LVU Getting Bigger and Stronger with New Partnerships

Lehigh Valley United has built a national reputation of excellence over the last 10 years, and is taking the next step forward.

Lehigh Valley United and Keystone Athletic are uniting under one umbrella in a unique collaboration that will create a comprehensive youth soccer club providing local players an opportunity to play and train at every competitive level.

“In order to stay at the top of the game in youth soccer in the United States, we have to keep evolving, getting better,” said Greg Ramos, Director of Coaching for LVU. “One of the ways to do that is collaborate with other top soccer organizations, and for that reason we connected with Keystone.”

With the two clubs combining their top level coaching staffs, along with their methodologies and resources, they will be able to positively impact twice as many youth players at all levels of development, from the U8 Micro level, to Classic, Premier and Elite.

To further that redefined mission, LVU and Keystone are partnering with the local Lehigh Valley Youth Soccer League to help re-grow the league from the bottom up by committing teams to help enhance the age-group competition at the travel league level.

“LVU has the Development Academy and the higher level teams in the area,” said Tom Mustac, Director of Coaching for Keystone Athletic. “Keystone is the biggest, fastest growing club in the area with Classic and Premier levels of travel soccer. We wanted to join with LVU to allow our players to play at the highest level or the most appropriate level.

Mustac explained that to create multiple levels for every age group, a club requires not just coaching and resources, but the creation of an atmosphere where no player is left out, where every child has a place to play, where there is always an option within the club itself, and a league for that team to play in.

“The leadership of Keystone and LVU share a common vision to develop players,” Ramos said. “Tom and his staff and our staff at LVU complement each other very nicely. Youth soccer and the development of players has risen significantly and continues to rise significantly, and our combined efforts will help our players keep pace as the bar continues to rise higher.”

The combined effort is to put Lehigh Valley on the national soccer map. Being born and raised in the Lehigh Valley, Ramos wants to see the local and regional players flourish and develop while staying close to home.

This alliance will raise the competitive bar and make the Lehigh Valley/Pocono region the destination for youth soccer in Northeast PA. 

While not as big demographically speaking as Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore or Washington, D.C., the Lehigh Valley offers the same type of businesses, growth and family quality of life enhancements as those regions.

“In order to compete nationally,” Ramos said, “we have to squeeze every single resource out of the Lehigh Valley, and that means working together. I don’t think any one organization can do that alone because then you have a fractured market place. We’ve got to join every quality piece, every quality person, facility and player that we can. If we do that, we can compete with anybody.

“I don’t believe in an ‘us vs. them’ mentality. We want to raise the overall level of soccer in the valley. If the overall level rises, then individual clubs, players and all the facilities win. It’s a more holistic view of the landscape: if one improves, we all improve.

“If we can improve the level of the beginner and intermediate plays, that pushes the elite player to a higher level.”

Mustac added that by committing teams to the Lehigh Valley Youth Soccer League, locally produced teams can play locally.

“The Lehigh Valley Youth Soccer League is excited to partner with LVU and Keystone to create a competitive soccer environment for our region’s youth,” said Gary Blockus, Executive Director of LVYSL.

“We are extremely fortunate to have clubs like LVU and Keystone committed to developing our local players. Our focus will be on providing a league and tournaments that allow developing players the appropriate competition level while offering them a defined pathway to the next level of competition within our league’s boundaries.”

The joint effort of LVU, Keystone and LVYSL will provide a developmental structure of excellence to unify teams, coaches and training facilities in order to benefit the youth soccer community of the Lehigh Valley, Poconos and beyond.