MILWAUKIE, OR (KPTV) – On the heels of the U.S. women's national team claiming a fourth World Cup title, a pair of local clubs are striving for more cups of their own.
Oregon United FC serves up a united front. On one side of the practice pitch, it’s the four-time state champion girls and on the other, it’s the back-to-back regional champion boys.
“Awakening. It’s really eye-opening to see what it’s like from this side of the podium,” said Ali Nadalsky, St. Mary's Academy junior.
The U16 OUFC clubs are all about the hardware.
“That’s been one of our goals, just back to back, to back to back. Winning is awesome,” said Jesuit High School junior Maddy Koleno.
Lincoln High School junior Hana Teherani-Ami said, “You never want to lose. It’s embarrassing to lose.”
Practice like you play – that’s what you do under former professional footballer MJ Tate.
“He does come off a little harsh sometimes, but you know that it's because he loves you. He just loves the game so much,” Teherani-Ami said.
The Rex Putnam High School girls head coach has been leading many of these girls for many seasons.
“I’ve been with MJ since I was in fifth grade, so a lot of years,” said Lincoln junior Jolie Maycumber.
The state cup girls play their European style with top-flight talents from nearly a dozen local high schools.
“There has never been any drama, and everyone is always like loved each other and accepted everyone with open arms and I think that's amazing. Especially with a team of 22 teenage girls? That’s pretty impressive,” said Sarah Blackmore, a junior at the International School of Beaverton.
Lincoln junior Tessa Hayward said, “Our team, we’re all friends, we are a family. Every game is about we, not me.”
Like their female counterparts, the Oregon United boys are a mixture of backgrounds – socially, economically and globally with some refugees from Somalia and Afghanistan on the roster.
It’s a global game and a global club.
When asked how life has changed for him in Portland from Afghanistan, Centennial High School sophomore Moji Tajik said, “Here is more safe, really nice here, the weather… everything is better than there.”
Under the possession-based guidance of Milwaukie High School head coach Luis Guerrero, the boys are bound for the suburbs of Denver to obtain that Rocky Mountain high of the national title.
“Just for Portland, representing Oregon, us going to nationals and winning it, it would mean a lot for our team and our area,” said Centennial junior Bryan Sanguino.
This is billed a second chance. Last summer, the boys had a bit of bad luck at nationals with their goalie breaking his leg in the first minute of their first match. Good luck and good health this weekend in Commerce City, Colorado.
“Just having the determination to move forward from it and really don’t think about it as much, think about the future,” said Newberg High School junior Brian Lanier.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help raise money for the boys’ trip to nationals.
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