New York City FC’s evolving Youth Affiliate Program includes a half dozen clubs in New York City and the surrounding metropolitan area. The academy representing Brooklyn and Queens is Metropolitan Oval.
In the past three years alone, the pipeline at Met Oval has sent over 20 players to the NYCFC Academy, more than any other affiliate. Met Oval’s programming philosophy includes increased training, a focus on development, and more competitive games.
Met Oval’s soccer facility was originally built in 1925 in a historically German and Hungarian neighborhood in Queens. Metropolitan Oval is not only a focal point of the community but also serves as the oldest continuously used soccer facility in the nation, rich with a storied history and heritage. Met Oval is proud to be able to provide a safe and constructive environment for accomplished youth soccer players to continue their development.
It also happens to boast a million-dollar view.
Filippo Giovagnoli, the Director of Coaching at Metropolitan Oval, holds a UEFA A License as well as an advanced degree in motor science (the equivalent of a master’s degree in kinesiology). Prior to his time at Met Oval, Giovagnoli played professionally in Italy for 15 years and was a scout for AC Milan at their camps in Italy while serving as Technical Director for their camps in the U.S.
Giovagnoli’s leadership over the last three years has played a major part in increasing the prestige of the academy and creating a professional environment.
“I decided to come to Met Oval because of the philosophy of the club. Because for us it doesn’t matter the results, what matters is the development of the kids,” Giovagnoli says.
“This translates into a large number of players being sent to NYCFC. But it also leads to players getting scholarships and playing at the collegiate level.”
Mark Van Lith is the is the Technical Director and Assistant Director of Coaching at Met Oval. Originally from Holland and associated with clubs such as AFC Ajax, HFC Haarlem, and Almere City FC — clubs that focus on development — Van Lith is in charge of the methodology and curriculum at the academy. The impact that Van Lith has had on the level of soccer at Metropolitan Oval cannot be overstated as his sessions set the foundation for development, whether players are pursuing collegiate or professional soccer careers.
These sessions focus on several different learning pathways including technical, tactical, and mindset. The academy also has individual plans for player fitness and nutrition, overseen by Van Lith as well.
“I have brought my knowledge to Met Oval in order to create a foundation to be built upon while I am here and even long after I am gone,” Van Lith says.
As NYCFC is still a club in its relative infancy, it relies heavily on its affiliates to provide promising young players for their youth squads. Metropolitan Oval stands at the forefront.