CASA Grande, Ariz. - The Real Salt Lake U-16 & U-18 Academy teams have spent the past seven weeks preparing for the 2013-14 U.S. Soccer Development Academy season, which will kick off on the road against San Juan Soccer Club on Saturday.
Quotes below are from assistant coach Mike Kraus, Jose Hernandez of the U-18 team and Fito Ovalle of the U-16 team; following the Academies training on Wednesday night.
(On what he sees out of the U-16 squad…)
KRAUS: “We have a lot of positives. I think 6 or 7 starters from last year’s championship team are returnees. We got to make sure the new guys gel with them and pick up the game plan and style of play. The quicker they can do that the more successful we can be early on. One game at a time. It’s a marathon season and we found that out last year by playing the full 11 months. In order to make it to that 11th month we need to make sure everyone is on the same page.”
(On the new faces for the U-18 team and how they are performing…)
KRAUS: “The 18s are coming along and they have a lot of experience. A lot of guys moved up from the U-16s last year and then a few that are remaining from last year’s U-18s. The U-16s really came along at the end of the season when it mattered most and those guys bring that experience. Guys are still learning the system and learning each other tendencies. We have a lot of talented individuals, but in order for us to be successful we have to come together as a team first.”
(On this year’s training compared to last year’s…)
KRAUS: It’s been a little bit of the same. Little less time to prepare because it was only two weeks between the national championship and the start of preseason, however pretty much the same. We pushed the guys along and have had a good month and a half of preseason to get their fitness level up. Once again, the quicker everyone can get on the same page tactically and style of play wise, the better off we will be early on. It’s going to take some time. We are not expecting it to be perfect in the first game of the season, but hopefully we get the result and we can build off of it.”
(On being named U-16 captain…)
OVALLE: “It feels rewarding. I will try to do my best to lead to the team to see what we accomplish. I think we have a really strong team this year and I think we can get really far.”
(On what he feels the team is doing and how the team is adjusting)
OVALLE: It’s a lot better than I expected. We’re connecting the ball really well and if we stick to the style of play we will do just fine at the beginning of the season.”
(On being back with the U-18s after playing with the U16s in Finals Week…)
HERNANDEZ: “It feels great. A lot of the kids are back, half of the team is the same team as last year and I believe we will have another successful season. The new kids are committed and they want to play as much as we do and they just want to win like us.”
(On the team gelling and playing the RSL way…)
HERNANDEZ: “It’s getting good. It takes time. You can’t bring in a whole new group of players and expect to play beautiful soccer right away, it takes time. Since day 1 everyone has been ready and wanting to play our system. Little by little we will get there.”
(On expectations for the team…)
HERNANDEZ: “I feel like there are a lot of good things this team can do. Half of the team like I said won the championship last year and the other half is very talented players and I think we can get very far this year.”
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