Chivas to honor philanthropist on Saturday
This Saturday, Chivas USA will honor a local philanthropist who has devoted his life to raise money to fund wilderness programs for the physically disabled trough his non-profit organization, the Stephen J. Wampler Foundation. Stephen Wampler, a 41-year-old Coronado resident with cerebral palsy, will serve as Chivas USA’s honorary captain during Saturday’s match against FC Dallas at 7:30 p.m. PT at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
In American youth soccer, it is Mecca. The epicenter of young talent in this country. A place every 16- and 17-year-old player dreams of attending. Its résumé is impressive; many remarkable professional players have come through its halls.
It’s the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and next season, two members of Chivas USA’s youth system will join up with some of the most talented young players in America.
This week, Chivas USA announced that 17-year-old goalkeeper Jake McGuire and 16-year-old striker Kevin de la Torre had both been invited to spend the next two years in Florida at the IMG Academy.
“We’re really happy for the boys,” Chivas USA U-18 head coach Sacha van der Most told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s a great opportunity for them. They’re going to the residency program to be treated like professionals, and they’ll come back stronger in two years. They’ll get international experience, and that’s great for the players.”
The pair has been turning heads for months now. McGuire is an imposing presence between the pipes while de la Torre has been troubling opposing defenses since he joined the Goats youth system.
“Kevin is an extremely talented player,” said van der Most. “Jake is an extremely hardworking player and has improved tremendously in the last year since he joined our program.”
The Goats’ youth academy boasts an impressive record. The system has produced several members of the US U-20 National Team in recent years, including Gerson Mayén, Jorge Flores, Cesar Zamora and new first-team signing Bryan de la Fuente. Zamora and Bryan de la Fuente both started with the Chivas USA U-16 Team and are currently in Chivas USA’s First Team.
“What our program does well is we play a style of soccer that is pretty unique for our area,” said van der Most.
Bradenton was founded in 2002 and has quickly become an important breeding ground for United States soccer. The American roster for the 2010 FIFA World Cup featured four alumni of the program, and a handful of other graduates – including Chad Marshall, Freddy Adu and Bobby Convey, have been capped internationally.
Prior to the match, Wampler will receive the Chivas USA Inspiration Award, an annual award given by the Red-and-White to an athlete in the community that has overcome adversity to excel in his/her sport. Wampler will receive the award during a pregame ceremony on Saturday.
“It’s our pleasure to welcome Stephen Wampler as part of our Chivas USA family as our honorary captain on Saturday and the recipient of this meaningful award for the institution,” said Chivas USA Co-Owner Antonio Cué.
The Stephen J. Wampler Foundation was established by Stephen Wampler to give children with physical disabilities the kinds of outdoor wilderness experiences Wampler was fortunate to have as a child. For more information about the Stephen J. Wampler Foundation, please visit wamplerfoundation.com
After a two week break for the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Chivas USA will return to The Home Depot Center this Saturday, June 26, when the team faces FC Dallas at 7:30 p.m. PT. At the moment, FC Dallas is just two points ahead of the Red-and-White in the Western Conference, holding a record of 2-2-6. The June 26 match will include a special ‘Kids Pack’ offer, giving fans a ticket for a child 16 and younger free with the purchase of an adult ticket. For more information on the match, or to purchase tickets, please call 1-877-CHIVAS-1 or click here.