New York City FC has much to pleased about when it comes their Academy’s first inaugural season. Having selected 16 players from their Youth Affiliate program, the club’s first ever U13/U14 squad was formed. The team came out of the gates roaring last September, with an impressive 6-1 victory over the New England Revolution Academy. The high notes didn’t stop there, as the Academy began a world tour, with impressive showings in tournaments both in Bolivia, and in Spain which was kicked off with a 2-2 draw in a friendly against Real Madrid’s Youth Academy.
Along the way, the Academy had its first ever call up to the U.S. National Team, with Academy product Gio Reyna, son of Sporting Director Claudio Reyna, being selected for the U.S. U15 squad. With a return back to the States, the club closed out a strong season with an impressive performance in U.S. Soccer Development Academy Showcase in Dallas, Texas. The team finished the Showcase at a stellar 3-0, defeating the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1, the Sacramento Republic in a 5-3 shoot out, and overcoming an early deficit against the LA Galaxy academy team 3-1.
On the heels of that very successful opening campaign, New York City FC is looking to continue to grow, not only at the Major League Soccer level, but in it’s Development Academy as well. After having success with U13/U14 squad, the club is adding a U15/U16 squad this season. The U15/U16 squad will be comprised of many of the young lads who wore the NYCFC badge for the inaugural season, as they continue to grow with this new club. Currently, the club is preparing for the upcoming season with not only a U/13/U14 and U15/U16 squad, but also with U12 and U13 select squads, with more young players selected from the club’s 11 Youth Affiliates all around the greater New York City area.
This season will also see the Academy play at a more defined location, as a partnership with St. John University has been arranged, allowing the Academy to play their home matches and training 4 days a week at Belson Stadium, a soccer-specific stadium and the home of the St. John’s University Soccer team.
Currently, the Academy has been training at Archbishop Stepinac in White Plains, just a few miles away from where the first team trains in Purchase, NY. This proximity has allowed for the young academy players to interact with the first team as they prepare for their upcoming season.
“It’s turned out to be a really good location for that reason,” Reyna said. “Patrick will be out with one of the assistant coaches, our players will stop by, our Academy coaches can easily come to our training facility and prepare for the sessions throughout preseason around the first team and then drive over.”
New York City FC manager Patrick Vieira, who previously worked with the Manchester City Elite Development Squad, definitely knows the importance of having the academy players come and interact with the first team players.
They will come watch training, they will spend time eating with the first team, sitting next to [Andrea] Pirlo, David [Villa], Tommy [McNamara], playing ping pong with some of the first team players. It’s important for us, for what we try to do here.”
Along with the players, the coaching staffs have been getting together as well, with the Academy coaches coming and sitting on trainings to observe how Vieira and his staff strive to get the most out of the first team, which currently sits in 1st place in the Eastern Conference.
With the U16 squad now in full swing, we are getting closer and closer to a point in time where New York City FC could see it’s first ever academy product make his debut on the first team. But for now, the club continues to grow it’s Academy, making sure to stay connected with the five boroughs and produce a homegrown product that can benefit the club for years and years to come.