Metros announce reserve team
March 21, 2001 (Official Press Release)
MetroStars General Manager Nick Sakiewicz today announced the formation of an official reserve team and an alliance with the North Jersey Imperials of the United Soccer League, the first steps in what the organization envisions will be a far-reaching system that is ultimately designed to identify and showcase the top local soccer talent in the New York/New Jersey area and to develop future professional players.
Both the MetroStars Black, who will play in New Jersey's Champions League, and the Imperials will be predominantly composed of players aged 21 and under.
Both teams will train at the MetroStars practice facility at Kean University in Union, NJ, and will play in official MetroStars team uniforms.
The coaching staffs of both teams -- led by Stan Lembryk (Imperials) and MetroStars assistant coach Merlin Villagomez (MetroStars Black) will ultimately report to Sakiewicz and MetroStars head coach Octavio Zambrano.
The newly-formed relationship with the Imperials will see local "mainstream" talent-such as local college and high school standouts, as well as U.S. Youth National Team pool players-making up the majority of that roster.
The MetroStars Black club is designed to give players who might have "fallen through the cracks" -- new immigrants, non-high school or college players, etc. -- a stage on which to play organized soccer and a chance to be scouted for possible professional opportunities.
The formation of the reserve team and the alliance with the Imperials is the first step in what the MetroStars and Empire Soccer, the team's management group, envision will become a large-scale full-service soccer development program.
The program is expected to expand as early as 2002 with a MetroStars Youth Development Academy, which will work with existing clubs and youth soccer organizations in the tri-state area, rather than compete with them, to help identify and develop potential pro players from an early age.
"One of the main goals of Major League Soccer continues to be growing the sport at all levels, and encouraging as much participation as possible," said Sakiewicz.
"But the business of preparing and training players to become professionals should not fall upon youth soccer clubs and organizations. We will work hand in hand with the youth soccer community to enhance the development of their players and provide a path for them to the professional level.
"As has long been demonstrated in Europe and elsewhere, it is up to professional clubs and organizations, like the MetroStars, to train and prepare professional players, as well as to provide expert coaching and technical assistance that will help existing youth club teams. We believe we're taking a major first step towards that now, and we plan to continue taking bigger steps in the future."
Potential players for both the Imperials and MetroStars Black will be identified by Youth Development Committees serving both the New York and New Jersey areas. Gene Chyzowych, head coach at Columbia HS in Maplewood, NJ and the all-time winningest high school coach in the U.S., will oversee the New Jersey committee, while Sandy Rapaglia will head the New York committee.
Each committee is expected to be made up of a network of approximately 40 scouts.
"I'm very pleased that the Imperials have been asked to participate in the MetroStars' youth development program," said Imperials president Brad Franco. "It's a natural fit, because the Imperials already provide a unique opportunity to youth players aspiring to one day play professionally. This alliance will assist us greatly in accomplishing our goals and helping to
develop soccer talent in New Jersey."