The Earthquakes Academy’s U-15s and U-17s both wrapped up MLS NEXT’s Spring League with 3-1-1 records to advance to the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs.
After having to put the 2020 season on pause, U-15 Head Coach Dan DeGeer and U-17 Head Coach Luciano Fusco discussed the 2021 season.
As Santa Clara County slowly began to allow sports to open up, the Quakes Academy had to follow protocols and guidelines from the county and the MLS to prepare for the 2021 MLS NEXT season.
“It was about getting the players healthy.” DeGeer said. “We had a lot of injuries throughout the entire season. Leading up to the tournament, some players needed to take some time off and fortunately when it was time to travel, everyone was healthy at the right moment.”
Fusco discussed how the U-17s prepared very well even though they only played five seasonal games.
“The rescheduling factor was difficult because there were some very good games that we were supposed to play,” said Fusco. “We needed to compensate for the playing, the competition with friendly scrimmages and what we did was to try to play every Wednesday or as much as we could versus teams in our area.”
The MLS NEXT Tournament
After a difficult year, both squads were able to earn their spots in the MLS Next Cup playoffs with the little time and resources that they had. The U-15s went 3-1 during the tournament and were eliminated in the semifinals against Real Salt Lake after losing 3-0.
“We felt we created plenty of chances to score but we didn’t execute. Most importantly it was important to provide perspective to the players that we were still very proud of them.” Shared DeGeer. “We were very happy with their performance throughout the entire tournament and this is something that will serve as motivation for the following year.”
The U-17s went 1-1 in the tournament and were eliminated after losing in the round of 16 against the Colorado Rapids 3-1.
“You win, you lose. The most important analysis for us is the performance and we were very happy with the way our team performed based on the way you want to play.” Shared Fusco. “Now once you lose, you’re disappointed, but the next game is always the most important one regardless of the circumstances. That’s what we try to preach and that’s how we want to educate the players because if you think too much about the future or the past then you cannot train 100 percent in the next game.”
DeGeer and Fusco both shared that even though the boys are on break, they still have some things to work on this offseason.
“The break is usually three things. Number one is to rest a little bit.” Shared Fusco. “The second one is very important. We usually speak with players individually so every player knows the things that can make them better in the position that they play. We identify the things that they can do better and that they could choose that time to be improving. The third thing is what the strength and conditioning department prescribed to them.”
DeGeer also shared the same perspective on how important it is for the boys to have a break.
“They need to take a break not just physically but mentally to be able to recharge.” Said DeGeer.