By Liliana Marquez
After two consecutive seasons without advancing to the playoffs, the 2014 East Los Angeles College men’s soccer team is preparing to challenge its South Coast Conference rivals with an anticipated stronger and renovated team.
This year, Head Coach Eddie Flores and his coaching staff prepared themselves and recruited players from local high schools as well as schools from Pasadena and Harbor. They also recruited players from academy club teams.
“We made a very serious effort in recruiting and we all made an effort to bring at least 10 guys each which should be a total of 60 players,” Assistant Coach Melvin Rubio said.
“That should give us a lot to pick from. The guys are excited with the team we are building and I think there’s a positive atmosphere so far.”
Flores said that they also hope to add three Argentinian players to their roster.
“Our goal is to add these guys, but they have to be students first and athletes later, so they have to be accepted to the International Students Program first. We had a Nigerian and Japanese players who came through that program, but we don’t control it,” Flores said.
Both coaches said that if these players get accepted to the program and come to play for ELAC, they would bring a different culture and lifestyle to the team.
If accepted, they are expected to arrive around July before soccer camp begins.
“They have to be enrolled in school already, but a lot of this is out of our hands,” Flores said.
The team will sport a full squad of 30 players. Rubio said that they would be able to play in any position.
He also said that having a group of talented players would be an advantage for the Huskies.
“For now we are really trying to put this team together. Once we put it together we will see how to connect the pieces,” Rubio said.
One of the main goals for the Huskies is to get the results they lacked last season where ELAC only won one match out of the 14 games disputed in South Coast Conference play.
ELAC ended 3-13-5 overall last season, 1-8-5 in the SCC.
The returning players agreed that the team had problems to capitalize last season, but they said that they have learned from their mistakes.
“To be honest, we couldn’t finish (the plays). We were just too confident, but at the end of the day when the matches came, we were the complete opposite. We didn’t perform like we thought we would,” returning player Juan Gallegos said.
Rubio said that they now have at least three natural scorers and that one of them just needs to find a small opening to shoot and score and will definitely fill in that void.
Returning player Juan Torres Garces agreed with Rubio and said, “Now we have killer forwards who are going to finish the plays.”
Another problem that the team had was its defense. Last season they received 53 goals against despite controlling most of their games. For this reason, the coaching staff is building the new team starting with the defense.
“We are bringing an experienced and mature goalkeeper, definitely a leader and a guy who is very vocal. For our defense we have two great defenders coming back. We are pretty much building our team from the back,” Rubio said.
The Huskies will have three returning players including Gallegos and Torres Garces.
As for their individual improvement, Gallegos said he is working hard on his conditioning.
“Last year my condition wasn’t really good. I would get tired during the first half. I am also trying to be more committed to the team. We are trying to think about the team and the grades,” Gallegos said.
Torres Garces said that watching the videos of their games helped him see the mistakes he made and that he is now working on fixing them.
For now the coaching staff is more focused on getting the players enrolled and ready before the camp starts.