This Thursday our first team will host our brand new u23 squad in a friendly at the NIU Soccer Complex at 7pm. It's the first official meeting between our two teams and we're excited at what this game represents.
Behind the scenes we are aware that a commitment to local talent is not only consistent with our mission but also necessary for long term sustainability. In preparation for our first two seasons we had over 220 players attend tryouts to play for us, but only a small number were actually from DeKalb County. Problem? Not necessarily. The young men who've turned up and made the team have been hard workers, dedicated to the club and they understand the importance that our community plays in this club's existence.
But for growth in our own backyard, we also realize that fans want to see players they recognize on the field. My personal ambition is to provide a platform and opportunity for the kids coming up from DeKalb, Sycamore, Rochelle, Rockford and surrounding areas.
We've got a very good first team right now, but how do we try to build depth in the squad from our own community? The realistic nature of this level of soccer is that even the players have barriers that limit the time they can put in. Drive time of an hour or more each way to trainings and games can sometimes be restrictive and it makes sense that a player who lives 10 minutes away is more likely to be present and on time.
Let me be clear, many current players have proven that distance is no excuse. If you want something you make it happen and we've got some guys who spend a lot of windshield time to be a part of this club. We appreciate that commitment more than we can express!
The creation of the u23 team seemed like a logical step forward for the club as we look to continue to develop local players and provide those opportunities as we set out to. Coach Hamilton and Coach Lichamer have only had their team together for about 5 weeks now so there's been a little bit of "getting to know each other" along the way. But they have a young, talented squad that is getting more than ready to step onto the big field and showcase themselves.
The future looks bright for DKCU on the field. After a 5th place finish in 2018, we ended the UPSL campaign in 2nd place in 2019. We brought back a number of guys so there was some shared experience to build on and we saw local guys like Patty Smith (goalkeeper, Sycamore) and Angel Martinez (midfielder, DeKalb) grow from backups in 2018 to starters this season for the first team. Those two guys are both 20 and under and they're getting the job done. But we've got about 30 other young men on the u23's who are doing work also and trying to grow and maybe in 2020 they make the move to the first team.
Maybe on paper it's not as sexy to play another team within our own club instead of an opponent from another state. Sure we could do that at a training session some evening and never tell anyone. But we're proud of these u23's and we think they deserve a shot to step up against Beto, Dusty, Shane, Lukasz, Schmitty and the boys.
We're one club, and one community. I hope you'll all turn up Thursday and celebrate the hard work ALL our players and coaches put in to make DeKalb County United one of the top amateur clubs in the country.
My money is on DKCU.
DeKalb County United