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San Diego soccer pros lend a hand, er, foot, to U.S. Paralympic men’s national team training camp Phillip Brents | Fri, Apr 28 2017 03:54 PM

A veteran group of San Diego professional soccer players teamed up with the United States Paralympic men’s national team to play an unofficial friendly at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center.

As part of the U.S. Paralympic national team’s week-long spring camp, local pros were invited to play a friendly tune up. Local pros included current San Diego Sockers’ veterans Anthony Medina and Mike Mercuriali and former Sockers players Nick Perera, Aaron Susi and Jason Santos.

The San Diego veterans started the match brightly with some slick passing throughout the seven-on-seven field at the former U.S. Olympic Training Center. The U.S. Paralympians worked on their defensive shape and looked to counter against the locals. The theme would continue throughout the 60-minute game.

In a friendly where the result didn’t matter as much as the training process, the U.S. Paralympian team showed true American grit to earn a positive result.

“It was a great experience playing against the Paralympic national team,” Medina explained. “The game was very competitive and I have a lot of respect for what those guys are able to do on the field.” 

San Diego native Mason Abbiate played in the friendly for the U.S. Paralympians. Abbiate, familiar with former Sockers captain Susi from the March 19 Sockers Celebrity game, enjoyed playing against Medina, Mercuriali, Perera and the rest of the local pros.

“It was a fun attacking game, lots of goals,” Abbiate said. “Disabilities do not define who we are, because we can play anyone anytime … and I think they (local pros) saw that today. I think they appreciated our efforts a little bit more today.” 

The U.S. Paralympic national team includes players with cerebral palsy, those who have survived a stroke and those who have suffered from a traumatic brain injury.

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