Boca OC invited into Innovated International
Pathway and joins New Partnership with
Crossfire, SD Surf, and Real Colorado to
Expands Professional Playing Opportunities
for Local Players
Boca OC has been invited join a new partnership with Crossfire, San Diego Surf and Real
Colorado to opens the door to more professional opportunities for local players
Working in concert with three of the most respected youth soccer clubs in the nation, Boca OC is
thrilled to announce the inclusion of the new partnership aimed at increasing opportunities for
players to move on to professional clubs abroad.
Joining together with Crossfire, San Diego Surf and Real Colorado, Boca OC has agreed to
annually form elite selection squads at three ages—Under-15, Under-17 and Under-
19—comprised of the top players from the four clubs. These teams will then represent the clubs
in Europe over a 10-day span in August of each year starting in 2020. The cost of this trip will
be covered by the three clubs. This is to ensure that all qualified players can participate
regardless of their financial situation.
“This was simply a no brainer. When I recently sat down with Bernie James (Crossfire DOC)
and he spoke to me about this innovative program they had created and the opportunities it
would give our players, I said WE ARE IN!” explained Director of Soccer and Player
Development Jimmy Obleda. “This program would not limit our youth players and their
professional opportunities (MLS ties players with homegrown contracts that limit their choices).
We see this as a major advantage—our players can go anywhere they find the right fit, and as a
club, we can put our resources towards opening those doors for them.”
AcademyTrips.com, will be handling all the planning and logistics on the European end for the
clubs, with the three age groups set to travel together. The groups will base in eastern Holland,
playing four or five friendlies with professional clubs, including KAA Gent and KRC Genk in
Belgium, FC Cologne in Germany and SBV Excelsior Rotterdam of the Dutch Eredivisie.
Professional scouts from dozens of other European clubs are slated to attend the matches to get a
firsthand look at the American players, who will also train with the coaching staffs of another set
of clubs while on the continent.
“This is really setting up to be an amazing opportunity for the top players in our club,” Obleda
continued. “Most of our players are headed to college, which is fantastic. They’re going to play
soccer at top universities and get great educations. But there is also a group of players who
aspire to play the game professionally, and we need to make sure we have a clear pathway
available for them. Increasingly, that pathway can mean starting out in one of the European
leagues, where playing and developing youth remains a priority.”
Before the most recent SuperDraft held in Chicago, 321 players had been selected in the MLS
Draft since 2013. Only 30% of those players have ever stepped on the field in an MLS game. In
fact, from 2015-2017, if not a top 10 pick, there was only a 1-in-5 chance of a player being
drafted and still being on an MLS roster in year two as a pro.
Two Boca OC products, Amirgy Pineda and Mark Hernandez, are currently playing in the USL
system and are being looked at by MLS clubs, but Obleda points out, broadening the
opportunities available, and doing it at an even younger age, can only help our young players
move towards achieving their dreams of professional soccer.
In 2017, American players under the age of 22 played less than 2% of the minutes available in
MLS, one of the lowest numbers of any major professional league in the world and paling in
comparison to many European leagues, which range from 4.2% in Serie A to 7.6% in the
Bundesliga and up to 9.5% in France’s Ligue 1. And it’s not just the youngest Americans who
are finding game minutes hard to come by. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the percentage of
minutes for all U.S.-born players in MLS has fallen from 52.7% in 2013 to 42.2% last season.
This coincides with a time when American players are more welcome in Europe than ever
before, including at the best clubs and in the best leagues. From high-profile stars such as
Christian Pulisic to the pair of teenagers who signed for Bayern Munich last month, the young
American player is getting opportunities like never before. On any given matchday in the
Bundesliga this year, for instance, five Americans under the age of 21 may find themselves in a
first-team starting lineup.
“Our goal is to provide our players with all the routes possible for them to make their dreams a
reality. We feel it’s our job to make sure we open every doorway for them.”
“In only three years, Boca OC has become a nationally recognized club for developing great
players. Our methodology is proving to be working and is reaping its rewards. Year by year we
are adding another layer to our player pathway. We are extremely excited to add this new layer
to our program,” Obleda stated. “It started with our top 04 boys’ team competing in Europe
against the best clubs (Quarter finalist at the Donosti Cup) in the world. Now every year
beginning at Under-10, some of them will be are getting multiple opportunities.”
Add this with the club’s range of development programs, Obleda continued, and there is a
proven pathway to professional soccer, whether those opportunities come at home or abroad.
“When you have a kid in your club, under your coaches’ tutelage, from the age of 7 or 8 through
19, you feel it’s incumbent on the club to continue providing for their care, to give them real
options to continue growing in the game. Now, with the addition of this new international
program and all of the trial opportunities our players are receiving in Europe, we can really say
we’re opening up more doorways for our players than ever before. Deciding to walk through
those doors will be up to them.”
For more information, visit www.bocaocsoccer.com. Get up-to-date news and information on all
Boca OC teams, players and programs on Twitter at @ boca_oc and Instagram at boca_oc.