From Seattle United Executive Director Kevin Long:
(photo album at bottom)
A Seattle United team comprised of Boys '99 and '00 players recently traveled to London, England for a week of training and games at the West Ham United Youth Academy. The team was coached by SU Staff Coach Kyle Rodeheaver, with support from Alan McDonnell. This was the first team from SU to visit the West Ham United Training Academy, with whom the club has a partnership. Paul Heffer, West Ham’s Youth Academy director, led all training sessions with the SU team.
The SU group, including nine parents who traveled with the team, stayed at the West Ham United Hotel, which is built into the club’s Boleyn Grounds stadium at Upton Park. All of the group’s rooms had remarkable views overlooking the stadium pitch. The Seattle United group were given a personal tour of the stadium by West Ham United Chief Operating Officer, Ben Illingworth, including access to home and away dressing rooms, the directors’ box, players’ box, and other stops along the way, including walking out to the center circle for a team photo.
The following day, Saturday, August 16, after our morning training session, the group had a memorable experience watching the Opening Day match of the 2014/15 EPL season, when West Ham United hosted London rival, Tottenham Hotspur. The crowd was absolutely electric, and seemingly all of east London was abuzz with the start of the new West Ham United season. Singing started well before kickoff, and when the Hammers were awarded a penalty kick 20 minutes in the crowd went nuts. Unfortunately for the home side, the shot was missed and the collective groan rumbled through the old stadium. The Hammers did well and were often the brighter side, but soccer is a cruel game, and in the 85th minute Spurs played a through ball that was neatly collected and slotted home. The away supporters went wild as the final minutes ticked off the clock. This EPL game experience was one of the highlights of the London trip for the Seattle United players and parents.
The next day our group took a tour of one of the grandest stadiums in the world, the football Mecca called Wembley, the national stadium to the country that invented the game itself. In fact, the lobby housed a number of football artifacts, including the actual meeting minutes wherein the rules of the game were first recorded. That meeting took place in 1863. The SU boys particularly enjoyed visiting the locker rooms, the press room, the royal box, and getting to touch the F.A. Cup.
That afternoon we headed to the lovely London suburb of Buckhurst Hill where we were scheduled to play a friendly with the Buckhurst Hill FC U14 team. BHFC took an early lead on a nice finish from their striker. Coach Kyle made some adjustments at the half, and as the game progressed SU played with greater confidence. Derivan Dockter, B99 Copa center back, was moved on top and his speed caused real problems for the BHFC back line. Aaron Craddock, Max Jaffe, Riley Mahlin, Ty Maider and Jack Masumoto all did well in the midfield, while Jack Agostini, Nick Hall, and Riley Long tightened up the defense. Teddy Nickerson had an outstanding game in goal, with a number of BHFC parents acknowledging his keen play. Mid-way through the second half forward Andrei Mironov struck a hard shot from 15 yards that knotted the score at 1-1, which is how the game ended. In a kind gesture, BHFC coach Russ Barrett gave the game ball to Adam Reid, B99 Copa, who traveled with the team even though a recent hip injury prevented him from suiting up. The BHFC community then hosted a barbecue for all players and parents. We hope to someday return the favor. Special thanks to all the BHFC parents who came out in support of both sides. Particular thanks to coach Russ Barrett, Darren, Neal and Simon for such kind and generous hospitality. We hope to see you in Seattle!
LINK TO BUCKHURST HILL FC OFFICIAL MATCH REPORT: HERE
Over the next few days we followed the pattern of morning training at the Academy, lunch at the hotel, and then taking the Tube into the center of London for sight-seeing and shopping. Stops included Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Parliment and Big Ben, London Eye, Tower of London, Carnaby Street, Imperial War Museum, Regents Park, Tower Bridge and more. Within a day or so the boys were seasoned Tube travelers and did not skip a beat alongside the local commuters. Like their parents, I was proud and duly impressed.
On Tuesday, August 16, we took a coach to watch Championship side Charlton Athletic host Derby County. Thanks to chaperon Mick Cooper, we had fantastic seats, just three rows off the pitch; the boys were awed by how close we were to the action and it was staggering to see how fast the game moved. As with the WHU game, the crowd sang their hearts out, and the chants between home and away supporters was entertaining and spirited. In this one, the home side prevailed, 3-1.
The next day we spent the morning and early afternoon sightseeing in London, then came back to the hotel to rest for our game that night against the WHU Academy U14 team. The pitch this game was played on was something one might expect to find at Augusta National. It was incredible (the maintenance chief at the Academy informed me they spend $2.5 million annually on training fields there), and the boys knew it was perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime playing experience. While I would like to tell you that we had the upper hand, that was not the case. The WHU team played incredibly fast, fluid soccer, and we were up against it from the start. It was 0-4 before Nick Hall finished a Derivan Dockter shot that bounced off the post. Riley Long smashed a shot from distance off the crossbar, but we would not score again. Teddy Nickerson again came up huge for his team, stopping many shots that would have beaten a lesser keeper. The final score was 5-1, WHU Academy BU14 team. Following the game, SU players exchanged pins with their West Ham opponents. Several of the West Ham boys asked if Seattle was close to L.A.
The club would would like to thank all of the players and parents on this trip. It was not only a great soccer and cultural experience, but much like the community the club is striving to build at home, it was remarkable because of the wonderful families involved and the way in which we all worked together. Thank you. We Are One.
This experience is available to all teams at Seattle United. The travel window in 2015 will likely be similar to this year’s trip, which was August 14-21, although we may look at extending it by several days. Please contact the club for more details.
SEATTLE UNITED ENTERS PARTNERSHIP WITH ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE CLUB WEST HAM UNITED
(Seattle, WA) – Seattle United, the Advanced Development Program of the Seattle Youth Soccer Association, is pleased to announce that they have signed an agreement to be an official partner club of the West Ham United International Academy (WHUIA). As a partner club, Seattle United will host a West Ham Academy Player Identification Camp in July, will be able to take advantage of the Academy’s player development philosophies and coaching curriculum and, perhaps most excitingly, will have the unique opportunity to send teams, players and coaches to London to train at the world famous West Ham Academy. Seattle United feels very strongly that this partnership will be an extension of their commitment to player development.
The first opportunity for Seattle United players to experience the West Ham training methods will be at the West Ham Academy Player Identification Camp, held July 8-10 at Roosevelt High School in Seattle. This ID Camp, for both boys and girls at all age groups, will serve not only as an elite level training opportunity, but players that excel at this camp will be invited to attend the West Ham Academy National Residential camp later in the summer. Players excelling at the National Camp will be invited to train alongside West Ham Academy players in London.
The West Ham Academy, or “The Academy of Football” as it is also known, is located in London and is one of the most highly regarded youth academies in the world. The Academy is an important part of the club's identity and a regular source of players for the first team. Past notable graduates of the Academy include: Bobby Moore, Sir Geoff Hurst, Frank Lampard Sr, Harry Redknapp, Sir Trevor Booking and Paul Ince. More recent graduates include: Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard Jr, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Jermaine Defoe and Glen Johnson, among others. An ITV Football article stated that "the biggest single contributor to the England national squad is not Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool or Chelsea, but the West Ham Youth Academy."
Tony Carr MBE, Academy Manager, West Ham United FC: "We look forward to working with the coaches and players of Seattle United as one of our USA partner clubs of the West Ham United Academy. We understand Seattle is currently a hotbed for youth football and we look forward to playing a part in the development of the game there via this partnership." (Tony Carr is one of the most influential figures in English football. It is not just that seven of the England squad that travelled to the 2010 FIFA World Cup have come under his guidance – Glen Johnson, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole and Jermaine Defoe – but because he is committed to the grassroots of the game. For four decades he has given back to the sport after seeing his own playing dreams dashed by injury and he has created an outstanding legacy.)
Seattle United Director of Coaching Jimmy McAlister: “I am thrilled to have a relationship with such a prestigious and world famous youth academy. The West Ham Academy has always had a reputation for producing world class players. Seattle United players and coaches have a tremendous opportunity to learn from the best. I truly hope this relationship will grow over the years.”
Technical Director Jason Farrell: “We have had the opportunity over the last couple years to explore partnerships with other international clubs. However, we wanted to make sure that we chose a partnership that had serious teeth to it…that it benefitted each of our players, no matter the age, gender or level, as well as benefitting our staff. Partnering with West Ham, and its rich tradition of player development, achieves that. At the same time, it was important for us to keep our Seattle United identity, our brand and our autonomy as a youth soccer club. Having a current EPL club as a partner is wonderful but having one of the top academies in the world as a partner is what makes this so exciting and valuable to all of our players and coaches.”
Along with the Player ID Camp, Seattle United players and families will benefit from this partnership in many ways: