Dave Good is hoping a week-long experience in Costa Rica aids in creating an offensive force this fall.
Manchester University’s head men’s soccer coach alludes to a trip that junior Ola Ladapo (London, England) and sophomore Travis Richardson (Elizabethtown, Ky.) took with Beyond Study Aboard over the first full week of August.
"I'm hoping they got to know each other even better and worked together a lot (on the trip)," he admitted when asked about their opportunity during the team’s season preview interview. "If (Ola and Travis) can get on the same wavelength on the field, they could be a very dynamic duo. They have the tools … it's just a matter of figuring it out."
Yes, there was sight-seeing and fun involved with a zip line over a rain forest, playing pick-up matches on white sand beaches and being able to enjoy a water park resort. However, when asked, Ladapo and Richardson each admitted that working with the other was one of the bigger highlights.
“It was a great experience all the way around,” Ladapo said. “We were able to train in (Costa Rica’s) national team center as well as seeing some incredible sights which included a beach that had waterfalls, wildlife and everything. It was a nice combination of training and getting to know and experience another culture.”
The combination was part of a 24-man roster that featured five goalkeepers and the rest being a mix of attackers, defenders and midfielders. Despite being split apart for a majority of the week on the pitch, Ladapo and Richardson did get 20 minutes together on the pitch during the U.S. squad’s clash with a Costa Rican national team.
“The biggest benefit for me was hanging out with Ola,” Richardson noted. “We were roommates which gave us the chance to get to know each other better. I hope that trip helps each of us in regards to working together on the Manchester University team this fall.
“When we did get the chance to play together, Ola was an outside midfielder and I was at a forward, and it seemed to work pretty well,” he added. “(Ola) did a great job controlling the match when I was able to work with him which hopefully continues into our season. For most of the trip, I was at a forward slot, so I had a lot of touches and was able to work on offense. Coaches Dave and (assistant) Corey (Brueggeman) have had me at an outside wing which I’m used to, but this opportunity gave me a chance to develop in other areas.”
It was, in Richardson’s words, a “once in a lifetime experience”.
“Just to be able to play a night match against a professional team with fans chanting and flares going off … it was an amazing sight,” Ladapo said. “It shows just how much the world is enthused about soccer.”
An opportunity that Good and Brueggeman want the two student-athletes to remember and carry over into 2015.