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Whose Cup will runneth over? Local soccer experts predict

The panelists below comprise a “who’s who” of soccer in Albuquerque: “The very best soccer minds in our state, both as coaches and administrators,” wrote Vinay Sabnis, who undertook the laborious survey of coaches and administrators from 15 local soccer organizations, including clubs, high schools, Duke City Soccer League, NMYSA and the University of New Mexico. Virtually every club coach listed below has won at least one state championship at the club and/or high school level.

Of the 29 invitations sent out, 25 (86 percent) responded. Spoiler alert: The panelists are almost unanimous in predicting that neither the U.S. nor Mexico will advance out of its group. Most (17) see Brazil in the finals, and 11 see the hosts winning. Germany (7) and Argentina (6) are the other most popular picks to win it all. Perhaps surprisingly, not a single panelist picked four-time WC winner Italy to reach the final.

Panelists are listed by alphabetical order and nation of birth, and their predicted finals result:

UWE BALZIS (Germany): Former semi-pro player in Germany and U.S., head coach of the Rio Rancho High varsity girls. Brazil over Germany


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RICARDO BERAUN (Peru): President of the Classic FC (of the Duke City Soccer League). Has won several USYSA Region IV championships with the legendary Bandidos boys team. Argentina over Germany

CHRIS CARTLIDGE (England): Head coach of the Albuquerque Sol, a semi-pro team in the PDL. He is also the Director of Coaching of the Rio Rapids Soccer Club (RRSC). Argentina over Brazil

PETE CLINCH (England): Coaches for the Rio Rapids Soccer Club (RRSC/DCSL) and at Albuquerque Academy. Brazil over Argentina

KEVIN DRIGGS (U.S.): Coaches in the NM Rush Soccer Club (NMR/DCSL) and is head coach of the La Cueva varsity boys. Brazil over Spain

HEATHER DYCHE (U.S.): The Olympic Development Program Director for NMYSA. Coaches girls teams in the RRSC (DCSL). Germany over Spain

STEVE FAMIGLIETTA (U.S.): The technical director of the Albuquerque United Football Club (AUFC/DCSL), member of the USL Hall of Fame and owner/operator of the Famisoccer Academy. Germany over Brazil

JEREMY FISHBEIN (U.S.): Head coach of the UNM men. His Lobos win consistently on the pitch and in the classroom, and have made it to the NCAA College Cup (Final Four) twice, losing in the championship match in 2005. Brazil over Germany

DENNIS GENAS (ENGLAND): President and director of coaching of the Elite Football Club (EFC/DCSL). Brazil over Germany


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JOSHUA GROVES (ENGLAND): Director of coaching education for the NMYSA. Going out on a branch – no, make it a twig – England over the U.S.

GREG HEILEMAN (U.S.): President of the NM Rush SC (DCSL). Coached a USYSA Region IV boys championship team. Argentina over Brazil

MANNI KLAR (GERMANY): Sport Director of the AUFC (DCSL). Owner and publisher of “Success in Soccer,” a soccer coaches’ periodical. Germany over Brazil

STEVE KRAEMER (U.S.): The Academy Program Director and a state-title winning coach in both boys and girls with the NM Rush SC. Germany over Argentina

JASON MORAN (U.S.): Administrative director and coach with the RRSC. Brazil over Argentina

BILL NORDIN (U.S.): Director of Games for the 3,000-player strong Duke City Soccer League. Argentina over Germany

LEO RAMOS (BRAZIL): Head coach of two teams in the EFC. Was on the coaching staff of the UNM Lobos’ men under Klaus Weber. Brazil over Spain

JUSTIN SELLS (U.S.): Director of Coaching for the NM Rush SC. Was a record-setting goal scorer for the New Mexico from 1994-1997. Brazil over the Netherlands

TOMMY SMITH (ENGLAND): A former semi-pro player for the New Mexico Chiles and the Albuquerque Geckos and now the head coach of the Sandia Prep varsity boys. In a reverse of the 1950 final at the same venue, Brazil over Uruguay

OPAL STALLS (U.S.): Principal owner of the House of Soccer, a longtime family-owned soccer retail business. Germany over Spain

VLADI STANOJEVIC (Serbia): Head coach of the Sandia High girls and, prior, the Eldorado High boys; and in club with his Classic FC (DCSL) Red Star boys’ teams. Brazil over Argentina

MIKE STONE (U.S.): Head coach of the AUFC Fusion, a U14 girls team, and previously of numerous age-group teams while with AUFC for over 30 years. Brazil over Spain

JIM TILLEY (U.S.): Executive Director of the New Mexico Youth Soccer Association (NMYSA) and also the Far West Regional League’s commissioner. The Far West Regional takes place at the New Mexico Tournament Soccer Complex June 16-22. Germany over the Netherlands

KLAUS WEBER (SWITZERLAND): Head coach of the Bosque High boys and previously the coach of the UNM men for 15 years. Argentina over Brazil

WALT WITKOWSKI (U.S.): Coaches the Eldorado High boys and has led AUFC boys and girls teams. Germany over Argentina

RUSS ZEIGLER (U.S.): Coach of AUFC Barcelona, a U11 girls’ team. Argentina over Brazil

– Journal staff report