Pacific Soccer Club Players Value Guaranteed Play and Professional Training


Sherman Shen

PSC players pictured from left to right: Ashley Arribas, Gabriela Duran, Eric Stratford , Griffin Perez, Nic Ochoa, and James Salcedo.

With soccer ranked as the second most popular youth sport in the United States behind basketball, according to a 2014 ESPN sports poll, Southern California teen players moving from recreational to competitive club teams have more choices than ever and a growing number are choosing Pacific Soccer Club (PSC).

“Our mission is to develop and deliver a quality youth soccer club program which promotes a fun, family environment based on the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) philosophies,” stated PSC Club Administrator, Lee Eichenbaum. PSC is affiliated with US Youth Soccer and Cal South.  Teams compete in the Coast Soccer League (CSL)  areas E, K, L, Q and Z.

In addition to the professional trainers, custom uniform sets, and free substitution, players joining one of the 35 PSC Southern Californian teams, ages 9 through 17,  experience another added benefit, guaranteed play time.

For some PSC players such as James Salcedo, an eighth grade Bernardo Yorba Middle School student, guaranteed play time helped him to choose PSC over other clubs.

“I chose PSC over any other club team because it is affordable and you are guaranteed to play more,” stated Salcedo, a midfielder for the BU14 PSC team in Orange.

“Our goal is for kids to play soccer, so we mandate that every player on every team must play at least half of every game,” added Eichenbaum who sees this requirement benefiting both the player and the team. “Encouragement of player effort provides for greater enjoyment by the players and ultimately leads to better skilled and better motivated players.”

Other PSC players appreciate the way their coaches instruct with positive training methods.

“The  chemistry between the teams, and the trainers is just amazing,” remarked James Salcedo, eighth grade student at Bernardo Yorba Middle School and left midfielder on the PSC BU14 team in Orange.

“ I like my PSC team,” added Bernardo Yorba Middle School eighth grader, Nick Ochoa, “because the players and adults are nice and the coaches are really good.” Ochoa plays right midfield for the PSC BU14 team in  Orange.

“ My coach, Grant Heywood, is very knowledgeable and patient,” stated Griffin Perez, a Bernardo Yorba Middle School seventh grader for plays for The PSC BU13 team in Laguna Hills. “I am a goalie most of the time but if we are ahead by many points, he places me in other field positions to gain experience out of the goalie box.”

In addition to coaching  BU9, BU10, and BU13 PSC teams, Grant Heywood is also the Director of Coaching for Pacific Soccer Club. He believes that  coaches need to develop “their ability in creating the best possible training and learning environment for the players.”

Heywood graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor’s Honours degree in Physical Education with Qualified Teaching Status from the University of Bedfordshire, England and has coached and taught in England, Ireland, Spain, Brazil, Italy, and Argentina.

“Players need to be able to develop their ball control and decision making through structured practices. Within the structured practices, the players need to learn through technical experiences, conditioned/small sided games that broaden into larger sided games,” explained Heywood.

“When players get a of lot success, they enjoy the game more and they will become better technical and creative players through the small sided and larger sided games,” added Heywood.

Gabriela Duran, an eighth grade Bernardo Yorba student who plays center midfield for PSC GU14 Yorba Linda, said that she appreciates the variety of practice drills her PSC coach uses. “It’s more fun than my last club because the coach uses better drills, especially for passing.”

Eric Stratford, also an eighth grade Bernardo Yorba student, plays left forward for the BU14 Orange PSC team, and was looking for a more competitive team experience when he chose PSC. “Practice is fun and people here are skilled,” he explained.

Players moving from recreational sports to club teams can sometimes experience excessive stress and pressure with tougher competitive play. Teens in particular may feel that their sport is no longer fun or enjoyable, and quit during their middle and high school years.

“I heard a statistic recently that 70% of children are dropping out of organised sports before the age of 13,” stated Heywood. “Some of the reasons are that the sport is no longer enjoyable or there is too much pressure from the coaches and parents.”

As the Director of Coaching for PSC, Heywood looks for coaches who can “make their practices enjoyable within an age appropriate, progressive session.”

“If I believe they have the ability to make a positive experience, I then want to make sure they are on board with the club’s philosophy on player development and the club’s playing style,” explained Heywood.

Heywood believes that too many soccer coaches focus on “the physical aspects of players” neglecting their need to better understand how to “read” the game.

“I want all players to develop good ball control and make good decisions within a possession based playing style,” Heywood stated.

Drawing inspiration from the best teams and the best players around the world, Heywood envisions the PSC organization becoming “renowned for providing an enjoyable environment with high standards of training that ultimately promotes player development. I want all  Pacific Soccer Club teams to truly represent the clubs philosophy and playing style.”

This style of coaching, Heywood admits, pushes many players to accept a certain level of risk on the field and takes time to master. “To thoroughly represent this style of play, it takes risks since it is difficult for a player to receive a pass just 20 yards from their own goal and then have the team connect passes all the way up the field,” he explained.

Over time Heywood believes the benefits of this training far outweigh the risks. “But after months, years even, the risks will be minimal due to the level of ball control and decision making. Then when it comes for these players to move on to the next level; high school (for the youngers), college or the professional level, they will be far better soccer players due to playing within a philosophy and playing style truly dedicated to player development.”

Heywood is looking for new PSC coaches to “produce teams with a true identity in regards to player development.”

Players and coaches interested in PSC can learn more at the organization’s website, Tryouts are being held throughout Orange County over the next few weeks.

“Each of the last two years, over 1200 players have attended our tryouts.  Our tryout process is extremely fair, players rotate through 4 stations with 4 independent evaluators, so everyone has an opportunity to make our teams,” stated Lee Eichenbaum, PSC’s Club Administrator.

PSC players such as Griffin Perez are now looking forward to the challenges ahead for his team. “My team is very competitive and we have  won a number of tournaments. I look forward to each practice and to playing in tournaments in January.”