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New York Freedoms breaking new ground

“It’s me,” the 31-year-old native of Liverpool, England said.

The Freedoms...

By Dylan Butler

In the complicated world of youth soccer mergers and acquisitions, David Price explains the connection between the New York Freedoms and the Storm Soccer Academy very simply.

“It’s me,” the 31-year-old native of Liverpool, England said.

The Freedoms have been around as a soccer club for about 30 years, but it is a relative newcomer in the world of youth soccer. It started with two boys’ teams in 2001, expanded to four last year and is up to five this season with teams ranging in age from 13 to 19.

The teams, which are comprised of players who are trained by the Price-owned Storm Soccer Academy, have already had remarkable success in the Super Y League, a national youth soccer league under the umbrella of the United Soccer Leagues.

Last season three Freedoms teams — the U-15, U-16 and U-17 — advanced to the national championships, more than any club in the nation, with the U-16 team winning the crown.

This year the U-16s are heading to the national semifinals after winning the Region I tournament.

Price said plans are in the works to possibly change the name next year, and the youth soccer club would just go by the moniker Storm Soccer Academy.

But whether they’re the Freedoms or Storm Soccer, Price said the organization’s commitment to excellence will remain the same.

“I think it doesn’t matter what umbrella you’re under, what name, it’s what you’re providing under that name,” Price said. “I’m a big believer in having quality people around us, and that’s what we’ve got. I could make the argument that we’re very successful because our coaching staff is very good.”

Price, who is the head coach/general manager of the Freedoms professional team, which plays in the Pro-Select League, coaches the U-15 team with Eric Davis.

The U-14 squad is coached by Huey Ferguson, the all-time leading scorer in St. John’s history, and Price, who was also a Red Storm standout, also coaches the U-16 team.

The U-17 squad is coached by former MLS midfielder John Diffley and St. John’s head coach Dave Masur, and Long Island Rough Rider midfielder Steve Cadet, who was named the new head women’s coach at Molloy College in February, coaches the U-19 team.

“The résumés of these guys are second to none,” Price said. “That’s a great commodity to have, when you have good people. Like in anything in the world, when you have good people you are going to give a good product.”

Unlike local clubs such as Blau-Weiss Gottschee and the Brooklyn Knights, the Freedoms pool their players from other clubs to play in the Super Y League.

While some local standouts such as Ariel Castellanos from Holy Cross and brothers Garrett and Jason Knese from Bayside are members of the Freedoms, the club draws players from as far north as New Paltz and as far east as Stony Brook.

“For those kids to travel that far, they must think somewhat highly of what we provide and they enjoy being around it,” Price said. “We train a lot of clubs in Queens and Long Island. We do the Y-League, coaching year-round and a lot of camps, that’s our three main entities.”

In addition to the elite coaching, Price said another major draw for Freedoms players is the opportunity to play in a college atmosphere at St. John’s.

The teams play on the artificial turf of DaSilva Memorial Field, but they did get a chance to play at the brand-new Belson Stadium before it was closed for repairs last month.

“For the kids, when they see good coaching and see people as college coaches surrounding them, they’re pretty keen on being in that environment and the parents are really keen as well,” Price said. “That’s what we’re trying to provide.”

The Freedoms originated in the 1970s, then called the Pancyprian-Freedoms in a partnership with the famed Greek club. The team won three U.S. Open Cup championships in the early ’80s, including back-to-back titles in 1982 and 1983.

Owned by Philip Christopher, an executive vice president of Audiovox, the club broke ties with the Pancyprians and played in the Premier Development League in 1999, winning the Northeast Division with an 11-5 record.

With Price at the helm, the Freedoms made the jump to the Pro-Select League last year and made the playoffs, losing to the eventual national champion Long Island Rough Riders in penalty kicks.

“Taking over a team that goes up a division and they had almost a losing record in a losing division, I had to change that completely around,” said Price, a former captain of the Rough Riders. “I needed a challenge but that was a little daunting and I was very happy with last year, and this year is even more of a challenge because you set your standards higher.”

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by email at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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