By Michael Fitzpatrick
A Rocky River middle schooler is having quite the European vacation. Jacob Bergin is a member of a U.S. national youth soccer team currently playing in a prestigious tournament in Spain.
Bergin, who is 5-7 and 115 pounds soaking wet, earned a spot on the id2 team — which is the U.S. Soccer association’s program to identify young players — after playing in a tryout camp in Columbus. He was one of 16 players selected of several hundred players in the country who were invited to a handful of tryout camps sprinkled throughout the United States.
Bergin left for New Jersey to join his teammates late last week and the team departed from there for Spain where it will play in the 17th annual Mediterranean International Cup (MIC), which runs from April 12-16.
The U.S. team was placed in Group G of the 64-team tourney with teams from Spain, Israel and China.
They were scheduled to play the Spain team on April 12 in Mont-Ras; the China team in Calonge on April 13 and the team from Israel — Hapoel Ramat Gan — in Calonge, with the playoffs starting on April 14 and running through April 16.
The id2 program has produced such young stars as Chrisian Pulisic, DeAndre Yedlin and Greg Garza.
Nike sponsors U.S. Club Soccer and LaLiga provides support.
The team is coached by Gerry McKeown. It traveled to Barcelona on April 9 and then traveled to Griona for two days of practice before starting games in an area known as Costa Brava.
Bergin’s father, Chris, said the family just found out Jacob made the team on March 6 and that set off a scramble to get everything in place to make sure Jacob could make the trip.
Chris planned on traveling to Europe to see his son in action.
Jacob, who eats, breathes and sleeps soccer according to his dad, is looking forward to the challenge of playing with and against elite competition.
“I’m extremely thankful for this opportunity. I’m excited to test my skills on the international stage. It will be challenging, but I’m sure my hard work will pay off,” said Jacob, who plays for Cleveland United SC.
According to his father, Jacob’s ballhandling and passing skills are some of his greatest strengths as well as an insanely competitive nature.
Chris first noticed his son’s competitive streak during a youth soccer game when Jacob was just 6 or so. Jacob was at midfield during a game when a long kick went soaring over his head toward his goal. Chris, who wrestled in high school but never played soccer, remembers Jacob sprinting all-out toward the ball and then tracking it down with an eye-popping effort and then having the skill to deftly corral the ball.
The younger Bergin concentrates on soccer, but did wrestle this winter for Rocky River’s middle school program, where he set the season record for wins in a season with 26.
“He’s got a real competitive nature,” Chris Bergin said.
Print this story