By Michael YEGHIAYAN
Young fans of “the beautiful game” came out in force last Thursday to take part in a soccer clinic developed by the Los Angeles Galaxy organization. Members of Glendale’s AYSO Region 88 were in attendance at the Glendale Sports Complex for an evening of soccer instruction with the current major league soccer – MLS – champions.
The Los Angeles Galaxy and the Glendale AYSO region have a long history that reflects the area’s dedication to youth soccer. Since 2006, the club has held two clinics a year in the Glendale area. Last week’s event brought 112 participants from AYSO Region 88 who took part in the clinic.
The star of the evening was Los Angeles Galaxy and United States soccer legend Landon Donovan, who was in attendance. The United States men’s national team all time goal scorer and assists leader and co-captain of the Galaxy took questions from the group and set aside time to take photos and sign autographs.
Brian Leon, a representative for AYSO Region 88, heaped praise on Donovan and the entire Los Angeles Galaxy organization.
“It was really fun, some of the kids were star struck from spending so much time up close with such a great player like that,” said Leon. “Landon [Donovan] was walking around, signing autographs. He made a point of sticking around and everyone could see what a humble, genuinely nice guy he is.”
Even the scorching summer heat did little to dampen the spirits of anyone involved in the event.
“That day was really hot, and I was joking with [Region 88 commissioner] Aldo Mascheroni because he gave Landon a Region 88 scarf as a gift for coming,” continued Leon. “But Landon immediately put it on and wore it the rest of the night.”
Once participants overcame their awe of the U.S. soccer legend, they held light scrimmages, dribbling exercises and shooting drills. The clinic itself was run by 2002 United States National Team World Cup veteran Clint Mathis along with four Los Angeles Galaxy Academy staff coaches. Mathis began his career with the Galaxy in 1998 and later enjoyed a successful spell in Europe, playing for German Bundesliga side Hannover 96. He eventually returned to the Galaxy, retiring as a member of the club in 2010. Mathis also earned 46 caps with the United States men’s national team.
“I think the kids got a nice workout and everyone who came out will never forget it,” said Leon. “I can’t wait to be a part of this event again; it was absolutely fantastic.”
The Galaxy is one of the most successful teams in MLS history and is tied with D.C. United for the most league titles with four apiece. The 2012 MLS Cup Trophy was also in attendance at the event, representing the club’s second consecutive league title.
Also participating were The Galaxy Futboleros who provided entertainment through a series of soccer tricks juggling skills. The club’s street-football team also put on a dribbling show and participated in the clinic.
The Los Angeles Galaxy will continue its campaign to defend its championship and earn a third straight MLS Cup Trophy for the 2013-14 season. The team will next play the Colorado Rapids in a home match at the StubHub Center in Carson on Sept. 7 at 7:30 p.m.