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Soccer: Youth tournament produces strong, experienced players

The New Mexico Soccer Tournament Complex in Bernalillo witnessed plenty of action throughout the Rio Rapids Open on Saturday and Sunday.

Youth teams affiliated with the Colorado Rapids from New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and Colorado made the trek to the biggest soccer complex in the Albuquerque area.

The preseason tourney showcased players ranging from U-9 through U-14 for both boys and girls. More than 125 teams across four age classes competed in a minimum of three games for a chance to take home some hardware.

Head coach Ryan Creager of Colorado Rapids Burgundy brought his squad down from Denver and found a lot of success in the tournament.

He said the tournament was a good way to give his kids some exposure to high-caliber play. In his first time coaching for the Rio Rapids Open, Creager went 2-0 on Saturday, bringing his team to the finals on Sunday.

“Obviously, it’s a good feeling -- every time the ball goes into the back of the net, it’s a good feeling,” Creager said. “I think they did a really good job, and I’m just really proud of them.”

Creager’s U-14 club took home a dominating 12-0 victory in the first match on Saturday, leading to Creager’s decision to give his backup goalie, Noah Rhodes, a shot to play keeper.

“It felt good going up five to zero on them,” Rhodes said. “It didn’t matter, though; I was still focused.”

Creager said Rhodes, the 6-foot-1 backup keeper, was able to provide some intimidation to Albuquerque United Football Club during the win. Overall, though, Creager said his team was well able to take advantage of the opportunities, and that’s all he could ask for as a head coach.

“Any time we can help out our affiliates, it’s a good thing,” Creager said.

Dillon Good, a Bosque School graduate, said it was fun to get out and watch some soccer. Good had played at the Bernalillo Soccer Complex dozens of times, including for state championships.

“I don’t even remember there being this many people for (the state championships),” Good said. “It was fun to get out here again.”

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Fans, teams and family members were scattered all across the 22 soccer fields to watch the vast number of teams play.

All of the teams participating in the tournament are affiliated with the Colorado Rapids, giving the professional soccer club all of the rights to the players arising from their system. Albuquerque’s largest soccer club, the Rio Rapids, fields boys and girls ranging from 4 to 19 years old.

The nonprofit organization has five alumni currently on the Lobo soccer team. Jimmy Schneebeck, Lucas Seligman, Justin Hix, Ford Parker & Aaron Herrera all matured through the Rio Rapids Soccer program.

Liam Cary-Eaves is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at or on twitter @Liam_CE.

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