A collection of some of Howard County’s top boys soccer talent will be on display this Friday at the Soccer Stop in Columbia as part of an inaugural showcase event in partnership with PhilmLand.
The event, which will feature 24 local players between the ages of 15-23 competing in an indoor setting, is designed to spotlight some current high school and college players in a 6v6 winner-stays-on format.
“For me the priority with getting this started was to try and get a little more visibility for the tremendous amount of local talent,” said PhilmLand founder George Phillips, who in some fashion has previously helped train 18 of the 24 kids participating in the event. “I myself am a local boy that grew up in the Howard County area and I know as well as anyone the quality of player in this town. So I figured why not provide a chance to get these players together to compete in a fun, less formal set-up in front of the community.”
Admission is free to the general public and the showcase will take place from 7-9 p.m., with continuous seven-minute games running over the course of the evening. Phillips says he expects there to be roughly 15 games played and at the end of the night the team with the most points — awarded to the winner of each game — will be declared the overall champion.
Phillips said the format and feel was inspired by Rucker Park — a famous outdoor basketball venue in New York.
The teams were divided up in mid-October, with each six-man squad having five field players and a goalie. And for those familiar with Howard County high school soccer over the last few seasons, there are plenty of recognizable faces.
Team 1 features Donell Adu (Penn State Harrisburg University/Long Reach High), Yassine Elkahloun (Baltimore Armour Academy), Anthony Perez (Howard Community College/Hammond High), Jonah Stoutenborough (River Hill High), Cesar Torres (Howard Community College/Hammond High) and Kevin Pina (Long Reach High).
Team 2 features Julian Elguera (River Hill High), Jeffrey Fuentes (River Hill High), Kevin Hernandez (Hammond High), 2017 Howard County Player of the Year Anderson Marroquin (Howard Community College/Hammond High), Joshua Morgan (Baltimore Armour Academy) and Pierre Casseus (Oakland Mills High).
Team 3 is made up of Kofi Bonsu (Wilde Lake High), Danny Fuentes (Howard Community College/River Hill), Mathias O’Neil (Hammond High), Ivan Osemobor (DC United Academy/Calverton High), Ethan Shulgold (Wilde Lake High) and Nels Roth (Hammond High Grad).
Team 4 includes Ethan Addo (Atholton), Daniel Aguilar (Reservoir), Van Danielson (Mount St. Joseph High), Hamzah Elhabashy (Centennial High), Andy Portillo (Dundalk high) and Simon Bradford (Howard Community College/Hammond High).
Included among the participants are five players from this year’s HCC men’s soccer team that just returned from competing at the NJCAA National Tournament. There are also three players from the River Hill boys team scheduled to play for a state title a day earlier on Thursday.
“I’m extremely pleased with the quality of talent that we have this year. A lot of these players have really come into their own this fall and I expect a really competitive and fun atmosphere,” Phillips said.
As part of the atmosphere, Phillips says there will be a MC — Brad Routh — and a DJ — Alex Bois — to add commentary and play music throughout the competitions. Bois is formerly a member of the band Periphery.
Sponsors FrameMender and Reid Sports and Entertainment have helped equip each of the teams with special uniforms for the event. Ninja Star Studios will be filming the games for those that cannot attend.