Vail Valley’s Freedom FC, local arena soccer league team, opens season Saturday
Freedom finished third in the nation last season
The Freedom FC took a serious run at last year’s national title and has \its eye on another title run this season.
The Freedom opens its 2020 season at noon Saturday in the Edwards fieldhouse, the first of five home games. If all goes well, and for the Freedom it usually does, the team might take a trip to Houston in late March for the Premier Arena Soccer League nationals.
“We’ve been practicing hard and things look good,” head coach Mike Schneider said.
Saturday’s opener opponent is New Mexico Elite FC, from Santa Fe, New Mexico.
“We know they’re pretty good. We know we’re pretty good too,” Schneider said.
The Freedom finished third in North America last season and saw a couple of their players, Cesar Castillo and Marco Escobar, invited to play for the U.S. national team. Castillo played for the U.S. against Brazil and Mexico in what were supposed to be friendlies, although, he says that any time those teams square off it’s hardly friendly.
Soccer and international relations
Freedom FC is a study in indoor soccer, as well as local and international relations.
Castillo and Escobar are in good company with this season’s version of the Freedom, including Marco’s two brothers Kevin and Nestor.
Schneider and assistant/goalie coach Luciano Cruz are back for their fifth year.
Players fare from the United States, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Europe and Chile and other spots on the globe, as well as Vail Valley Soccer Club and local high school standouts.
Along with Castillo and the Escobar Brothers, returning are Efren and Diego Gonzalez, Eric Briones, Martine Vasquez, Alex Zeyla, Alex Trujillo, Stevie Palma, Ricky Coraveo, Roberto Diaz, Fabian Tapia, Brandon Gallegos, Freddy Salgado, Josa and Jona Vasquez, Sal Cruz and Pedro Rivera.
Schneider and Cruz are bringing along several younger players, including Mahe Denilson, Saul Siniloa, and Eric Ramos.
“All of these players compete in La Liga ( the regional outdoor summer league), so you might have seen them play locally,” Schneider said. “A lot of them played at Battle Mountain and with the Vail Valley Soccer Club.”
Sponsors still needed
The Freedom has been playing together since 2009. It has a couple of sponsors, and that’s helpful, but they could use more, Schneider said.
The move from the Premier Arena Soccer League to the Major Indoor Soccer League — arena soccer’s version of The Show — is not a question of talent for the Freedom. It has plenty of that. It’s money the team lack. The entry fee is out of its reach, at least for now.
Arrigoni Woods and Lost Range CBD manufacturers are on board as sponsors, but they need more, Schneider said.
About arena soccer
Arena soccer is a little like playing soccer inside a pinball machine. They play the ball off the wall, off the nets behind the goal and off of each other.
Six field players and a goalie per side fight for turf in an area about the size of a hockey rink.
Like hockey players, they rotate on and off the field every few minutes, which Schneider says keeps them fresh.
“It’s a physical game,” Schneider said.