Though the Los Angeles Blues are firmly attached to California, they celebrated their inaugural season like any newlyweds would: they headed to the Caribbean. In the team's first official weekend of play, it earned back-to-back wins over Sevilla Puerto Rico and Antigua Barracuda on their home turfs. Winning became a theme for the Blues that season, as they surged to the playoffs in the nascent USL Pro League. Since those early triumphs, the Blues have expanded beyond play in the USL Pro, taking on teams from other leagues during the annual U.S. Open Cup, participating in international exhibitions, and constantly fending off squirrels trying to steal the game balls for their acorn hoards.
At Goals Soccer Centers, athletes of all ages try their hand—or rather foot—at the world’s most popular sport during league and open play. Eleven artificial-turf fields accommodate five-a-side teams for fast-paced outdoor games. Rebound walls enclose pitches, inviting players to bang balls off them for tricky passing, and netting keeps all spherical objects from flying out of bounds. In between matches, teammates refuel at the onsite restaurant or relax in a lounge equipped with TV and free WiFi. Complete with showers, tidy locker rooms also give footballers ample space to dress and clean up before and after contests.
Founded in 2004 by a group of childhood friends who grew up to play collegiate and professional soccer, DirectKix Soccer Productions aims to share their love of the game with a new generation. Youth soccer clinics cover not just technical lessons and game strategy but how to see soccer as a celebration of life. Grown-ups can also get in on the fun by signing up for the program's adult league, which sets teams against each other over a 10-week season, about the time it takes to forget all the rules of American football.
A staff of seasoned coaches presides over the pitch at Los Angeles Soccer Academy, teaching aspiring strikers the fundamentals of the game with a comprehensive and well-rounded developmental strategy. The USSF-licensed instructors strive to foster technical ball-control skills with the aim of instilling confidence in players to handle the pressures of the game, such as an oncoming defender or a territorial tuft of grass. After achieving comfort with the ball, pupils will be more adept at executing team-oriented strategies, such as retaining the right shape in their formation, improvising with fellow teammates, and visualizing and executing the right plays. The academy drives home its developmental strategies with drills that emphasize the possession-first philosophies of Spain, the fruitful four-on-four groundwork of Holland, and the soft-cheese-fueled training regimes of southern France. Though it is involved with competitive leagues, the academy offers camps and clinics for players of all abilities.
Throughout Los Angeles, children as young as 2 are honing coordination, social skills, and other life essentials in Super Soccer Stars LA's kid-friendly camps. Each age-specific session is based on curricula designed by both soccer experts and early childhood and behavioral specialists in order to grant little ones with a fun and well-rounded experience in each drill they run and game they play. From dribbling and passing to more general principles such as teamwork, campers will learn skills that will help them succeed beyond the soccer field in the classroom, on the playground, and in the ball-kicking portion of state standardized tests. At the end of each camp day, children show off their new abilities by competing in a mini World Cup.
You step up to the plate and raise the bat, realizing you have just enough time for a quick footing adjustment before the ball comes hurling at you. The bat swings forward and connects with the ball, sending it soaring into the air. But instead of running around the bases to the soundtrack of adoring fans, you ready yourself for another ball. And this one's going to feel the hurt even more.
This is the experience Sluggers Batting Cages offers, allowing kids and adults alike to act out their dreams and hone their at-plate skills while in a safe outdoor environment. Automated machines pump out heaters in individual batting cages, while protective fencing catches balls that would have otherwise earned batters home runs, doubles, or concussion-related lawsuits. Sluggers also offers party packages for teams or birthday celebrants who want to make a whole day of it, sweetening the deal with pizza, pop, and a private room.