Southern California has always been a hotbed of youth soccer talent. That shouldn’t be news to anyone. But a new Club has taken up the mantle of fostering the next wave of U.S. stars.
In another historic first for the Los Angeles Football Club, the U.S. Boy’s National Team has invited U-14 LAFC Academy players Kevin Jimenez (Moreno Valley), Robert Kaemmerer (Torrance), Antonio Leone (Long Beach), and Dylan Presto (Porter Ranch) to participate in the first domestic U-15 training camp of 2018 in Sunrise, Fla., from January 13 - 20.
The training camp will feature 36 of the best U-14 youth players as identified by U.S. Soccer, with the goal of being invited to play full time for the U-15 Boy’s National Team in the coming year, and eventually being considered a mainstay member of their respective age group. Of the 36 players invited, LAFC Academy's four players are the most of any academy in MLS.
“It’s amazing. It’s obviously a lot of hard work and you get rewarded for it at the end,” said LAFC’s newest addition and U.S. National Team veteran Benny Feilhaber on the players’ invitation. “It’s a sense of pride and accomplishment. It will give them so much more confidence that they know they are at that level, that they can play at that level, and that will help them so much when they get back to the club.”
The invitations are a testament to the vision, strategy, and resources employed by the LAFC Academy coaching and scouting staffs in identifying players throughout the greater Los Angeles area.
“We couldn’t be more excited about potentially contributing to next era of soccer in this country”, said LAFC Academy Director Todd Saldaña. “Our scouts and staff have worked incredibly hard to identify and develop top talent here in LA, and we hope that this is just the beginning of a long-standing tradition of excellence at LAFC."
All four of the invited players represent the diverse talent of the LAFC Academy, and exemplify the successful collaboration of the scouting team, coaching staff, and youth soccer community. Kevin Jimenez is a unique example, as he joined the LAFC Academy after being identified at LAFC’s inaugural 'LAFC Invitational.' Launched by LAFC in an effort to increase access to the Academy for players across the region, the tournament provided a showcase to those lacking in financial or organizational resources. It was in stark contrast to the high fees of many youth tournaments, garnering success for Jimenez and giving a lift to the LA soccer community.
The announcement comes in only the second USSDA season in LAFC history, and is a jump start to the second half of the USSDA season for everyone at the Club.