By Mitch Silver
Rye teens Max Crothall and Jimmy Halasz, both goalkeepers, will spend next school year playing for soccer academies in France and Spain, respectively. Max will play for the International Center of European Football in Evian; Jim will play for Malaga City in their youth academy program.
Ever since the boys, neighbors and fast friends, who are now 15, began playing the game in kindergarten, they’ve competed for Rye Youth Soccer’s Galaxy team, consisting of players born in 2006. The team has been very successful against Westchester competition: Galaxy has always been in the top division of the Westchester Youth Soccer League, winning it more often than not. This season, the 15-year-olds who make up the team moved up an age group to play the league’s best teams of 16-year-olds and finished in first place yet again.
In addition to playing for Galaxy, Jimmy tends goal for FC Westchester, a club made up of area all-stars. Max plays in the nets for a different collection of all-stars, the New York Soccer Club. So, how did all this come about?
“I learned about this opportunity last year online. They invited 48 kids from around the world to tryouts in Florida, but I couldn’t travel due to Covid,” said Max. “So, my Dad taped six of my games and sent them in. Two coaches from Paris St. Germain saw my tapes and interviewed me by Zoom for an hour and a half. Then they told me I’d made the cut.”
Jim said, “And I was chosen for the academy in Spain. So, I’ll be able to put my two years of Spanish to good use!” The academies have set up an online educational program of three hours a day geared to the boys’ U.S. high school curriculum.
Is there anything the two teens will miss about not attending Rye High in the fall?
“We’ll miss our families and friends, of course,” Jimmy said. “We only get two weeks at Christmas to reconnect. But I’m looking forward to seeing the world.”
Jimmy’s dad, John, was his first coach, having played semi-professionally for the San Francisco Italians. “The boys will be leaving us at the end of the summer on their next life journey, with the potential to play European professional soccer. We’re all for it.”