“Our first trip, with more for the future, was a trip to beautiful Valencia where we played 5 games against professional clubs such as Valencia, Levante and Villarreal. No stones were left unturned as we were provided with hospitality and pre-game preparation just like professional clubs are used to that travel to play their games.” – Doug Stevenson, MUFC Captain.
With the 2015/16 MUFC Squad complete and with a solid pre season under their belts, the team were ready to have their first test of the new campaign. In that test comes a mixture of youth scholars and professional football players from La Liga giants Valencia, in addition competition from La Liga sides Villarreal and Levante would be would be in line for an eager MUFC team.
First up was European giant Valencia; showcasing 6 La Liga titles, 1 Uefa cup and 2 consecutive Champions League final appearances (01’ & 02’). Our team were under no illusion of the task ahead of them. MUFC’s opponents were Valencia’s U18 side who like their 1st team also compete in their respective age groups Champion League. The game was scheduled at their 1st teams training facilities in a town called Paterna just outside of Valencia. With an unusual rainy day in the east of Spain, the guys were fuelled and informed of the game plan. The fierce opposition led to a special experience for the players as described by our Goalkeeper from Dallas, Texas, Dylan Cook:
“Playing against Valencia was an amazing experience for every one of us. It allowed us to test ourselves against young professionals and showed us a level of play to strive for.”
With the standard set and the nerves gone, MUFC players were able to compete in a further 4 games over the rest of the week in which every player was able to showcase their talent in a minimum of 2 games. Games against Levante and Villarreal’s Segunda B team (3rd tier) were difficult tests that gave a tactical and technical master class. With future stars amongst the opposition, it was inspiring to be part of and even more inspiring to be able to compete with these elite players throughout all five games. MUFC offers these types of experiences to players several times a year. Fairfax, Virginia High School senior Jacob Labovitz (18) had this to say about his first pro tour with MUFC;
“The Valencia trip taught me a lot about ball movement and speed of play. All of the teams were so disciplined, while demonstrating smart movement on and off the ball. Playing against this standard of opposition has made me play faster, overall I felt I played well on the trip and I am looking to continue this form moving into the start of the season. Finally, it was also cool playing against people who will one day represent their club at the first team level and hopefully with more experiences like this Pro tour, I too one will be able to compete on this level.”
While the main outcome of the Pro Tour was to see that MUFC players can compete with Europe’s elite academies. Additionally, these fixtures provided an excellent gauge of where we are at and areas we need to address to allow players to proceed onto the next level, which so many MUFC players have aspirations to do.
Overall, the team had a tremendous experience in Valencia and learned about how to develop as a player and as a team. Not only did the trip provide a football experience but a cultural experience as well.
“A good first trip with others in our sights”