New head coach and a new offense.
That is the early story with the Carson High boys soccer program. New head coach Michael Alvarez has replaced Medhi Saami and installed a 4-3-3 offense entering the Sept. 6 opener at Reno High School.
“Things are going well,” said Alvarez. “We had a good turnout despite the fact that I didn’t let seven or eight kids try out because of grades. We have a very long road to go.
“We are trying to be more offensive minded. We’ve gone away from the 4-4-2 which most teams run. It puts more pressure on the midfielders. We need more speed and the ability to cover a lot of ground. If guys aren’t getting back it can affect the defense. We have a lot of quickness on this team.”
Returnees Bryan Llamas and Ryan Galvan are at right and center forward, respectively. Octavio Virrueta is on the left side. Galvan was the team’s second-leading scorer last year behind Cristian Hernandez. Returnee Oscar Ventura and Jaime Saldana are the main back-ups at forward.
“Ryan is deceptively fast for his size,” Alvarez said. “He has a very good touch. He has gotten in better, but he’s still not in the condition I’d like to see him in.
“Jaime played JV last year and scored a lot of goals. He is incredibly quick.”
Guillermo Hernandez is at center midfield, and he’ll be flanked by Fernando Torres on the right and Alejandro Gonzalez on the left. Rogelio Herrera, Adrian Gutierrez, Jose Sepulveda and Brandon Hernandez will battle for playoff time in the middle. With the midfielders being responsible to cover more ground this year, chances are Alvarez will sub more to keep everybody fresh.
Peter Garrett, Carlos Alvardo, Christian Martinez and Salvador Rodriquez will start on the back line. Alvarado has had problems in the past, and at one point last year, was suspended from the team. If he can stay healthy and out of trouble, he has the ability to be an all-league player. He is a rugged competitor who doesn’t shy away from contact. Eric Avila will fight for playing time on the back line.
Victor Guardado and Jose Moreno are contending for the starting spot between the posts. Alvarez hasn’t made a final decision on the starter as of press time. It’s possible that he could split time at least early on until a dominant keeper steps forward.
“I’m still figuring it out,” Alvarez said. “Absolutely we could end up playing both. One of the guys communicates a little better than the other.”
Alvarez said one of the strengths of the team is field awareness.
“We have some players that have good vision for the field,” Alvarez said. “They are able to assess the situation on the field and get the ball to the right player. We have a lot of quickness on this team, both in our starting lineup and on the bench. We have a lot of good, young talent.
“My concern is how the team is going to communicate with each other (on the field). They have to be able to help themselves out there and play together as a unit.”