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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 24, 2005

Soccer fans get kick out of pros playing here

By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer

If 11-year-old Caprice Dydasco sounds excited about the chance of watching a professional soccer game in Hawai'i, you should hear her mother.


WHAT: Exhibition match between D.C. United and Los Angles Galaxy

WHERE: Aloha Stadium

WHEN: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

ADMISSION: $60, $42, $38, $28 and $22 for reserved seats and $20 for general admission. ... $20 general admission tickets may be purchased at all O'ahu branches of First Hawaiian Bank, with part of the proceeds benefitting the Hawai'i Soccer Federation and Friends of Hawai'i Charities. Tickets also available at Aloha Stadium box office: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Friday, or by phone (484-1122, (subject to user fees) and at the University of Hawai'i box office: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., through Friday, or by phone (944-2697, subject to user fees). ... The stadium has an alcohol free zone in the orange and blue sections F thru K.


GATES: Parking gates open at 2:30 p.m. No tailgating will be allowed.

"Even adults, a lot of the adults, parents are really excited," said Misty Dydasco, 42, of Kaimuki. "This is the first time we're going to have a professional game. I think a lot of the children who have aspired to go to college, which is good, but to see professional soccer ... the type of caliber of soccer that we haven't seen before."

Hawai'i's long drought of no professional soccer will end Saturday, when Major League Soccer teams D.C. United, the 2004 MLS champion, and Los Angeles Galaxy meet in the Aloha Soccer Cup, a preseason exhibition game at Aloha Stadium. It will be the first time in almost 30 years a professional soccer game will be played in Hawai'i.

For reasons differing from her mother, Caprice said she's excited, "because I want to see how good the pros are and see if I can do better than them.

"When you watch them, you can admire them, their moves and how they kick the ball and how they pressure. I like their moves."

The last time a professional soccer game was played here was in 1977, when Hawai'i had a pro team called Team Hawai'i. In 1976, nearly 22,000 fans attended an exhibition game at Aloha Stadium that featured Pele, the greatest soccer player ever. A semi-pro soccer team, Tsunami, also was based on O'ahu in the 90s.

"To be able to bring these guys, the MLS champions, come on," said soccer pioneer Jack Sullivan, who was recently inducted into the Hawai'i Sports Hall of Fame. "I just think it's the stepping stone to a new era.

"Everybody has a hero; not everybody has a hero they can see play because we're out here."

Caprice is among a minority in Hawai'i because she has seen a professional soccer game in person, when her soccer club, the Honolulu Soccer Club Bulls '93, went to see the Galaxy play last year in Los Angeles.

"The fans are so wild, it's really loud. If you are talking to your friend right next to you, can't hear," she said. "It's probably going to be loud, because this is the first time a professional game is being held in Hawai'i. (The fans) are going to be so happy."

Caprice's brother Zane is a 15-year-old freshman on Kamehameha's boys state champion soccer team. He said he's excited for Saturday's game to be "around people that love soccer so much."

"Because I watch most of the players play, and just to see them in real life, it's going to help me strive to do more, push to get to that level," Zane said.

Exposure to professional soccer will be beneficial to youth players, according to University of Hawai'i forward Natasha Kai, who also is a member of the U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team.

"It's going to give them a better perspective," Kai said. "Letting the little kids see that atmosphere, they're going to know the opportunities are there for them and they're going to continue to work hard to get there."

Unlike many of the fans looking forward to watching stars Freddy Adu of United and Cobi Jones of Los Angeles, Pearl City's Shea Yamaguchi, 11, said he isn't as interested in seeing them as he is in just watching a professional soccer game.

"I want to see the game and learn," said the Waiau Elementary School fifth-grader. "A lot of basic stuff; passing, shooting, techniques."

About 27,000 boys, girls and adults are registered in various leagues in Hawai'i, which has recently enjoyed its greatest success in soccer on the national scene.

Hale'iwa native Brian Ching is a member of the U.S. National Team. He was called in to national team training camp beginning Sunday for a pair of friendlies against Colombia and Honduras next month. The Kamehameha graduate also was a MLS all-star last season for the San Jose Earthquakes.

Kai helped lead the U-21 national team to the Nordic Cup title, the age group's world championship, last summer, and led the team with 12 goals. Last month she rejoined the team for a training session in Carson, Calif.

Last summer, the HSC Bulls '85 boys team captured Hawai'i's first U.S. Youth Soccer Association national title, Real Hawai'i Futbol Club Copa '92 girls captured the national title in the U.S. Club Soccer National Championships, and two adult teams won championships in the National Veterans Cup.

With the addition of a professional game being held here every year — organizers say they have a long-term agreement with the Galaxy and a game is already being planned for next year — soccer in Hawai'i will likely continue its upward trend.

"All of us kids and people in Hawai'i know it is out there, but most of us haven't had a chance to see it firsthand," said Punahou senior defender Kelsey Baker, who was recently named the Most Outstanding Player at last week's girls state soccer tournament. "I think it's going to give kids more good role models to look up to, and more of something to strive towards. After high school soccer and college soccer, it's another goal to reach.

"It will make more people aware of how big soccer is."


D.C. United star Freddy Adu will be making a public appearance today at Niketown from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. He will demonstrate ball-handling skills, and five children will be chosen to go on stage with Adu for a mini one-on-one session. The select five also will receive an autographed ball and four tickets to the Aloha Soccer Cup. The first 200 children will receive a NikeGO T-shirt, a Nike mini-skills ball, and a Freddy Adu Collectible Card.

Reach Leila Wai at lwai@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2457.

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