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Five AKFC Teams Headed for Texas

Everything, as they say, is bigger in Texas, and now that includes the size of the AKFC traveling party. In all five squads will be making the trip from Alaska to the second-largest state, each taking part in the Dallas Texans Fall Festival over the weekend of November 18-20.

Midfielder Drini Redzepi puts in a tackle during semifinal action at the Las Vegas Mayor's Cup.

Matches will take place at the Texans’ Ross Stewart Soccer Complex, with our teams playing some of the best from throughout Texas and the Southwest.

On the boys’ side, the well-traveled AKFC 98 United squad will compete in the U14 division, which is already filling up with top competition, including the 2010 Dallas Cup finalists, Houstonians FC 98 Red, as well as the state champions from both Kansas and Oklahoma. Also traveling to Dallas–for the first time as an AKFC squad–are the 96 United boys. Led by club captain Ben Atkinson and a potent attack, the U16 team promises to turn plenty of heads in Dallas. Rounding out the group, and returning to action in AKFC colors after a great experience in Arizona last spring, the 00 United boys bring together one of the most diverse squads in Alaska, including players from Anchorage, the Mat-Su Valley, Kenai and Fairbanks.

Leading the AKFC girls’ contingent is 96 Aurora, a team comprised of high-school sophomores who are already well into the college recruitment process. The Dallas tournament is yet another step in their development cycle, as the team also prepares for college-showcase participation in February.

Last but certainly not least, the AKFC 01 Aurora girls will again be taking the field in our navy-and-white strip. After an extremely impressive start in Las Vegas last fall, and absolute domination in the 2011 Nike Crossfire Challenge this past July, the team is hoping to build on their success and continue to develop at an accelerated rate. This team currently features the largest player pool within AKFC and remains one of the most exciting age groups within the program.

For more information, or to follow the teams in Texas, click here.

On Tap for AKFC Teams

With the 2010 Coerver® Coaching Centers of Excellence in full swing in both Anchorage and Wasilla, a number of AKFC players continue to meet weekly to work on their skills and technique. Good thing, too, as there is plenty on tap for AKFC teams this spring.

Things kick off in mid-February with three younger squads heading for the sun of Phoenix to take part in the 2011 Desert Classic, hosted by SC Del Sol. Taking part this year will be AKFC 00 Aurora, AKFC 99 United and AKFC 00 United.

The following weekend the AKFC 98 United boys will arrive in Phoenix for the prestigious President’s Day Tournament. Currently the #2 ranked boys tournament by GotSoccer, PDT is necessarily a very difficult tournament to gain entry into, and based on their exceptional record against top competition across the western United States, and in Sweden last summer, the AKFC 98 boys were even granted early acceptance. Well done, boys!

Following Phoenix in February, there will be a slight break for AKFC travel teams, though most players will still be participating in the Center of Excellence-Elite. After our USYS squads return from their trips to Far West Regionals, we expect to see several AKFC teams on the road again, including the AKFC 01 Aurora girls, recent semifinalists (Telemundo [Gold] Division) at the Las Vegas Mayor’s Cup.

AKFC 98 United, 01 Aurora Return from Mayor’s Cup

Two AKFC squads competed against the best in the West in the Las Vegas Mayor’s Cup, held over the weekend of October 22-24, 2010.

Match time!

Making their first trip out of state, the AKFC 01 Aurora girls hit the ground running, defeating the home club’s U10 side 6-0 in a preliminary friendly match on Thursday evening. The tournament proper started off a little less successfully, however, with the girls dropping to a 4-1 defeat against a very powerful Las Vegas Premier 01 White. Though the match was tied 1-1 just after the half, LV Premier used their speed very well to pour in three goals on the Alaska visitors. After regrouping and downing Downtown Las Vegas Rapids 01 Navy by a score of 4-0, the girls moved on into the semifinals to face Dynamo Vegas 01, the pre-tournament favorites.

Delaney battles for position.

In a frantic, seesaw match, the AKFC girls twice fell behind by a single goal, but markers from Gabby Wakaliuk and Delaney Shults, both of Matanuska Soccer Club, pulled the team back. Unfortunately, the winner never came, despite a number of quality half-chances, and the squad went out on penalty kicks. Still, a very credible performance at a high level for this young squad of players facing their first tests out of state.

On the much more experienced side of things, the AKFC 98 United boys returned to Vegas to compete in what’s now the #6 ranked tournament for their division in the entire nation.

The team started well, defeating the premier team from one of CalNorth’s top clubs, De Anza Force, 3-1, behind a brace from forward Ben Sande and a free-kick from Bailey Letherman. That set up what amounted to a quarterfinal showdown versus Neusport FC from Las Vegas. The locals started well, heading into the interval with a 1-0 lead. However, just after the restart, Letherman threaded a through-ball to KPSC product Josh Jackman, who buried the chance first-time to level things. The contest seesawed for the remainder of the second half; then, with under three minutes remaining, Jackman found MSC forward Kyle Broach, who beat his defender the ball and stabbed it into the roof of the net to provide the game-winner. 2-1 to AKFC and onto the semifinals, where just two years’ prior, AKFC 98 United had been knocked out on PKs by Mustang SC of California-North.

Determined not to repeat their mistakes from the prior year, AKFC stormed out of the blocks, with central midfielder Letherman scoring with a left-footed shot just two minutes into the game. Moments later, Sande doubled the lead, poking home a centering pass from Dillon Van Hoek.

Right back Josh Spannagel holds off a Vegas Silver forward.

After the half, the team upped the defensive pressure, as Vegas Silver began to hit hopeful long-balls in search of their forwards. Then, catastrophe struck, a keeper was chipped, and things were much more tense. Just minutes after cutting the AKFC lead in half, the same forward struck again, heading home from a corner to tie things up. Despite a handful of good chances in the final ten minutes, the contest went to kicks from the mark, and like two years ago, AKFC fell in spot kicks. The boys’ disappointment was made worse hours later when Vegas Silver handled Cobras 98 Red from Texas South easily to take home the crown.

Click here to view a slideshow from the AKFC 98 United Semfinals (courtesy Jaime Chew).

Click here to watch video highlights from AKFC 98 United 3 – De Anza Force 97 Blue 1

Click here to watch video highlights from AKFC 98 United 2 – Vegas Silver 2 (3-1 PKs)

The Opening Ceremonies

Monday night brought us to the Gothia Cup Opening Ceremonies, something we’d long been looking for, not only because this would be the first Olympic-style Opening Ceremony for any of us, but also because the boys had been chosen to represent the United States during the Parade of Nations. Well, no matter what kind of grandiose expectations we had for the event, it’s more than safe to say the night flew far beyond our wildest dreams. Read the rest of this page »

The Daily Recap – Friday through Monday

Well, since a combination of poor in-room Internet, long lines for the hotel computer and a lack of time made it virtually impossible to keep up while dragging the team around Sweden, I have to combine all our daily reports here into one post — now that we’re safely back to the wonders of a GCI cable modem (potential team sponsors please note the plug). Read the rest of this page »

No New Photos Today — Sorry!

We just returned home from our day in Denmark, which went very well — except the team our Alaska girls are playing on lost their final 3-0. Oh, well, at least we got to see them play. Everyone was pretty excited for that. Tomorrow and Sunday are much more relaxed, so there will be time to post some new photo collections then. First up, though, is our trip to Asa and the friendly matches we’ll play there. Go AKFC!

Photos from the Day

Back from an exciting game in Boras, with IF Elfsborg winning 2-1 over their Moldovan competition in the UEFA Europa League. The boys had a lot of fun, and it was great to see a match played at such a high level — Elfsborg were very technical all over the pitch.

I’ve also just added a few photos taken by TR Stoneback to the Flickr account — just click the images at right to visit and view.

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