Summer league offers invaluable experience for UVU soccer

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Photo by Brooke Morrill

There are many athletes who prefer to take the summer months off. They enjoy going to the lake or on hikes or maybe even taking a trip with their friends. They might get a workout in here or there, but for the most part they just want to enjoy their time away from sports.

However, a few athletes from the UVU men’s soccer team decided to take advantage of a great opportunity this summer. Skyler Milne, Giovanny Vasquez, Marshall Miller and Gui Leme competed in the Premier Development League for the GPS Portland Phoenix.

The PDL features 67 teams within four conferences throughout the United States and Canada. There are also 10 teams affiliated with the United Soccer League and Major League Soccer. 70 percent of all Major League Soccer draftees have PDL experience.

It was an experience that Milne said was “much more physical, and challenging in different ways.”

“A lot of the players in the PDL have professional experience,” Milne said. “And they play differently than the younger, athletic college players. They are smarter and they challenge you to play in a way that is out of your comfort zone.”

Milne tied for the team-lead in goals with seven in 12 games. He also recorded four assists.

“From an experience standpoint, being out here has been priceless,” Milne said. “It’s forced Gio, Gui and myself to develop different parts of our game, and that will only add to the strength of UVU.”

Leme, who UVU head coach Greg Maas said is “one of the most technically gifted and impactful players in the game,” scored six goals and recorded one assist. Leme scored four of those goals on back-to-back days in July and was named to the PDL Team of the Week for his effort.

“I thought I was just going to come here to get fit since I haven’t played in about two years because I wasn’t eligible,” Leme said. “We were all a little confused because the coaching style is completely different from UVU and we didn’t like it at first. As the season went on, we started to understand what our coach here actually wanted to do and even since then it’s been the best experience.”

“Learning this new style of play is going to pay off during the fall. It’s a really tough league and way more physical than on the west coast … but playing in the PDL is really going to help us.”

The opportunity to play together away from UVU and develop chemistry through the “spine” of the field is something these players believe will help when the season opens August 26 at Clyde Field.

“The connection Gui, Gio and myself have made through the spine of the field has been a strong point for us here at GPS Portland,” Milne said. “And there is no doubt that will carry over to UVU.”

“Once we come back to UVU after playing with teammates we already have chemistry with, we will be able to help the team win the WAC,” Leme said.

With training camp officially beginning Aug. 10 for UVU men’s soccer, and the excitement that is surrounding the program, the experience that these players earned could pay off in huge dividends for the Wolverines in 2016.

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