Archive for the ‘Grow The Game’ Tag

State of the City   Leave a comment

The first two Saturdays in May brought the eleven Milwaukee Public Schools girls’ soccer teams to South Stadium and Bradley Tech High School for a pair of divisional tournaments, with the Schissler (2nd) Division playing on May 2nd and the Williams (1st) Division on May 9th.  Small surprises came in the Schissler results (Milwaukee School of Languages’ JV team drawing their matches with Carmen and Bradley Tech’s varsities, Tech winning their pool and advancing to the final), but in the end South Division showed why they are fighting to be promoted to the Williams Division in 2016 with three solid victories to win the tournament (2-0 over Madison, 10-0 over Washington, and 4-0 over Tech in the final).  In the Williams tournament, pool play ran to form (King and Reagan swept their opponents), but in the final Reagan would pick up its first-ever win over King, 1-0.  The loss to Reagan was King’s first stumble against an MPS opponent since dropping a shootout to Pulaski in the 2007 City tournament final.  The tournaments shine for a brief moment a positive light on a soccer landscape within MPS that is struggling on so many levels and which affects all its schools in one way or another.

The state of girls’ soccer in the Milwaukee Public Schools has been for most of its existence a case of a couple of teams succeeding at the expense of the rest, as no school other than King or Riverside has won a conference championship and only a handful of schools able to develop and maintain a sustainable varsity-level program.  The disparity between the top and the bottom of the MPS pecking order is vast, but there are different issues of concern amongst those schools.  For the ones at the top, it’s about being competitive outside the bounds of the city.  The next tier’s issue is how to close the gap to those top schools.  Further down, foci may include how to replicate the success of the academically-centered schools in the top tier(s), how to utilize the school’s demographics and location to foster a “playing culture” as their program’s foundation (one that runs counter to the academically-driven model of advancement), or how to build their programs to survive and compete.

In MPS, much like in women’s soccer as a whole, money (or its equivalent) matters, mirroring the problems with “pay-to-play” in the private sports sector.   The schools with “resources” (be they financial, structural, human, or demographic) are able to do well, whereas those without such benefits are resigned to a less-successful existence.  Additionally, the bleeding of these resources (either from certain neighborhoods/school zones to others or outside the city borders) place an effective cap on the ability of most schools to rise through the ranks or to shake off a period of decline, not to mention the ability of those at the top to keep pace with their suburban competition.  Academics drive EVERYTHING when it comes to girls’ soccer success in MPS, with that factor drawing the aforementioned resources which allow certain schools to be successful.  Of the six teams in the Williams Division, all but one of them involve schools that are college-preparatory (King, Reagan, and Riverside) or have a niche academic focus (School of Languages, School of the Arts, MacDowell Montessori, and Meir Montessori; Arts and MacDowell co-op with Pulaski, Meir co-ops with Riverside).  Pulaski is holding its own in its first year in the upper division, utilizing its long-standing co-op agreement with School of the Arts and its recent one with MacDowell Montessori to bridge the gap to the three college-prep schools.  School of Languages’ niche existence is both a blessing and a curse.  Being a 6-12 school, MSL is able to run an effective middle school soccer program and thus develop a pipeline for its high school teams.  The school’s small size places it in Division 3 for WIAA tournament assignment, which has the potential to be a boon.  On the other hand, that small base of students combined with a lack of 9th-grade influx to the school makes them wholly dependent on the niche draw they have and the in-house pipeline.  Their boys’ team co-oped with Vincent this past fall, but the schools’ combined population moved MSL from Division 3 to Division 1 for the state tournament and thus defeats their position in the MPS landscape as its only program in either Division 3 or Division 4 for the WIAA tournament.

So where does this leave us?  I believe a girls’ soccer summit needs to be held, one that we’d be excited to host/moderate.  Stakeholders in the future of the game in Milwaukee should meet to discuss both our mutual concerns regarding soccer in the city as well as the unique challenges faced at our places in it.  Such stakeholders might include:  the eleven MPS schools (and their co-op partners) currently playing girls’ soccer as well as other schools that might have interest; parents of current (and future?) high school players; the Milwaukee Board of School Directors; and the Milwaukee Soccer Development Group.  These entities, coming together with a common desire to elevate girls’ soccer in MPS, hopefully would create a larger discussion about academics, life circumstances, and how to best help our girls advance their personal and professional goals through high school soccer and help their schools grow the game in MPS.  If you’d like to be involved, email us at milwaukeeunitedsc@gmail.com.

Posted May 12, 2015 by Scott in Uncategorized

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All-City Conference Selections   Leave a comment

WILLIAMS DIVISION
First team
Position players: Miriam Cortez, Hamilton; Claudia Cisneros, King; Suzy Scotty, King; Erin May, Languages; Ariana Gomez, Languages; Olimpia Garcia, Reagan; Gabrielle Newton, Reagan; Gabrielle Sustache, Reagan; Makya Kirchner, Riverside; Abiline Rosas, Riverside.
Goalkeeper: Ana-Karen Valesquez, Hamilton.
Second team
Position players: Adriana Hernandez, Hamilton; Evalise Navarro, Hamilton; Kendall Edwards, Languages; Deja Davis, Languages; Jacqueline Biernat, Reagan; Ashley Hernandez, Reagan; Malee Xiong, Riverside; Shoua Vang, Riverside.
Goalkeeper: Anna Dannecker, Reagan.

SCHISSLER DIVISION
First team
Position players: Nataly Alanis, Carmen; Kimberly Lozano, Carmen; Marqueesha Smith, Madison; Ia Thao, Madison; Pang Thao, Madison; Verenice Ochoa, Pulaski; Katiushka Cruz, South; Marisia Sanchez, South; Tiffany Carter, Bradley Tech; Sandra Ramos, Bradley Tech.
Goalkeeper: Morgan Johnstone, Pulaski.
Second team
Position players: Marina Garcia, Carmen; Jade Rhymes, Madison; Daysha Harris, Madison; Jocelyn Martin, Pulaski; Zashy Torres, Pulaski; Amira White, Pulaski; Anahi Hernandez, South; Muchi Plaw, South; Braxcton Dodd, Bradley Tech; Naw Paw Say Wah, Washington.
Goalkeeper: Aliyah Williams, Washington.

Posted July 8, 2014 by Scott in Uncategorized

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MPS Soccer Saturday   Leave a comment

This past Saturday saw all eleven girls’ soccer teams from Milwaukee Public Schools in action at the same location, Pulaski Stadium on the city’s south side.  The day started at 9am with the City Tournament, comprised of seven teams.  South Division would come out on top by defeating Madison 3-1 in the final after making their way past Washington (7-0) and Carmen (2-0 on penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw) in earlier rounds.  Following the City Tournament, the top four teams in MPS took the field to complete the two-day City Cup (semifinals were played on Friday afternoon at Bradley Tech).  The School of Languages defeated Hamilton 2-0 in the third-place match and Rufus King squeezed past Reagan 1-0 in the championship match.

Our analysis of the weekend:

*  There is legitimate soccer talent at every MPS school, but it is spread out piecemeal amongst most of them (the top two or three schools have a larger number of top players than those below them).

*  The biggest problem across ALL schools and teams is goalkeeping as there seems to be little training of the position by coaching staffs or commitment to it by players.  This might be an area where we can actually help sooner rather than later, with the possibility of a goalkeeping clinic over the summer utilizing our friends, partners, and current players to provide some fundamental skill development for all interested girls.

*  Reagan is on the ascendency and should eventually overtake Rufus King as the top soccer school within MPS.  They have a young squad that is nearly as skilled as King (King has greater program depth as results of the reserve sides’ matches this year indicate) and have lost by just one goal in each of the teams’ matches this year (3-2 on April 8 and 1-0 in the City Cup final).  Being a fairly new program in MPS, Reagan does not have the history of losing by lopsided scores to King that invokes fear before taking the field against them and the team radiates a certain level of hungriness that frankly is not evident in King’s players (I’d be happy to further explain this point if anyone wishes to know more).

*  Carmen has loads of potential to become a player in the city soccer ranks over the next few years (2014 is their first season as a varsity-level program, having co-oped with Bradley Tech before playing a stand-alone junior-varsity schedule last year) given the school’s demographics and the external soccer infrastructure of the area.

*  Madison has potential as well to grow into a program that can stir up trouble for the top schools in MPS.  Their pragmatic style of play allowed them to make the final on Saturday despite being out-skilled in their matches against Pulaski and Riverside.  Combined with solid coaching,  we believe that were they to get a couple of experienced players into the school (and onto the team), it would allow them to elevate their game and begin the process of becoming a team that is capable of holding its own against First Division opposition.

I had a couple of nice conversations with parents over the two tournament days, one with the mother of a King freshman defender and one with the father of a Reagan freshman midfielder.  Their sensibleness regarding their daughters’ play and overall game quality was fairly refreshing given how some parents can be in their pursuit of “the best for their child”.  These two young ladies are examples of the kind of players we pursue, those who are overlooked, underappreciated, or ignored by the traditional soccer community.  Even with actively-engaged parents and their willingness to be supports for their kid’s pursuits (financially and logistically), the internal culture of most clubs can create obstacles that are hard if not impossible to overcome and can do damage to these players’ desire to continue in the game.  I would welcome these two into our fold and hope our visit to King on Monday evening for their return match against Reagan will spur another conversation or two about who we are and what we want to do in Milwaukee.

Below is the list of results from the weekend:

City Cup
Friday (semis)
King 6 Hamilton 0
Reagan 1 Languages 0
Saturday
Languages 2 Hamilton 0 (Third Place)
King 1 Reagan 0 (Championship)

City Tournament
First Round
South 7 Washington 0
Carmen 1 Tech 0
Madison 1 Pulaski 0
Winners Bracket
South 1 Carmen 1 (South advances 2-0 on PKs)
Madison 2 Riverside 0
Consolation Bracket
Tech 2 Washington 0 (Washington finishes 7th)
Pulaski 1 Tech 0 (fifth/sixth place)
Final
South 3 Madison 1

Posted May 6, 2014 by Scott in Uncategorized

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New Leadership at Milwaukee United SC   Leave a comment

MUSClogo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Milwaukee United Soccer Club announces the appointment of Brenda Hernandez and Ashley Saskowski to its in-house leadership team for the 2014 Women’s Premier League season.

Hernandez played her college soccer at Cardinal Stritch University in Glendale after showing for Whitefish Bay Dominican High School at the prep level.  She was co-leading scorer for the club in 2013 and brings a wealth of passion and soccer knowledge to her new on-field leadership role with the organization.  Saskowski, a native of West Allis and graduate of West Allis Hale High School, recently completed her college career at St. Norbert College in DePere and served as vice-captain for the club’s WPL team last summer.  She will provide leadership both on and off-the-field, combining her degree in business administration (with an emphasis in human resources and non-profit management) with her love of soccer to help advance MUSC’s mission.

“These appointments represent the next step in our vision of growing from within,” said Scott Viar, the club’s managing director.  “Brenda and Ashley have distinguished themselves in terms of dedication and commitment and I feel are the right individuals to help us grow the game here in Milwaukee.”

When asked about goals for the 2014 season, Hernandez would like “every member of Milwaukee United to leave at the end of the summer having learned something new about themselves as leaders and soccer players.”  Saskowski believes that Milwaukee United “can have a bigger impact in the WPL (than 2013’s 2-3-1 record) as we continue to grow as an organization” and realize the squad’s full potential on the field.

About Milwaukee United Soccer Club: Milwaukee United Soccer Club provides U16 and above girls and women from Milwaukee County and neighboring communities with high-quality, low-cost playing opportunities.  For more information, go to http://milwaukeeunitedsc.org.

Posted January 7, 2014 by Scott in Uncategorized

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Player Recruitment   Leave a comment

With all but a handful of players on our watch list finished for the 2013 college season, player recruitment takes on nearly all of our attention over the next two-three weeks.  A Tweet posted by the boss about some of the snags in the process evoked a response from one of the college coaches that follows his account, asking for further clarification.  Since there is no way to succinctly answer the question in 140 characters, we’ll lay out our philosophy here.

Our recruitment efforts begin in August with online research of area players on NCAA and NAIA rosters.  From there, we define our watch list for the purposes of in-person and online scouting.  In some years, it will be just Milwaukee County, in others it might include players in neighboring communities like Brookfield, Menomonee Falls, and New Berlin, specific players that have a connection of some sort to the club, and/or under-served and isolated soccer communities in the metro area outside of Milwaukee County.  We determine who is being scouted for possible inclusion on our summer teams, and we do that based on our own initial criteria of residency, school attended, high school play, and college play.  We also are quite clear about that criteria both on the website and in conversations we have with interested players.  Therefore, having outside soccer interests promote players to us who clearly are outside of our demographic focus (and thus not on our watch list) is something we do not look kindly upon.

Once college seasons wind down in early November, we attempt to make contact with as many players as possible from our watch list via social media or through players on their college teams who have played for us in the past.  Technology has improved so much in the last several years that we are able to go straight to the player with our invitations rather than attempt to make that contact through an intermediary (e.g., their college coach).  This direct approach also eliminates us dealing with gatekeeping from these intermediaries.  Our view is that these players are adults and can research our website for more information on who we are/what we believe and discuss their questions or concerns with us one-on-one.  We provide as much information to them as we have available given that there are always uncertainties with crafting a league schedule and securing training/match facilities several months ahead of the season and we attempt to maintain an open means of dialogue with prospects.

Being that our profile is unique in this area (female-only, competitive, high school and college/post-college players), it is possible that some may not have heard of us when their frame of reference is the well-known, U6-U99 clubs that compete prominently in the Wisconsin State League for men and in youth soccer.  We can forgive that, but we aren’t so nice when it comes to outsiders passing judgement on our methods or structure or attempting to intervene in how we pursue our goals and objectives.  We may fail at times, we may struggle on occasion to advance our mission as quickly or completely as we would hope, but we will not rest until women’s club soccer in Wisconsin is given the same respect that men’s soccer has enjoyed.

Posted November 17, 2013 by Scott in Club Philosophy

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Mark Your Calendars   Leave a comment

With November just around the corner, it’s time to talk up two big events we will have over semester break.  The first one is a combine for potential Milwaukee United SC players, to be held on Saturday, December 28th.  Our in-house coaching staff and the managing director will be “running the rule” over the prospects both on the field and in one-on-one interviews in an effort to find the right combination of athletes to take the field for one of MUSC’s teams in the Women’s Premier League.

On Monday, December 30th, MUSC will hold its first-ever fundraising banquet with the idea being to offer an affordable pre-New Year’s Eve event for our supporters and the local soccer community.  A silent auction that will be accessible both in-person and online is also planned.  In addition, a formal announcement and introduction of players for the 2014 season will be made.  Cost is $30/person, $55/couple, or $200 for a table of 8.

For more information on one or both of these events, drop us a note via the form below.

Posted October 29, 2013 by Scott in Uncategorized

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Play for Us (2013 version)   Leave a comment

This is a repost of our player pitch from last year, with some edits to bring it up-to-date.

The 2013 college soccer regular season is coming to a close, with just a handful of matches left for all teams.  Despite a number of local players expected to participate in conference tournaments (and hopefully their division’s NCAA tournaments) once the calendar turns to November, the bulk of our scouting work for the season is completed and our focus turns to planning who to invite to our two players’ events over the semester break in December.   We have stated in past entries who we are, what we want to do, and what it takes to be selected to play for us.  With that, I am going to lay out WHY you should want to play for Milwaukee United Soccer Club.

1)  We will be competitive.

With our mission being to provide increased playing opportunities for local soccer players and those from underserved soccer communities, most people might believe that we will not be able to hold our own against teams that recruit far-and-wide to bring together top-loaded rosters from (in their opinion) more prestigious programs.  That is simply not true.  Last summer, we were able to shutout three of our six opponents despite having only two traditional defenders on the roster and finished in the middle of the pack in the South division of Wisconsin’s Women’s Premier League.  This year’s watch list has eclipsed 250 points thus far and is closing in on 100 goals for the campaign, with 38 of 66 field players picking up at least one point.  The players we are looking at come from programs as diverse as the University of Central Florida, which has been ranked in the Division I polls this season, to Alverno College (an all-women’s school in Milwaukee) and Michigan Tech (located in the northernmost portion of the Upper Peninsula), and we feel these players are capable of coming together to form a pair of solid teams for the 2014 WPL season.

2)  We will help you get better for next season.

Because we have spent considerable time watching players, we are familiar with current strengths and weaknesses in their games.  As mentioned in our entry titled A Full Year Approach, we view college and summer soccer as two complementary building blocks, where each can help a player get better for the other.  A player may have been a striker in youth and prep play, but has been shifted to another position when she started college play.  We will work with the player in training and matches to develop her skills in both her “natural” position and her “college” position so that she is able to return to campus in the fall a better player and able to make a significant contribution to her college team.

3)  You will be amongst friends (and perhaps rivals).

As I go over the playing/educational backgrounds of players in the pool, I notice that there are very few cases where a player doesn’t share some common thread with at least one other player on the list.  This is important because joining a new club/team can be awkward or unnerving, just like going away to school or moving.  Since the teams will come by and large from within the borders of Milwaukee County, there is a common language of cultural references the team will have (even if it is spoken in different dialects reflective of the 19 communities which make up the county).  To quote just a few of these common Milwaukee references:  Summerfest; Bradford Beach; Kopp’s; Mayfair; The Domes; bubbler.  People outside of the Milwaukee area might not know what you mean, but anyone from here will know and have some memory/experience of them.  Our goal is to turn a group of players that come in as individuals into a cohesive sisterhood where everyone is bonded into a common purpose and fights together as one, for each other and for their hometown.

If those reasons don’t encourage you to join us, take this one:  YOU HAVE BEEN CHOSEN!  As you may notice, I mention nothing about tryouts.  That’s because all of the information we need to make roster decisions has been garnered by watching you this season (or in past seasons in the case of older players).  We know what positions you play (in general), the relative amount of playing time you get, your stats from the season, and have determined that we want you representing us on the field, all without you having to prove it in a one-day, make-or-break event against others who are fighting with you for limited roster spots and to whom you may feel no loyalty to help show their best.  It’s this cutthroat approach to the game that we are wanting to reduce or eliminate.  Sure, you will be competing with one another for space on the match day roster or in the first XI, but not for a place within the organization (unlike some clubs in the area you or I may know), and you will have a place here unless you choose to no longer play (and even then, opportunities exist to participate off-the-field with the club).

Excited?  Interested?  Fill out the form below to receive our player questionnaire and let’s get the ball rolling on having you participate in one of our play dates over the semester break.

Posted October 14, 2013 by Scott in Club Philosophy

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