Both teams in the FC Cincinnati Academy played their first exhibition matches this past weekend in Nashville, where they won three out of their four matches. But more importantly, the new FCC youth players executed the objectives the coaches have instilled.
“Based on this weekend, we haven’t established, but we are establishing, an idea of our style being based on possession,” Director of Player Development Larry Sunderland said. “That’s going to take a little while to build comfort with the ball and trust in one another to do that. It’s going to be a season-long process. But it’s good to get them on the field in a competitive environment.”
The Under-17s started their first match by conceding two early goals but won, 5-4, on Friday night. When they played again on Sunday, they won, 5-1.
“It was great because they were preseason games after two weeks of training,” said U17 Head Coach Ricardo Paez. “It was a great experience to get to know the kids in a game environment. We know we need to continue working hard to get to that level we want to see for our teams in the DA program.”
As for the Under-15 Team, they won, 6-1, in their first match and lost, 1-0, in the second. The latter match saw the opponents field players from an older age group, as well.
“It was a really good first weekend,” said Joshua Neff, the U15 head coach. “The first game took us a little bit to get settle, which it’s not that surprising because it’s our first match together ever and that was the first time most of the guys played in three or four months. But we scored early and that really helped us, and after that, we were really good.”
A pep talk before the first trip
Before the two FC Cincinnati Academy teams traveled to Tennessee, first-team players Victor Ulloa and Frankie Amaya asked to speak to the youth players before their first trip representing FCC.
Before the @FCCincyAcademy traveled for their weekend tournament, @ulloa_victor gave our U-15 and U-17 teams a pep talk about what it takes to become a professional soccer player and the opportunity ahead of them.#IgniteUnite | #FCCincy pic.twitter.com/IfYPYJqpP8— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) August 16, 2019
Sunderland said it was a touching and important moment for all of the players.
“I’m really impressed by both of those guys,” he said of Ulloa and Amaya. “They approached and asked me if they could talk to the players, so it was initiated by them. One of them came through an MLS academy in Dallas and the other through a very good academy in Southern California. They both believe in the Academy system because it was their dream.”
Ulloa was one of the inaugural players in the FC Dallas Academy and was the league’s longest-tenured MLS Homegrown player at a single club before joining FC Cincinnati in December.
With Dallas having a renowned youth system, the center midfielder’s comments should be treasured.
As for Amaya, he’s only 18 and knows what playing for a good Academy club can do to help earn a professional contract.
“They got into an academy and their goal was to become a professional player,” Sunderland added. “They were able to realize that dream, so they wanted to pass that message on to the players.”