When it comes to the US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (ODP), Ethan Orozco has done it all. The North Texas Soccer ODP player has frequented the South Region ODP team for years and competed at the US Youth Soccer ODP Thanksgiving Interregional. Orozco can now add a trip to Portugal to that list as the US Youth Soccer National Champion travelled overseas for nine days in March.
“My Dad received an email and immediately texted me. When I found out, I was freaking out,” Orozco said. “It is a really big deal, and it was such a great feeling to be selected.”
Orozco, who is commonly referred as “Sugar” among his club and ODP teammates, relished the opportunity to play local clubs in Portugal and train with coaches from Benefica in Lisbon.
“The Benefica academy team was amazing. I’ve never played a team that good before,” Orozco said. “With that being said, I think we held our own, and the training from the Benefica coaches was great.”
Orozco is no stranger to playing talented teams. Orozco’s club side, Solar Red 02 Stricker, has claimed a North Texas State Cup, US Youth Soccer Southern Regional Championships, US Youth Soccer National League and a National Championship title over the last 12 months.
“ODP has done a lot for me. I have grown as a leader and it has made me better as a player,” Orozco said. “Playing on that level has prepared me for anything, which translates over to playing with Solar. Each team plays a different style, so it allows me be versatile but also have the opportunity to intertwine those two styles.”
Even though Solar wrapped up its National League season in December, Orozco and his teammates had to wait until March for the remaining games to finish and the standings to finalize. Orozco explained that he was actually in Portugal when he found out his club side clinched the National League title and a return trip to the National Championships.
“We all knew what needed to happen and were super anxious in the months leading up to it. The group text started going a couple days before just reminding everyone and getting hyped,” Orozco said. “Nobody could find out what the score was until finally one person sent a screenshot and everyone spammed the group text saying now is the time to officially start getting ready for nationals.”
Solar recently competed in the Dr Pepper Dallas Cup, where they made a run all the way to the finals. After winning the National Championship last July, Orozco noticed a difference in the way opposing teams played against his club side, but instead of complaining or making excuses, Orozco savors the challenge.
“We were getting everyone team’s best game and every game was difficult. The challenge is great, but that’s what you want. We know we aren’t going to win Nationals again if we play at the level from last year,” Orozco said. “We have to get better. There is a target on our back, and we’re training really hard.
Orozco is not the only ODP player getting experience overseas,
North Texas ODP Pool Player Bennett Chia is training in Madrid, Spain with Getaffe C.F. International formally of Madrid Football Academy. The academy is headed by Technical Director David Aznar, who holds a UEFA Pro Coaching License with experience in several First and Second Division Clubs such as Real Madrid, Atlético de Madrid, Getafe and Leganés.
As a varsity starter in his freshman year, Chia helped capture the 2017 TAPPS Division I Fall Boys High School State Championship. Through the partnership of Dallas Internationals School and Aquinas American School in Madrid, Bennett and fellow starting XI Freshman David Martinez were selected to join the six month program to develop their skills against area academy teams around Madrid.