Written by Ryan McQuillan
May 28, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Last week, Highlanders defenseman Andrew Ravenhill received a trial with the San Jose Earthquakes, a Major League Soccer franchise in California. The Earthquakes are currently in 7th place in the Western Conference with fifteen points in fourteen games.
Ravenhill is playing in his fourth year as a Highlander. The 21-year-old stands six-feet-tall and weighs 175-pounds. He is a strong presence in the left back position and plays a high intensity game. When told of the opportunity, Ravenhill eagerly travelled south for the nine day trial.
“It was pretty intense; I trained every day except for one,” said Ravenhill on his regime in San Jose. “Training was ten to twelve in the morning; do a lift and then a regeneration session. I was training against franchise players, I had to mark them and play against them. It was a good test considering the calibre of the players I trained against. Game situation type stuff and play a lot of possession games and directional games.”
Ravenhill was in San Jose for nine days training and playing with the team. He tried out for the reserve squad but in training he was matched up against first team players as well. He even got some in-game experience in when he took part in a reserve game against Colorado Rapids. He took to the try-outs with the mentality of growing as a player and to open some windows to the next level of football.
“When I went down my goal was to fit in and play well. I ended up more than fitting in and playing really well,” continued Ravenhill. “On the 19th I had a chance to play against the Colorado Rapids as a left back for the second half. I played really well, didn’t get beat and was composed. I played it simple and was solid for them. We ended up winning three to nil and I was on the field for two of the goals; they didn’t get any shots when I was out there. It was a good test and I feel like I stood up to it.”
Ravenhill is aware that trying out does not necessarily mean that he will be playing for the Earthquakes next season. As a Canadian he is considered an international player in the MLS and spots on the team for such players are currently filled. However, he was able to showcase his skills for coaches at the highest level of football in North America which will serve as a positive learning experience and will keep him on their radar for some time. If he is unable to join the squad due to the hindrance of being an international player or for some other reason he now has some credible people who will vouch for his abilities in the coaching staff of the San Jose Earthquakes.
“I spoke to the coaches and they said they definitely want me back for another reserve game,” said Ravenhill. “I can only take part in one more reserve game while trying out. I finish school in December and there was talk about me going back in January. I’m an international player and those roles are filled, so I can go back to just train; I’m also open to try for another club and they’d vouch for my quality. It’s good to open the door to some pro clubs.”
Ravenhill’s try-out comes at a time of exponential growth in the Highlanders’ youth development program. Victoria’s growth as a soccer destination can be seen through a local player auditioning for an MLS team. The Highlanders are hoping to be able to train more players to be given this opportunity here in the city.
“It’s a great opportunity for Andrew to be able to try out for an MLS organization like the Earthquakes,” said Mark deFrias, General Manager of the Highlanders, “For us it signifies the continued growth of our program and Andrew as a player. As an organization we aim to help players learn and to be able to pursue their goals, whether it’s playing for a university or professionally. From what we heard Andrew played very well when he was down there and seemed like he belonged, he may be down again in the next few weeks and we wish him luck.”
Ravenhill looks to practice what he learned when he takes the pitch with the Highlanders this Friday, 7pm at Royal Athletic Park when they take on the Vancouver Whitecaps FC for the Juan de Fuca Plate.