standards increase with every season. Our commitment to quality training must at a minimum keep up with that pace, and preferably, set the pace.”
|U18's First 11 vs. Kendall (FL)||U16's First 11 vs. Clearwater Chargers (FL)|
The Rush Academy plays its next league matches the first weekend of March. A new season awaits. Not the second half of the current season, but a second preseason. For two months the Rush academy will train and prepare for the toughest and hopefully most rewarding spring season of their lives. We wish them good fortune…and good training!