LA GALAXYOrange County Takes Center Stage
#LAGOCWT — It is time to come out and support great women’s soccer. If you are in the Southern California area — one team to go out and cheer for is the LA Galaxy Orange County. Scott Juniper is the head coach and is a man committed to making a difference everytime he steps on the field.
Women’s Soccer News: United Women’s Soccer League season has just kicked off and in the Southern California area, the Irvine-based UCI’s head coach, Scott Juniper, is at the helm of the talented team — LA Galaxy Orange County.
LA Galaxy OC just celebrated a 4-0 victory against Real Salt Lake and as of today, hold a 1-0-1 record for the start of this season.
Here is an exclusive interview with Scott Juniper, the dedicated coach who strives to make a difference everytime he steps on the field.
Related Soccer News: LA GALAXY OC WELCOMES UCI’S SCOTT JUNIPER AS WOMEN’S TEAM HEAD COACH
Diane Scavuzzo: What’s your goal for the LA Galaxy OC team in the 2018 United Women’s Soccer (UWS) league this season?
Scott Juniper: For this season, we will shoot to win as many games as we can.
We want a chance at winning the national championship in year one.
Plus there are several other goals. I want each of the players to get what they need out of the experience.
I want everybody to develop as soccer players. It would be great if our college-bound players go back and challenge for national championships and conference championships.
Diane Scavuzzo: How are the games going?
Scott Juniper: Our first game against Blue Heat was a fantastic match up. We have got better every day since then and I am sure they have too!
I’m really excited for the game to see how far our team has come when take on Blue Heat at our next home game on June 22. It will be great to play at home again.
Our players always get a boost from playing in front of the Orange County fans.
Diane Scavuzzo: Tell us about your LA Galaxy OC team playing in the UWS — are they mostly college players who have just returned home?
Scott Juniper: LA Galaxy OC is comprised of three groups of players.
We have current college players who have continuing eligibility, players from Virginia, Notre Dame, USC, UVU, and other college programs who are going to play with us and prepare for their college seasons.
And, we have a number of college players who are recent graduates — they typically have one eye on potentially playing professionally and look at this season as a possible springboard and we have a few of my own UCI alums and a handful from Cal State Fullerton.
Then we’ve got a group of players who have either played pro or who have stepped into their next career but still want to play.
Our roster is very international. Half the roster is from our local area in Orange County, and the other half is from all across the country, the world really. We have talented players from New Jersey, Virginia, Utah, Florida, plus two players from Australia, one young lady from Japan, another player from Brazil and a player from Ghana.
On the LA Galaxy OC roster are Hillary Bealle who has been called into the U20 National Team trip to France as well as Kiana Palacios and Sabrina Flores who were called into the Mexico Full National Team camp. And other players are getting attention from European pro clubs.
Diane Scavuzzo: So exciting, very international.
Scott Juniper: Yes, It is going to be an interesting season with soccer cultures from lots of different corners of the soccer planet.
Diane Scavuzzo: A great example of soccer uniting the world. So what kind of soccer are we going to be seeing when we come out and cheer for you?
Scott Juniper: We want to play a real attacking style of soccer.
We want move the ball quickly, we want to play out from the back.
We want to build, we want to keep the ball when we have to and just utilize all of the attacking options that we’ve got on the roster.
Diane Scavuzzo: What’s been the biggest challenge?
Scott Juniper: We ended up having too many players. We’ve had to cap the roster and make sure the number on the roster was just right so that players within our team get a great experience without diluting it for everybody.
It’s been difficult turning away some really, really talented players.
The next challenge is bringing together all those players who have played for different coaches, and play the different styles, and establish a style all of our own. I think that’s going to be a big challenge, but a lot of fun.
Diane Scavuzzo: How do you successfully blend a team of players from all over the world and get them to but work as one team?
Scott Juniper: I think we’ve got to make sure that everybody has a good understanding of why everybody’s there.
There are three big reasons players play for LA Galaxy OC.
- The college players,
- The potential pros,
- The players that are playing at the back end of their career.
We have to identify all of the things that bind us together. We want to be a team that works our butts off and has a great time doing it.
Diane Scavuzzo: How do you describe yourself as a coach?
Scott Juniper: As a coach, you have to wear so many different hats.
I like being a coach, I’m always learning.
Coaching the LA Galaxy OC is a great opportunity — and allows me to work with different players from around the country and across the globe.
I want to get to know each and every player. I want to make sure we put players on the field, in positions and ask them to do things that maximize their strengths. We want to showcase these players.
I’m only going to work with the team for twelve weeks, so we’ve got to appreciate the limits of what we are going to be able to do.
We want to be player centered.
We want to put their needs right at the front and just encourage them to pull together under the same banner and understand what we’re all about.
Diane Scavuzzo: How do you approach coaching in the UWS differently than you approach your collegiate season at UCI?
Scott Juniper: That’s a great question. I’ve given that a lot of thought. I think that there are so many differences. It’s a short season and I think we should approach it with a mindset to learn as much about this group of players as we possibly can.
The more we learn about the players, the more we learn about their strengths, the more we learn about why they play soccer – the better the season will be. I think we’ll be able to get the most out of them as players if we know what motivates them as people.
In college season, that learning process has already been done.
When we hit the ground on August 1, 2018, we’ll know a whole lot about our players already, so that’s the biggest difference with this team.
The UWS season is going to be about discovering the human beings in those LA Galaxy OC uniforms.
Diane Scavuzzo: How do you believe that the UWS league fits into the overall picture of women’s soccer in America?
Scott Juniper: I think there is a little bit of a gap between when a player graduates from college, they may have had a great collegiate career, but there are very few opportunities to step into a professional contract here in the United States.
So there is a gap, and many of them decide that they’re going to stop playing.
I think what the UWS has been able to provide is a place to continue to play a high level, while you’re looking for the right contract or the right opportunity professionally.
We’ve come across a lot of players who nearly decided to discontinue their soccer career but are going to continue with us and hopefully get an opportunity somewhere else.
Also, the UWS has quality teams across the country and is very organized. All the teams play in good facilities and the way the league is structured works really well for the players — we typically play just one game in a weekend rather than two, which is a bit of a challenge in WPSL, to be honest.
It difficult for players to play two games at a really high level when you’re playing back to back days.
LA Galaxy OC Roster #LAGOCWT
|Morgan||Batcheller||Defender||Cal State Fullerton||Seattle Reign|
|Hillary||Beall||GK||Michigan||U19 US YNT|
|Connie||Caliz||Midfield||Cal State Fullerton|
|Sabrina||Flores||Midfield||Notre Dame||U20 World Cup|
|Brooke||Goodrich||Defender||Brisbane Roar||U20 Australia|
|Tala||Haddad||Defender||Cal State Fullerton|
|Angelina||Hix||Forward||Mira Costa||San Diego Sea Lions|
|Kaycee||Hoover||Midfield||Cal State Fullerton||Guam National Team|
|Natalie||Jacobs||Defender||USC||U20 World Cup|
|Ayesha||Norrie||Midfield||Brisbane Roar||U20 Australia|
|Jocelyn||Orejel||Defender||Colorado||Mexico National Team|
|Chelsey||Patterson||Midfield||Cal State Fullerton|
|Kylie||Roach (Wright)||Midfield||UCLA||Atlanta Beat, U23 YNT|
|Sherifa||Sumaila||Forward||UMFK||U20 and U17 World Cup (Ghana)|
|Miku||Sunagu||Midfield||Martin Methodist||Tokyo, Japan|
|Becca||Wilson||Forward||Cal State Fullerton|