Since the day San Diego Loyal SC was formed and joined the United Soccer League Championship the club has said it wants to make an impact in the local community. Now they’re reaching into the San Diego youth soccer scene, which by all accounts … and some research by the Loyal … is among the best in the nation.
“I think we counted with the 2004 age group (players born in 2004) there are 20 players that have left San Diego to sign with residential MLS academies in the last couple of years,” says Matt Hall, Loyal SC Assistant Coach. “So, we’re talking about in our county, in just one age group, potentially more than 20 players that could be pros at some point.”
That’s a shockingly large number, and one of the main reasons Hall is the new head coach of Loyal Select, a part-time academy for the most promising high school players in town. It’s designed to supplement the successful club scene that’s already been established with organizations like Surf and Albion.
“Instead of running a full-time academy where we’d be basically recruiting players away from their club teams we opted for an option where we’d be assisting clubs in the county with developing players,” says Hall.
Major League Soccer has a development program where their teams own the rights to players they develop. Loyal SC will not have any contractual control over its athletes. They just want to help make really good players even better.
“All these kids are good players. What we can really help them with are the little details that matter,” says Hall. “There are things like being more aware, checking your shoulder, receiving the ball on your back foot, the timing of your movements, when you run, how you run, just little minute details that sometimes get lost in youth development and those are the things that separate players.”
And it’s not just helping with development on the pitch. Loyal SC wants to expose youngsters to the environment of a professional soccer organization.
“There’s a lifestyle you have to choose, there’s a way you have to act, you have to have a certain demeanor, you have to have a certain work rate and drive to get better,” says Hall.
And how about this potential opportunity to experience all of this first-hand (or, foot)?
“For some of the special players, and this is the neat thing about it, some of those players that are training really well we’ll invite out to train with the first team,” says Hall.
That means competing with established professionals and being coached by Landon Donovan. Not a bad shot for a high schooler.
There will be a recruitment process to find the top two dozen (or so) players in San Diego to join Loyal Select. This is where they’re asking for a little bit of help.
“We would love to hear from people,” says Hall. “The more information we can get about players in the county, because we’ve got a really extensive network but I’m well aware that there may be players here and there that we’re missing. So, if people know of special players in the county that we need to look at I’d love to hear from them.”
You can get in touch with Coach Hall by clicking here. Loyal Select hopes to have everything up and running in March to coincide with the start of the 2021 USL Championship season ... COVID-permitting, of course.