Garrett Cleverly’s Tryout Experience At FC Tucson
By Garrett Cleverly
On Saturday, FC Tucson held open tryouts for their 2013 season that kicks off on January 29th, with a match against Sporting Kansas City.
After attending previous tryouts as a journalist for Real Phoenix and Phoenix FC over the past few months I figured it needed to try it once. And believe me. It is a million times different playing on the field versus watching.
Because my experience is quite comical, I decided to put that below and talk about the tryouts seriously. After the tryouts were over Head Coach Rich Shantz told me there were around 5 guys who have a serious chance to make the team. Then there is another group of players, around 5-10, who have a outside chance at making the team. By my observation the talent level was good. There were some young guys that could fly and there were also guys who had played for FC Tucson last year.
Since I was trying out, I would feel as if I was speaking out of place when it comes to evaluating the talent further. For further analysis check out this report by Ted Prezelski.
And now for my experience from the tryouts. On a side note, if any of you watch It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and saw the episode where they tryout for the Philadelphia Eagles, that could be the best way to describe my experience. You can watch that here. Skip to the 4:30 part. That is what I’m talking about.
I showed up about 10 minutes late due to my younger brother. I told him to get to my place in Phoenix at 7:30 for the 90 minute drive. He didn’t show up until 8:10. As punishment for this I have decided to show you his awesome Mario Gomez haircut he got the other day. He held up a picture at the salon and this was the end result.
When we checked in I was handed a shirt that was clearly way too big based off of a eye judgement. I make a side comment “oh, I guess it’s one size fits all.” The girl behind the table goes, “no, you showed up late and all we have left is XL.”
I’m about 5′ 8″ on a good day and 150 pounds after eating a massive burrito from Chipotle. I was swimming in this shirt. I jog over to where the players are warming up, say hello to the coaches and tell them I play CM. My brother who is about 5′ 10″ 170 says RB. The coaches then had us run around the field to test our cardio, dribble the ball in circles and ball the pass back and forth. Pretty much just basic warm up procedures. After the warm-up was complete the coaches had us go through some more advanced passing drills.
In what was not a total complicated procedure was a Y cone passing drill that literally half the players trying out couldn’t figure out. It was quite comical and annoying at the same time. After this, the coaches then divided us up into teams based on our positions. THIS IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER. After dividing us up into 4 teams we played a small sided 8v8 game that was maybe 15 minutes long before they would blow the whistle and we would sub out with players who were waiting. On my team only 2 kids admitted they played defense. Everyone else kept saying how they were FW. On a small sided game where the field is no more than 50 yards long it honestly doesn’t matter if you play defense or forward. Our team got worked in every game. I also let in the first goal. I was marking a guy, put on the brakes and then slipped. As I looked up he took the shot and scored. I was like AHHHHHH. After this things did not get better for myself or for the team.
No one on our team stayed in their position and no one knew how to run and pass. Basic soccer 101. We had one kid on our team that played 5 different positions in one game. As if he was a 8 year old who would just follow the ball. It got quite embarrassing. And the icing on the cake was when Phoenix FC’s Red Schmitt took the ball, dribbled through 5 people, faked the goalie 3 times and then lifted the ball over his head. To give you a idea watch the video. On a side note I also missed two shots. A header that went wide and I took a shot PLAYING DEFENSE that went missed the mark by a few yards to the left.
After the 8v8 games were done the coaches ended the tryouts by giving everyone a 2 hour break before we could come back and play two 90 minute games. The highlight of my day was eating at a local burrito shop based on my brothers recommendation. He totally redeemed himself here.
After attending so many tryouts as a journalist I know who the good players are almost immediately. This is usually based on who the coaches know and who is on what teams the coached divide up. After announcing the teams for the full game I took one look at mine and took the hint. Honestly I’m not horrible but I’m not anything special. In a pick up game in the park I can hold my own. But against kids is great shape who have played club their whole life I can’t compete. Of course I knew I wasn’t going to make the team but I also didn’t want to show up and waste my time.
Well after looking at the team that I was put on…well…let’s say I knew things weren’t going to go well. One of the coaches took us to a field and announced our positions. At the beginning of the game we had 4 defenders with 2 defenders on the bench. THIS IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER. After 20 minutes we had no defense because no one stayed in position. I was put in as a sub playing CM. The forwards were no where to be found, the wing players didn’t play D and our CB’s got burned. I wanted to play (not get subbed out) so I moved back to CB and told my brother to move from RB to CB with me. After this we had no defense. For the next three half’s it was my brother and I playing defense. And this isn’t a knock on us. But when you have 2 defenders trying to stop 4 attacking players every time things will never go well. I think about 10 goals got scored on us. And this is where is gets comical.
I had to explain what off-sides was to 5 players. One time I look around the see that the LB is 20 feet behind me. I ask him, “what are you doing,” he goes “marking my man,” I go “well stay up with me, it he wants to stand there let him be off-sides,” the kid goes “ya but I have to mark him.”
Another time the ball went out of play for a throw in for our team. A player picks it up and instead of throwing it in puts the ball on the ground and kicks it in. Another player was playing wing got burned like 5 times. On the 6th time and he was about to get burned he screams out “NOT TODAY, NOT TODAY,” and then proceeded to get burned again. My brother looks at me laughing and gives a what’s the point shrug. It was comical. With about 25 minutes left in the last half I’m exhausted, seriously exhausted. This kid who was playing FW comes back and says, “how many of you are playing D?” I say two. He then makes a attempt to pretend to play D and then disappears 20 seconds later back to the front.
I don’t want to be rude to these kids trying out but I don’t think a lot of them actually knew what FC Tucson was. I really wanted to ask them if they actually thought they had a chance to make the team. FC Tucson isn’t a adult men’s team. This club will be playing against MLS clubs and will compete in the highly competitive PDL season this summer.
After the game was over I couldn’t walk. I said my goodbyes and drove back to Phoenix stopping along the way to treat myself to Dairy Queen because I deserved it. Safe to say I’m not going to make the team but rumor has it, it’s also because my transfer from Divas FC (my COED team) would be too high. But then again this is just a rumor.