Talking to any of the parents of the players on Valeo FC Boston 2007, a Dorchester-based boys’ soccer team, it’s easy to see just how passionate everyone is about the squad.

It’s also clear the players and their families are living through a “pinch-me” moment as the boys get ready to play in the U.S. Club Soccer National Cup Finals just outside of Denver, the biggest stage for youth club teams in the country. The Dorchester team will be competing in the Boys U-15 Premier Division starting Sunday.

For players and their families, it's an opportunity to represent Boston on a whole new level — and maybe get a few nice looks in from college scouts.

“We’re still in shock,” Kristin Jurkoic, whose son is in his first year with the club, said at a team practice Monday. “You know, the parents are all on a WhatsApp [group chat] together and a few days might go by before somebody will text out, ‘Is this really happening? Did this happen?’”

Valeo ’07 is making history as what’s believed to be the first boys’ team from inner-city Boston to make it to the national tournament. And making it was no small feat. The team had to essentially go through its regular season with no losses, make it to their regional tournament in New Jersey, and then win their final game in the tournament by at least four goals (they won 8-1).

Head coach Tony Cardoso, who’s been coaching some of these boys since they were 5 years old, thought the team had a chance to go far at the beginning of the season.

“But I was not expecting nationals,” he admitted. “It’s a big accomplishment, going to nationals right now to Colorado, I think it’s everyone’s dream.”

For the players, the gravity of the moment is still sinking in.

“I mean, to be honest, I didn’t know it existed,” 14-year-old fullback Simon Hay-Sutton said with a laugh.

Before starting practice on Monday, the boys traded jokes and jabs while warming up, and a couple of them play-wrestled. Once they were on the pitch, though, it was all business as Cardoso ran them through drills and put them through some final tune-ups for the national stage.

“[Cardoso] told us at the start of the season the goal is to make regionals, and we kind of understood what that meant, but we didn’t know it could develop into something like this,” Hay-Sutton said.

But the young players are quickly realizing what it means to get such a bright spotlight.

Striker Zach Sealy has ambitions of playing the game in college. He sees the tournament as a stage to help him reach that goal.

“That’s exactly what it is,” he said. “[College scouts] see what we did and they’re like, ‘OK, it’s serious. [He’s] a high-level player that has experience in high-level situations that we can trust on our team and give him an opportunity.’”

Lenira Cardoso’s son, Jason, has been with Valeo since the second grade and also hopes to play in college. She sees that same opportunity for high-level college scouts to see what the boys are about.

“I think it will open doors for them, for these kids,” she said.

"It's a big accomplishment, going to nationals right now to Colorado, I think it's everyone's dream."
Tony Cardoso, head coach

Cardoso said Valeo FC in Newton has other teams that have made it to the big tournament, but he believes his team is the first from Boston’s inner-city.

Valeo ’07’s big achievement comes with some obstacles that more suburban, well-funded teams wouldn’t have to deal with. Jurkoic pointed out how the team didn’t practice at a fancy, private facility but a public field at Roberts Playground in Dorchester.

“You know, the goals have holes in them,” she said. “This is where we practice. Some days. Some days, this gets canceled because we don’t have the field, and we don’t have another field.”

Those challenges haven’t stopped the team from competing at a high level. But the high cost of sending a whole squad of teenagers across the country was a major hurdle for Valeo to overcome.

The team set up a GoFundMe to help raise money for the trip and raised over $54,000 in a little over three weeks. Most of the donations were little hits of $25 or $50. But Imperial Cars, a dealership based in Mendon and Milford, outdid everyone with a $20,000 donation out of the blue — even though nobody on the team has any relationship with them.

For Cardoso, what that generosity from friends and strangers has meant is simple.

“Just us going out there not [having] to worry about when is the next paycheck coming? How can I get my son to go out there?” he said. “And not [having] to worry about the finance piece, I think that’s the biggest thing. And just to see them go out and perform.”

Now, all that’s left is for the squad to make an impact at the national tournament. But even if they don’t win a single game, the players — whose families hail from places like Cape Verde, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Ireland and more — reflect the melting pot that is Dorchester. Cardoso said one of the players doesn’t speak English well, so his teammates all do their best to speak to him in Spanish.

That cohesion is what the coach is looking forward to the most in Colorado.

“The team, the parents and just us being unified out there, that’s what I’m looking forward to,” he said. “Because we had such a great time in New Jersey together. You know, lunch together, dinner together and all that stuff right there. So it’s just something that you can’t get enough of, you can’t get enough of it.”