Who We’ve Become and Where We are Heading
Breakers FC Soccer Club has been committed to youth player development since its inception. Breakers FC has gained national recognition for consistently providing a professional coaching atmosphere for the elite youth soccer players in Northern California. In 2005, the Santa Cruz Breakers Club was nationally recognized as the # 2 elite soccer club in the United States by the Super Y League! In 2008, Breakers Soccer Club was selected by the US Soccer Federation to be a founding member of its US Soccer Development Academy, the elite youth development program from 2008-2020.
Club alumni that played in MLS include Zak Ibsen (LA Galaxy, San Jose Earthquakes), Francisco Gomez (Chivas USA, Kansas City), Isaiah Bardales (LA Galaxy) and David Estrada (Seattle Sounders) and more. Breakers F.C. boys Alumni >>>
1992’s – Breakers Beginnings
The birth of the club in the early 1990’s form the club's creation to the national top level.
1992: The creation of Santa Cruz County Youth Premier Futbol Club
The Santa Cruz County Youth Premier Futbol Club was established in 1992 because the leaders of the local youth soccer clubs felt that elite players would be better off in a single organization that would serve the needs of the players wishing to play at the highest competitive level. The challenges and intricacies of playing at the competitive level are much different than those facing players at the recreational level.
At the time, our county was comprised of five youth soccer clubs, Scotts Valley/San Lorenzo Valley, Santa Cruz City, Mid County, Aptos and Pajaro Valley, all of which were under the jurisdiction of the Santa Cruz County Youth Soccer League. Each club had the opportunity to have its Class 1, Class 3 and Recreational programs.
Everyone quickly understood that Santa Cruz County did not have the pool of players to support such a structure and compete with teams outside the county. Therefore they were all in agreement that the best solution for the county was to create another club that would focus only on competitive soccer. In 1992, the SCCYPFC (Santa Cruz County Youth Premier Futbol Club) was created under the leadership of Gary Masamori, Roland Hedgpeth, David Wright, Bill Davila, Richard Munoz, Sergio Sierra, Tom Vignola, Rich Sanders and a few others. This club became the only class 1 Elite club in Santa Cruz County.
Below are some of the reasons why SCCYPFC was created:
For youth player development to come first whether it be at the recreational, competitive or select level.
For Class 1 soccer to cross geographic club and cultural barriers stimulating culture and socio-economic interaction across our diverse county.
To maintain Class 1 teams in a club focused on competitive player development (SCCYPFC) as opposed to returning them to the geographic clubs.
To prevent the issues regarding the small percentage of select players
To limit confusion created by club-hopping coaches and people with personal agendas.
A giant step forward was made in the creation of a true Class 1 club in Santa Cruz County. Challenges to run the club were numerous and it was not easy to bring people together from different parts of the county. Club unity was lacking, as each team had its own name, uniform, and colors. Each team organized its own tryouts, and usually had the same coach and group of people managing the team for many years. In a few cases, these coaches and managers stayed with their teams until the teams graduated from the program.
In 2001, the U19 team coached by Sergio Sierra and managed by Larry Biggam won the State Cup Championship. The coach, manager, and players on this team represented all areas of Santa Cruz County. Ironically, this team was called SCC Breakers. Who would have known at the time that this name would eventually become the name of all Class 1 teams in Santa Cruz County? This team went on to play in a prestigious international tournament in Italy where they faced AS Roma and other top clubs in Europe. It was at this tournament where some of our local players went up against one of the future 2006 World Cup Champions, Daniele De Rossi, who was the captain of the AS Roma U19 team at the time. Some of the Breakers players who took part in that trip were Lupe Martinez, Patrick Scheufler, Matt Biggam, Kurt Munoz, Matt McClosky and others.
In the early years of the 21st century, the SCCYPFC Club leadership decided it was time to go in a new direction. The Board felt that in order to be competitive with other clubs in Northern California, the club needed to hire coaching directors that would select and supervise coaches and would develop and promote the club at a higher level. Paul Lester, the UCSC Women’s Coach, became the Girls Coaching Director and Paul Holocher who was the UCSC Men’s Coach took charge of the boy's side.
Paul Lester stayed with the club for a few years before leaving for Arizona to become a full-time coach in one of the most successful clubs in the nation, Sereno soccer club. In 2003, Paolo Carbone, co-founder of the De Anza Force, one of the top clubs in America, was hired by SCCYPFC club president, Bob Poser, to replace Paul Lester as the Girls Coaching Director.
When the club made the decision to hire two nationally recognized coaching directors, the board knew that wealth of experience and professionalism would bring the club a level of leadership and focus that had been lacking. Together, Paul and Paolo:
- organized and conducted a number of popular technical clinics for players and coaches
- arranged for a college information night for all high school aged players and their parents
- organized coaching licensing clinics, Positive Coaching Alliance workshops, and skill-building and team-building clinics for all club coaches
- maintained contacts around the country with college coaches and US Soccer personnel to provide ongoing exposure and opportunity for youth soccer players from Santa Cruz County
- advised the club on which playing leagues its teams should play in and which tournaments they should attend.
The SCCYPFC is the only Class 1 program in Santa Cruz County, and as such, is comprised of some of the most talented and motivated young players in the area. The club’s many accomplishments reflect that level of talent and commitment. For instance, in 2002-2003, two of its teams won the CYSA-North State Cup Championship, and two additional teams were State Cup finalists. The two championship winners went on to represent Northern California in the US Youth Soccer Association (USYSA) Far West Regional Tournament, which took place in Hawaii in the summer of 2003. Its teams were also very impressive during the 2003 fall season playing with the Abronzino league, with four teams ending the season as division champs. The club was ranked 9th out of over 100 clubs in CYSA-North. In addition, the club established a very respectable Class I tournament – The Santa Cruz Classic now known as the Breakers Cup, which has further raised its visibility among other competitive clubs. Also, the club has initiated the Positive Coaching Alliance to translate their literature into Spanish to benefit our children and families involved in Class I soccer. Bob Poser, Breakers president was one of the moving forces behind getting the PCA adopted by the SCCYSL and all local clubs.
In early 2004, two significant events happened that would unify the club and establish the brand-recognition that we enjoy today:
- After much deliberation, it was decided that the official name of the club would be changed to Santa Cruz County Breakers and that there would be a common logo that would reflect the new club name. The Santa Cruz County Breakers was selected as the official name for the club and Navy Blue and White were selected as club colors. In addition, a new club logo was developed to help provide club unity and identity. From that point onward, all teams from the club have gone by the same name, worn the same uniform, and had the same team colors.
- Thanks to Bob Poser, Matt McDowell, and Tom Nieto, who went out of their way to research uniform options for the club. Together, they initiated a partnership with Adidas America and obtained significant donations to assist all Breakers teams in the new club uniforms.
In addition, the club created their first Breakers Soccer Camps for all the teams in the club, and the U18 girls’ team coached by Ashley Edgar and assisted by Art Romswinckel won the prestigious San Diego Surf Cup. Ashley’s team also qualified for three CYSA State Cup semifinals, losing only against the eventual Champions.
2005 – Breakers at national level
The Santa Cruz Breakers take an important place in national soccer.
In 2005, the club earned the title of # 2 Elite soccer club for boys and girls in the Nation from the Super Y-League. The clubs rounding out the top three spots were the Chicago Magic and New York Red Bulls. 2005 was also the year when the club had three boys teams and one girls’ team that qualified for the Super-Y-league Nationals in Florida. Many players were also selected to participate in the Olympic Development Program (ODP), a process of identification for the US National Team. Jose Gonzales was invited for the first time to a US National training camp. Francisco Gomez and Miguel Silva were players from the county that participated with the US National Team program and Brie Wiles was the only player on the girls side invited to National training camp as well.
In 2005, Paul Holocher was hired at Cal Poly as a head men’s soccer coach to revamp their program. Paolo Carbone took over his role to become the Breakers Boys and Girls Coaching Director.
In 2006, the Breakers 88B coached by Bob Poser and Bob Evans won their fifth CYSA State Cup! At Easter time of the same year, they had the opportunity to participate in the U19 International Tournament of Bellinzona in Switzerland where they played against FC Barcelona (Spain), FC Basel (Switzerland), Aris Salonique (Greece) and Borussia Monchengladbach (Germany). Following their performance, some players were invited to train in Europe. Martin Monroy went to train with Borussia Monchengladbach in Germany for 10 days. 2006 was also the year where the Club launched the Breakers Junior Academy, a program designed to improve the individual skills of all the U10-U13 Breakers players. Breakers 88 Boys player Jose Gonzales signed a professional contract with the second division team Atlante in Mexico.
In 2007, US Soccer recognized the Santa Cruz County Breakers as one of the top clubs in the Nation and granted them the status of Academy club.
The Academy was designed to create a better developmental environment for elite players and to promote those players to the national team. The Breakers now had one U16 boys team and one U18 boys’ team playing in the US Soccer Development Academy under the guidance of the US Soccer Federation. In that year, the Breakers had the opportunity to play against the LA Galaxy and the Chivas USA in front of a crowd of 1,500 fans at Cabrillo College Stadium. After the weekend, US Soccer Federation scout, Hugo Perez (US National 1994 World Cup), notified the Breakers that Josue Madueno was invited to the U18 National Team Training Camp.
Throughout the years, one of the strengths of the Breakers Soccer Club is its commitment to help those players who truly deserve the opportunity to play soccer at its highest level.
The club has instituted several financial assistance programs to ensure that deserving players who are in need are not denied the chance to participate. This club has promoted and financially supported many teams that attend regional and national tournaments and has assisted many of its players in their travel to the USSF national team camps.
The club brand and look have also evolved thanks to its status as a Nike Premier Club.
The club effectively promotes its most talented and motivated players to universities and USSF soccer coaches both at the state and national levels. Thanks to participation in various showcase tournaments, club college nights, and other club events, players have exposure to some of the top university coaches in the nation. Since the development of the Breakers Academy, scouts now come to Santa Cruz County to look at our local talent. The Breakers Cup is now a tradition for many teams and clubs in Northern California and today it has more than 200 teams that participate.
Throughout the years, the club has successfully developed many strong players who have moved on to play at the collegiate level.
Changes In US Soccer
The last few years have seen a lot of changes in the landscape of US Soccer. Obviously, the advent of the US Soccer Development Academy is a big step in the right direction to develop players like other countries in the world have been doing for decades. On the girl’s side, the ECNL has created its “academy” even though it is not supervised by the US Soccer like for the boys Development Academy. Moreover, ODP used to be the main identification process for selecting players to the National teams. While it still exists, ODP has lost of its prestige and it is no longer the main and only means of selection for the National team. US Club Soccer has created their ID2 program, and the US Soccer has developed a program called the US Training Center where players are directly trained and scouted by the US Soccer Federation Coaching Staff.
Norther California Landscape Changes
In Northern California, the landscape has changed as well. The Norcal Premier League has been growing in the last few years, while CYSA created the new Cal Soccer League to respond to the demand of the competitive clubs. Breakers have teams playing in both organizations. The older teams, (Boys and Girls U14 and up) are playing in the Regional Academy League in Norcal and the younger teams (U9 to U13) are playing in the CYSA Cal Soccer League. The Elite U16 and U18 Boys Soccer Teams are playing at the National Level in the US Soccer Development Academy.
The Breakers have also been more involved at the grassroots level with several programs such as 4v4 League, Play Days and Camps. The Breakers have been one of the leading clubs in Northern California and have been distinguished by its professionalism on and off the field. Most of the activities of the Breakers Soccer club take place at Cabrillo College in Aptos in the heart of Santa Cruz County.
END 2010s – THE CLUB IS GROWING
Great alumni with Lynden, Slater, Giovanni, Jordan and Emi.
Lynden Gooch debut in the EPL with Sunderland against Manchester City coached by Pep Guardiola. U.S. youth international Lynden Gooch made his Premier League debut earning the start as Sunderland opened the 2016-17 campaign with a 2-1 loss to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City team.
The 20-year-old California native was deployed on the left side of midfield at the Etihad Stadium, marking just his second competitive match for Sunderland since signing with the club's academy in 2012.
Slater Meehan, NCAA National Champions with Stanford University. Slater Meehan finished his senior year by helping Stanford win their first men’s soccer championship. The No. 8 Cardinal stunned second-seeded Clemson 4-0 to win its first NCAA men’s soccer title in Kansas City, Kansas.
Giovanni Godoy & Jordan Jones
Giovanni Godoy and Jordan Jones were invited to the MLS Combine in Orlando from January 11-17th. Godoy and Jones were the only two players from Northern California among the 60 players invited to attend. The combine was followed by the MLS SuperDraft in Philadelphia.
In 2019, Emi Ochoa signs as Homegrown player with the MLS San Jose Earthquakes. After playing for 3 years for the Breakers FC, Emi signed as a San Jose’s youngest Homegrown Player (14 years and 191 days) on Nov. 11, 2019. Ochoa is the second youngest player to ever sign a professional contract in Major League Soccer (Freddy Adu – 14 years, 168 days) and is the youngest to sign a Homegrown Player contract.
Paolo completed his USSF Academy Director course, a course offered by invitation only to candidates who were working as Club Academy Directors with a USSF A license. Paolo was selected as one of only eighteen participants from across the country to participate in the year-long course. During this year-long invitational and professional development course, Paolo had the opportunity to collaborate with MLS academy directors, current and former MLS GMs, current MLS Head Coaches and US Soccer National Team Staff members.
During the course, Paolo visited the following MLS and European Clubs: FC Portland, Seattle Sounders, Houston Dynamo, Real Salt Lake, Werder Bremen (Germany), FC Midtjylland (Denmark). The candidates also spent one week in Florida at the IMG Academy where they observed the preparation of the U17 US National Team for the U17 World Cup. Previously, Paolo was selected by US Soccer to be a translator for an USSF International Workshop for "A" License Coaches in Italy. The coaches visited the Italian FA (Coverciano), they also visited the following world-renowned soccer clubs: AC Milan, Inter Milan, AS Roma and ACF Fiorentina.
Breakers has provided its players with international experiences to enrich their development as soccer players as well as their understanding of our multicultural world. Over the last 17 years, Breakers have sent teams and individual players to Italy, France, Holland, Sweden and Switzerland to complete in high-level tournaments against world-renowned professional youth academy clubs. The Gallini World Cup in Italy is the last international tournament that our club was able to attend in 2018.
USL2 was a great opportunity to give more exposure to Breakers FC players. Larry and its investors wanted to see soccer grow in Santa Cruz County, Northern California and in the US. This team filled the huge void of opportunities for players between the ages of 18-22. Academy products such as Walmer Martinez and Hugo Vargas benefitted from this exposure which helped them follow their professional paths. Other players from this team moved on to USL Championship professional league.
2020’s – Wind of change
MLS NEXT – Soccer development redesigned
Breakers FC is proud to be a founding member of the MLS NEXT, a new paradigm for player development and a platform that will transform the way players learn and grow. Building on where we’ve been but looking ahead to the future while taking youth soccer to the next level, the future starts here: MLS NEXT will provide the best player development experience in North America.
Girls Academy League
Breakers FC is also a founding member of the Girls Academy League (GA) and is pleased to have partnered with AFC in Almaden for this program. The leading youth development platform for the best female soccer players in the United States, the GA is the only national youth soccer platform that represents the collective vision of its member clubs.
Breakers FC Hires New Sports Director, Nisa Saveljic (2021)
Nisa Saveljic participated in the 1998 World Cup in France and Euro 2000 with the Yugoslavian National Team. At the club level, Nisa played for Partizan Belgrade where he won the national championship twice as well as the Yugoslavian Cup. He also played in the UEFA Champions League. Nisa also won the French Ligue 1 championship while playing with Bordeaux. As a coach Nisa worked in the Academy system of Bordeaux and he currently holds a UEFA “A” coaching License. As a Sports Director, NISA oversees MLS NEXT for Breakers FC.
Lepa Galeb Roskopp, Founder of Misahara, and Rob Roskopp, founder of Santa Cruz Bicycles, join the Board of Directors (2021).
Lepa Galeb Roskopp, Misahara, Rob Roskopp and Santa Cruz Bicycles join the Board of Directors (2021).
Lepa Galeb Roskopp and her company Misahara as well as Rob Roskopp and Santa Cruz Bicycles and Nisa Saveljic have joined forces with the Breakers F.C. board to bring the club to the next level. Their vision is to provide the highest level of soccer in the region and create a professional team and a sports complex with a soccer-specific stadium in Santa Cruz County. The project currently underway should be completed by summer 2022 with the start of the professional team by Spring 2023.
Partnership with the French Football Federation (2021)
The French Football Federation (FFF) is the governing body of soccer in France which oversees the French National Team (World Champions in 1998 and 2018 and runners-up in 2006). The French Football Federation also operates the famous Centre Technique National Clairefontaine which is considered as the finest football academy in the world. FFF has produced some of the most gifted players in the world, such as Kylian Mbappe (Men’s team) and Amadine Henry (Women’s Team).
Walmer Martinez selected to El Salvador National Team, plays in Gold Cup (2021)
Alumni forward Walmer Martínez - a former standout who grew through the full pathway of Breakers Academy (starting in youth teams, excelling with our USL2 Santa Cruz Breakers FC), played at Cabrillo College and Cal State Monterey Bay - is currently competing for El Salvador in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Walmer will be called up for the World Cup qualifier match vs. the US in September.
The future is now – MLS unveils its new professional League (2021)
The goal behind the new league is to improve the pro pathway from the newly created MLS Next academy program (which replaced the U.S. Soccer-run Development Academy). Every MLS team with a lower division team will play in MLS 2 by 2023. Newer clubs in smaller markets such as Breakers F.C. are under consideration to join this league.
“We don’t demand that the youth teams win, we demand that they play good soccer”
- Jose Ramon Alexanco