Abravanel returns to ODP regional team | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Abravanel returns to ODP regional team

Darin Olde, Tribune staff writer

For the second year in a row, Leon Abravanel is among the top youth soccer players in the Western United States.

Abravanel, 16, was one of 25 players selected to play for the California Northern State Olympic Development Program, and one of 36 players selected from 234 in Far West (Region IV) of the United States Soccer Federation’s youth program to play on the 2002 Far West team.

Abravanel, a South Tahoe High junior, first qualified for the team by being one of 18 players from the California Northern State team to play in the Regional Camp held July 13-22 in McMinniville, Ore.

Abravanel participated with 234 of the best players in Far West, which comprises 13 states: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and California.

Abravanel then impressed coaches at the camp and made the regional team, which will travel to tournaments in Florida and Holland, and to a camp that will include teams from the four U.S. regions.

It’s a big accomplishment for a player who was told he wasn’t expected to make it back after joining the regional team in 2001.

“They actually told me they didn’t expect me to be back this year,” Abravanel said. “But this year I came back and (coaches said) I was the most improved player out of the pool from last year, which was great for me, because I work so hard. It’s finally paying off, which is really good.”

Abravanel said he is part of the 2002 Far West B team, but has since moved around to several different positions beyond his stay at center midfield. Now he’s not sure where he stands.

But with a glimmer of what could lay ahead, Abravanel is going forward full steam.

He has since been selected to join the U-17 San Juan Predators club team in Sacramento, which won the North State Cup last year.

Beyond joining the STHS’s varsity soccer team this fall, Abravanel plans to continue training with Chris DeLeon, who he said helped a lot in his regional and national pursuit.

Although not contacted for a national team final tryout this year, another important year with the nation’s best is bound to make Abravanel stronger.

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