LVU: A Legacy of Success
With 33 state championships under its belt, the Lehigh Valley United name draws notice not just from the region, but throughout the nation. Success is just one of the many factors helping make LVU unique in Eastern Pennsylvania.
“Our players benefit from being part of a successful club that has built a reputation and legacy for the last 10 years,” explained Greg Ramos, LVU’s Director of Coaching. “Our teams, regardless of age group, are being accepted into elite tournament and college showcases, because of our reputation. Our teams aren’t one-off successes. They are a network of something bigger than themselves.”
Whether it’s the Jefferson Cup, the Dallas Cup, Disney Showcase or even the Gothia Cup in Sweden and Mundialito in Portugal, LVU carries a name distinction that exudes quality.
- Top flight coaching and development
- Ability to train and play locally at a high level
- Year-round training, including indoors at the Lou Ramos Center and Turff Club
- Play in elite leagues, tournament and college showcases
- Allows players to play for their local high school teams
- Exposure to college recruiting
- USL 3 Division (formerly PDL) for top amateur and college-eligible players in the spring/summer
- Partnership with St. Luke’s University Health Network for Sport Performance, athletic Training and Orthopedic Care
“It all begins with the coaching and quality of coaching we have within our club,” said Dean Koski, an LVU coach and the head men’s soccer coach at Lehigh University. “Whether we have expert college coaches, high school coaches or club coaches, we arguably have the best coaches on staff that the Lehigh Valley has to offer.”
Former Lehigh University women’s coach Manny Oudin, the athletic director at Moravian Academy, also coaches at LVU.
“Our desire and focus is to provide an environment within the Lehigh Valley where we can get the best players from here and the surrounding area to train against and with each other consistently, and then put top level teams on the field that can compete at the state, regional and national level,” Oudin said.
“We want to give these local players the environment they need to play at the college level and beyond. We want them to stay in the Lehigh Valley. Before LVU, players felt
the need to go somewhere outside the area for this type of competition, but not now.”
Just about every successful local high school soccer program that reaches into District and PIAA play includes LVU players, and that makes it different from MLS Academy teams, which prohibit players from contributing to their high school teams.
“At LVU, we believe that the high school experience is very important,” Koski said. “Being able to play in your community for your school, playing with classmates you grew up with and playing in front of big crowds in high school rivalries, is an opportunity players need to have.”
Even while LVU players help local high school teams like Liberty, Emmaus, Parkland, Saucon Valley, Northwestern and Moravian Academy achieve success, its age-group teams continue to thrive with two girls team champions at the recent Bethesda Showcase in Maryland.
The college pathway to soccer cannot be overstated. Lehigh University’s men’s team staff coaching LVU teams includes Ryan Hess and Brendon McIntyre. The Lehigh men had seven LVU players on its 2018 roster.
“In some ways, we’ve developed our own feeder program into Lehigh,” Koski said. “The best example of that is Mark Forrest, a two-time player of the year in the Patriot League, All-American and one of the best forwards in the country came out of LVU.”
Teams play in a variety of leagues based upon their strength, from the local Lehigh Valley Youth Soccer League for Classic teams, to the U.S. Youth Soccer National League.
Indoor training takes place at the Lou Ramos Center and Turff Club, which makes year-round training possible. The facilities also include futsal courts, a soccer-like game using a different type of low-bounce ball that has gained increasing support from U.S. Soccer.
“It’s also a great opportunity for our players to be in and around our St. Luke’s staff,” Ramos said. “St. Luke’s has a full time office in our Lou Ramos Center where the players can meet with the athletic trainer, schedule consultations and get to know the St. Luke’s staff supporting us.”
Because St. Luke’s staff is on hand, injuries can be immediately diagnosed, treated or referred to appropriate specialists.
“I think it’s really important that parents try to understand the soccer landscape,” Koski said. “While the investment they are making into club soccer is significant in the terms of cost, it’s no different or a lot less than if you signed up your child for elite gymnastics or ice hockey. It’s going to cost families to play at the highest level regardless of the sport or activity.
“I’ve had four boys go through LVU, and I’ve had to pay for all four boys. They wouldn’t trade their experiences here for anything. As a parent, as a coach, it’s been a great investment for us. And I have a son here at Lehigh that we didn’t recruit to play at Lehigh, but who loved every minute he played for LVU. And is now a student coach for the men’s team and my assistant coach at LVU.”
And that’s not only what makes LVU different, but what makes it special.