Adidas continues to embrace the small-sided game as it launches some of its latest gear, in this case the Speed of Light pack for which the brand partnered with UrbanFutsal LA and Niky’s Sports for a 5v5 youth tournament at The Base LA. Participants included L.A.-based players 17 to 21 years old from Olympiacos, Hollywood FC, United FC, Autobahn, and Yeezy, who played for top honors and a prize including two tickets to the Chelsea v. Liverpool International Champions Cup at the Rose Bowl, and a pair of the Speed of Light Messi boots.
Santa Monica’s Autobahn Soccer Club clinched the win with a 1-0 victory over team Yeezy. “We came into the tournament wanting to win it,” said Autobahn’s Dominic Valdina, whose brother Collin played in goal. “We decided to play a diamond formation, 1-2-1, and basically we wanted to play as hard as we could. I know my brother is a great goalie, and we just didn’t stop pressing.”
The crew seemed to be a true family affair with Autobahn’s Luis Tamayo and his father joining forces to help the team stay focused, and undefeated, throughout the tournament. “It was pretty different [than full-field soccer] because it’s a small space. You have to work hard every minute, every second,” said Luis. His father, Jaime, acted as the replacement coach that day and told the team, “It doesn’t matter if you win, tie, or lose. Always keep your head up. Enjoy and focus.” Wise words for a talented group.
I think American soccer is going to improve dramatically as small-sided games become a big part of the landscape.
John Lee, who has been one of the key driving forces behind the recent series of small-sided tournaments in Los Angeles, explained that “small-sided street games and futsal make players better by making them think beyond the obvious normal ‘good move’ that normally works when you have a lot of space. It adds a sophisticated element and helps refine your game.” Organizers even hired a ref who grew up playing street football in Brazil, who allowed for hard contact while calling appropriate fouls. “I think American soccer is going to improve dramatically as small-sided games become a big part of the landscape,” said Lee.
Photography by Imad Bolotok for Urban Pitch.