American Association Football or as it was called for a long time in England – soccer – celebrated its 100th year of formal existence this past year. American soccer teams and competitions were part of the 19th century American sportscape. In the beginning of the 20th century, the competition became more organized. It did remain provincial. Most teams came from the Northeast and then St. Louis. There are excellent histories on the early years. This is a brief look. Here are some team photos and accompanying comments.
Juan Botella is an analyst of Football Youth Talent. His website F Y T has a comprehensive listing of top players by position and birth year. Botella also provides the player’s current club and a “potential price” of the player’s value in euros. The listings are regularly updated. Up to 30 players ranked in each group. Here are the top players born in 1996 and 1997 at certain positions. Go to F Y T for the complete listings.
English journalist Jonathan Wilson specializes in soccer players from Eastern Europe. Among other ventures, Wilson works for Sky Sports. He has written knowledgeably about Eastern European football. He authored, “Behind the Curtain, Football in Eastern Europe.”
There are five players from former Yugoslav state that in January could play in the Premiership and Wilson’s task was to comment on each of them. Among the five are two Croats: Mario Mandzukic and Alen Halilovic. Along with them, there are Nemanja Matic (Serbia), Miralem Pjanic (Bosnia) and Mirko Vucinic (Montenegro).
Wilson: Mandzukic is not afraid of challenges, the Premiership would suit him. I’m sure he wants to stay at Bayern, but if we look realistically, I do not know how he could get into the first team next year with the presence of Lewandowski and Müller and Götzea, [Formidable talents], all who can play in his position. Mandzukic plays with kind of ‘ madness ‘ that trainers fiind difficult to control. Guardiola believes he is a short-term expedient, but Mario is not a typical player by Guardiola taste, says Wilson.
Wilson: Mandzukic has the physical qualities which make him fit Premiership . He is not afraid of a challenge and enjoys the physical play as is the English style. He is a player whose elbows fly everywhere. I mean that in a good way. He is an attacker who is difficult to dispossess. Will he go in January? Probably not, but Bayern could feel that now is the right time to gain a good transfer fee.
Wilson: Alen Halilovic is a incredibly talented midfielder. Also, he can play on the wing and play into the middle. But, I think that in the past year he was a bit ‘ cooked up ‘. He was too exposed and this was seen in a game. The challenge is to correctly use such a quality kid. Right now he looks exhausted. Maybe, he was struck in the head when linked with Tottenham this summer. I do not know. He has not fully matured He could thrive in the next year, but has to play and think more about football.
WFF: Since the summer, transfer reports have linked Halilovic to Barcelona, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Bayern Munich, a Russian side and Spurs, again. No other young player has received so much interest. Such attention is bound to make a 17 year-old starlet giddy. If Halilovic stays at Dinamo Zagreb until June, the club must feature him more. Opportunities are fewer since Dinamo’s elimination from the Europa League. Dinamo has a comfortable domestic league lead. No matter. A fit Halilovic needs more starts and match minutes.
WFF: If contract negotiations exclude Dinamo receiving a large transfer fee, their unwillingness to play Halilovic may increase. Zagreb’s top man Zdvrako Mamic talks of Alen as “our jewel.” Of course, he is not a priceless jewel. Perhaps, Barcelona sees the situation best although the Blaugrana’s offer was rejected. Barca are willing to pay out €15 million, but Halilovic must prove his worth to receive the wages he expects.
As for now, in the midst of the January transfer window, neither Halilovic nor Mandzukic have a reason to pack their bags for England.
Jonathan Wilson’s assessment is a translation from an article written by Alen Besedić for Sky.hr
Once again, Orlando City SC show they are more than a single team. Their commitment to the community and its youth has garnered great results.
The following article is published on the Orlando City SC website:
Each year on National Signing Day, college coaches from all over the country anxiously wait as hundreds of athletes announce their college commitments.
This year, the NCAA National Signing Day features 30 Orlando City Youth Soccer (OCYS) players signing their National Letter of Intent to various universities across the country. Those universities include Clemson University, University of South Florida, University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill and many others.
“This is a very exciting time of the year for all of our seniors,” said Executive Director Stephen Rammel. “We are aware that we are part of a pro model but we also understand that the majority of our club will go on to college. The quality of the colleges and the quantity of players that we have that have received scholarships demonstrates our support and believe in our student-athletes going on to play and study and the collegiate level.”
Roughly 20 out of the 27 players were in attendance at the first annual OCYS National Signing Day this year and were recognized by Orlando City President Phil Rawlins, Head Coach Adrian Heath, OCYS Executive Director Stephen Rammel, OCYS Senior Boys Academy Director Paul Shaw and OCYS Senior Girls Academy Director Alan Hough.
“Playing in college is a huge part of the American sports culture and we understand how important it is for our members,” added Rawlins. “We’re delighted that so many of the players in our program are getting the chance to move on to the next level.”
This year’s number of OCYS commitments on National Signing Day doubles the 15 commits from the 2012-13 season, and according to Heath, is a direct representation of all of the hard work from everyone associated with the club.
“This shows that we’re moving in the right direction and speaks volumes for a lot of the people who have put so much hard work in the club,” said Heath. “I’m very pleased that so many of our kids are the getting the opportunities to play at some really good colleges and the commitment their parents have shown has been incredible.”
A list of the players and their chosen colleges appears on the Orlando City Soccer web site