• October 12, 2022

This weekend, ECNL San Diego was a chance for clubs from all across the country to experience the grandeur and excitement of an ECNL National Event. For some, it was the opportunity to experience that for the first time.

Located in Portland, United PDX is a club brand new to the ECNL. They are the only boys club in the ECNL located in Oregon and believe that the ECNL is the perfect platform for them to achieve the vision of their club. 

United PDX Academy Director, Matt Broadhead, discussed the aspirations of his club and why it was important for his club to join the ECNL to meet those goals.

“We’re a very aspirational club and to be here with all these other aspirational clubs that have similar visions is refreshing,” Broadhead said. “It’s nice to be back with a lot of the big name clubs that we all know. It’s a different measuring stick for us which we desperately need in our market.”

Broadhead believes one of the most important things for United PDX is helping his players advance into college and he believes the ECNL is the perfect platform for that opportunity.

“College placement is a huge deal for our club, helping kids get to the next level, and so we definitely felt this was the platform to do it.”

When coming to ECNL San Diego, Broadhead says the impression it leaves on his players is so important, because it helps motivate them moving forward.

“The one that sticks every time, when they leave … they always go back setting goals, and it’s like a new start to their journey.”

A great experience that inspires players to higher goals is exactly the point of the ECNL.

Broadhead also emphasized that learning how to travel is a big part of developing his players and knowing the professionalism that comes with an ECNL event makes it an easy decision to want to travel to them. 

“Learning how to travel is a super important part of being an athlete in the United States, these guys need to learn how to travel and that professionalism of how you travel and how you handle your business,” said Broadhead. “When we travel and jump on a plane, we know an ECNL event is going to be legit.”

Another club experiencing their first ECNL National Event this weekend was ECFC Salinas, and they came in making an absolute statement, winning all three of their games over the weekend.

ECFC Salinas is a club with a prominent Hispanic background. About 98 percent of the club is of Hispanic descent. Director of Coaching, Julio Sanchez, explained that Salinas is a city with a large population that traces their roots to Mexican immigrants who helped establish the agricultural industry that Salinas is known for.

“Soccer has always been Mexico’s primary sport. It has always been the sport that they’ve introduced their kids to and it’s kind of followed a few generations,” Sanchez said. “Those are the kids that are now starting to play for our top-level leagues like ECNL.”

Head coach Daniel Pulido discussed how important a national event like this is for his team, especially at a time when it also gives his players the opportunity to celebrate their own heritage during Hispanic Heritage Month.

“I think it’s very important to have our kids out in these kinds of events,” Pulido said. “It’s always good for us to do great things this month, and we all feel it when it’s our Hispanic Heritage Month. We’re all just more united.”

Pulido also described the extra sense of pride he tried to instill in his players before each game. “We try to emphasize it at the beginning, so they know,” Pulido said. “At this age maybe, they don’t understand it fully, but we try to have them understand it as much as possible.”

“I think giving them that little boost and telling them you’re not just fighting for yourself, you’re not just fighting for your team, you’re fighting for a club, for the heritage month, and for each other.”