In a series for Soccer America Magazine, Mike Woitalla is profiling clubs that will be part of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, in which U-16 and U-18 boys teams will compete in an eight-month season beginning this fall.
Nomads SC of Southern California were founded in 1976 and by the mid-1980s became of the one of the first fully staffed, multi-team elite youth clubs that soon proliferated throughout the nation. San Diego real-estate developer Joe Hollow created the Nomads in 1976 when he formed an all-star team of players from the league in the San Diego suburb of La Jolla.
As Hollow began adding teams in different age groups, he decided to replicate the club system prevalent throughout the soccer world and, in 1981, hired as Director of Coaching Englishman Derek Armstrong, who had been coaching apprentice players at English club Blackpool FC.
Having depended on parent coaches until Armstrong's arrival, the Nomads by 1985 were fully staffed by paid coaches. Their players began moving into the U.S. national team program, beginning with goalie Jeff Duback in the mid-1980s, up to the present with U.S. World Cup defender Steve Cherundolo. Jovan Kirovski (62 U.S. caps) played his youth ball with the Nomads before joining Manchester United at age 16 and launching a long pro career in Europe and MLS.
Armstrong, who also coached the U.S. U-20 national team at the 1987 World Youth Championship and is a national-championship-winning coach at UC San Diego, says the Nomads "have built everything around the passing game" with the aim to play "attractive, stylish soccer."
In 1982, the Nomads reached the McGuire Cup (U-19 boys national championship) final. Their boys teams have since won US Youth Soccer national cup titles at the U-19 (1999), U-17 (1997), U-16 (1996) and U-14 (2002) levels.
For lower-income players, the Nomads have a "five-figure" scholarship program, which they call work programs because recipients work at the club's fund-raising tournament or on chores such as field maintenance.
''Half our kids can't pay,'' says Armstrong. ''We've tried very hard not to be registration fee-based.''
The Nomads were ranked No. 15 in the 2007 Soccer America Top 20 Boys Clubs rankings. The Nomads' U-14s captured a U.S. Club Soccer title in 2004, and two Nomads teams (U-19s and U-15s) won U.S. Youth Soccer regional titles in 2005.
In May of 2007, the Nomads won the Red Bull NL17 National Championship. In April, the Nomads lifted the U-12 Dallas Cup title.
Former Nomad Eric Avila scored in UC Santa Barbara's 2-1 win over UCLA in the 2006 NCAA Division I final. Avila was a member of the Nomads 2002 U-14 USYS national cup-winning team, two of whose players, Gabriel and Michael Farfan, represented the USA at the 2005 U-17 World Cup.