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Getting their kicks

Santa Clarita foursome to play in U.S. Soccer Academy finals

Posted: July 12, 2008 12:17 a.m.
Updated: September 12, 2008 5:04 a.m.

Playing in the same venue as star athletes David Beckham and Edson Buddle would be a dream come true for any young soccer player.

Four local athletes will get that opportunity today, as they compete in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy finals at the Home Depot Center in Carson.

Canyon's Matt Tellez and Robert Freise, along with Golden Valley's Juan Sebastian De Rada and Valencia's Eric Shannon, are four of the members that make up the Los Angeles Futball Club, or LAFC, competing in today's final.

Tellez, Freise and Shannon play for LAFC BU18 club team while De Rada competes with LAFC BU16 team.

Prior to today's final game, the teams completed a 30 game season with LAFC BU18 finishing with an overall record of 25-2-3 and LAFC BU16 concluding its season 18-7-5.

LAFC squads defeated 15 teams in the Southern California Division in the Academy's Summer Showcase, held in Greensboro, N.C. back on June 27-30, to reach the finals.

"With the dedication and hard work we ended up being at the top of the league," Shannon said. "And now we're seeing ourselves in the finals and we're just going to take it from there."

De Rada, a right midfielder, said the journey to today's finals was not an easy one.

"It was tough," De Rada said. "The last five games we needed to win four out of five and we did. It was really exciting to win that last game and clinch."

LAFC was the first team to clinch a spot in the finals.

Tellez, Freise, Shannon and De Rada were selected by Academy coaches to join the elite Academy teams.

Freise, an outside midfielder, played for two years with the Cowboys, before solely dedicating his talent to the Academy squad.

Each team travels extensively during the season competing in what are referred to as showcases in such places as Texas, Colorado, Illinois and most recently North Carolina.

After the finals, Shannon said he's looking forward to some R&R.

"We'll take a couple of weeks off to rest and then back to training getting ourselves ready for the next season." he said.

The U.S. Soccer Development Academy, which was established in September, consists of top athletes from club teams throughout the U.S Soccer Organization.

The Academy gives athletes the chance to catch the eye of college scouts and receive scholarship opportunities.

Tellez is headed to Sacramento State on scholarship and will play soccer for the Hornets next season.

With enough anxiousness to fill a room, the athletes are set to take the field.

"We're excited and ready to play," Tellez said.


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