The growth of U.S. soccer culture - The Explorer: Sports

The growth of U.S. soccer culture

World Cup 'perfect backdrop' for CDO Club coach

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Posted: Tuesday, June 29, 2010 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:21 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Steve Wallace, the transplanted Englishman and soccer junkie who drives the CDO Soccer Club, wants to foster "the growth of American soccer culture."

It's happening, even though America's run in the world's biggest sporting event ended Saturday, when Ghana beat the U.S. 2-1 in loser-out World Cup overtime.

Wallace watched the U.S.-Slovenia game at a Tucson, er, pub. He might have expected expatriates, college kids and a handful of Americans to join him.

Instead, the place was packed … with Americans.

"I was the only foreign guy in there, and it was brilliant," Wallace said. "The atmosphere was incredible. When the U.S. scored the equalizer, the place went absolutely loopy."

There was a certain loopiness on the fields behind Wilson K-8 School last Thursday, when young CDO Soccer Club players and coaches paced through a 100-degree evening.

One wore an oversized Uncle Sam hat on the playing field. Plenty of young women had red, white and blue face paint. USA colors were on bandanas and shirts.

Sarah Hefferan, 14, a midfielder who played at Ironwood Ridge this season, got decked out in U.S. colors Thursday "to support our team." The Americans' 1-0 win over Algeria in group play Wednesday "was very exciting." She yelled out loud when Landon Donovan scored the goal that sent the U.S. to the knock-out round.

Donovan may be America's first genuine soccer star. He is "the epitome of what these kids can look up to," Wallace said. "He went to Europe and failed at first."

The World Cup "gets me up off my seat and makes me try," Hefferan said. She's encouraged that the CDO Soccer Club deploys formations, skills and tactics on display at the World Cup. "The knowledge of soccer we have learned is similar to what they show," Hefferan said. "They've just perfected it."

"The World Cup is the perfect backdrop for me," Wallace said.

Jessie Nelson, 13, plays on the CDO Pumas squad that was fifth in Arizona last season. Watching the World Cup "makes me want to get into college, and if I can, into the pros," she said.

Nelson is impressed with the way World Cup players "are more calm than panicked," and with how they communicate, spread the field, use square and back passes.

It's the response coaches like Wallace and Mike Kevershan, five years with the CDO Soccer Club, are seeking. When his daughters watch the World Cup, "it does sink in," Kevershan said. "They will comment on the stuff Steve and the rest of the coaching staff tries to emphasize, width, depth, possession. You can see the switch come on a little bit.

"Steve grew up living soccer, breathing soccer," Kevershan said. "He's a good teacher of coaches, and he's a good teacher of kids. He does a very good job with kids in the Northwest."

In the summer, CDO Soccer Club players ages 9-16 take to the field five nights a week for six weeks. Each night has a different emphasis. Monday is a day of "free play."

"I tell the parents, 'don't even bother watching. Read a book. The kids aren't being analyzed. They just play. They need to have time, to try it and solve their own problems," Wallace said.

In season, there are nearly 400 boys and girls, competing at all age and skill levels, on 30 teams. Wallace wants everyone to "really, really enjoy the game."

"It's not just about the competitive end," said Wallace. "Our mission is to develop youth soccer players. It's about taking a player and finding out where they want to go in the game, and how to get them there. We have some very motivated players." Among the alumni — recent CDO High School stalwarts Nick Marshall and Donny Toia.

Others "just want to play. Some teams are completely recreational. Most are somewhat of a mix. Others are highly competitive.

"We strive to win," Wallace said. "But let's focus on performing to the best of our ability."

"If you play your hardest, it doesn't matter whether you win or lose, you know you played your best," Nelson said. "But winning is better."

Wallace gathers his troops at the end of practice, and asks players to put a hand up if they didn't watch any World Cup games that day. Two or three might be honest enough to admit no viewing. "They get mock-booed, in jest," Wallace said.

"The past couple years really got me into soccer," Hefferan said. "When you love it, and have an interest in it, it makes you want to play that much harder. I'm going to introduce my kids to it, if I ever have kids."

"I hope I'm still around to see this generation come to my age, and see their own kids go through it," Wallace said.

 

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Tuesday, September 16

Boys Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Buena, Cienega at Marana

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge, Catalina at Amphi (Silverbell GC)

Catalina Foothills, Pueblo, Sahuarita at Sahuaro

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Mountain View at Rio Rico

Ironwood Ridge at Glendale Ironwood

Swimming (@4 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge, Sahuarita at Desert Christian

Wednesday, September 17

Girls Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Rincon at CDO

Ironwood Ridge, Desert View at Flowing Wells (Silverbell)

Cross Country (@4:30)

Salpointe at Catalina Foothills

Palo Verde, Nogales at Marana

Rincon, St. Gregory at CDO

Sahuarita, Pueblo, Pusch Ridge at Desert View

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Empire at Marana (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

CDO at Queen Creek

Cienega at Mountain View

Sahuaro at Catalina Foothills

Walden Grove at Pusch Ridge

Thursday, September 18

Girls Golf

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Boys Golf

Sahuaro and Salpointe at Ironwood Ridge

CDO, Rincon, Sunnyside at Tucson High

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Marana at Sahuarita

Ironwood Ridge at Sahuaro (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

Catalina Foothills at Rincon

Pusch Ridge at San Manuel

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Marana vs. Tucson at Quincy Douglas Pool

Cienega at Marana

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Amphi

Catalina Foothills at Sahuaro

Freshman Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Flowing Wells at Marana (4 p.m.)

Desert View at Mountain View

Cienega at CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

JV Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Amphi at Marana

Santa Cruz Valley at Pusch Ridge

Mountain View at Desert View

CDO at Cienega

Buena at Ironwood Ridge

Sahuarita at Catalina Foothills

Friday, September 19

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge at Mt. Carmel Invitational (San Diego, CA)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions

Football (@7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Santa Cruz Valley

Catalina at Marana

Desert Vista at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Cienega at CDO

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

Saturday, September 20

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Marana at Old Pueblo Invite(Lincoln Park)

Mountain View at San Diego

Catalina Foothills, CDO at Ojo Rojo (Chandler, AZ)

Swimming

Marana at Wolves Classic (Chandler High)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions

 

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