Mackay, Maclean are world travelers for Greenwich’s Shoreline FC

Greenwich residents and Shoreline FC standouts Alejandro Maclean, left, and Chris Mackay have been playing soccer overseas quite a bit in 2014.

Greenwich residents and Shoreline FC standouts Alejandro Maclean, left, and Chris Mackay have been playing soccer overseas quite a bit in 2014.

The Greenwich-based Shoreline FC is at the top of its game, and two of its athletes are being rewarded for their hard work and dedication to the sport of soccer.

In the boys 15U division, Christopher Mackay and Alejandro Maclean, both Greenwich residents, are dominating the competition and have been invited to join in some elite competition to start 2014. Mackay recently returned from an overseas tour in Turkey with Region 1 Soccer, while Maclean just returned from London, England, as part of Shoreline’s partnership with West Ham United.

While both athletes live in Greenwich, Maclean is a Greenwich High School student, and Mackay attends Fairfield Prep.

“Alejandro is very quick-footed and a highly intelligent player,” Shoreline FC owner and Greenwich High School girls soccer head coach Danny Simpson said. “He is playing the sort of role that [Lionel] Messi has made famous. He’s in that free-roaming role. Alejandro can open teams up. He’s great at passing and great at dribbling. Chris, as a goalkeeper, he’s the best that I’ve seen at his age. He’s really good at seeing the ball and is great at directing his defense. When you look at American goalkeepers in the Premier Leagues like Kasey Keller, Tim Howard and Brad Friedel, a lot of great keepers come through the system. Chris can be on that line. Both my players are prepared well.”

Maclean, who plays center-midfield, started his journey overseas by competing in two regional camps and was selected to attend the National soccer camp in Georgia.

“It’s a really good achievement for me and I am going to try and do the best that I can with it,” Maclean said. “I put all my effort into every practice and I always take the opportunity to improve the best that I can. I never waste an opportunity that I get. I work a lot in practice, but also outside of practice I work just as hard by doing my own exercise and improve physically.”

From there they selected 30 people out of 200 people at the national soccer camp in Georgia to go to West Ham Academy in London.

“I’m going to learn a lot from there,” Maclean said. “There are a lot of really good players that came from West Ham. I am sure they teach very well. I am going to get as much as I can, learn as much as I can and bring it back here and incorporate it into our game. Going over there will help me improve my game a lot.”

Maclean said he tries to always bring creativity and something different to the game. However, he added that he wants to spread the field more and make it easier for the other players on his team.

“I play center-mid and my main goal is to try and control the game,” Maclean said. “I want things to be as easy as possible for my team. I need to always know my surroundings and know the best place to move the ball. It’s very important to know what’s going on around the field, not just when you have the ball. If I can improve on that, I can make the whole team a little better.”

When it comes to goalies, Simpson believes that Mackay is one of the best netminders around.

“I try to bring a lot of positive energy, and you always want to be positive on the field,” Mackay said. “I want to improve on my vision and knowing more of what is happening around me. I need to talk to my defenders more and let them know who to look out for.”

Mackay just came back from a trip to Turkey. In order to get to tour internationally, Mackay was part of 290 athletes who went to camp in July and was one of 60 soccer players selected to compete with Region 1 soccer, which has players from Maine to Virginia. Showing his stellar goaltending skills, Mackay was one of 18 athletes who got the opportunity to travel to Turkey.

“It’s a blessing to have the opportunity to go overseas and play for this team,” Mackay said. “It was a long process. It was really cool to be teammates with kids from all over the region. I was able to build good friendships and chemistry, both on and off the field. It’s a great experience.”

One of the great things for Simpson is how open the relationship is between Shoreline FC and West Ham United.

“I can go to their academy and watch what they do in practice or have their staff come over here and coach,” Simpson said. “The head guy has been doing it for 30 years now and has produced people like Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick and many others. We show them the players that we have and put those players in front of them and they select which ones they like at the regional camp and send them to the national camp.

In fact, both Mackay and Maclean will be back in London during spring break, as Shoreline FC will be spending some quality time at West Ham United, learning from director Tony Carr and the rest of his West Ham coaching staff.

“When you’re going overseas, the style of play can always be different,” Mackay said. “It’s the same game, everywhere you go. The difference is in the way it’s played.”

Shoreline FC is based at Greenwich Catholic School and has 12 teams in the club, both boys and girls. The club starts at 11 years old and under and goes up to 15 years old and under.

“Our mission statement is to work the kid’s individual techniques,” Simpson said. “We want individual players to get better. Collectively they will make their teams, but we focus on the individual player. We are seeing a great dividend. Our teams have gone from being the best level premier teams in Connecticut to having half our program in Eastern Developmental Program League, where we play the best teams from around the region.”

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