Chris Mikus will take in a little sightseeing while in Europe for the first time, but his trip will mainly be business.
The South Forsyth freshman midfielder was one of 11 male players from Georgia selected to train at the (Premier League) Sporting Lisbon Club in Lisbon, Portugal from April 19-28. The trip is part of Georgia Soccer’s Olympic Development Program.
Mikus, who is on the 97 Region Team, was one of three freshmen selected by the ODP.
According to Georgia Soccer director of coaching, Jacob Daniel, "The ODP is designed to identify the best players in their age group with potential to play for our nation’s national team and to prepare them for tryouts on the regional and national levels."
Mikus’ 97 Region Team traveled to North Carolina in December to compete in a tournament against other southeastern teams. Mikus tallied three goals in three games as an attacking midfielder and caught the attention of scouts. Two months later, Mikus received an invitation to travel to Portugal and train at the Sporting Lisbon Club, the same club where soccer star Cristiano Renaldo played his youth soccer.
"I want to first make it to a good D-I school, like the ACC, and hopefully [play] even longer than college and go pro and eventually get on the Olympic team," Mikus said. " ... It’s a whole different lifestyle in Portugal. They really appreciate soccer. There, it’s soccer first.
"The soccer in Portugal is really good compared to the rest of the world and the U.S., so I’m hoping to learn some stuff and get better in the week that I go."
Mikus will spend the week-long session training with Sporting Lisbon’s coaches and will scrimmage other Portuguese squads during his stay. Although he knows there is room for improvement on offensive, Mikus really wants to focus on defense.
"I’m pretty good at attacking and scoring and stuff, but sometimes my defense, like tracking back and defending [needs work]," he said.
Mikus has played a key role in the War Eagles’ success this season. He scored the team’s only goal in a 1-0 victory over West Forsyth, and in another 1-0 victory over Lambert that ended the Longhorns’ 33-game winning streak.
The trip will cause him to miss South’s last two games of the regular season, including a region matchup against Chattahoochee.
After starting the region schedule 0-4, the War Eagles have won six of their last seven games and are tied for third in Region 6-AAAAAA with West Forsyth and Johns Creek with only three region games left. Only the top four teams qualify for the postseason.
"I think if we play like a team and play like we’ve been playing the last seven games, I think we can make a long run," Mikus said. "We’re playing good after that bad start.
"Since Portugal is such a big thing to go and get invited to, I felt like I had to go just because it’s a really important thing to go to," Mikus said. "Coach [Tom Braun] understood that it was a big opportunity for me."