BY MICHAEL KELLY
A selection of locally based travel soccer teams are seeking extra players for the spring portion of their seasons.
“We’re just trying to swell our numbers a little bit,” said Darren Pearson, who coaches the Mohawk United U16 and U17 boys squads.
Mohawk United is a soccer club that offers teams for players past the U14 level. It is connected to the Niskayuna Soccer Club. Pearson coaches the boys teams, while Steven Adams coaches the program’s girls squad. Mohawk United is still primarily made up of players from Niskayuna, but Adams said the decision was made several years ago to rebrand these older travel soccer teams to allow players from other communities to play on them, since participation tends to fall off as players get older and there may not be enough prospective players in town.
“So, we tried to make it less Niskayuna-oriented and opened it up to the rest of the [local soccer] community,” Adams said.
The Mohawk United squads just wrapped up playing in an indoor league and are about to move their practices outside to prepare for their outdoor spring season, which begins in April. The clubs mainly play local games but travel to a few tournaments in the mid-Atlantic region, and practice once or twice a week.
Cost for the full season of action ranges from $500 to $700, but new players would be coming aboard for only the second half of the season.
Adams said he has players from several area high schools on his team, while Pearson has a similar number. Mohawk United is not an elite travel squad, so players come from a wide variety of backgrounds; Pearson said his team ranges from varsity players to athletes who have not yet played junior varsity soccer. He said players without extensive high school soccer experience are welcome to come try out for his team.
“Guys can come out, practice, meet the guys, and they can see if this is something they want to do,” said Pearson. “We can always find a space for somebody.”
Baseball is taking a couple players from Pearson’s squads, while Adams is losing at least one of his players to lacrosse. With short rosters already, both Adams and Pearson are looking for a few players each to get their respective rosters up to at least roughly 18 players.
“But we’ll take as many as want to play,” Pearson said of his teams. “That’s our whole philosophy, to get as many people playing as possible.”
Noah Daviero grew up playing in the Niskayuna Soccer Club and transitioned to the Mohawk United program a couple years ago. A junior who played varsity soccer for the first time this past fall at Niskayuna High School, Daviero said his offseason work with the travel program had helped him immensely.
Playing this winter in an indoor league with the squad, Daviero said the time playing with Mohawk United while snow has been on the ground has him ready to hit outdoor pitches this spring — and next fall when he returns to his school team.
“This way, your ball-handling didn’t suffer over the winter and you got better, not worse,” Daviero said.