LT soccer player receives PepsiCo Showdown MVP award from USMNT goalie


Economou and Guzan with the award (Leigh Hall)

Izy Scott, Art Director

Room 140 was hushed at the beginning of third period on Oct. 14 as faculty including Principal Brian Waterman, Athletic Director John Grundke and head boys varsity soccer Coach Paul Labbato shared conversation just moments before U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT) goalie Brad Guzan entered the room.

Guzan was not visiting LT as just a national athlete, but rather arrived as a former local high school soccer player who would be awarding LT boys varsity soccer player Nick Economou ‘16 the highly-selective 2015 PepsiCo Showdown Tournament Most Valuable Player Award. In front of 100 of his peers, Economou was greeted by news channel cameras, photographers and Guzan holding a shiny silver award in the shape of a belt.

“At first, Coach [Andy Newcomb] gave a presentation, and I was just shocked that I was going to meet a National Team player,” Economou said. “I was shocked to receive the award, and it was an honor.”

The award is given to an athlete who high school coaches and players view as the most valued player throughout the PepsiCo Showdown Tournament, and only one player from the 192 participating teams in the nation’s largest high school soccer tournament receives the award. To present this year’s award, the PepsiCo Showdown founder Joe Trost contacted a player who competed for Providence Catholic High School 12 years ago and just so happens to have started in goal for the USMNT against Mexico this past Saturday in front of a crowd of 93,000 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

“It’s a pleasure to present an award like this for such talent not only in terms of soccer, but as a person and as a good guy,” Guzan said. “I tip my hat to [Economou] for that. Obviously his soccer has spoken and people have recognized his achievements on the field, and to be a local guy from the area and to be able to come back to present something like this to someone like [Economou], is an honor.”

Economou was unaware that he won the award, and only a select number of LT staff members were notified of the event to ensure it was a surprise. After receiving the award, a press conference followed in which  Labbato attested to Economou’s athleticism and leadership.

“[Economou] is very modest and a team leader,” Labbato said. “He works so hard for our team and pushes all 22 kids to give their best at all times. He means so much to the team and is so humble right now about this award. He had a five-game tournament that was outstanding and when we needed him to step up in the championship match with time running out to get us back into that game, he came forward and made a great play.”

Sitting next to Labbato at the press conference was Guzan, who despite joking with Economou about fighting over the WWE belt-looking award, matched Economou’s humble enthusiasm.

“When you get to present awards like this and you get to be in my shoes, you’re lucky and fortunate,” Guzan said. “To be able to do something like this makes you realize why you play the game, and to be able to give something back to someone like [Economou] and his team is exciting.”

Guzan and Economou continued to mingle with the rest of the faculty after the conference and discussed upcoming games they both have. The newly championed PepsiCo Showdown MVP will prepare with his PepsiCo championship-winning team to take on Argo High School at home on Oct. 15.

“This means a lot, but overall, I think our team should win this award because soccer is a team game,” Economou said. “I’m not big on awards, and winning the championship with my team means more to me than any personal award.”

The boys won the PepsiCo Showdown Tournament 2-1 on Sept. 27 against Libertyville after a game-tying goal from Economou and overtime goal from Adrian Valdez