The Orlando City Academy will be packing their bags and heading to Dallas this upcoming week for the inaugural MLS NEXT Cup playoffs
Both the U-17 and U-15 squads clinched their respective Southeast Division titles recently, paving the way to compete in the tournament, which will run from June 25 to July 3 where eventually a national champion will be crowned.
“It’s a great achievement,” U-17 head coach Javier Carrillo recently told the Orlando Soccer Journal. “Being national champions would be tremendous.”
It’s a big accomplishment, Carrillo said, on what the academy has managed to do within two years since Marcelo Neveleff was appointed academy director in 2019.
This year, both Academy clubs cruised to win their respective Southeast division titles.
The U-17s finished with a 10-1-1 record in the season with 31 points to sit 10 points clear from second place Charlotte FC. The U-17s also scored 39 goals — the most in that age group in MLS NEXT — in 13 matches while only allowing eight goals.
“We highlighted the talent of the players,” said Carrillo on the academy’s recent success. “Within two years, the players have experimented with a certain structure where the player is presented with different challenges and opportunities, including training with the MLS first team, and that has allowed us to create a culture where the players understand what’s required to become a professional player.”
“The mentality of the player of Orlando is changing towards living to that experience and that mentality is a vital component to developing the player on and off the pitch,” added Carrillo.
The U-15s (11-1-1, 34 points), who are led by head coach Roberto Sibaja and assistant Andres Luna, finished atop the Southeast Division, scoring 38 goals and conceding only eight goals during their 13-match stretch in the season.
According to the latest SoccerWire.com Youth Soccer Rankings, the U-17s are ranked No. 1 in the nation while the U-15s are ranked No. 7.
U-23s cruise to region final
The OC Academy 23s advanced to the UPSL Florida Central final on Saturday after defeating Inter Jax 2-1.
The U-23s, who are led by former Orlando City B attacker Moises Tablante and Peruvian prospect Quembol Guadalupe, will play in the Florida Central final on June 26 against GOSA Spurs (Greater Orlando Soccer Academy).
The time of that match will be determined; while the winner of the Florida Central final will play the Florida West champions on July 10.
On July 17, the Florida final will be disputed, and that’s followed with the Southeast Regional final scheduled for July 24.
Praise from the First Team
Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja was full of praise recently, following the latest success from the Academy.
“I want to congratulate Marcelo Neveleff, Javier, Roberto, Andres and everyone who have done an excellent job with the academy,” said Pareja. “We’re really proud of what they’ve done because it’s never be done before and now they’re winning titles and that strengthens us as a club. They’re going to go to Dallas and enjoy the nationals, and we want to be protagonists in that national tournament as well.”
Here’s the complete remarks from Pareja on the academy.
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