Lane United FC fullback and Eugene native Daley Stevens has traveled to Spain to train with third-division Atlético Saguntino, head coach and sporting director John Galas said this week. Stevens, who starred at South Eugene High School and player-coached on the University of Oregon’s men’s club soccer team before playing in Lane United’s inaugural season in 2014, left for Valencia on November 21.
According to Galas, Stevens immediately began training and playing with Tavernes Blanques CF, a club in Spain’s Valencian regional division, on the invitation of Lane United teammate and native Valencian Alex “Pipo” Peralt. He showed progress there and soon moved up to nearby Atlético Saguntino to pursue a more advanced opportunity. Atlético play in the next-highest league, Spain’s tercera división.
The Spanish soccer season lines up neatly with Lane United’s, ending in May just as Lane United will begin their 2015 campaign. Galas said he was “thrilled” at the thought of Stevens spending significant time playing at a high level in Spain during the American off-season, saying that “it can only help Daley continue to develop as a player. We believe he’ll come back a more polished player for Lane United in 2015, as he already showed great progress with us this past season.”
Galas was pleased not only by the potential for Stevens’ individual progress, but by the solidification of Lane United FC’s ties with clubs across the Atlantic. “Daley is the first instance of something that we’ve always had as a long-term strategy, which is to get some of our guys playing experience over in Spain,” Galas continued. “Our partners in Valencia started the tryouts last year that ended up with Pipo (Alex Peralt), Baldo (Josep Baldoví) and Eleazar Ocaña coming to play with LUFC in 2014. Obviously that was great for the team in an immediate sense, but in the long term it allows us to build the connections that allow a guy like Daley to make the most of his time, improving his play and seeing the world over in Spain.”
Atlético Saguntino play in Sagunt, a port city 30 kilometers to the north of central Valencia on Spain’s Mediterranean coastline. The club currently sit only eight points out of first place in their region of the tercera división. You can keep abreast of Daley’s progress in Spain here at the Lane United FC blog in the coming months.