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KCKCC men's soccer coachesWith a brand new artificial turf soccer field, KCKCC men’s assistant coach Honka Zlitni, left, head coach Ruben Rodriguez, center, and women’s assistant Tait Einerson have plenty of reason to smile as they prepare for the official opening of the new field with games against JCCC at 1 and 3 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28. (KCKCC photo by Alan Hoskins)
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Soccer watch partyMembers of the KCKCC men's soccer team watched the MLS All-Star soccer game on a big screen at the KCKCC gym. (Staff photo)
KCKCC men's soccer coaches
Soccer watch party
Home at last.
In his sixth season at Kansas City Kansas Community College, Ruben Rodriguez has never had a home game. In fact, the Blue Devils have not had a home game in well over 10 years.
That all is changing in 2013. The Blue Devils will play the 2013 season on a sparkling new field with artificial turf, grandstands, scoreboard and lights starting Wednesday, Aug. 28, against archrival Johnson County. The 3 p.m. kickoff will be preceded by a women’s game at 1 p.m. and opening ceremonies starting at about 2:30 p.m. followed Friday by the first night game as KCKCC hosts Hesston at 5 and 7 p.m.
“It’s difficult to win on the road,” said Rodriguez, who is in his third year as head coach after three years as an assistant. “There’s no home field advantage. All the traveling affects the way player’s play. Now we have one of the finest soccer facilities in the conference, something we can take pride which in turn builds confidence and morale. And a fan base..”
The new field will get an early workout. The first five games and six of the first eight on the schedule are all at home.
Not only will it be a new field but also a new Blue Devil team. The only returnees from last year are Gabriel Betancourt, a starting midfielder/forward from Houston, Texas, who earned Freshman of the Year honors last year; and Collin Cook, last year’s backup goalkeeper from Piper.
However, there will be some added experience from a quartet of transfers, midfielders Leonardo Palacio and Josue Augustin from Cloud County; midfielder Andrew DeLaTorre from Dodge City; and Fascundo Rodriguez from Johnson County. Both DeLaTorre and Rodriguez are returning after a year’s layoff.
Freshman Jesus Aguirre is expected to get the start in goal with a pair of late arrivals, Guilherme Ribeiro of Orlando, Fla.; and Ryan Wynter of Staffordshire, England, joining Betancourt and Chris Brown at forward.
There’s a wealth of midfield contenders including Eduardo Moreno of Liberal, Luis Pacheco of Kansas City Northeast, Fabian Sanchez of Dodge City, Matt Sixta and Spencer Frank of Bonner Springs, Erick Rodriguez, Augustine, Betancourt and Brown.
Defensively, the leaders are Cesar Garcia of Wyandotte, Chris Lopez of Harmon, Oscar Acuna of Turner, Ricardo Sanchez of Van Horn and DeLaTorre.
Experience is the biggest concern. “While I have high expectations, it’s almost like starting over with a whole new team that needs to get adjusted to the college life and the step up to the college level of competition,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez is again being assisted by Honka Zlitini. A native of Tripoli, Libya, Zlitini moved to Lawrence at age 15 and then played soccer at Park University. The assistant coach at Maple Woods Community College for five years, Zlitini has also coached at William Chrisman High School, the Futura Futbol Club and the Kansas City Blades. He now has his own soccer club, the Legacy Soccer Club which has 16 boys and girls teams ages 6 through 18.
Kansas City Kansas Community College
2013 Men’s Soccer Schedule
Aug. 28 – JOHNSON COUNTY+, Home, 3 p.m.
Aug. 23 – HESSTON+ Home, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 – ALLEN COUNTY+, Home, 4 p.m.
Sept. 8 – S.W. ILLINOIS, Home, 3 p.m.
Sept. 10 – BLUE RIVER, Home, 3 p.m.
Sept. 12 – Coffeyville+, Away, 4 p.m.
Sept. 15 – BARTON COUNTY+, Home, 3 p.m.
Sept. 21 – DODGE CITY+, Home, 4 p.m.
Sept. 24 – Independence+, Away, 4 p.m.
Sept 26 – Wentworth (Men only), Away, 4 p.m.
Sept. 29 – Pratt+, Away, 4 p.m.
Thunder Duck Tour (Dallas, Tex.)
Oct. 4 – West Texas, 8:30 p.m.
Oct. 5 – Hill College, 7 p.m.
Oct. 8 – CLOUD COUNTY+, Home, 5 p.m.
Oct. 12 – Cowley County+, Away, 3 p.m.
Oct. 18 – MAPLE WOODS, Home, 6 p.m.
Oct. 20 – Neosho County+, Away, 5 p.m.
+ - Region VI Conference game.
All women-men doubleheaders unless otherwise indicated.