The recent road trip was long and difficult for EMFC Azul, and head coach Jürgen Ruckaberle’s soccer team is glad to be home. Over the last two weekends, Azul went 1-3 to fall to 3-3 overall, but they return to Eugene confident, encouraged by their competitive play and ready for two home games June 28 and 29.
After splitting two games against the THUSC Diamonds and Westside Timbers, they faced AC Seattle, the all-Italian team that fields a roster made up primarily of players from the prestigious Serie A league in Italy. Ruckaberle says he was impressed by his team’s competitiveness in the 5-2 loss. He says Azul’s two Italian players, Gaia Mastrovincenzo and Eleonora Petralia, played well and took a lot away from facing many from their home country.
This past Saturday, Azul faced another very good opponent in Issaquah SC and lost 4-1 in the Seattle heat. Ruckaberle focuses more on what went right than wrong entering a four-game homestand that finishes the season. “We grew together as a team and some of our combinations are looking very good,” he says. “Both Italians have been integrated into the team and have fun playing here.”
This level of competition isn’t diminishing. At 4 pm Saturday, June 29, at South Eugene High School, Azul welcomes the Spokane Shine, a struggling team that stood atop the league last year. The following day at 3 pm Emerald City comes to town, and Azul hopes to beat them for the second straight year.