Pre-Season Calendar of Events Providing USSDA Squads a Glimpse of the Future
This pre-season, FC Milwaukee’s United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) U16 and U18 Boys teams are supplementing training 3 days per week with an up close and personal look at college soccer life. Coaches Phil Presser's and Jon Coleman's intent is to provide the players with additional fuel for the fires of their ambition by gaining them access to several college soccer environments.
Last Sunday, August 12th, the boys traveled to Marquette University for a late afternoon practice, observed by several members of Milwaukee and Chicago area college coaching staffs. The practice was conducted at Valley Fields before the Golden Eagles 2-1 pre-season exhibition victory over the University of Loyola Chicago.
FC Milwaukee USSDA's Marquette trip was the first in a series of “college immersion” experiences arranged by coaches Presser and Coleman for FC Milwaukee USSDA players, some of whom have already made commitments, or are aiming to secure commitments to enter the college playing ranks themselves.
Adding to the immersive character of the experience, the U16s and U18s ate pizza together, after training, before paying a visit to Marquette’s game locker room, where they met and spoke briefly with members of Marquette’s coaching staff. The boys, amongst a crowd of over 500, represented FC Milwaukee in a professional manner, dressing in khakis, polo shirts and dress shoes. Coach Presser observed, “Several members of the local community commented on how nicely dressed and respectful the academy players were tonight. I was very appreciative of these young men and how they represented FC Milwaukee with a positive image."
Half-time provided coaches Presser and Coleman with an opportunity to engage the players in an analysis of the tactics employed within the game. “Each player walked away with a much better understanding of the type of attitude, personality, and focus you must have to play at that level,” reflected Coach Presser.
Fittingly, among the Golden Eagles starters was former FC Milwaukee USSDA player, and sophomore forward, Kelmend Islami. 3 years ago, Islami joined FC Milwaukee seeking the training environment, and consistently high level, competitive club matches that would prepare him best for NCAA Division I soccer. The result: unlike many first year players, who find it difficult to adapt to college soccer’s psychological; physical; tactical; and technical demands, Kelmend thrived. The speedy left winger with a nose for the goal played in 16 games, made 9 starts and scored key goals before succumbing to a season ending injury just 3 games short of season’s end. Ultimately, Islami’s efforts as a freshman were pivotal in the men’s program capturing their first Big East Conference Championship.
"Each player must understand the demands of the game at the next level. Tonight was a great opportunity to see the players up close in a competitive situation. Along with training and playing at a high level, opportunities to watch high level soccer in person is another key component to more rapidly increasing player development and getting to the next level.” said Coach Presser.
Coach Coleman added, "We would like to thank the staff at Marquette for allowing FC Milwaukee USSDA teams this opportunity. To train on their facilities, walk through their locker room on game day, and experience a close competitive match, made for a great evening of soccer."
Next stop on the USSDA College Tour: The University of Wisconsin-Madison. Stay tuned...
Pre-Season "Friendlies” Schedule Officially Underway
FC Milwaukee played 3 thirty-minute periods in a preseason warm up against Cardinal Stritch this past Tuesday, August 14th, at FC Milwaukee soccer fields falling 2-0 to the physically challenging NAIA team. The 18s played the first period of 30 minutes, followed by the 16s, and the final 30 was played by a combination of the 18s and 16s.
Coach Presser’s thoughts on the game:
"Tonight was very productive for our players. This was the first opportunity they had to play together against an opponent. I thought they adjusted to the speed of play very quickly and became the aggressor when the game settled midway through the 1st period."
"I was extremely pleased with the 16s. Not only were they able to keep a clean sheet defensively, but they were very dynamic and explosive in the attack."
"We are still looking at a few players in different positions. It's important we arrange the right chemistry on the field and maintain balance offensively, and defensively."
"With four weeks prior to our opening games in Minnesota, we understand we have plenty of work to do. However, tonight was definitely a step in the right direction."