Angelo Deloso-Flocco has moments when he thinks about playing with his buddies on the Maui United
Soccer Club's under-14 boys team.
Then, there are days like Tuesday.
The 4-foot-11 Deloso-Flocco had a tryout for the U.S. Soccer Association under-13 team in the Home Depot Center, where he has worked out as a member of the L.A. Galaxy Academy for the past eight months.
"It went well, there were a lot of touches on the ball and then we had a game," Deloso-Flocco said minutes after his tryout. "I think I did well, hopefully good enough to get called in again."
Deloso-Flocco, a striker who turned 13 on Jan. 27, is only the second Maui-born player to get a tryout at this level. He found out about his spot a week ago and a call-back could come in April.
"I was very excited - I couldn't put it into words," Deloso-Flocco said of that call. "It was, like, unimaginable and just very great. I was a little bit nervous in the beginning, but once the nerves went away it was just pure eagerness."
He caught up with his friends from Maui United this week as the team is in the midst of playing eight games in nine days as part of the Southern California National Premier League as the first Hawaii team ever invited.
"Yesterday I didn't go to school and I met up with them in San Bernardino," Deloso-Flocco said. "I miss all of them."
Maui United is 0-3 so far in the event, losing 2-0 to DMS11 and 3-0 to the Celtic Harps on Sunday, and 3-0 to the Fullerton Rangers on Tuesday.
Deloso-Flocco is an example of what Maui United is developing on the Valley Isle, according to the club's director of coaching, Brent Nunes.
"He is definitely a good representation of Maui United and Maui soccer," Nunes said. "The kid's talented, man. He's a very gifted and special attacking-minded player. When he was U-9, U-10, he came over and you could just tell real quick that he had real good balance and just a knack for scoring goals. We knew one day that he would get the opportunity to shine at the national and international level."
This trip is the seventh in two years to the Mainland for this under-14 Maui United group.
"This is everybody in the nation's best teams," Nunes said. "They have all been competitive games. We came with the mindset that we want to compete and represent Hawaii in this league. The kids are working hard. I'm very proud of the kids."
The team captains are Kapono Hoopii, Caleb Soo Hoo and Paytin Ayau.
"We are learning that we can compete against the highest level in the nation," said Hoopii, an Iao Intermediate School 8th-grader. "It's pretty valuable to be able to compete against the best. It will give us confidence from here, for sure."
Deloso-Flocco's Galaxy team finished second in the National Cup.
"It's like everybody is at the same high level, so the intensity is always kept up," he said. "When you play other people at that level, you have to rise up."
Deloso-Flocco and his mother, Claire, have been in Los Angeles for eight months and he was recently invited back for next season, this time at the under-15 level.
"I miss everybody, I miss the people, I miss the island, I miss my dad," he said. "It's good to have my mom here. She takes me everywhere, she always helps me, gives me advice."
Deloso-Flocco travels 30 minutes for school in Torrance, Calif. After classes, practice lasts for two hours before homework and dinner.
"School is a lot harder," he said. "It's a good school, but it's a hard curriculum, really hard. Most of my new friends are from soccer."
Deloso-Flocco is doing exactly what he wants to do.
"I always wanted to go pro in soccer," he said.
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org