Some future members of F.C. New York, the new entry in the United Soccer League, showed off their skills this past weekend in the Southbay Sportsplex in Calverton.
Because of recent snowfall, the club hastily rescheduled a two-day tryout for this past Saturday and Sunday at the indoor facility. Matt Weston, the team’s technical director and coach, liked what he saw from the 80-plus hopefuls from over 20 countries who participated in the tryout.
“There are players on this field who are going to be signed with F.C. New York, and that’s exciting,” said Weston, whose business card describes the club’s mission as “BRINGING THE WORLD’S GREATEST SPORT TO THE WORLD’S GREATEST CITY.”
Those had to be encouraging words for the players, many of whom came from far away to be considered for a place on the club’s 25-player roster.
“There were some good lads here,” said Sam Stockley a defender from Liverpool, England. “All the lads have come together. … They put their heads down and they’ve worked really hard trying to get to this point.”
The USL will enter the 2011 season with 15 teams. F.C. New York, which will play its home games at Hofstra University’s James A. Shuart Stadium, is scheduled to kick off its season on April 9 at Orlando. Before then, though, the club plans to play an exhibition game on Jan. 29 against the New York City Cup of Nations All-Star Team in Brooklyn.
“It’s really exciting times,” Weston said. “I’m looking to bring in the right players, whether they be from New York, whether they be from South America. I’m looking to bring in the right blend of players, and I’m excited about it, I really am.”
Stockley offers a good deal of experience at a high level. He has played for Hungarian club Ferencváros as well as 570 games in England for eight clubs, including Southampton, Blackpool and Port Vale, yet said he was drawn to play in the United States. “I think there’s something really exciting about this club,” he said. “I think there can be some really big things and I’d like to be a part of it. I want to come here and make a difference in the side.”
Weston has an impressive soccer background. A product of the famed Manchester United Academy of Excellence, which included great players such as David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, he received coaching from Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United’s legendary coach. Weston played for Ipswich Town of the English Premier League for five years before joining Stockport County on loan during the 1995-96 season. He retired as a player shortly after and went into coaching. Upon arriving in the United States in 2006, he became a player development officer for Major League Soccer. He was recently named the SUNY/Purchase coach.
Players tried to catch Weston’s eye as they showcased their talent.
“I just try and play my game, try and be simple, try not to do too much, try and do what I’m best at,” said Kyle Hoffer, a defender from Rockland County who played for St. John’s University.
Tadeu Terra, a Brazilian midfielder from Rio de Janeiro, took a similar approach, embracing simplicity. “Try to do the simple things,” he said. “Don’t try to do anything out of the ordinary. Don’t try to be too complicated because that’s when you make mistakes. Be simple. Be a team player.”
Weston acknowledged that assessing players playing nine vs. nine on a small indoor field is different than seeing them playing 11 aside outdoors.
“The bottom line is you got to be technical in this game anyway,” he said. “The ball’s on the ground a lot. I’m looking at a lot of guys to see what the first touch is all about because that’s really ultimately what soccer players need to possess. Really, then, it comes down to communication, confidence and a belief that they belong here, and there are some guys here who really do.”
Players who were interviewed said the talent on display was good.
“I’m just happy I got a chance,” Hoffer said. “There’s a lot of good players here. I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I came in, but there’s a lot of good competition. It’s a great club, I’m excited to be here, and I hope I make the team.”
Weston said: “It’s a great opportunity. There are players on this field who are going to be signed by F.C. New York, and I think that’s exciting.”