Manchester Soccer Club Player Roman Martin (4): distributing in Barcelona Cup semi-final match
Youth Soccer News: American-Born Player Shines with Brazilian Club on European Tour
SoccerNation caught up with Roman Martin, freshly back from a soccer tour this summer in Europe. Locally, Martin is a member of the U-15 Academy team at Manchester Soccer Club in San Diego and plays his prep soccer at La Jolla Country Day, where he is a rising sophomore.
In many ways, Roman Martin is like other talented youth players in America. He wants to improve, work with great coaches and play top level, competitive soccer.
But he was also looking for something different.
After six years at the Nomads Soccer Club in San Diego, Martin chose to switch clubs last summer and join Manchester Soccer Club in Carmel Valley - Del Mar area, a Southern California soccer club increasingly garnering national attention.
Manchester SC is home to some of the top youth soccer coaches and was co-founded by Billy Garton, the former Manchester United defender with Jeff illingworth. Warren Barton, FOX Soccer pundit and commentator is also a coach at this club.
One of the draws at Manchester is the club's commitment to give youth players international exposure. "Roman is getting that and more," said Jeff Illingworth, Co-Director of Coaching at Manchester. "He is one of those special players that knows where he is going and is doing all the right things to get there."
Last summer, Illingworth took his nationally-ranked U-14 team to train and play with many of the top clubs in Brazil, including Sao Paulo FC, Palmeiras FC and Corinthians. "No question about it," said Illingworth. "It was a great experience for our young footballers."
With that exposure, and relationships forged from the trip, Martin was invited to join a travel squad from Sao Paulo for a European tour.
In late June, Roman Martin flew to Barcelona, Spain to join Clube Esportivo Ordin from Sao Paulo. Martin said the key to being accepted with his new teammates was his first Futsal practice in Spain. "I was adjusting to the 9-hour time zone change from San Diego and anxious before that first practice," said Martin, "so I just focused on keeping my game simple and keeping the ball moving."
|Roman Martin (center front row): Clube Esportivo Ordin 1997s in Finland before Helsinki Cup Semi-Finals
|Roman Martin (4): pressing the attack in Spain at Barcelona Cup
The coaching staff liked what they saw. Martin stepped into a starting role the following day for Clube Esportivo's 1997 squad in the Barcelona Cup and hasn't looked back, going on to compete in many of the top international tournaments across Europe, including Spain, Portugal, Finland and Sweden.
With a semi-final appearance in the Barcelona Cup and yet another semi-final finish in the Helsinki Cup, it has been a magical run for the SoCal footballer.
What Martin says he enjoyed most about the trip was the Brazilian's up-tempo, attacking style. "As a team, we got numbers into the attack, shared the ball well and played with a lot of confidence," said Martin.
When asked what the biggest challenge was, Martin said it was communication. "The coaching staff and players spoke Portuguese, and I had to adapt," said Martin.
"I just had to rely on the fact that soccer has a language of its own, and it was up to me to adjust to their 4:2:3:1 attacking scheme and ask for help translating when I didn't understand what the coach was saying."
Throughout the tour, Martin played an attacking midfield role for Clube Esportivo and delivered results, leading the team in assists. He also notched a key goal to give Clube Esportivo a berth in the playoffs in Barcelona.
"My coaches were encouraging me to continue my runs into the box and look for my shot more. Right before the half, I made a run out of the midfield and got on the end of cross from the corner, finishing with my left foot," said Martin.
It was an important goal and it came at a key moment in the tournament.
"I think my coach was even more excited about it than I was,” said Martin.
“He ran all the way out on the field to hug me.” Martin's scoring continued into the Helsinki Cup where he also registered 3 goals.
Martin also competed in the Gothia Cup. There were 253 teams in U15 group from 80 countries in world participating at the Gothia Cup this year. Martin's team won their bracket and were defeated in the single elimination playoffs.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity to have an experience like this,” said Martin.
"I've always tried to take something away from every coach and every practice session – and playing in Europe was definitely a big positive for me.”
Martin returns to SoCal the last week of July to rejoin Manchester for the highly competitive youth soccer tournament, Surf Cup.
Martin then leaves the following weekend to tour England with his SoCal side, where they will train and play with youth sides from clubs such at Manchester City and Liverpool.
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