As defending Regional and National Champions, the Fullerton Rangers know that everyone is watching them. They know they’re the team to beat, they know that expectations are high, and they know they’re defending a title.
“But by no means to we feel like we’re favorites,” says coach Jimmy Obleda.
Fullerton won last year’s Region IV crown after going a perfect 6-0, scoring 22 goals and allowing just three. Then at nationals, they scored 10 goals in four games and didn’t allow a single point against them. Needless to say, the expectations are high this year.
“We know we’re defending a title that we worked very hard to accomplish a year ago, and we went through a lot to get there,” says Obleda. “But we still feel like we have to work… It’s very difficult to repeat, because people are going to be gunning for you. We know teams are going to be giving us their best shot.”
Fullerton was dominant at last year’s tournaments because of their talented cast of characters. Forward Ricardo Ruiz was the 2011 Golden Boot winner at the National Championships. Fellow forward Amirgy Pineda is a Youth National Team player whose cousin, Ronaldo Pineda, holds down the midfield for Fullerton. Obleda says that Robert Coronado is one of the most important parts of the puzzle, as he controls the pace in the midfield.
“We have a lot of phenomenal individual players, but it’s the group as a whole that makes us successful,” says Obleda. “It’s the chemistry on the field and the camaraderie off the field that makes this team really successful.”
Fullerton Rangers sits in Group C, along with Washington Premier, Cascade FC Boca, and PVSC United.
Fullerton Rangers (Group C) – Defending Regional and National champs
CCV Stars (Group B) – Arizona State Cup champ also won the Surf Thanksgiving Tournament, and placed second in the Far West Regional League
Las Vegas SA (Group A) – They’ve won each of their last four tournaments, including Nevada State Cup and the Las Vegas Showcase
Albion SC (Group B) – Consistently in the top 3 in the Far West Regional League
Sereno (Group B) – Good performances in a handful of tournaments this spring, could be peaking at the right time
Players to Watch
Ricardo Ruiz, F, Fullerton Rangers – Youth National Team Player, US Youth Soccer National Championships Gold Ball Winner in 2011
Amirgy Pineda, F, Fullerton Rangers – Youth National Team Player, Best XI in 2011 National Championships
Billy Abdallah, Fullerton Rangers – Youth National Team Player, Best XI in 2011 National Championships
Guillermo Bermudez, D, Albion SC – Youth National Team Player
Andre Garcia, Albion SC – Youth National Team Player
Pablo Pelaez, MF, Albion SC – Youth National Team Player
Terrell Lowe, PVSC – Region IV ODP Player
Evan Waldrep, CCV – Region IV ODP Player
Reid Baez, CFC Boca – Region IV ODP Player
Quentin Person, Colorado Storm – National Team Player
Sam Velez, Utah FC – Region IV ODP