The LA Galaxy U-18 Academy team is just a few days away from reaching the club’s first ever U.S. Soccer Development Academy playoff - and it’s proving great motivation for goalkeeper Vince Paldino.
Paldino and the rest of the U-18’s, as well as the U-16’s, just returned to Southern California on the heels of an impressive showing at the annual U.S. Soccer Development Academy Spring Showcase in Sarasota, Fla.
The Galaxy were undefeated in the tournament as both the U-16 and U-18 teams finished the event with identical 2-0-1 records.
Having come back from a goal behind to draw their opening game 2-2, the Galaxy U-18’s went on to record two solid victories in their final two matches. And Paldino, a native of Torrance, Calif. was pleased to boast that their success in the tournament has left the players buoyant in the build-up to their final two fixtures of the season this weekend.
“We came out strong. At first we got off to a good start – we were leading 1-0 after the first three minutes - but then we fell behind quickly after that when they scored two quick goals,” he said. “But those were the only two goals I let in during the whole tournament, so that was good.”
“We really kept the ball well and we didn’t give up at all. Even in the first game we were down, but we still found a way to come back. And in the second and third games we just played at our best.”
With the players oozing with confidence given their recent success, the 17-year-old is equally motivated by the chance to be a part of the first Academy team to reach the playoffs in the club’s history.
Currently lying in the fourth spot in the league standings, the U-18’s could finish in second place in their league with a win on Saturday against Arsenal or a draw with Arsenal and a win on Sunday against the Irvine Strikers. Any other results would see the club claim a third place finish and a postseason berth via the Wild Card.
And Paldino has no doubt that once in the postseason, his team has the potential to go all the way to the title.
“The results at the Showcase gave us a lot of momentum. We’re already in a good place, and the next two games could put us in an even better position so hopefully we can do well.
“Last year I was with the U-16’s and we didn’t do too well (in the playoffs). But this year we have a great team and I think we’ve got a really good chance of doing well. And if we get through to the semi-finals (held at The Home Depot Center) I think we could win it all.”