Last month the NYCFC Academy, namely the club's U13/U14 team, took part in the XXI Mundialito Tahuichi Paz Y Unidad 2016 tournament which took place in Bolivia. The tournament consisted of teams like Millionarios FC (Colombia), Pachuca (Mexico), Danubio (Uruguay), Olimpia (Paraguay), Tahuichi (Bolivia), Florida (Bolivia), Everton FC (Chile) to name a few.
The team played a total of five games in a span of 8 days. In the group stage, they played against Florida (Bolivia) L 2-1, Millonarios FC (Colombia) D 1-1 and Menedy (Guatemala) W 5-0. The next stage of the tournament had the team facing the host team, Academia Tahuichi. The team struck first and took a 1-0 lead, but eventually gave out and surrendered two late goals to see them fall 2-1 against the eventual tournament champs.
Before the match against Academia Tahuichi, the academy team got a special pre-match call from New York City FC captain, David Villa. "I told them that the Club believed in them, and that surely they would play well," said Villa. "We are all proud of the work they are doing in Bolivia representing New York City FC."
Though the young squad did not win the tournament, they did bring home the Fair Play Award. It was one of only three awards handed out in the tournament. New York City FC Youth Technical Coordinator Rodrigo Marion praised the team for their performance in the tournament as well.
"Overall, I think the boys responded extremely well to the circumstances," said Marion. "We played against teams that were more physical and aggressive. We maintained our focus on what we’ve been preparing for the past months, proposing an attacking minded style with an organized defense. Regardless of whom we play, we always implement our style. That is something the boys realized in this tournament and if we stick to this plan, we will be successful moving forward. It is important to remark how competitive our players became by the end of this trip. They battled every 50/50 ball and didn't allow the other team to play, that was a sign that our team learned the urgency to compete."
Now with the tournament in Bolivia in the rear view mirror, the youth squad is already onto their next adventure - in Spain. There they will take place in the 1st Internacional e-Soccer Cup. Marion had this to say about their next challenge:
"The boys are definitely more competitive than before. They know how to play tournaments which is a different ball game. They are not afraid to face stronger teams. In Spain, we will face more tactical teams— in Europe they work a lot on the collective work. That is very different than the more physical, tricky, individual technical players we faced in South America. But it’ll be good to bring what we learned from South America to Spain."
Stay tuned to HRB for updates on how the academy fared in their latest tournament.