By DAVID ERSOFF, Journal Sports
Semi-pro soccer returns to Shreveport-Bossier tonight on the Centenary College campus when LA Blue Goose Soccer Club hosts the Little Rock Rangers at 7 o’clock.
Blue Goose SC is the newest expansion team in the Mid-South Division of the Southern Conference of the US League Two. This league is two levels below MLS, or in baseball terms, the equivalent of minor league Double A.
Blue Goose will be playing home games at Centenary’s Mayo Field, with an artificial surface that will allow for games to be played regardless of rain. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students.
Blue Goose is coached by Will Awagu. Awagu is the founder of Elite Soccer Training and the Director/Founder of Elite Soccer Club, both here in Shreveport. Assistant coaches are Che Walcott, Rafa Muniz and Ari Mausavizadgan. Walcott is a staff coach at Elite Soccer club, as well as the assistant coach of the Centenary Women’s Soccer team. Muniz, who be a player-coach, is a Brazilian who has played in the region at different levels of semi-pro. His latest role was regional manager for the UPSL Soccer League. Mausavizadgan will be the goalkeepers coach. He played and coached in Virginia before moving to the Shreveport area two years ago.
The roster is filled with players from around the country and international players from Brazil, Australia, Europe, Africa and Canada.
The youngest player on the team is Byrd High School standout Brennan Nguyen.
”The first few practices I was really nervous and intimidated, but once I got to know some of the players, and we just started playing soccer, I felt much more comfortable,” said the 16-year-old. “I am just looking forward to learning from the high level of talent (that) I would never have been exposed to without taking a chance and trying out.”
Other local players competing for game day rosters and play time include Bruno Palmeri (Loyola, ETBU), Jayson Frink (Byrd, Converse University), Athan Cosse (Byrd, Lehigh) and Aaron Burrell (Parkway).
One of the strong recruits is Alexos Rodriguez, starting mid fielder for Division I Saint Francis (Pa.) University. He is going into his senior year this fall for the Red Flash. Rodriguez plans to graduate in December with a business degree, but is learning a little new geography in the deep South.
“I heard US League was expanding, and wanted to get involved to keep my skills sharp for my senior year. I got in contact with Coach Awagu and was drawn in by the commitment to competiton that was expressed to me, so here I am,” said Rodriguez. “My role here will be central midfield (in soccer terms the ‘8’), to assure the middle is ours, to distribute to forwards and aid in transforming defensively.”
American players include Gerardo Martinez ( LSUS and Jarvis University), Diego Martinez (Georgetown), Brendan Koplin (Adams State), Shae Writ (Presbyterian College) and Ibraham Mohamed (Dakota County, Mich., Technical College).
European players include Adam Morris, Samuel Scarth and Luke Sowerby from England; Juri Schingmann and Martin Weintschke from Germany; Marc and Gerard Feliu from Spain; Brett Ekperuoh (Sweden), Kidamu Lasaunu (France), Emmanual Fakoyede (Ireland) and Matthew Beaton (Scotland).
Players from Brazil are Rafa Muniz, Fabio Lyra, Guilherme Bittercourt and Palmeri.
The rest of the international players are Ahmed Nossier (Egypt), Inzwi Zunga (Zimbabwe), Marco Izurieta and Nicholas Atkinson (Australia), along with Canadians Ishak Chelloug and Nicholas Thebege.
CUTLINE – POLISHING FOR TONIGHT: The new local semi-pro men’s soccer team, LA Blue Goose Soccer Club, practiced on its home field at Centenary preparing for the season debut tonight. Several local high school players are on the roster.
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