Vail Valley’s pro arena soccer team earns national title run
Nationals might be rescheduled for later this summer
You’ve heard it said, “You can’t win ’em all.” The Freedom FC won all but one of them on their way to their Premier Arena Soccer League division crown.
They bought plane tickets for Houston, Texas, where the national finals were supposed to be played. They were practicing hard … until the end of March. Now they’re not. The national finals were canceled, along with thousands of other events around the country because of COVID-19. The team had even bought airline tickets.
They’re disappointed, but they get it, Freedom FC coach Mike Schneider said.
“It can always be scheduled for another time. We all have to be smart about this,” Schneider said.
PASL Commissioner Kevin Milliken sent word that the national finals had been canceled. Maybe they’ll be rescheduled for later this summer. Maybe it’ll be an exercise in delayed gratification
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It would be worth the wait, Schneider said. The PASL national champion plays the champions from Guatemala and Mexico.
Along the way to their division title, Freedom FC scored 54 goals in eight games. The team’s average winning margin was five goals per game. Its only loss came against the New Mexico Elite in a road game, a team Freedom FC beat 9-1 earlier in the season.
If the PASL finals are rescheduled, it’ll be the Freedom FC’s second straight national title run. The local club finished third in the nation at last year’s nationals in Cincinnati.
Last year’s trip to Cincinnati saw 11 Freedom FC players pile into a pair of rented SUVs and ride 18 hours each way to the Queen City, where they played four games in two days.
A few key players did not make that Cincinnati trip. Schneider likes to look forward, in this case to a possible national title run later this summer.
“If we can stay healthy we like our chances. We have a good chance of winning it,” Schneider said. “I think we’ll be very well prepared this time. We won’t be leaving key players behind.”
About Freedom FC
Freedom FC has been around since 2009 and joined the PASL in 2010. Last year in Cincinnati was the furthest the team has ever advanced in the playoffs.
The PASL is happy to have the local club.
“We are excited to have a robust Rocky Mountain division,” Milliken said. “Some of our most exciting rivalries the last 10 years or so have been in Central Colorado, and now we can branch out to New Mexico as well.”
In the season finale, Freedom FC drubbed Longmont’s Nisola Futbol Academy Riders 8-2.
“They were a good team. We’re just better,” Schneider said.
Freedom players schedule training and games around jobs and families. They practice at 10 p.m. Thursdays in Mountain Rec’s Edwards fieldhouse because they share it with other soccer clubs, lacrosse leagues and all sorts of other activities.
After they wrapped up last year’s season in Cincinnati, Cesar Castillo and Marco Escobar were invited to play for the 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. Players hail 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.
Castillo and Escobar are in good company with Marco’s two brothers Kevin and Nestor, Efren and Diego Gonzalez, Erick 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 assistant/goalie coach Luciano Cruz are back for their fifth year.
Schneider and Cruz are bringing along several younger players, including Mahe Denilson, Saul Siniloa, and Eric Ramos.