“I was pleasantly surprised with where we’re at and with the feedback I actually got from a lot of the other academy directors,” Sunderland said.
The comments came following the Academy’s first international trip, when the Under-15 and Under-17 Teams went to Toronto to play regional qualifiers for the Generation adidas Cup. The Orange and Blue will play the remaining games during President's Day weekend in Marietta, Ga.
Both teams played three games that finished with mixed results, but that wasn’t the important takeaway to Sunderland.
“(Other academy directors) were surprised we’re actually as far along as we are,” he said. “If you look purely at the results, while we didn’t win a lot, we were certainly competitive in all our matches. But more importantly, we played some good football.”
For the U-15’s, they lost, 2-1, to New York City FC, but beat Columbus Crew SC, 2-1, the following day. In their third match, they fell, 2-1, to Orlando City SC.
“I thought they probably should have gotten the results, but they played good football, which was good,” Sunderland said. “In the end, we want to play good football and win.”
As for the U-17’s, they drew NYCFC, 1-1, but lost on penalties. In their next two matches, they lost against Toronto FC, 3-0, and Atlanta United FC, 2-1. Again, the score lines didn’t say as much as the performances did to FCC’s academy director.
“It was really eye opening for the 17’s in the competitive nature of the games,” Sunderland said. “But they got better with very match. You can look at the scores against New York City and Atlanta as results where we were right there. Those games could’ve gone either way. Certainly, with Toronto, we played a better team than us in all facets of the game, so it was a really good learning experience for us.”
NYCFC Academy teams won the last two championships at the U-17 and U-19 level, Sunderland said. In addition, he noted Atlanta’s vast talent pool and how Toronto’s investing in its academy.
What comes next?
Both FCC Academy teams are on the road again and play Sockers FC on Sunday in Palatine, Ill. This is the first time these clubs have faced one another.