- Tristan Blackmon and Danny Musovski reunite at Los Angeles FC
- MLS restarts on July 8 after the coronavirus pandemic interruption
- LAFC favorites to win the tournament kicked off after the restart
- Frank D’Amelio recognizes Vegas as a ‘hotbed’ of talent with most of the youth getting shots in MLS and USL
Spending so much of their soccer career alongside each other has made Tristan Blackmon forget when they first became teammates with Danny Musovski.
The former Bishop Gorman High star is certain that he met Musovski during his time at Liberty High. Musovski was then the state’s all-time leading goal scorer. The 8-year-old Blackmon happened to be on the same youth team as Musovski.
Blackmon believes their first team was the Penguins where they would go on to become teammates for about four years before becoming rivals for a short while. Blackmon states that Musovski played in a higher age group since he was a little bit older than him.
Now aged 23 years with Musovski aged 24 years, their reunion as teammates is back with this time, playing domestic soccer at the highest level. Prior to the start of the 2020 MLS season, Musovski signed a deal with Blackmon’s team, Los Angeles Football Club.
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MLS like many other global leagues had been interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic and July 8 saw the league resume its operations. The restart saw the kicking off of a tournament in Orlando, Florida in a style similar to that of the World Cup. LAFC has been placed as the favorite by the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook to win the tournament at 3-to-1. The team begins its group stage games against the Houston Dynamo on July 13 at 5 pm.
Blackmon is optimistic about winning the tournament having won the Supporters’ Shield last year but lost on the MLS Cup. For Seattle Sounders who are second favorites at 8-to-1, a Las Vegas born and raised product is also on their roster. 17-year-old Daniel Leyva only moved to Seattle to join the team’s youth academy two years ago.
‘Hotbed’ of talent
The tournament that will be aired on ESPN sees a lot of Vegas talent being showcased in the tournament. Considering Southern Nevada has not been traditionally known as a development area for soccer players, this to many may come out as a surprise. But, according to Frank D’Amelio, assistant coach for UNLV men’s soccer team & staff coach for the Downtown Soccer Club young players, who has been in the scene for over three decades, this is not a surprise to him.
He considers Vegas a ‘hotbed’ of talent in the past decade with many of the players joining MLS and USL leagues and kids training with different teams and others going overseas. He considers this a very ‘good and consistent’ growth.
D’Amelio has been around Leyva and Musovski and saw the latter’s progression at UNLV including winning various honors.
D’Amelio says that Musovski is one of the biggest competitors who is focused on winning and does everything to succeed. ‘…once he gets on the field, then you see what he’s about.’ He says. D’Amelio did not get to coach Blackmon but he believes he broke to the scene while in college. He says that he was not the best player in town but he is happy to see the success he has achieved.
Journey to success and reunion
Blackmon became California’s University of the Pacific all-time leading goal scorer. This was while he alternated between forward and defenseman and went on to become an MLS prospect in the first round. In the same 2018 draft, Musovski was selected in the second round by the San Jose Earthquakes before being loaned to USL’s Reno 1868.
Currently, Blackmon who signed a three-year extension deal is in the starting lineup for the LAFC but Musovski is mostly a reserve. Blackmon is happy with the reunion and relishes the journey they have been together and how they are happy for each other. ‘I’m happy for him and cheering on his strides in his career, as I’m sure he is for me.’
Blackmon has welcomed the restart of the league and says that the team is ready to go. ‘We’re extremely excited to come back.’ He said.