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Manchester BU15
Manchester BU15 | Manchester SC, CV Manchester BU15, Jeff Illingworth, Billy Garton, Melvin Cuellar,Fernando Alvarez, US Club Soccer National Cup

Manchester SC's BU15 team closed out their U14 season as US Club Soccer National Cup Champions in the U14 Super Group. Photo Credit: US Club Soccer

Youth Soccer News: Manchester Soccer Club’s BU15 Show Dedication and Team Spirit

As with any successful team, having a solid core is an important factor. This has been true with Manchester Soccer Club’s BU15 team, coached by Fernando Alvarez and Melvin Cuellar. The nucleus came together about four years ago and since then, while some players come and go as with any team, this solid foundation has kept it going and thriving ever since. The boys began their run years ago at AA-B level and through hard work and dedication have become one of the top teams in the United States.

Asked what makes this team so good, Cuellar explained, “This team is made of all the right players. Everyone is dominant at their position and the style of soccer we play. Players that have been in our roster at one point or another have been scouted by the U.S. National Team, the Mexico National Team, professional Mexican clubs like America, Pachuca and Monterrey to name a few, and some have been enlisted in programs like Cal-South Pro+ and the US Club Soccer id2 Program.”

Every good team has some dominant players, and the Manchester BU15 team is no different. Standout defender Alexis Velela is a natural striker who converted to defense, where he quickly came on the radar of scouts for his all-around skills. He has been involved in the ’98 U.S. National Team camps and in 2011, following the team’s run at Dallas Cup, Velela was invited to a two-week training camp with Club Pachuca. He has also attended MLS tournaments with the LA Galaxy ’98 team and is scheduled to attend training with Club Monterrey’s U15 team in Mexico.

In the middle, Luca Delatorre has become the team’s engine and playmaker over the past three years. Ryan Friedman and Arturo Uribe are also important contributors to the team’s success, stepping in when Delatorre is away for U.S. National Team or professional team camps.

“Ryan’s ability to listen and learn on-the-go is what separates him from many soccer players,” said Cuellar. “His maturity keeps him from letting comments from other coaches deter him from achieving his goal of one day playing at the college level.”

Forward Jonathan Leal, another natural striker, has been voted the team’s Most Valuable Player by coaches, teammates, parents, opponents and scouts. He has an innate ability to find open space and take advantage of the lethal speed he possesses. He has been joined recently by a new addition up top, Jose “Bubu” Palacios, making the team even stronger. “Bubu’s skills and knowledge of the game are a great asset to the team,” said Cuellar.

Manchester SC BU15 on SoccerNation News
US Club Soccer Western Regional BU14 Super Group Champions. Photo Credit: US Club Soccer

At the back of the pitch, goalkeeper Eduardo “Pollo” Rodriguez has consistently shown growth as both a player and a person. “I pride myself in teaching our boys to always act respectfully and act and play in a way that will bring honor to their team, families and club,” Cuellar explained.

"Pollo has been one of those players that is showing a sign of leadership on and off the field,” Cuellar continued. “He has been a great asset to the team throughout the years. He is only getting better due to his hard work and dedication and it shows on the several shut-outs he has been able to accomplish during all these tournaments. His punctuality and attendance to practices is impressive as well. He has been a key player during crunch times.”

With all the great talent on the team, what makes this group special is the way they all get along and work together to achieve their goals. This strong bond that has developed, along with the support of parents, has allowed the team to succeed both on and off the field.

“‘Work hard-play hard’ is what they live by,” said Cuellar, “and it applies both on and off the field. When this team is not practicing or playing, they are at a parent’s house, celebrating one of their birthdays, at paint-ball or fundraising. They make the best of their hotel stays when away from home. They enjoy each other’s company and have made memories that will last them a life time.”

This group dynamic has made it easier for Cuellar and Alvarez to work with the group as a team rather than individual players. Everyone brings something special to the table, whether it is skills, leadership, hard work or motivation – everything contributes to the overall success. The support of the parents, who all truly believe in their children, adds to the mix.

For Cuellar and Alvarez, discipline is an important aspect of training. “Practice like you play” is their simple philosophy. The team practices three times a week and often conducts scrimmages on the weekend when schedules allow. Recently they have been working with former San Diego Sockers star Paul Wright of Speed to Burn and Manchester coach Wayne Harrison, who helps them to master the 4-2-3-1 formation.

“The boys know that when it is time to party, we party, but when it is time to train or compete, they give it their best,” said Cuellar. “We believe in setting each practice with a goal in mind, a purpose and more than anything making sure it’s fun. If they have fun, they are more likely to learn what we’re trying to teach them.”

It is clear that the team has been learning what Alvarez and Cuellar are teaching. Earlier this year they closed out their U14 year by winning the US Club Soccer U-14 Super Group Western Regionals. They then went on to win the 2012 US Club Soccer National Cup in the U-14 Super Group division. Finally, the boys kicked off their U15 year by defeating San Diego Surf SC 97-98 by a 3-0 score to win their division at Surf Cup. . All this success has gone together to earn the team (as of publication) a National Rank of No. 5 and a No. 2 ranking in Region 4 and California South.

"To have a team of this quality and profile in our club is fantastic,” said Co-Director of Coaching Billy Garton. “We are truly proud of Melvin, Fernando, the parents and of course the players for the credit that they bring to Manchester soccer club. Their achievements recently are exceptional and should not be under estimated. To win consistently, at the level they are playing, is remarkable. Well done to all concerned."

Co-Director of Coaching Jeff Illingworth is equally proud of the team. “Melvin and Fernando are two coaches who truly give their players everything they have,” he said. “Their dedication is unique and their players respond with top quality, national level results. This is a true "team" in every way. We at Manchester are truly inspired by this great group.”

Manchester SC BU15 on SoccerNation News
2012 Surf Cup U15 Champions

Congratulations to the Manchester SC BU15 team: Eduardo "Pollo" Rodriguez, Jose Acosta, Luca Delatorre, Ryan Friedman, Kyle Diaz, Alan Quintero, Ulices Vasquez, Alexis Velela, Jonathan Leal, Gersom Galindo, Alejandro "Alex" Medina, Eric Cuellar, Matthew Ingraham, Arturo Uribe, Joseph King, Angel Lozano, Jose "Bubu" Palacios, Anthony Oliva , Jesus Ibarra and Ricardo "Raul" Sevilla Ramos.

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