Local soccer team sets goal to take on the world

jmarks@lakewyliepilot.comSeptember 3, 2013 

— Some clubs may scour two states or more searching for talent. But this two-time national champion squad barely ventures outside two families.

Palmetto United FC has an Elite 3v3 team that has won two national championships this year. First came the January win at the Kick-It 3v3 tournament at Disney World. The team then won four local events and regional tournaments in Jacksonville, Fla., and Jekyll Island, Ga. A second national title came in July at the World Tour World Cup National Finals in Charleston before finishing second at the 3v3 Challenge National Championships in early August, again at Disney.

Combined, the team went 113-1.

“We’re happy to see the team do so well,” said Lake Wylie coach Todd Sykes. “We’ve been developing all of our academy players and this little team is an example of what is emerging.”

The team includes Landon, Sam and Will Sykes, along with Cory Lownds, all of Lake Wylie, and brothers Andy and Avery Young of Fort Mill. Players are 7 and 8 years old. Some are ranked among the best players nationally at their age. Todd Sykes played collegiate and professional soccer. Matt Young, father of the Fort Mill boys, played in college.

“We’ve got quite a little team here,” Matt Young said.

Young said a “perfect storm” of quality coaching and dedicated players is the reason for so much success so soon.

“Typically you have to go out, search throughout the state, if not the region, to pull together this type of talent,” he said.

Todd Sykes said many teams they compete against are such conglomerations of talent.

“Rather than recruiting top players from a broad geography,” he said, “we’re working with the kids we have.”

Sykes credits the squad with “an amazing amount of commitment and work ethic.” Players will now begin competing again with the rest of Palmetto United, though Sykes has his eye on future 3v3 events. The team may, at some point, “link efforts” with a few other nationally ranked teams to “take a run at international events,” Sykes said.

The several 3v3 leagues in which these teams compete, all with their own national title, are combining to create a single national championship in January. The Palmetto United team will be the top seed in their division for that event.

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