East Bay Soccer Ready for Euros and Their Season

Ryan Duarte


California State University, East Bay’s men’s soccer team, like the rest of the world, had their lives put on pause due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Professionals and amateurs alike both had to adapt to their new lifestyles as athletes for more than a year.

Life has not been easy for anyone, but these athletes can relate to each other through these hard times.

“There were a lot of opportunities that had to be canceled,” said forward Michael Francisco, a junior and co-captain for East Bay’s men’s soccer team. “I think the hardest part was not knowing when things would end. I mean, health professionals didn’t even know when things would open up again.”

UEFA, the Union of European Football Association who is in charge of soccer tournaments in Europe, postponed the EURO 2020 tournament last March by 12 months. Some were hopeful the major national tournament could commence this year, but others were unsure things would be able to continue with the ever-changing variables of the pandemic. Last year, CSUEB’s soccer teams didn’t have a season in fall 2020 due to Covid-19.

“It was hard even trying to find a field or recreational park to work on my game,” Francisco went on to add.

Tommy Flora, another captain and senior at East Bay, did not have the same issues.

“Sometimes we would have groups of as little as two, but I was able to find some fields to train at,” Flora said.

Location also played a big part. Flora, who is from Sacramento, did not have to deal with strict regulations in Sacramento County. Francisco, who is from Oakland, had to deal with much stricter provisions in Alameda County. As of June 15, California is reopened with businesses operating at normal capacity.

For the EURO 2020 tournament, the men’s team captains both think Belgium looks to be the strongest group in the tournament. Some say Italy because they became the first team in group stage history to not concede a single goal in the group stage. They also set a world record for most game-time minutes without allowing the opposing team to score at 1,168 minutes.

“(Midfielder) Kevin De Bruyne, (forward) Romelu Lukaku, and (forward) Eden Hazard are very strong,” Francisco insisted.

“They have a good chance to win the entire thing.”

At the time of publication, Belgium’s national team is set to square off against Italy on Friday, July 2 at 12 p.m. PST.