A group of young men from the local club have earned a trip to the National Premier League Finals

by: JOHN DENNY - The players on a local soccer team, Thelo United Galaxy-16, have proven themselves among the top two teams in the state in their age division and theyll be headed to Greensboro, N.C., later this month to play in the national championships for Premier League teams. Members of the standout team include: (first row, left to right) Braydon Simmons, Eli Wolfram, Noah de Leon, Sam Toops and Alex Severson; (second row) Dontae Fernandez, Anthony Avellaneda, Jack Warner, Matthew Williamson and Jorge Flores; (back) Alex Baasten, Adam Kane, Jose Canzun and Zef Cuevas; and (not pictured) Hunter Thompson and Evan Lawrie.A group of young men from the local area has been making waves in youth soccer this spring.

They play for the Thelo United FC Galaxy U-16 team. The team this spring won their U.S. Club Soccer Oregon Premier League and then advanced to the Oregon State Cup Premier League final, where they lost to Lake Oswego powerhouse Crossfire Oregon 97-Green No. 1, 2-1.

The team’s success earned the players a trip to Greensboro, N.C., where they’ll represent Oregon in the National Premier League Finals, scheduled in Greensboro July 10-14.

It’s the first time in the seven-year history of Thelo United FC that the Milwaukie-based club has advanced a team to a national tournament, and the first time the club has had a team play in a Premier State Cup final.

“This is big for the club and for the area,” said Thelo president Brent Gray. “We have all-volunteer coaches and an all-volunteer board. We don’t pay our coaches, so that we can keep our registration fees low and give local kids the opportunity to play high-level soccer at an affordable price. Most of the kids are from North Clackamas, Gladstone, Clackamas, Milwaukie and Oregon City feeder programs, and it’s the first time a club from our area has made it this far.

“We’ve had other teams do well this year, so it’s not just this U-16 boys team that is having success.... We’ve come a long way since Thelo’s first year in 2006.”

Gray said the club this past season fielded 16 boys and girls teams, competing at levels from U-11 to U-18.

“This is special, because we’re the first team that’s gone anywhere with the club,” said Sam Toops, a Clackamas High School junior-to-be who plays center back for Thelo Galaxy-16.

“It’s an honor,” said left back Braydon Simmons, who also attends Clackamas. “I’m super passionate about soccer and I’m never going to forget this experience. To be able to prove that I can play at the highest level with the best players, it’s the biggest honor I could ever achieve.”

“It means a lot,” said Putnam junior-to-be Eli Wolfram. “A lot of us have played together since we were little kids, and now, to think that we’re playing with the top teams in the nation, it feels great!”

Among local players on the standout team are: Clackamas High School juniors-to-be Toops (center back), Simmons (left back), Alex Severson (center back), Evan Lawrie (midfield/forward) and Matthew Williamson (forward); Clackamas freshman-to-be Jack Warner (midfield); Oregon City junior-to-be Zef Cuevas (midfield); Oregon City freshman-to-be Anthony Avellaneda (midfield/forward); Putnam junior-to-be Wolfram (right back); and La Salle Prep junior-to-be Alex Baasten (midfield).

Other players on the team include: Barlow senior-to-be Noah de Leon (forward), Barlow junior-to-be Hunter Thompson (goalie), David Douglas juniors-to-be Dontae Fernandez (midfield) and Jose Canzun (midfield), Cleveland junior-to-be Jorge Flores (forward) and Wilsonville junior-to-be Adam Kane (forward).

Lawrie and Williamson will not make the trip to Greensboro because they will be on a three-week National Soccer Academy tour of Europe with Evan’s father Jamie Lawrie, who is head coach of the Thelo FC Galaxy U-16 team. Assistant Miguel Soto will coach the team in the national finals in Jamie Lawrie’s absence.

“We have a very good attacking team,” said Jamie Lawrie. “Everyone is dangerous.... We lost to Crossfire Oregon 97-Green No. 1 on an own-goal [in the 2014 State Cup final] and they’re considered the super team. They haven’t lost in two or three years.”

Thelo United FC Galaxy U-16 played nine Premier League league games from Jan. 25 through April 6 and went 7-0-2, outscoring opponents 29-9. They defeated Forest Grove-based FC West DePortivo Valencia 3-0 and 3-1; Hillsboro Soccer Club 2-1; Lake Oswego-based Crossfire Oregon 98-Green 6-1 and 3-0; Thelo United FC Cobras-Green 6-1; and Hillsboro-based FC Academy 1998 Boys Navy 3-2.

The ties in league play were to FC Portland 1998 Boys Navy 1-1 and to FC Portland Academy 1997 Boys Navy 2-2.

They defeated FC Portland Academy 1997 Boys Navy 4-0 in the State Cup semifinals, after advancing through a 1-1 draw with Crossfire Oregon 97-Green No. 2, a 4-1 win over Crossfire Oregon 97-Black-West, and a 1-0 win over Crossfire Oregon 97-Black-East.

Thelo FC Galaxy U-16 players and parents are hopeful that the community will rally behind them with financial support of their trip to the Premier Nationals. Gray estimates the trip to Greensboro will cost the team around $15,000.

“The club will help out, but we don’t have a lot of funds and time is short for doing a lot of fundraisers,” said Gray. “We’d appreciate any help we can get with sponsorships from individuals and businesses in the community.”

To make a contribution, go to the club website at or contact Gray at 971-235-8848.

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