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Riverhounds' Blazer: SYL Has Been Great Experience

03/09/2017, 10:00am EST
By AARON CRANFORD - aaron.cranford@uslsoccer.com

Forward excited to visit San Antonio, looking forward to learning from the pros at USL Experience

Photo courtesy of Connor Blazer

Photo courtesy of Connor Blazer


Photo courtesy of Connor Blazer

Connor Blazer is among a select group of 18 Super Y League players chosen to be a part of the U13-14 Boys’ team at the 2017 USL Experience, hosted by the United Soccer League’s San Antonio FC.

The Pittsburgh Riverhounds forward participated in his first Super Y League season in 2016, attending the Regional Scouting Series during the summer before taking part in the SYL North American Finals during December.

The USL Experience, a multi-day residential event, offers the league's top players with some of the highest-level youth competition in North America and also delivers a unique look into professional soccer.

A member of the United Soccer Leagues, which also operates the Division II USL and Premier Development League, the Super Y League will highlight players selected to attend the 2017 USL Experience on SYLSoccer.com.

Connor Blazer

Pittsburgh Riverhounds Midfielder

SYL: What has been your overall experience playing in the Super Y League?

CB: Playing in Super Y has been a great experience for me. Super Y is as close as it gets, in my opinion, to playing in a professional soccer league. The league really pushed me to raise my level of play in every way. I heard really good things from some of the older boys at Hounds who played in Super Y last year, and I'm glad I got the chance to participate in it this year.

SYL: What aspects do you most enjoy about the league?

CB: I thought the competition in Super Y was amazing and one of the things I enjoyed most about playing in the league. Also, I love the fact that there are so many potential opportunities for you to be pushed and rewarded for your hard work like the [Regional Scouting Series], National Pool and the USL Experience. It's great to have something to work towards, and Super Y really gives players a chance to be recognized.

SYL: What are you most looking forward at the 2017 USL Experience?

CB: I love to play and train, so I'm looking forward to the matches most of all but also meeting players and coaches from all over. I'm really looking forward to getting to see San Antonio and Toyota Field because I have never been there before.

SYL: What do you hope to learn at the 2017 USL Experience?

CB: I'm not 100 percent sure what to expect at the 2017 USLX, but I'm very excited to learn the process a professional player goes through to prepare for play, and I'm also excited to learn whatever I can from the coaches and players I'll be around. Most of all, I guess I'm interested in seeing where I stand compared to everyone else and what I need to work on going forward.

SYL: Do you want to play collegiately, and if so, how has the Super Y League helped you prepare for that next chapter?

CB: I definitely plan to play soccer in college. I love the game so much I can't imagine it still not being part of my collegiate life, but I'm not sure where I want to go yet. Super Y has helped me understand the level of play physically and mentally I'm going to need to get to the next level. The [Regional Scouting Series] was great for this in particular because the setting was so focused around what college scouts look for in their recruits. Traveling to places like Virginia, Maryland and Florida through Super Y has opened my eyes to some different areas of the country I might like to consider for college.

SYL: What do you enjoy most about playing with the Riverhounds?

CB: Playing with Riverhounds is great. I've been with RDA for a long time now and the training has been amazing. I love that it's a development academy, and they really focus on each individual and their growth as a player. Also, since we are a USL club we constantly get to interact with the pro players like Corey Hertzog and receive training and instruction from them which is fantastic. Our pro team looks really good this year, and we are expecting big things from them.

SYL: How many years have you competed in the Super Y League?

CB: This was my first year competing in the Super Y because the year before, Riverhounds only had an older team participate. I was fortunate enough to be chosen to play in all of the Super Y games with the club this year.

SYL: How many times have you participated in the Regional Scouting Series?

CB: This was also my first year participating in the RSS. I was very happy when I received the invitation to be a part of that as well. Focusing on one-on-one attacking and defending at the camp was perfect for me as I am a forward, and I learned a lot. I had a great team coach too, and the matches were a lot of fun.

SYL: Have you competed at the Super Y League North American Finals? If so, how was your overall experience?

CB: Yes, we did compete in the Nationals this year. It was an incredible experience. I thought IMG Academy was amazing, and the weather in Florida in December was fantastic. My Riverhounds team was really good, but we didn't have a lot of experience playing together, and that made it difficult against the level of competition we faced. We were in the same bracket as Miramar, who won the national championship in our age group.  We lost to them in a very close game, so it was a good measure for us because they are a really solid team.

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