Will McManus and Brooke Vanschoorisse have some fancy footwork that will be on display during the boys and girls high school soccer seasons this fall.
Earlier in the summer, McManus, a rising junior at McDonogh, and Vanschoorisse, set to become a sophomore at Eastern Tech, enjoyed a unique opportunity to polish those skills in Argentina.
The two earned roster spots playing for United States Youth Futsal teams — McManus for the under-16 boys team and Vanschoorisse for the under-15 girls — and they got to see how they stacked up in three friendly competitions against teams from Argentina.
They were the only two players from Maryland to make any of the six U.S. youth rosters, going through state and national tryouts to claim a spot on their respective 12-player teams.
“When I put on the USA shirt it was crazy — my parents were like crying and I didn’t realize what a big deal it was until I actually played for the U.S.,” said Vanschoorisse, who plays center midfield at Eastern Tech. “It was really fun. The people we met, my teammates — we got so close so quick. We only had like a week to bond and I felt like I knew them so well.”
Futsal is an indoor game played on a court with four players to a side and no turf or walls like the more familiar indoor soccer game. It’s becoming more popular in the state with the tight quarters and vast touches improving skills and decision-making.
Both McManus and Vanschoorisse had highlight moments in Argentina.
McManus, who is a member of the Denison Cabral Futsal Academy, was named the U.S. team captain. He made significant strides considering he tried out for the same team three years ago and didn’t make the cut.
“It was unbelievable to be able to represent the U.S., and then being the captain of my team was just an honor,” he said.
Despite going 0-3, his U.S. side stayed competitive against some of the top teams from Argentina, including its national team. In its opening game, the U.S. rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the final 10 minutes, with McManus assisting on the team’s first goal and then scoring to cut the lead to 3-2.
“We were the second to last game of the night and the other age groups were there cheering us on," McManus said. "When I scored the second goal, the whole arena went crazy. I just had so much adrenaline in that moment because it was awesome seeing all those fans cheering.”
Vanschoorisse’s team had great success in Argentina, going 3-0 and becoming the first U.S. team to defeat the Argentina national squad, 5-3.
Vanschoorisse plays the pivot position up front and finished with three goals, including the opening game’s first goal to break the ice.
“It was exciting because it was 0-0 for like 10 minutes, and then finally I scored,” she said.
“The other team had ball in their end and our right wing pressed and gave a quick pass up to me. I was ahead of the last defender, so it was 1-vs.-1 — me and the goalie — and I dribbled up, faked to the left and tapped it in the right corner. It was crazy, exciting to score for your country.”
Both players agree playing futsal has improved their play in outdoor soccer.
“Futsal is super fast moving, so it’s really good for your touch because the ball is always at your feet,” McManus said. “As I got more and more into it, my touch kept getting better. So it definitely betters my touch and speed of play and decision making when it comes to being on the ball.”
Former Blast star Giuliano Celenza, who coaches Vanschoorisse on his Baltimore Union club team, now has his group playing futsal in the winter months instead of indoor soccer.
“Futsal is a quick game, you’ve got to think fast and it helps you with your skills,” he said. “Everything has to be precise — your first touch and passes — and you’re constantly moving. So I think it definitely helps when you take your game outdoors because it makes you play faster, think ahead and make quicker decisions.”