GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Orlando native Nicolas Russo has come back home and signed for the U-23 team of Premier Development League outfit Orlando City after spending the last three years in Argentina as part of Boca Juniors' legendary youth system.
“It was difficult because Boca is such a big club,” Russo told MLSsoccer.com by the phone on Tuesday. "It's hard to let go. But I'm happy to be back and glad to be playing on the team."
The 17-year-old right back/midfielder will train with the first team until the U-23 Premier Development League gets underway in April, and he says it is a different ball game than with Boca's U-17 squad.
“I can tell they are a lot faster, a lot stronger and they are already men, so it's a lot harder,” said Russo. “But I think I can also get bigger and stronger.”
Russo's father, Daniel, told MLSsoccer.com that having his son closer to home would ease the burden of frequent travel to Buenos Aires, and added the pull of U-23 coach Joe Avallone and first team coach Adrian Heath was a big factor in the family's decision.
“Before he left, there was nothing really going on here in Orlando,” Daniel Russo said. “But now it's great because they are bringing professionalism back here. It´s a great experience to play at one of the top clubs in the world, but [Nicolas] being back home is nice, and I think Orlando City is going in the right direction.”
Heath told MLSsoccer.com back in August of his admiration for Russo's talent, mentioning his touch and technique, while Avallone is looking forward to counting on him when the season starts.
“We are excited about having Nicolas,” Avallone told the club's website. “He’s a young kid, but is without a doubt a pro prospect.”
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org