Sunday, April 19, 2015

Busy days in Yakima as EPLWA season nears

Just one week left as the Hoppers prepare for their second EPLWA season 
With just a week left before the start of their second Evergreen Premier League campaign, Yakima is buzzing. Yakima United and the community have had several big announcements in the past few weeks while also preparing the EPLWA side for the season.

The Hoppers played their final tune-up Friday evening against a local men's team, capping their final week of preseason activity that included four matches against a variety of amateur and collegiate sides from eastern Washington to Portland.

Joshua Vega
"Our prep is going well," said team manager and assistant coach Hector Vega. "We are integrating some new players so there's always that learning curve. But we're ready to get out there and showcase what our area has to offer and hopefully we can progress and finish higher than we did last year. We understand the league is very competitive and will be even tougher this year but as a club we have long term goals that we'll continue to work toward."

One change in the roster includes the departure of former captain Al Valencia. The club promoted vice captain Dennis Stevenson to the position and named defender Daniel Hernandez the new vice captain.

New leadership role for Daniel Hernandez
“Dennis has the experience you want in a captain and is a natural leader by the example he sets on and off the field," said head coach Hector Vega. "With Danny, he’s a returning player for us and someone I’ve known for a long time. He impressed last season and I think he has the potential to be a real leader for the team.”

The Hoppers open the campaign at home Sunday against the Vancouver Victory at Marquette Stadium. Then, after a trip to Bellingham, they return home to a big day for Yakima soccer as they play host to a doubleheader Saturday, May 9. Prior to their contest against South Sound FC, the club will host a women's soccer friendly between Central Washington University and the Seattle Sounders Women, who are preparing for their USL W-League campaign.

"Hector and I have always tried to give everything we can to the soccer community in our valley and I think this event just reinforces that," said Joshua Vega about the possibility the Sounders Women presented them. "The opportunity to host that kind of event was something we jumped at. We'd love to do stuff like that every year and bring high quality football to our valley."

"In addition, having it be a high quality women's competition is important to us as well. We'd love to have a Yakima United Ladies team someday and events like this have the potential to really invest in that future potential."

Sozo Sports, Yakima United continue partnership
"We're hoping it'll be a great day of soccer for fans in our area."

Though there is excitement for getting the season under way, the long-term future for the sport in Yakima also is looking quite bright. Two weeks ago the Yakima City Council approved a resolution for a new multi-million dollar sports complex by a unanimous vote.

The $12 million project, with a third of the capital coming from Yakima public funding via a bond, will be primarily funded by Sozo Sports of Central Washington, a local 501c3 non-profit organization focused on building a sports complex with high caliber multi-use grass and synthetic turf fields indoor and outdoor use. The complex would feature an indoor facility and 19 soccer fields with the potential for the inclusion of rugby, roller derby and ice rink activities.

"We're unbelievably excited about the approval of the Sozo Complex," said Joshua Vega. "Sozo has been nothing but supportive of Yakima United and we jumped on board with them over a year ago. They're a great partner to have. And while Marquette has been home for high level men's soccer in our area, we're very excited that Sozo will be the future home of Yakima United FC.

##  EPLWA on INWsoccernews  ##