L.A. Wolves FC Prep for U.S. Open Cup Qualifying Round
With the 2017 U.S. Open Cup First and Second Round qualifying matches announced, L.A. Wolves FC prepare for another run representing the UPSL as they draw Real Sociedad Royals of the So Cal Premier League. L.A. Wolves FC began play in the UPSL in 2014 and advanced to the Third Round of the U.S. Open Cup last season.
The Wolves welcome back a strong core from last campaign along with the additions to the roster of central midfielder Henry Escobar from El Salvador and Paolo Cardozo from Uruguay.
SoccerToday spoke with L.A. Wolves FC General Manager Yan Skwara on the club’s draw in the U.S. Open Cup match as well as the expectations for the upcoming season.
Soccer News: With the 2016 UPSL summer season underway, L.A. Wolves FC prepare for another run in the U.S. Open Cup following a Third Round finish last campaign. The Wolves have won their first two matches of the UPSL season as they welcome back a strong core from last year to build upon the striving club from Torrance, CA.
The Wolves’ attacking force is led by Chuck Pitts and Miguel Sanchez who were members of the club’s last U.S. Open Cup roster. Incoming Paolo Cardozo from Uruquay has a Championship ring from his 2012 playing days with the LA Galaxy and provides a big offensive push along with newcomer central midfielder Henry Escobar from El Salvador who is a savey ball handler with tons of experience are the Wolves’ latest additions. Escobar will help bolster the midfield alongside mainstay Duncan Capriottii and Cardozo will provide insurance for the Wolves’ desired shutouts.
L.A. Wolves FC joined the UPSL in 2014 and have quickly turned the organization into a winning club that has high expectations for the upcoming campaign.
SoccerToday spoke with L.A. Wolves FC General Manager Yan Skwara on the club’s upcoming U.S. Open Cup match versus Real Sociedad Royals of the So Cal Premier League and the expectations for the 2016/17 calendar year.
Chris Rael: What are your goals for 2016/17 season?
Yan Skwara: The club needs to hoist a cup. It’s way past due. Winning the UPSL is definitely a goal we came short of last year. We made it to the quarterfinals and lost to Anahuac FC of Las Vegas. That was right after our loss in the U.S. Open Cup match — so it was a tough week.
Chris Rael: How do you think this year’s squad equals the roster from last season?
Yan Skwara: We definitely have an upgrade in personnel versus last year’s 22-man roster. We were in a kind of building mode last year when we entered the cup. Now we have more of an established core of players.
I think good teams always go up a couple notches from season to season. Especially new teams. You can identify the holes and start patching them and upgrade each time.
I think another big point last season was that we were very limited due to having a roster that didn’t consist of active/available players. We submitted our roster to U.S. Soccer in October of last year, and by the time we got into the second qualifying match, approximately a quarter of that roster was unavailable.
Going into this year, our 22-man roster that is being submitted on Monday makes me feel more confident in terms of having a competitive roster.
Chris Rael: What qualities does head coach Michael Collins bring to the Wolves?
Yan Skwara: Michael Collins has done a great job mentally getting the team to understand the true focus and mission that we have as a club. I think he’s been instrumental in really shaping the club to what it is today. There are two parts to coaching – on the field and off the field. I think he’s done a really good job on playing the role on both sides.
Chris Rael: What will be your preparation heading into the first round of the U.S. Open Cup?
Yan Skwara: We have a tough match versus Real Sociedad Royals, which is a very good team. In football, you have to go into every match really respecting your opponent. That’s exactly what we’re going to do. We’re going to respect our opponent and go in there and play our game. I think if we go in there and do what we are capable of doing we can get through that first match.
Chris Rael: Are you familiar with Real Sociedad Royals? What are your comments on the matchup?
Yan Skwara: They finished in the middle of the So Cal Premier League table.
When it comes down to a U.S. Open Cup match, all that is out the door. It’s a different game.
You go in knowing that they are a decent team, but we would rather assume they’re going to play their best so we are not caught off guard.
Chris Rael: How do you think the 2016 UPSL season will prepare you for the qualifying rounds?
Yan Skwara: It’s great preparation. The UPSL is a competitive league and we train several times a week as well. We should be in good shape going into the qualifiers.
Chris Rael: What advice will you give your team heading into the match?
Yan Skwara: For us it’s business as usual. We’re going to stay on our regular training schedule and our league matches. We’re going to stay focused in training sessions on possession and conditioning. To me those are key aspects of the game. There is a short window here, basically a month.
On the flip side, going through the Open Cup this past season and getting to the Third Round is great motivation. In the qualifying rounds we beat Cal FC and Del Rey City to advance to the first round where we played Ventura County Fusion. We then played the Orange County Blues of the USL in the second round before losing to La Maquina FC. So, we have U.S. Open Cup experience now.
This year we’ll have Paulo Cardozo in the middle of the field this time around, which should make a huge difference for us. And we also have central midfielder Sori Keita, Joel Ampofo, Henry Escobar as well as Duncan Capriotti who is a big mainstay for us in the midfield as he is back. We’ll be a stronger squad on paper and now it’s just a matter of executing it on the field. We’re confident and we know what we can do.
Chris Rael: How does atmosphere of the U.S. Open Cup differ from league play in the UPSL?
Yan Skwara: It’s definitely a couple notches up. Compared to when we played Del Rey City in league, they were almost a different team. This is a special tournament that U.S. Soccer has been able to build. There are 64 teams in the U.S. Open Cup qualifiers with 19 coming from the UPSL. The tournament is growing and there is a lot of good quality out there.
It’s going to be a tougher qualifying round process than last year. I believe it’s fair to say the competition of the tournament has been bumped up a notch.