January 2010

The Future Is Coming On

On Monday, Major League Soccer and its partner Adidas released the 2010 signing class of Generation Adidas, giving the public a glimpse of what the future may hold for American Soccer. The complete list is as follows:

– Ike Opara
– Danny Mwanga
– Teal Bunbury
– Corben Bone
– Tony Tchani
– Amobi Okugo
– Andrew Wiedeman
– Dilly Duka
– Blair Gavin
– Jack McInerney
– Sean Johnson
– Zach Herold

Generation Adidas is a joint program between the MLS and US soccer whose chief goal is to promote the talent and scope of youth soccer here in the States. The venture encourages participants to forgo college soccer (or leave school early) and enter the MLS as professional players. While there are many questionable decisions affecting soccer in America today, the boys at the top of the food chain thankfully got this one right. Development and scouting is crucial for success, especially for a sport increasing in popularity with teenagers and young adults. It provides a foundation to further build and expand U.S. Soccer as a whole. The best part? Sources claim this crop of youthful stars is the most talented yet.

On a surprisingly cold winter night in Allen, Texas, almost three years to the day, I witnessed Corben Bone rule the midfield with an iron fist, or foot rather. Simply put, never before had I seen such a flawless individual performance from an 18 year old, and that includes two years of Dallas Cup matches. My friends, who all shared the unfeasible task of slowing him down, concluded that he was one destined for greatness.  It appears the former Plano midfielder is living up to expectations. Jack McInerney, Dilly Duka, and Zach Herold both participated in the U-17 World Cup this past fall. With Herold and Duka dominating the defense or maintaining the midfield, McInerney was busy up top, netting two goals for himself. Four of MLS’ 2010 signees: Duka, Johnson, Opara, and Perk, were members of the U.S. roster for the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Suez, Egypt. Needless to say, these boys have a fair share of experience under their belts.

But unless you eat, breathe, and bleed U.S. Soccer, most of this squad holds unfamiliar names and faces. But don’t let their youth and dearth of celebrity status fool you. Last year’s group boasted players such as MLS Rookie of the Year Omar Gonzalez, starting Toronto FC goalkeeper Steven Frei, and Steve Zakuani, who wrecked havoc on the left sideline in Seattle this past season. Gonzalez and Kevin Alston both recently received their first call ups to train with the senior U.S, national team. Fear not, Yank fans – we appear to have a bright future on the horizon.

Best of luck to these fine gentlemen as they prepare for the MLS Player Combine on January 8-12 at Central Broward Regional Park in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Tim Patterson