Strong Summer For PDP Comes To A Close
In an institution that has grown by leaps and bounds each year of existence, the summer of 2018 was another major step forward for NorCal Premier Soccer’s elite Player Development Program (PDP).
Not only were there two trips to tournaments for some of the best players in the state, the players were featured in NorCal’s summer coaching education series and several alumni participated in international tournaments for the U.S. National Team at various age groups.
“It was another good summer of events,” said PDP Director Paolo Bonomo. “The program keeps improving every year in different aspects. From the coaches, we’re including better and better coaches which will translate into the field. We’re also improving in the competitions and venues to showcase talent to our players.
“At PDP, the coaches, the training, the curriculum is getting better and better and it’s the players who benefit.”
Perhaps the biggest item on the summer agenda was the participation of NorCal’s State teams in Sweden’s Gothia Cup, the largest youth soccer tournament in the world.
Entering the competition as the defending champions, the U17 girls side were again put in the top division of the tournament and showed their pedigree in making another run to the final by outscoring their opponents via an 18-3 margin.
Unfortunately, a repeat victory wasn’t on the cards as the girls fell 3-1 in the final to a Tokyo Verdy squad that featured multiple Japanese youth national team players.
On the boys side, the State team entered the tournament playing an age group up, but still showed well.
After a tough group stage, the boys were entered in the “B” bracket of the competition and proceeded to cruise through all opponents by scoring an incredible 27 goals in the knockout stage, culminating with a 2-0 final victory over England’s Windsor FC.
“Part of our vision in PDP is to help these players gain international experience, so them gaining the international experience in a competition was huge,” said PDP Director of Scouting and boys head coach Ian Mork. “We were really impressed with how they took the challenge of playing up a year. In the end they played outstanding — we played really good football. The mental strength that they showed is something that they can carry with them for the rest of their careers.”
“We had a good performance with a lot of different talented players,” Bonomo said of the Sweden trip. “We played against a lot of players that our players weren’t used to. That was a positive experience.”
New Jersey Trip
Also on the summer schedule was US Club Soccer’s first-ever National PDP competition in which NorCal Premier Soccer sent two teams to New Jersey to play games against the best player from two other National Premier Leagues.
Over roughly a one-week period, a U14 girls squad and a U13 boys squad from NorCal each competed against some of the best players from the New York City Soccer League and Virginia NPL in an event that will likely only grow in size and stature in the years to come.
“This was a long time coming,” Bonomo said. “We hope that there will be many more to come with continued improvement of the event.”
For more information about the trip, click here.
PDP alumni make waves for the national team
As PDP grows throughout the years, several of its alumni have gone on to play the game at the highest level. And despite the program’s relative young age, several past players are already performing at the highest level.
This is perhaps no more evident than with PDP and De Anza Force alum Tierna Davidson, who currently stars for both Stanford and the U.S. Women’s National Team.
A starter at center back, Davidson went the distance in each of the USWNT’s three games at the 2018 SheBelieves Cup in what was a winning effort for the Yanks.
Ahead of returning to classes for the fall, Davidson increased her cap total with the national team to 10 overall, making her a safe bet to be in the squad for next year’s World Cup in France.
Davidson has also been selected as one of 23 players to participate in a pair of upcoming friendlies against Chile.
Elsewhere, several other PDP alumni played matches for the youth national team, with former San Juan midfielder Roberto Hategan scoring a pair of goals to lead the U18 Men’s National Team to victory in the 2018 Vaclav Jezek Final against Japan in the Czech Republic.
Also playing big roles in national team gear were 2017 Gothia Cup players Sophie Jones and Maya Doms, who each played a role in a recent 2-2 draw against South Korea for the U17 Women’s National Team — Doms came on at halftime and scored the equalizing goal 12 minutes from time, her second goal of a series of friendlies in which she also served as the team’s captain.
Fellow Gothia Cup alum Angie Anderson of Mustang SC also was called up as a late injury replacement and ended up travelling to France for the 2018 U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Lastly, Andrea Kitahata (De Anza Force), Olivia Molina (California Thorns), and Kellie Pagador each participated in the most recent U15 Girls National Team camp, which won the Weifang Tournament in China.
Overall, this excellent summer showing was just another stepping stone in the continued process of developing players to play at the highest level through PDP.
“PDP is always looking to stay updated with new challenges in the landscape of soccer in this country,” Bonomo said. “We’re always vigilant and attentive so that the program always matches the needs of the player and keeps the high standards of the program.”