I had the pleasure of interviewing Albion SC Pros Captain Luke Staats. I became friends with Luke during our time in the San Diego Flash Organization. Now as one of the media sponsors for Albion SC Pros I have stayed in contact with Luke and had a great discussion about soccer on the sidelines last Saturday after Luke exited the game due to injury. We both thought that it would be cool to do an interview before the San Diego Derby was reignited this weekend. The San Diego Derby used to feature the San Diego Flash vs. San Diego Boca and will now feature Albion SC Pros vs NC Battalion. San Diego Flash and San Diego Boca are no longer around.
Albion SC Pros are coming into the game undefeated with two consecutive shutouts thanks to the amazing play of Albion goalkeeper Jean Antoine (Nominated for Mitre National Premier Soccer Leagle Player of the Week One). Albion SC Pros are also coming into this game as the top defensive team in the NPSL Southwest Division. Albion has come into the picture in a rambunctious manner from having skydivers deliver the game ball, to having 1,500/2,000 + fans attend games and finally to beating the La Galaxy II in a closed exhibition game in LA. It is time to see if Albion is the real deal as this game will feature the highest number of San Diego Soccer fans.
NC Battalion is also coming into the game undefeated with wins over SoCal SC (2-1) and FC Hasental (4-2). The NC Battalion come into the San Diego Derby as the top scoring team in the NPSL Southwest Division. On the other hand the NC Battalion have a core group all of which played on the San Diego Flash last season who won the 2015 NPSL Southwest Division crown. The NC Battalion come into Saturday’s game with the most experience of any team in San Diego. The start of an amazing rivalry has been formed and we cannot wait to see how it plays out.
Both Albion SC Pros & NC Battalion have had players nominated for the Mitre National Player of the Week award and are the only NPSL teams to have players nominated for two weeks straight. The game is this Saturday Night at 7:00 pm at Del Norte Stadium in 4S Ranch. Pricing for the game is $10 for Adults, $6 for 11-18 and kids 10 and under are free. To the winner go the spoils. The winner of this game gets bragging rights as the best team in San Diego County for the next month as Albion will play host in the second round of the San Diego Derby on May 21st. We hope that you will enjoy this interview with Albion SC Pros Captain Luke Staats. At the end of the interview we have provided a photo gallery from Albion’s 2-0 victory over Temecula FC last Saturday.
David: Which of your exhibition games was the most fun?
Luke: Of course the La Galaxy II. We want to be in the USL eventually and we got to prove that we can play at the next level. Getting away with a 2-0 victory over La Galaxy II was huge and gave my teammates a huge boost in moral.
David: Is the soccer pyramid in the US different from it is in Europe?
Luke: The system in the US is totally different. But Albion is doing the correct thing and I stand behind them 100%. I am a coach for the Albion youth club. It’s all organized and it’s almost like a European team. Coming from Europe every professional team has a youth system behind it and here in America is just bunch of teams with no organization. You get your players from the youth team and you get the fans.
David: What is the difference between playing for Albion SC Pros and the San Diego Flash?
Luke: That is quite easy to answer. The professionalism behind Albion SC Pros is so much greater than that of the San Diego Flash. From the coaches, players staff and the fans. We are training four to five times per week and also hitting the gym twice a week. The jerseys are better and the travel is easier.
David: Are you looking forward to playing your old San Diego Flash teammates on Saturday?
Luke: Yes. I am looking forward to playing those guys. Last year I had fun where I played and it was a good atmosphere. We had a great time and a great run. We went a little bit cheap and lost in the first round of western regionals 3-1 against the Sacramento Gold. That was partly to blame on the organization. With the loss of Clent Alexander before the season we had money issues and had no clue where we were going to play.
David: Who will be the key from Albion SC Pros in beating the NC Battalion on Saturday?
Luke: Our defensive line. We have showed up the past two game with clean sheets and the back four will play a major role in defeating the NC Battalion on Saturday.
David: What is the key to beating the NC Battalion on Saturday.
Luke: We have to stay disciplined and press them from the beginning. I remember from last year that if they (Flash Players) played under pressure they will breakdown. The second half should open up as it did many times last year. We are more fit than the NC Battalion with all of the practices we get in per week compared to them. The only advantage that the NC Battalion have over us is experience as they have players that have been around the league for sometime.
David: Where do you see Albion SC Pros/NPSL going in 5 years?
Luke: You see a ton of teams popping out of the ground like mushrooms in the USL and NPSL. I definitely think there is a switch going on in America to get professional soccer going. I hope that Albion will become a USL team within the next year or two.
David: Do you have anything that you would like our audience know?
Luke: After winning the NPSL Southwest Division title last season with the San Diego Flash I am looking forward to leading Albion SC Pros to the crown as team captain. I have been on a title team and know what it takes to finish the regular season on top.
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