La Roca FC South - USA, Boys U12 Premier #experiencethedifference
2007 Groups and Pool Play Contenders
The first real foray leading in to the Algarve Youth Cup! On March 20th, the draw was held to determine which teams will play against each other during the pool play portion of the tournament - results below! ALL teams in AYC have an opportunity to make it into the top flight championship series based on pool play results. The draw and all teams starting out on an equal level is much different from tournaments in the U.S. This is a testament to the fun, exciting, and professional approach Europe takes with youth sports - a very special experience for our players.
The AYC web site for game schedule, results, and final classification can be found here.
Prepare to Perform
Understanding the four pillars of soccer development, the team started preparing to compete against the best in Portugal many months ago. With the help of professional trainers, each member of the team has worked extremely hard to improve all aspects of their game. Thank you to Jose, Jorge, Cesar and Peter for all the work you have done!
After a short stop in New York JFK (to include some soccer fun at the airport) the team finally arrives in Lisbon! From there, the boys traveled to Monte Gordo, Portugal for the Algarve Youth cup - even passing old Roman ruins and historic Castles! Upon arrival, the team went to the stadium for the accreditation process and a look around the tournament grounds. Boys are very excited at what lies ahead!
Let the Games Begin... Wow, what a start to the tournament!
What a start to the tournament! After starting the game with some residual jet lag and falling behind 0-3, the boys woke up and fought for a 5-3 win against a fast, strong Portuguese team. To celebrate the win, Jose took the boys for a swim in the ocean. What an amazing development and cultural experience!
AYC Opening Ceremony
A true international experience - both culturally and world class soccer! The team had the opportunity to represent La Roca FC and their country in front of thousands of soccer fans. After introducing teams from around the world, the group enjoyed an amazing show full of dance, lights, and fireworks. With a team from Estonia sitting next to us and sharing the shuttle ride with a team from Croatia, the boys quickly realized they were participating in a true international tournament.
With honor, La Roca FC was added to the AYC display case next to Benfica and other clubs steep in soccer tradition. It is truly amazing to see how soccer brings us all together for good.
Game Two Group Play
In game two of group play, La Roca FC played the professional academy team SG Sacavenense from Lisbon. It was a hard fought battle on both sides, with the game remaining scoreless up to the final 8 minutes. SG Sacavenense broke the tie with a corner kick score. La Roca tied minutes later but was unfortunately flagged for offsides. A true battle between two fast aggressive teams with a huge desire to win the game.
Following the game, the team was able to take in the UEFA Champions League match in true local style - such fun for the group.
Group Play Game Three
This was a tough match up against the professional academy team from Huelva, Spain. They moved the ball well and showed our boys the beautiful game.
Playoffs Begin - Quarter Finals
A game where the shots just would not fall and every call seemed to go in favor of the other team, La Roca FC was eliminated from play off contention in the quarter finals.
A friendly match to wrap up official Tournament play
Having made it as far the quarter finals in the AYC tournament, the team shifted their focus to getting some rest and relaxation in before the Lisboa leg of the Portugal adventure. Starting with the beach, the boys enjoyed playing in the waves, kicking the ball around (imagine that…), and just enjoying some beautiful Portugal sun. In the afternoon, the boys played a friendly match against another team from Spain. The match ended in a 2-2 tie and in true Portuguese fashion, they held a penalty kick shoot out. La Roca FC won 4-3 on penalties - an experience the boys will always remember!
Off to Lisboa!
Friendly match against fellow Puma club followed by AYC Closing Ceremony
The team an opportunity to participate in a friendly match against Burnley of the U.K. Premier League (a fellow Puma club). It was a great experience for the team, with La Roca holding it’s own at a 3-4 final score. As important as anything they have learned along the way, the LRFC team saw first hand the importance of communicating on the field and playing a clean, yet aggressive physical game from the Burnley players.
Following the match, the team attended the AYC closing ceremony and was awarded the top Fair Play team for the U12 age group.
The Algarve Youth Cup has been a world class experience all around!
Transferring back to Lisbon with an afternoon of touring a beautiful city!
Waking up early on Easter Sunday, the team departed Monte Gordo for Lisbon (Lisboa) traveling with the KRC Gent and Olympique Lyon teams from Belgium and France, respectively. Upon reaching Lisboa, the team enjoyed a fantastic meal in the Sacavem area followed by a tour of Nations Park. Upon reaching the team hotel, the group was free to explore the city and many sites in the capitol of Portugal. Enjoy the pictures. Lisboa is truly a mesmerizing city with so much to see and experience.
Upon returning to the Team Hotel, the players were surprised by the hotel staff with a fun Easter egg hunt in the hotel lobby - a very kind gesture by our warm Portuguese hosts.
Training with Jose Monteiro of the G.D. Fabril Academy
Starting the development focused portion of the journey, the La Roca team had the opportunity to visit and train with G.D. Fabril academy. A club steep in futbol tradition, the players first visited the profession stadium built in the mid 1900’s, followed by a day of training and friendly scrimmages.
The team thoroughly enjoyed working with Jose (GD Fabril), learning more about when and how to pressure the other team, and the importance of possession in playing the beautiful game.
Following the day’s events, Jose (LRFC) held a team meeting to discuss what the team has learned while in Portugal. He took the time to talk with each player about their strengths and also what they need to focus on to improve their game. Shawn Lucas recorded the session and will make the video available to each player for future reference.
La Roca FC vs SL Benfica
Having watched SL Benfica win the Pouss Cup last year in France and again watching them play in the AYC Finals against Feyenoord (Netherlands), the LRFC team has been looking forward to playing against Benfica for some time. The boys finally got their opportunity and did really well against a technical, fast Benfica team with a 3-4 final score. The match was not only an opportunity for the team to play against the top youth development program in the world, but to also use the techniques and tactical play they were taught earlier in the day while working with G.D. Fabril.
Working with Diogo Ferro of S.G. Sacavenense followed by a friendly match against UA Povoense
Ten minutes in to training with Coach Diogo and the skies opened up on the team! While parents scrambled for cover, the players seemed unfazed by the rain and continued to train hard in technique and match tactics. The boys very much enjoyed working with Diego in the morning and were then treated to a traditional Portuguese lunch of grilled fish, meat, rice and other yummy dishes.
Returning to the training facilities later in the day, La Roca FC had the opportunity to scrimmage the UA Povoense team from Lisbon, Portugal. The team did well with a 4-1 win over the local team, quite the accomplishment going on 8 straight days of hard play.
Visit the Stadium of Lights (S.L. Benfica)
What a treat for the boys! The AYC tournament arranged for the team to visit the S.L. Benfica Stadium of Lights - an absolutely magnificent stadium! In 2004, the stadium was built to host the Euro Championship. Since that time, the stadium has hosted world class teams and their players to include Barcelona / Messi, Real Madrid / Ronaldo, PSG / Buffon, and many others.
After experiencing the visitors locker room, the Benfica tunnel, the pitch, and meeting the Benfica Bald Eagles (eagle flight game tradition), the La Roca team was taken to the Benfica Sporting Museum. On display was this full history of the club, the hardware the first team has won through out the years, and many other player artifacts. The boys really enjoyed the international section of the museum, spotlighting those from around the world that have played in the Benfica uniform.
Visiting the Stadium of Lights was truly a memorable experience for the group.
Training Day with Marcio Moreira (G.D. Fabril) and Frederico Costa (S.G. Sacavenense)
Wanting to truly squeeze every possible development opportunity out of the Portugal journey, the team trained with Marcio and Fred (professional coaches, Lisbon) before leaving to the Lisbon airport. The training focused on attacking, defending, shooting, and fine tuning technique. This was an excellent session ran by world class professional soccer coaches.
Heading home with La Roca FC in New York City on the way!
With a true New Yorker at the helm (Will’s Dad, Steve), the La Roca team hit New York City during their lay over on the way home. Steve treated the team to all of the top New York City sites, with yummy New York Pizza to boot. With Mo Salah in town, the boys were convinced they would run in to him at some point… ;) What an experience for the players to cap off their journey to Portugal.