Youth soccer: United White is a proud representative of AYSO at Far West Regionals - Albuquerque Journal

Youth soccer: United White is a proud representative of AYSO at Far West Regionals

Jake Dopson,center, talking to his United White U-13 team during a recent Thursday game at Arroyo del Oso. United White is a State Cup champion and represents New Mexico at the upcoming Far West Regionals in Boise, Idaho.

Although the American Youth Soccer Organization is the oldest of the national youth soccer organizations, it traditionally does not get a significant amount of respect when it comes to developing quality soccer players.

Well, coach Jake Dopson and his group of U-13 girls, AYSO United White, is looking to change that.

When the U.S. Youth Soccer Far West Regional Championships start Monday in Boise, Idaho, the team will be the first AYSO squad from New Mexico to participate as state champion. In the tournament that includes the state champions from 13 western states (California sends a champion from the north and south regions of the state) in age brackets from U-13 to U-19, only one other AYSO team is competing – in the U-18 boys group from Arizona.

“Our challenge is from a talent and branding perspective because AYSO always has this national reputation of a recreational league with parent-coaches,” Dopson said. “But we play in the Duke City league with every bit of the same structure of organization and structure of coaching as every other club in the city.”

Jesse Malizzo says making history for AYSO as a New Mexico state champion was exciting for her and her United White teammates. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

And while Dopson is a parent coach with a daughter on the team, he holds a U.S. Soccer Federation Class D license and is one of five coaches for the team.

The team is part of AYSO’s competitive club program, which differs significantly from its recreational arm. Players have to try out and are grouped together by ability – just as with other clubs. Continuity among the players and staff are crucial, as opposed to the recreational side, where rosters are jumbled annually.

“We have good kids who are very coachable and play hard,” Dopson said. “And great families who are very supportive. Getting everybody on the same page isn’t our challenge.”

The challenge, he said, has been overcoming the AYSO reputation.

“For whatever reason, the stigma behind AYSO is it is always seen as just a rec team. But results help. That’s why us winning State Cup is such a big deal. When you win State Cup and are the first to do it, it speaks to the quality that you have.”

The players were unaware of exactly what was on the line until midway through the State Cup tournament.

“It was super exciting,” said attacking midfielder Jessa Malizzo, 13. “We were not only playing to be state champions, but we were playing to be the first ever AYSO state champions. It pumped us up a little more to be the first AYSO state champion.”

It didn’t come easily. United White had to go to an overtime shootout to beat Rio Rapids Burgundy after two scoreless halves and two scoreless overtime periods.

“Our whole team went in a giant huddle jumping and screaming,” attacking midfielder Madlyn Dopson said of the jubilation when the shootout was decided by an errant Rio attempt. “A lot of players were in tears. We were all so excited and happy that we won.”

United White joins four other girls teams and six boys teams from New Mexico in playing bracket games Monday through Wednesday.

Those who advance will go to the knockout round beginning Thursday, with finals set for June 26. Winners move on to the National Championships July 19-24 in Orlando, Florida.

The team received a relatively benign draw, facing Alaska, Utah and Montana. However it also is in a bracket alongside traditionally powerful Cal North and Cal South programs.

Just getting this far, however, is quite an accomplishment.

“I’m very excited,” Madlyn Dopson said. “It’s a really great opportunity that most players don’t get to have. I’m excited to play some quality teams and get some competition. It will probably be a little bit rocky, but it’s a good tournament, and the teams we’re playing are very tough and good. Overall, I’m excited and a little bit nervous.”

Home » From the newspaper » Youth soccer: United White is a proud representative of AYSO at Far West Regionals

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

UNM law grad Shapiro balances academics, big-time Ironman competitions
Featured Sports
Whatever Athena Shapiro does at the ... Whatever Athena Shapiro does at the World Triathlon Championships on Saturday in Montreal, it will be hard to top what she accomplished in a ...
Stewart, Cey, Moots going into ABQ Pro Baseball Hall ...
ABQnews Seeker
Two World Series MVPs and the ... Two World Series MVPs and the creator of the Albuquerque Dukes logo will be inducted into the Albuquerque Professional Baseball Hall of Fame.
Combat sports notes: 'Cowboy' tries again, to fight on ...
Edgewood resident Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone, denied ... Edgewood resident Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone, denied a fight by food poisoning in May and by a freak in ...
UNM creates 'Howl for Her' campaign for women athletic ...
ABQnews Seeker
University of New Mexico Athletics said ... University of New Mexico Athletics said Thursday it has launched a “Howl for Her” campaign that will raise funds specifically for Lobo women’s athletics. ...
Lobo women's hoops staff underdgoes several changes
Keith Freeman showed up in Albuquerque ... Keith Freeman showed up in Albuquerque this week with much to learn and eager to get started. He spent Wednesday afternoon prepping for his ...
Future (in 2025) Lobo wins Junior PGA Championship qualifier
Featured Sports
Thayer Plewe, a 17-year-old who has ... Thayer Plewe, a 17-year-old who has committed to the University of New Mexico, said he was excited t ...
Estes was linchpin in UNM's reach for sports equality
Title IX, passed into law on ... Title IX, passed into law on June 23, 1972, changed the women’s athletics landscape – and Linda Estes’ job – dramatically
Sports Speak Up! On pro golf, Rapinoe and Eldorado's ...
Featured Sports
THE DISCUSSION leading up to the ... THE DISCUSSION leading up to the U.S. Open was mostly about Phil Mickelson and then switched to the winner, Matt Fitzpatrick. But not much ...
First-round TBT game to pit former Lobos vs. former ...
ABQnews Seeker
A UNM Lobo alumni team and ... A UNM Lobo alumni team and an NMSU alumni team square off, highlighting the first night of the The Basketball Tournament's New Mexico Regional ...