Freshman winger on track for national soccer pursuits

December 9, 2023 — by Jessica Li
Courtesy of Katie Lu
Katie Lu dribbles the ball during a game against Mustang Soccer Club at Provident Field on Apr. 15.
Katie Lu was accepted into the id2 National Identification Development Program and the Player Development Program, putting her on path to play at a national level in the future.

Catching her teammate’s eye as a member of the Mountain View Los Altos Club (MVLA), freshman soccer player Katie Lu received the ball and dribbled it skillfully through the defenders. With a keen eye, she scanned the field for openings to score, then struck the ball swiftly and watched as the back of the net rippled, an impressive goal that captured the attention of college and national team scouts scouting the game.

In a soccer career that began at age 6, she was originally a center-back, then moved up to midfielder and finally switched her current role — a left and right wing. 

Lu trains between four and five days a week and dedicates her weekends to games. Monday consists of one hour of private training, Tuesday through Thursday consists of one-and-a-half-hour team trainings and Friday consists of either individual practice or an off day.

This winter, Lu is playing attacking midfield for the varsity soccer team. Her ability to dribble through tight spaces and keep the ball against older players has made her a key player. Even as a freshman, she has been able to match physicality with many of the opposing players, utilizing her speed to break lines and find opportunities to create chances and score.  

Currently, Lu plays left and right wing on the 09 Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) team at MVLA. She was accepted into the U.S. Club Soccer’s id2 National Identification and Development Program in December of 2022, which serves as a pool for scouts to observe and identify players through showcases and playoffs, and eventually scout them for the U.S. National team programs. 

Athletes are first selected through an evaluation process and then narrowed down into a pool of players who are invited to participate in an id2 training camp. During the evaluation process, the coaches evaluate players at games and practices based on technical ability, game intelligence, mental initiative and physical ability. Numerous national team and college scouts have come to Lu’s ECNL showcases; Lu feels that the program has opened up many future opportunities for her, including putting her on the radar for the Under 15 (U15) U.S. National team.

“The program is really nice,” Lu said. “It’s fun and challenging since we have the technical skills to be able to do more complex tactical games and the speed of play is accelerated. The coaches are very supportive and you get to meet a lot of new people.”

She notes that the pressure of scouting is often amplified due to the limited time that scouts spend observing players, which results in players being unable to fully showcase their capabilities and strengths. However, Lu has quickly adapted to the process.

“Sometimes, the scouts only see you for five minutes, so if you don’t do well, it feels like a little bit of a mess. I just remind myself to work harder and show them that I can play well,” Lu said.

Given her heavy involvement with soccer, Lu has pursued various programs in the past in addition to id2 to help her reach the next level in her playing capabilities. After being nominated by her old Los Gatos United Soccer Club coach Shaun Tsakiris in June 2020, Lu was invited to try out for the Player Development Program (PDP). Lu was accepted to be part of the PDP’s Bay Area region. After a series of practices and games, players go through rounds of cuts before finding themselves in a more concentrated pool. 

Players from the narrowed-down pool are evaluated once again, and ultimately, the final selection of players are rostered onto the PDP state travel team for their respective age groups. Through the program, Lu has gotten to play in a pool of high-level nominated players and represent Northern California in state, national and international competitions.

Throughout her journey, Lu credits her parents for being especially supportive and motivating, and her coaches, who have provided the critiques she needed to perfect her techniques.

One of her future goals to advance her soccer journey is to receive a scholarship to play Division I soccer at a school like Stanford or UCLA. She also holds future ambitions to play for the Youth U.S. Women’s National soccer team, where many of her role models play.

“There’s a lot of people that you can model your playing style to, like Alyssa Thompson on the U.S. Women’s National team, who would be a really great mentor to have,” Lu said.

Reflecting on where she is at right now with her game, she said, “I’m definitely proud of my achievements, and it’s really nice to see what all my hard work has come to.”

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