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SSA North GA

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Apr, 2018

Catching Up With Seth Blankenship and Julian Placias

In January of 2014, Pacific SC (now AYSO United) held tryouts for the U9 age group to identify the most talented players within the South OC regions of AYSO. Once identified they were placed together within the same team to accelerate their development. Our director of coaching, Grant Heywood, lead this group of players for 2 years. 3 of those selected players from back in 2014 are now finishing out their first year of playing in the US Soccer Development Academy league circuit. 

First, Diego De La Riva was selected over 18 months ago and then Seth Blankenship and Julian Placiaswere selected 12 months ago. Director of Coaching, Grant Heywood, was asked about their journey along the player pathway...

"Players hold a level of talent and we as coaches are to facilitate and maximize that potential of talent. At AYSO United we take player development very seriously and are constantly looking at how we can maximize development. We pride ourselves on quality training sessions and a developmental playing style.

With the club having a national structure, growing in stature locally, possessing more and more high-level coaches, training and playing at top quality facilities and now showing more proof of successful player development, this club is becoming one of the most prestigious club programs in the area."

The boys were asked some questions about their time at Pacific SC (Now AYSO United) and its effects on their development...

Q: During your two years at PSC South OC, what did you enjoy the most?

Seth: I think what I enjoyed the most was the camaraderie that came with playing and practicing with my teammates. I loved learning new things. Every practice, we learned something new. This was something very different from other teams I'd played with.

Julian: I really enjoyed the group of kids, and coaching. We always worked hard but had a lot of fun. 

Q: What do you remember from the training sessions? 
What was the level of enjoyment and what type of exercises would you take part in?

Julian: I remember training to be fun and fast-paced, with possession being a big focus.

Seth: I remember training sessions were intense. I can remember doing lots of ball mastery exercises and training in 1v1 situations. We also had the opportunity to scrimmage towards the end of each practice. The scrimmages were super fun. We were constantly working on making connections on the field through passing exercises as well. I remember a teammate of mine; Diego and I would always pretend we were the F2 Freestylers. I would be Billy and he would say he was Jezza.

Q: What are the similarities and differences between the sessions
you had at PSC South OC and the USDA sessions:

 Our style of play is the same at the academy level. We are constantly trying to make connections on the field through passing combinations and we build from the back always. We try and utilize the field size to our advantage by creating space while on offense and contracting on defense to put pressure on our opponents. At the academy level, we don’t focus as much on ball mastery or individual skills. We are doing a lot more 1v1s and 2v2s, focusing on attacking the goal. 

  Similarities....same playing style. Working on possession and keeping the ball on the ground. 

Q: What do you remember of the playing style at PSC South OC and how does that compare to the style being taught at the USDA?

Julian:  At PSC South OC we always played possession. And built from the back....every time. I think the Academy tries to play that way too.

Seth: Playing styles are the same. In both organizations, we focus on building from the back and play a possession-based soccer game like Barcelona and EPL teams. 

Closing comments from our Director of Coaching, Grant Heywood.

"It's great to see the boys are continuing their fast rate of development. With the roll-out of AYSO United and the club being hub based rather than an accumulation of satellite teams, I can only see the development of players becoming stronger. Players from many different cities are being brought together to increase the rate of development. This creates a very competitive environment while we ensure they have fun and stay focused. The culture is key to molding these children into good people. I believe that the environment we have here is not only developing soccer players but teaching players life lessons about discipline, commitment and working hard. Our players are in a great setting and are able to play and develop here until they move on to college. If players are selected for a DA, we put the child's interest at the forefront. Some parents may feel it is best to stay in their current environment with AYSO United. We will never hold a player back and will always respect the decision of the player/parents

To give more information about the impact of our club in the local community, our club covers a large catchment area and is a true resource towards player development in the community. The AYSO United staff are able to provide the local AYSO regions with the latest advances in player and coach development, as our members of staff continue to be selected to become US Soccer Coach Instructors. As the education increases, each level of play increases and the pathway becomes much clearer With AYSO United ticking all of the boxes, I truly believe this is the number 1 club program for elite player development. This is an environment that not only maximizes player development but enriches children’s lives.”


Southern Soccer Academy North Georgia
SSA Main Office 40 Whitlock Place, 200
Marietta, Georgia 30064

Phone: 678-594-5041
Email: [email protected]

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