(Nate Abaurrea and Ziggy Korytoski caught up to discuss Albion PROS recent win, their difficult beginning to the 2017 NPSL season, their participation in the historic US Open Cup, and more. Here’s Part 2 of the conversation.)
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): Ziggy, how would you respond to someone saying that it seemed as if Albion PROS had really let off the gas pedal in this 2017 NPSL season?
Ziggy Korytoski (HC Albion PROS): I’d encourage them to come see what we’re doing here. It was a tough start to the season, but results do not tell the whole story.
Our guys are training 4-5 times a week and performing on weekends, playing at home here in San Diego and traveling around the Southwestern Conference. These players are sacrificing so much, and they are all committed to this team. So that would be my response. Come see for yourself what we’re doing. The door’s always open. Come on in and check this club out.
Also, there is definitely not a harder working coaching staff in the league. No results, good or bad, are ever gonna change that. Whether it’s myself and the rest of our fantastic coaches or any of our players, the foot is firmly planted on the accelerator. We’re ready to keep battling.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): What are the traits of this team that you admire most, or that you perhaps focus on quite a bit with this team? How have those traits helped you and your squad navigate through a difficult start to the 2017 campaign?
Ziggy Korytoski (HC Albion PROS): We have an incredibly intelligent team. That’s something I greatly admire about this group. It’s not just about the hard work these guys put in day in day out. To be quite honest, hard work is expected. You better be working hard if you want to succeed at this level. What’s not always a given when it comes to any team all the way to the highest levels in the world is the ability to always be thinking the game. We have so many students of the game that are part of this team, and that serves us so well. The intelligence of these players is massively important for what we want to do. We’ve got guys who’ve played at high levels and we’ve got young guys getting their first professional experience. The intelligence level of the team gets everyone on the same page.
Kuba (Jakub Waligorski) was recently an All-American for UCSD. He’s 24 and has some serious potential, and is already such an intelligent player. Then you’ve got a guy like Frankie (Sanfilippo) who’s been playing professional soccer for 13 years and has so much experience under his belt. So many of our attacking players have ample professional experience and it helps everyone in the squad. The mental side of soccer is what I enjoy most it all, actually thinking about how we are gonna do what we want to do. And that’s what I enjoy the most about this group, my ability as a coach to play the thinking man’s game based on the top notch professionalism of my squad.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): You spoke earlier of an ability to battle. Let’s talk about an upcoming battle for your team, something that definitely sparks a flame of interest in the minds of knowledgeable American Soccer fans. It’s the US Open Cup, with Albion PROS hosting Chula Vista FC on Wednesday May 10th.
Ziggy Korytoski (HC Albion PROS): Everyone’s excited. It’s the Open Cup! It’s the oldest soccer tournament in our country and one of the oldest in all of the world. We’re very proud that we qualified through what we accomplished last year. We’ve got the depth to compete in the NPSL and make a serious run in the Open Cup. It’s gonna be challenging for sure, playing a lot of two game weeks, going Wednesday-Saturday-Wednesday etc. It’s definitely gonna be a challenge. But we’re up for it. And we can’t wait for May 10th. We are fully embracing the night.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): Tell us a little more about what the US Open Cup means to you, Ziggy.
Ziggy Korytoski (HC Albion PROS): I love this tournament. It’s something where the more and more it gets promoted the more it can truly come to the forefront of our soccer culture.
Back in college, playing in various summer leagues, we would have the opportunity to play in the US Open Cup and potentially be matched up against professional players. You see the stories of little clubs slaying giants, big names getting beaten by minnows. It can be magical.
Of course, everyone goes into it with different approaches. Some teams are in it to win it. Some look at it as a chance to get valuable youth experience. We are definitely here to win.
It’s so similar to the FA Cup in England, and it’s something we need to value as a part of our American Soccer culture. The history of this thing is just incredible. We’re talking over 100 years!
Many of your readers and the real deeply involved folks in American Soccer know all about what the Open Cup means and what it represents. But I think if the community at large comes out for this game on May 10th and gets a little understanding as to what it all means and they really support this team and this competition, they’re gonna be hooked.
It’s one and done. You lose and you’re out of the tournament. It’s that simple. You get three subs, and it’s on you to perform.
The US Open Cup provides us with the opportunity to provide for the people of San Diego. We want to give our fans and this community at large top notch soccer entertainment.
For me, with all this in play, it doesn’t get much better than the Open Cup. And with Chula Vista FC being the team coming to Mission Bay on Wednesday, May 10th, it’s somewhat of a local derby, which just adds to the whole experience. There’s gonna be a really good energy at that game. I know it. We want the community to come see what it’s all about. It’s gonna be a special night.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): Coach, wrapping this thing up with a quick turn back to the NPSL season. We’ve spoken about the rough start. What does that rough start mean going forward for you and your team?
Ziggy Korytoski (HC Albion PROS): It means we’ve got some games to win! We’ve got some catching up to do, and we’re ready to be back on track and back where we need and expect to be.
The NPSL is strong this season, our conference in particular. FC Arizona is the real deal. So Cal SC is a solid team, capable of beating anyone on their day. Riverside Coras are getting better every day and they’re sitting atop the table. We certainly haven’t had all the luck. Maybe some of the bounces that went our way last year haven’t done so early on in this season. But that’s professional soccer. There’s no reason we can’t do everything in our power to win, In this Southwestern Conference, every game is a massive challenge this season. And you know what, that’s what we look forward to. We want challenges. We embrace them. Plain and simple, we’ve got games to win.