SoccerToday Players To Watch: Albion 2001s Arman Samimi and Mallel Rios Put Skills to the Test
Southern California based Albion Soccer Club is dedicated to excellence in player development — and helping players achieve their goals is Executive Director Noah Gins focus. With a proven track record of successfully developing youth soccer players who are well prepared to go the distance — whether it be at top DI colleges or in the MLS — the coaches at Albion SC develop more than teams that know how to win.
MLS’ LA Galaxy striker Ariel Lassiter trained at Albion SC for 5 years and is a big fan of the youth club — and so are many other Albion alums. After developing over 15 US National Team players whose dream has been to represent the USA on the pitch, Albion SC has succeeded in creating training environments which help players become their best — on and off the field.
Related Article: Albion SC Making A Difference in Player Development
The 2001 U16 Albion SC team is a great example of talented players who passionately love the game and dream of making an impact — yet have learned the value of working together as a team. Led by head coach Paul Holohan whose years of experience are salted with his sincere desire to inspire greatness, these hard working players are often scouted and identified for new opportunities. The team won Albion Cup and are now playing in Cal South’s California Regional League and Coast Soccer League. Several of the players have been called up to National Training Centers.
Here is the story of two of the lads who have just returned — one from the U16 National Camp and there other from playing in Italy. Both players felt well prepared for their experiences; a confidence that comes from being trained well.
Youth Soccer News: Albion SC’s 2001 Team‘s players have put their skills to the test and repeatedly proven the high-quality training they receive at the San Diego based youth soccer club. Earlier this month, Goalkeeper Mallel Rios returned from training in Italy with the Italian National Team coaches and forward Arman Samimi came back from the U.S. Soccer U16 National Team Camp. Both Rios and Samimi were on Albion SC’s USSF DA U14 roster for last year.
Albion SC’s Mallel Rios was selected as a goalkeeper on the 16 player roster for the all-expense paid trip to Italy for the Italian Football Association (FIGC) and PUMA’s Il Viaggio program.
Il Viaggio provided U.S. and Canadian male players born in 2000 and 2001 the chance to learn to play football the Italian Way — starting with being flown over to Italy for free to train with Italian National Team coaches.
In Italy, the players had an opportunity to train at Coverciano, also known as Casa Italia, the training ground and technical headquarters of the Italian Football Federation in Florence. The Il Viaggio team played a friendly match against the Italian youth team, Fiorentina and also watched the Italian National Team take on France in a highly competitive international friendly ahead of World Cup qualifiers.
“The experience in Italy was amazing, really a once and a life time soccer trip,” says Mallel Rios. “We met many professional soccer players including Gianluigi Donnarumma, Daniele De Rossi and Graziano Pellè and watched Italy vs France live in an amazing stadium; Stadio San Nicola in Bari, Italy.”
“After watching the Italian National Team play, our Il Viaggio team climbed on a bus for a long 8 hour ride where we all got the chance to get to know each other a little better and build chemistry and then our training began when we arrived in Florence.”
“Training with Italian National team coach Atillo was amazing. He taught me how important it is for a goalkeeper to use his feet as well as his hands. We played a scrimmage against the 2016 champions league U16 team and everyone treated us like professionals. It was an honor to represent the USA and a privilege to be selected from the 800 players who tried out,” says Rios.
“At Albion, our team plays at a very competitive level and this has helped me develop,” says Rios. “In every practice, my coach Paul Holohan pushes me to do better — he is always trying to help me reach professional standards and I want to thank him for all his support.”
“I have watched Mallel Rios mature and develop incredibly over the last 2 years what he has been playing at Albion. Mallel has emerged as one of the top goalkeepers in the USA. His recent selection through PUMA is a great accomplishment and we are all very proud of him.” says Noah Gins, Executive Director of Albion SC.
“Mallel is a great asset to our Albion 2001 team — he is a great shot stopper,” says Albion SC 2001 Head Coach Paul Holohan. “Mallel flies across the goal to make save after save and helps us win game after game.”
Samimi was one of the USSF Development Academy’s top U14 goal scorers last season, scoring 25 goals in 23 Academy games. During the summer, Samimi visited Germany and trained at Borussia Dortmund, more often referred to as BVB.
Samimi certainly meets the expectations of the BU16 National Team head coach Shaun Tsakiris’ recruiting philosophy of bringing in ‘footballers’ to the federation. “We like to use the term, footballers. I look at a players’ potential and how they could develop in a few years. That’s the toughest part of being a National Team U16 coach — not only to identify current talent but to find the players who will develop into top talent for our Senior Team,” said Tsakiris in an earlier interview.
Forward Samimi has just returned from the U.S. Soccer National U16 training and was so proud when he first put on the USA jersey. “I was overjoyed and filled with a sense of honor,” said the soccer loving striker. ” It was as if all of my hard work had finally paid off.”
“The camp was extremely well organized; the coaching staff provided a lot of immediate feedback on every player, so we all knew what the coaches wanted from us. This was great. We watched video analysis after sessions which showed us what we could have done better. It was an amazing learning experience. And, the level of the other players were super high.”
“The head coach of the U16 National Team is Shaun and he notices good kids as well as good players. He wants players who are the total package and takes into consideration how players will be when they get older,” says Arman. “The hardest part of the camp was playing two 90 minutes of super intense training sessions a day. As a non MLS player, I was not used to training twice a day.”
“I became a better player at the camp. The coaches helped me in terms of my positioning on the field. I learned I need to play closer to the goal. Sometimes this is hard, but when you start to play at a higher level, a striker may not touch the ball as much and you have to be patient and wait for your teammates to get you the ball — you have to trust your teammates will send you the ball. It was extremely hard at the beginning, I found myself drifting into midfield and then I began to see what the coaches were talking about. Definitely good advice.”
“Albion SC prepared me well for this opportunity. Paul and Noah always take me aside and tell me what I did well and what I need to improve on and helped me to the drills I needed to improve. Paul Holohan has helped me develop into a mentally stronger player than I ever could have imagined, and he really cares about his players. I don’t think I will have a coach as tough as Paul,” says Arman.
“When I have the chance to work with Noah, he really pushes me and demands that I always perform at my very best — he raises the level of play every time he walks on the field. Obviously I owe my development in a large way to both Paul and Noah and thank them both for the time they have invested in me.”
“Arman has grown in his time with Albion to a level that he now can shine on a national and international level. We are very proud of his recent accomplishments and recognition with the U.S. Men’s National Team and Borussia Dortmund and believe this is just the beginning of many doors that will begin opening up for him,” said Gins.