Since the end of its season, CSUF men’s soccer had a round of matches against professional teams, including the Toronto Reds and LA Galaxy II. Though they’ve had chances to feel the fast tempo of these pro soccer clubs, the Titans match against the Orange County Soccer Club left them with more to think about than their performance on the field.
The skill difference between amateur and professional was nonexistent as the Titans managed to keep OCSC on its toes throughout the match. OCSC Head Coach Braeden Cloutier, who coaches multiple teams in Major League Soccer since 1997, said some CSUF players have the skill to make it higher — all they need is the mentality.
“I thought Cal State Fullerton was a really organized team … I knew they were going to be challenging and be a handful,” Cloutier said. “They have a lot of talented players … they’re very technical and good players.”
Cloutier said the team has the characteristics of a true professional team. However, what the players do outside of practice is what’s going to determine their fate in the professional world of soccer.
“A lot of (CSUF) players have a lot of technical ability, but its whether or not they want to live the lifestyle of a professional soccer player. There’s ability over there that I see that could be professional one day if they maximize the other stuff outside of the practice field,” Cloutier said.
Senior Robert Coronado, who missed last year’s season due to injury, stepped foot on the field ready to connect with his team following the departure of three seniors. He’s even taken big steps in conditioning early before the season begins.
“I’ve been waiting for these moments just because I’ve been out for so long from my injury. It feels good to come back and lead the team,” Coronado said. “I’ve been here the longest, so that gives me an opportunity to lead the team on and off the field.”
Coronado wasn’t the only one to find some playing time against big players. Incoming freshman Donovan Wilson found himself in his fourth game against professionals and got a rude awakening when he struggled against Toronto.
Often referred to as the “baby of the team,” Wilson said he had to adapt physically to compete.
“The first game was pretty rough for me. It just takes getting used to, but I feel more comfortable now. The physical aspect about it, it’s faster, so I just need to speed up my play,” Wilson said.
CSUF won another Big West Tournament championship under the tenure of Titans Head Coach George Kuntz, and with his connections within the MLS and other pro clubs, the Titans face greater challenges in the offseason that could set them up for success when they kick off their season in the fall.
Kuntz encourages the team to have a professional approach in every aspect of their lifestyle.
“I want them to know the nuances, it’s such a slight difference between this level and getting signed to a contract and getting paid for it, and then the next level is MLS. The difference could be the five inches between the ears, the heart and the execution of technique,” Kuntz said.
But even so, there is more sacrifice to be made than trying to keep big time opponents like Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore from trampling over the Titans in friendly matches. Cloutier said the real lesson is in the dedication to maximizing the resources outside of the practice field.
“If they’re just content with where they are now, they won’t progress, but I know they’re in good hands with Coach George Kuntz, and he’ll be pushing them and maximizing their abilities to get to the next level,” Cloutier said.