Last August three clubs in Mexico City hosted a prestigious international youth club tournament, which I wrote about here, and I thought that it was unfortunate that there were no American teams participating in the event.
The New England Revolution u-16 team was invited to take part in the 2012 Future Champions Gauteng Tournament. Future Champions operate two tournaments every year, one in Gauteng, South Africa, and the other in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
2010 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil included: Club America (Mexico), Clube Atletico Mineiro (Brazil), FC Barcelona (Spain), Vasco da Gama (Brazil), Cruzeiro (Brazil), Corinthians (Brazil), Peñarol (Uruguay), DC United (USA), Everton (England), Paris Saint-Germain (France), Universidad de Chile (Chile), Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa).
2011 teams in Gauteng, South Africa, were: Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa), Bidvest Wits (South Africa), Clube Atletico Mineiro (Brazil), Universidad Catolica (Chile), PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands), FC Rubin Kazan (Russia), Orlando Pirates (South Africa), Jomo Cosmos (South Africa), Young Zebras (Botswana), Pachuca (Mexico), APAPA Golden Stars (Nigeria), K-Stars (Zambia).
The 2011 Belo Horizonte edition of the tournment featured Boca Juniors (Argentina), Colo Colo (Chile), Manchester United (England), Nacional (Uruguay), Club Tijuana (Mexico), Flamengo (Brazil), Orlando Pirates (South Africa), Juventus (Italy) , Corinthians (Brazil), Vissel Kobe (Japan), Clube Atletico Mineiro (Brazil), Cruzeiro (Brazil).
The 2012 clubs participating in Gauteng were: Clube Atletico Mineiro (Brazil), Nacional (Uruguay), New England Revolution (USA), PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands), K-Stars (Zambia), FC Nania (Ghana), Aspire Academy (Qatar), Young Zebras (Botswana), Orlando Pirates (South Africa), Bidvest Wits (South Africa), Mohloli School (South Africa), School of Excellence (South Africa).
New England Revolution dropped their first match to Orlando Pirates 3-0. The Revs then drew against School of Excellence in their second match 3-3, with goals from Gabe Gissie, Guy Kabala, and Amadu Kunateh. In the third match, Casey Schehl and Christian Sady notched the goals for the Revs in the club’s loss to K-Stars 4-2. In a playoff match, the Revs beat Aspire 1-0 with Danny Apajee tallying the only goal of the game. Then in the fifth place match, the Revs again faced Orlando Pirates and again lost but this time 4-2. Guy Kabala and Declan McCabe scored the goals for the Revolution in that match.
Despite only winning one match, their sixth place finish out of 12 teams makes the New England Revolution the highest finishing American club. In Belo Horizonte in 2010, DC United finished 10th.
Even though the performances of American youth clubs in this tournament have not been very impressive, I find the continued participation of MLS youth sides in competitions like this reassuring. The opportunity to compete against some of the most promising young players from clubs across the globe is a chance I hope more American club teams can obtain in the near future.