Jeff Cup Q&A: Edgar de Leon, coach, New England Aztec Soccer Premier Boys 94
By Charles Boehm and Roger Gonzalez
The Soccer Wire is speaking with a range of coaches throughout the 2012 Jefferson Cup to learn more about their teams, clubs and experiences at the tournament. NE Aztec Soccer Premier’s entry in the Under-17 Superior division got their weekend off to a good start in the last game of the day at West Creek on Friday afternoon, creating myriad scoring chances against FC Richmond Magic 94 and finishing two of them to secure a well-earned 2-0 win.
Aztec coach Edgar de Leon, who also serves as the club’s boys director, spoke with The Soccer Wire about his club, which is based in the northern suburbs of Boston, and their outlook as they emerge from the long New England winter for another spring season.
TSW: Congratulations on a good result on your first day. What are your thoughts?
EdL: The match today was great. We always look forward to playing against Virginia teams in this area because they are so talented and they are so technically sound. Unfortunately for [FC Richmond], a couple breaks didn’t go with them. Overall, I think it was well-managed by the referees. The referee gave opportunities to push the play.
There were some very good combinations, possession, management of the game worked well on both sides. Our squad, coming out of the northeast, we deal with the winter and the snow, so we don’t really get a chance to play outdoors until now. This is our first game on grass in about seven months. We have a couple of regional level players – half of the squad is ODP level. So, we look forward to coming down here, always getting good competition, so when we go back up north, we get a chance to fare well in our state cup and regional league.
TSW: Who stood out for you in today’s victory?
EdL: One of our captains, no. 12, [midfielder] Drew Johnson. He actually just got back from regional camp. He is just a sound kid. Also, Carter Ocko, no. 2, our centerback. He is very solid in the back. It’s very tough to beat him. He wins everything. Very calm, keeps everyone organized.
TSW: When is the high school season in Massachusetts?
EdL: The high school season is in the fall, from August to November. We don’t really get to see these guys at the club level because in Massachusetts, they don’t let you do both. These guys are just playing high school. I get them at the end of November when we start our showcases. We go from November till now indoors. Now this is the time we kick in for outdoors.
TSW: Do all top players take part in high school ball in your area?
EdL: Everybody plays high school up there. It’s very rare when we have one or two kids that don’t play high school.
TSW: Do your players know about the high numbers of college scouts in attendance at this tournament? Does that create pressure or nerves for them?
EdL: The biggest thing for these guys, they want to put on a consistent, good showing for these college coaches. That is the main reason we bring them here, aside from the competition. They want to come out here and win…They are playing against the best because that is what they want to do.
TSW: Has anyone on your team committed to a college program?
EdL: Not just yet. These guys are juniors, so probably by the end of the Spring season, come around May or June, some of these guys will be committed. We do have inquiries from the University of Tampa, places like Lafayette College, BC [Boston College], BU [Boston University], University of New Hampshire, Providence. We have a couple kids that are interested in places like N.C. State, UNC, but those are big, big programs that you have to be at national levels.
TSW: Can you talk a bit more about Aztec and what the club is all about?
EdL: We are about development. We want to give the kids the right tools to be prepared to step into any role at any moment and be just a complete player, not just isolate kids to be strikers, midfielders or defenders. As a club, from little kids all the way U-14s, U-15s, we focus more on the development, competing. Once we hit 16s, 17s and 18, we look for results, the end product. It’s a pretty good progression and our success rate of placing kids into college programs, it’s pretty good. We have a pretty good knack of finding the niche for each kid.
TSW: The Boston youth scene is a competitive market, isn’t it?
EdL: [laughs] Yeah, it’s a very small geographic area, but very large in population. So there’s a lot of good players, a lot of clubs in a very small range.