MONTVERDE, Fla. -- Thursday afternoon at a high school in Florida, game-time soccer instruction swirled around two adjacent fields.
Coaches barked commands, field players shouted directions, goalkeepers called out for organization.
And almost none of it was in English.
This year’s Montverde Academy Soccer Tournament reflects the continuing internationalism of the U.S. soccer landscape.
On one field, Valencia CF of Spain played Jacuipense of Brazil in a MAST Super Group match. Next door, 2SV, comprised of Brazilian and German players, squared off with Vaughan Azzurri SC of Canada.
These teams came to Montverde Academy for the competition -- and the opportunity.
More than 75 NCAA Division I coaches were on hand, watching, taking notes, assessing which players might be available for their programs.
On this day, Jacuipense scored a late goal to salvage a 2-2 draw with Valencia, leaving the Super Group with three teams vying for the final championship slot. SIMA Gold secured a berth in the final given the Thursday tie. Valencia currently sits second with two points while Jacuipense and FC Dallas each have one.
Vaughan Azzurri bested 2SV 2-0 on goals from Kelvin Ramirez and Josh Solomon to advance to the MAST High School bracket semifinals. In the nightcap, Montverde Academy defeated Florida Rush 3-0 behind two goals from Caue Novaes and a late header by Felipe Rodrigues.
Friday, Montverde Acaemy takes on Baltimore Armour in a MAST High School bracket semifinal while SIMA Gold finishes group play against Valencia.
"This is our second year at MAST," Vaughan Azzurri SC technical director Patrice Gheisar said. "[Montverde Academy director] Mike [Potempa] is a great guy who has opened the door for us and invited us to come down here.
"He's always pushing to have the best teams and he's trying to help all kids -- not just his own. It's good to be part of this."
Valencia was planning a trip to the U.S. when the Montverde Academy opportunity surfaced.
"This is our first time [in the U.S.]," Valencia midfielder Dario Serra Alvarez said. "It is difficult because some of the rules are different. But we have been able to adapt. We are very proud to be here, it's a beautiful city and we are going to enjoy this tournament."
For visiting teams such as Vaughan SC and West Ottawa SC, competing in the MAST is a chance for their players to be actively recruited by U.S. colleges. While landing players from international teams such as Jacuipense, Valencia and 2SV seem to be a stretch, one college coach pointed out that some of those players could very well end up matriculating to U.S. prep schools or colleges, so it's worth the look.
Although the number of college coaches thinned out later in the evening, plenty were on hand for the night's showcase clash between Montverde Academy and Florida Rush.
Despite a number of first-half chances, Montverde Academy was held scoreless for the first 40 minutes. Caue Novaes broke the deadlock just minutes into the second half, assisted by Mathis Pillon. Novaes netted a second goal on a corner kick served by Shosun Shigaki. Felipe Rodrigues closed out the scoring late in the match, assisted by by Joao Lucas Santos.
Wednesday: SIMA Gold v. Jacuipense, first half
Wednesday: SIMA Gold v. Jacuipense, second half
THURSDAY’S HIGH SCHOOL BRACKET STANDOUTS (domestic players)
GK Ryan Havrilla, Florida Rush: An athletic keeper, Havrilla made several point-blank stops to thwart Montverde Academy attacks.
D Randie Hernandez and Blake Leo, Florida Rush: The center backs held Montverde Academy scoreless in the first half and were solid the entire match.
M Noah Lewis, Florida Rush: Lewis found himself doing a lot more defending Thursday, but was still able to get forward. He was probably Florida Rush’s top player Thursday.
F Caue Novaes, Montverde Academy: Montverde struggled to find the finishing touch until Novaes broke through early in the second half. His first goal calmed the nerves. His second goal effectively put the match out of reach.
GOALL! Caue Novaes scored the second goal of the match of a cross from Soshun Shogaki!— Montverde Soccer (@SIMA_MVAsoccer) January 10, 2020
MVA is currently up 2-0 with 20+ minutes left in the second half. The first goal came from Caue with an assist from Mathis Pillon!#LaFamiliaSIMA#MAST2020 pic.twitter.com/dCcAvJyi3Y
F Felipe Rodrigues, Montverde Academy: A target player, Rodrigues had a strong showing, which was rewarded with a late goal.