Carson, Calif. – The wait is finally over.
LA Galaxy Academy players, who have been anticipating the start of the season after a month of preseason training, have high expectations for themselves and their respective teams.
Saturday will be the first test for the Under-18 and Under-16 squads as the 2010-11 season gets under way at The Home Depot Center against Real Salt Lake Arizona.
Sean Dhillon, 16, is a first year academy player and already has a clear picture of what he expects for the Under-16 team on Saturday and for the upcoming season.
"I think we are going to do really well this season because we have extremely good chemistry and have a bunch of players that are good at making plays,” Dhillon said. “I'm really excited to see how we do during the season and to see how well it lays out on the field."
For most of the academy roster, including 17-year-old midfielder Juan Mendoza, Saturday's game can’t arrive soon enough as everyone is poised to get the season under way.
"It feels great,” said Mendoza, who played for the Galaxy’s U-18’s last season as well. “It's been a long wait and now we've got to see what kind of competition we have for the upcoming season and I hope we do well."
While games are always the reward for training, the coaching that takes place throughout the season at the Youth Academy is what will ultimately shape the dreams of these young soccer players on and off the field.
Before Thursday evening's training session at The Home Depot Center, Mendoza shared his thoughts about the academy staff and explained why he feels they will play an important part in his development.
"The coaching staff is great and I've really liked what they’ve brought to practice,” Mendoza said, specifically mentioning Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant, who will serve as an assistant coach with the U-18’s this season after helping the Galaxy’s U-20’s to a spot in the USL Super-20 League Final in August. “What he brings to practice is new to us and hopefully that will help us win a national title.”
Dhillon also made it a point to mention what the coaching staff means to him as a first year player within the program. "Everybody's really welcoming. I try to work hard work and I think that I can motivate the team to do well and find success. The academy will teach me responsibility and will also help me become a better player."
Mendoza shared Dhillon’s belief that the team will find their most success by working together and he knows that kind of camaraderie is evident within his team.
"When we're on the field, it's like a family. It’s our goal to win a national title and to do that it takes all of us, not only one. It takes the whole team."
Simplifying a month of anticipation and a season's worth of expectations is never easy but Dhillon captured the feelings of the players best when he stated, "we just want to have fun and enjoy ourselves."
Sounds easy enough, especially now that the first game has finally arrived and the fun can really begin.