Blue’s soccer season pure gold
When Chicago Park’s Blue Smith talks about soccer, one can’t help but have the impression the 11-year-old boy has been playing the sport for, well, 11 years.
Blue, in his first year with the El Dorado United Crew under-11 soccer team, helped his club team win a California Youth Soccer Association (CYSA) state cup championship March 3 in Clovis.
The state cup series for boys under 11, which started in mid-January, included 58 teams. El Dorado United Crew won seven matches in a row to win the state title, capping a season that included a CYSA District 6 title and a 37-7 mark.
“It was really exciting,” Blue said. “I got to play on a good team and got to have a lot of fun experiences.”
United Crew dominated the majority of its state cup run with defense. They shut out the first four opponents they faced and only allowed two goals in seven matches. Blue, who played sweeper for the under-11 team, is a firm believer in the old adage that a good defense is a key to winning.
“I think defense wins games a lot,” Smith said. “You can score, but you have to have the defense for when teams try to come back.”
Assistant coach Mark Tappan was impressed with Blue’s playing not only during state cup, but throughout the year.
“Blue is extremely gifted,” Tappan said. “He has a lot of talent and is very skilled with his feet. He has poise when he plays and has the ability to run players down.”
Perhaps his skills run in the family. Blue’s older brother, Connor, plays forward with the under-14 El Dorado Knights, which was gearing up for its own run at the state cup, beginning this weekend. Connor was selected as an Olympic Developmental Program representative of District 6 this year.
“Connor is a good player, and they have a pretty good team, too,” Blue said.
The soccer season rarely takes a breather for the Smith boys. Blue is in the midst of tryouts for the under-12 El Dorado club team. He said he used to play basketball, but now is more than happy to devote his athletic efforts strictly to soccer.
“I played basketball two years ago and then became totally committed to soccer,” Blue said.
“I like the fast play and intensity. I like playing with pressure on your back.”
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