When Steven Evans invited some of his Washington Timbers club soccer players to try out for the Vancouver Victory Football Club earlier this year, he was excited — but not too surprised — when Camas students Hayden Reich and Carter Gorczyca took him up on the offer.
“They are two of the hardest working players that I’ve seen, and I think that’s one of the reasons why they’re out there (with the Victory),” said Evans, who coaches both squads. “The opportunity presented itself, and they wanted to take that opportunity and grow their games and be better players. They are the type of players that you want on a team. They’ll give you everything they have and never question you and are always ready to listen and learn. They have all of the gifts of the great soccer players, too.”
Reich, a sophomore, and Gorczyca, a freshman, recently finished their first prep soccer seasons as members of Camas High School’s junior varsity squad. Now they’re turning their attention to their summer schedules, which include playing for the Timbers and training with the Victory, a member of Evergreen Premier League Washington, an elite adult men’s amateur circuit for college and post-college players.
They could even receive a few minutes of playing time with the Victory this summer, according to Evans.
“Every other country in the world is bringing their 15- and 16-year-olds into the professional environment, so I kind of wanted that for these boys,” Evans said. “I think it helps their competitiveness, first and foremost. Seeing the way that these (older) players train is so crucial for them. And it helps with all of the fine details, too — the speed of play, having less touches, helping their minds and soccer IQs to develop with that intensity and (higher) level. And then (being around) the experience of the older guys is great, too. The older players are so much more willing to communicate and give them advice and all that stuff. I think every aspect of it benefits these guys so much.”
Reich and Gorczyca have set lofty goals for their soccer careers. They both want to star for their high school and club teams, become full-time Victory players and earn scholarships to play for college programs.
They know that the best way to do that is to test themselves against the best possible competition, even if that means going up against players who are older, more experienced and flat-out better than they are.
“(Training with the Victory) is very competitive,” Reich said. “I enjoy playing with them, and I think it will help improve my game because they play a lot faster than any other team I’ve played on or against. The speed of play is a lot faster.”
“I’m really excited,” Gorczyca said. “Training and playing with a bunch of guys from college and up will really push me and make me a better player and make me see the game more and be more physical, especially since I’m probably going to be shorter than a lot of those guys. But I’m just going to go out there and play my game. I don’t think I’m going to look at the physicality part as an issue. I’m just going to hope for the best.”
Reich and Gorczyca both currently play for the Timbers’ 05 Reds 1 squad, a member of the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL).
Reich, an outside fullback and center midfielder, has been a member of the Timbers organization since he was 9 years old. He is more of a cerebral player, with a high “soccer IQ” and refined technical abilities.
“My weakness is my strength and speed, because I’m not fully developed yet,” Reich said. “But my stamina (has improved). During cross country season, I worked on running, and over the summer I probably ran three to four times a week. I don’t try to do too much. I just try to pass the ball off whenever I can or try to find a ball into the box from the outside back (position).”
“Hayden is a very technically gifted player,” Evans said. “His touch is great. You can see he has all the fundamentals that all (good) players need to have.”
Gorczyca, a midfielder, joined the Timbers after he moved to Camas from Michigan as a sixth-grader. He played for the Vancouver-based Salmon Creek Football Club last year, then rejoined the Timbers for this season.
“I play a simple ball,” Gorczyca said. “I don’t try to take too many risks. I play what’s in front of me. And I play physically. I try to win a lot of headers and take the ball out of peoples’ feet a lot and go back and get my team on a counter (attack). My physicality (has improved). I’m still pretty skinny, but I can tell that after playing all of the high school season, I’ve become a lot stronger mentally and physically.”
Gorczyca is “a very good player,” according to Evans.
“He is very strong and has a big engine,” he said. “And he’s such a great kid and always wants to learn. He comes and talks to me all the time, ‘Hey, coach, what can I do better in this situation?’ He has a willingness to get better.”
The Victory will play their final home game of the 2021 season at 2 p.m. Friday, June 19, against Yakima United, at the Harmony Sports Complex, 1500 N.E. 192nd Ave., Vancouver.