The game of soccer has taken Brandon Busch to far-off places like New York, Florida and Germany, so it’s only natural that he wouldn’t be bothered a bit by a long drive to play on a club team.
Busch, a recent graduate of The Bishop’s School, plays during the high school off-season for Arsenal Football Club in Rancho Cucamonga, which leaves him with a nearly 200-mile commute round-trip for practices and games.
He said he does it, rather than try to play for another top club team closer to home, like the La Jolla Nomads, for the quality of the soccer experience.
“Playing with Arsenal was the best fit for me,” Busch said. “It has been a little hard at times traveling so far twice a week (for practice) plus weekend games, usually one on Saturday and one on Sunday, and trying to balance schoolwork, but I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything.
“Arsenal won State Cup this year for the fourth straight year and will play at Regionals in late June. After Regionals is Nationals; there are only four teams at Nationals, one from each region in the United States. We are the first team in history to win Nationals back to back to back. This year (would) be four years, and I am very excited to be part of that history.”
Busch, a standout at The Bishop’s School in his four years there, has been just as good, if not better, playing club soccer. A versatile player who can field his position at midfield or forward, he was consistently among the Knights’ leaders in both goals and assists, and he is one of the more seasoned players on any team because of his extensive experience nationally and internationally.
By the time he was 13, he was traveling the country and going overseas to Belgium and Holland playing for club teams, and recently participated in a unique club soccer event called the Red Bull National League. The league included some of the top teams from across the country and featured three legs of play. Busch’s 17-and-under team from Arsenal Soccer Club played well enough at the North Carolina leg in November to advance to the San Diego leg in March. The team moved on from there to the national tournament outside of Chicago last month, and went all the way to the championship game before falling in the final. Unfortunately for Busch, the national tournament in Chicago fell on the same weekend as his graduation ceremony at Bishop’s, so he was unable to join his teammates. “I heard it was a hard-fought game, but we just came up short,” Busch said.
He said the experience of playing in the Red Bull tournament was a valuable and fun one. He got to play against some of the country’s best players, and he and his teammates lived up to the challenge. It didn’t hurt that the tournament’s sponsor, which produces a popular energy drink, supplied plenty of its product before and after games.
“The free Red Bull was definitely a plus when we were at the locations,” Busch said. “They really treated us well.”
Busch and his Arsenal team will now move on to the U.S. Youth Soccer Regionals in Las Vegas from June 18-24. The National Championships will be played July 25-27 in Frisco, Texas.
He said he’s excited about the prospect of traveling the country this summer to play more soccer. The best part, he said, is the things he sees and learns about off the field. “In no way does it get old,” Busch said. “The experiences I come across, the new people I meet and the sights I am able to see when traveling with my soccer teams are things to treasure and value. I am very blessed in that way.”
Busch helped Bishop’s to a 21-2-3 record last year and within one game of the CIF-San Diego Section Division IV championship game, as the Knights went stretches of 12 and 13 games without a loss. As a high school player, he scored 78 goals and added 39 assists. He was named a first-team All-Coastal League South player four times and was selected to the All-CIF-San Diego Section team three seasons.
Now, it’s on to bigger and better challenges.
He plans to attend Princeton next year and play soccer for the Tigers. Princeton is an Ivy League school and doesn’t award athletic scholarships, but nevertheless, he’ll get to continue his soccer career playing at a high level.
“Playing for a Division I NCAA team was always my dream,” Busch said, “and it has come true for me.”