The second binationals games were won by the boy’s middle school soccer team this year after a two-year tournament drought. The team led by Luis Fernando Rodriguez, the soccer coach, showed a great level of soccer throughout the tournament.
Rodriguez won binationals in 2016 and again this year, both binationals by having just one tie and winning the rest of the games. Rodriguez had a long time to prepare the team for the tournament. He did his best to have the best team possible and have the best preparation for them. In the end, his hard work paid off.
Middle School Preparations
The middle school team prepared this whole year for this tournament. The coach prepared them for what was to come in different ways.
“We trained three to four sessions, weekly depending on the weeks,” Jeronimo Pelaez, team member, said. “We are playing the San Lorenzo tournament, that gives the chance to compete for the boys that don’t play in the league, plus the friendly matches that we had before going to the tournament,” Rodriguez, said.
The current middle school soccer team prepared in various ways. The team didn’t have many players who have played on outside teams, therefore they decided to play an outside tournament called San Lorenzo. This tournament gave the people who don’t play in outside teams, or have played outside the school, have the opportunity to gain a little more level of experience and improve their way of playing. The tournament also lets the coach chose and try the different formations he likes. The friendly matches also let the coach try new things with the team.
“Normally we play with a line of four in the back, two center-midfielders, two external midfielders, one player as a that plays as a “10” and one forward. But it all depends on the type of rival,” Rodriguez said. “Our game is going out playing from the sides, it isn’t as defensive, it is more of an attacking game.”
The different formations and way of playing the coach likes are because they have worked for him in the past. He has already won the tournament in 2016 using the same formations, therefore he reused them this time and everything worked out for their advantage.
High school participation in the preparation
The high school soccer team has a greater level therefore, they trained with the middle schoolers for them to improve.
“There were some players that had a higher level, so Nando sent them to train with me.” Urbano Mesa, high school soccer coach continued, “Sometimes I used to work with some players Nando sent me that were for example defenders. So we worked to improve their defending skills.”
The High School soccer team had somewhat to do with the preparation of the middle school team for the tournament. They played friendly matches, and throughout the games, the coaches would stop the match to do some corrections and clarify some points. There were other times that the coaches would train separately and Urbano was able to help Luis Fernando by using some of the middle school players. The middle school players sent to train with high school varied depending on the type of training session each team had that day.
“Nando and I work really close together. We do training sessions just by playing with the ball. And we work with the different positions.” Mesa continued, “I didn’t have as much influence, we have had the same ideas almost. It was mostly his work and his ideas.”
The coaches are close friends, that help each other in their workspace. Urbano helped Luis Fernando by giving small suggestions but didn’t have a big influence because both have similar ideas when it comes to soccer, and both had similar expectations for the tournament.
Expectations for the tournament
“The school always has competitive teams, and where we go, we go to win. At first, I saw this team a little flimsy because they had to take some players out. I thought they had a good defense, and they were able to attack really fast because of some players they had,” Mesa said.
The expectation for the team was always to be one of the best, if not the best. Urbano may have seen things a little different than Luis Fernando. He saw some flaws in the team after some players were taken out because of low grades or behavior problems. Still, he thought the team was going to do well because they had some outstanding players, such as Jeronimo Pelaez and Alejandro Molina.
“The expectations were to be in the top three teams of the tournament. The tournament started favoring us, and the expectations had to change, and the expectation was to win,” Rodriguez said.
On the other hand, Luis Fernando, not only thought the team was going to do well, but he thought that the team would be on the top three, and that was his goal. As the tournament advanced, the tournament favored the school team, and the expectation was to win it. In the end, Luis Fernando’s team won the tournament, unbeaten throughout it, showing a great level of soccer.
“Let’s just say that the team played really good throughout the tournament,” Mesa said.
This is the binationals team that won undefeated. Jeronimo Pelaez, number nine, was the captain throughout the tournament.