LEESBURG, Va. – The dream lived on for six players on Sunday afternoon, as D.C. United academy scouts made their final cuts in the opening round of 2013’s Sueño MLS.
Goalkeeper Luis Aranzazu, midfielder Cristian Soto, midfielder Elcor Castillo, midfielder Alexander Soto, forward Bret LaBonte and forward Bryan Argueta made up the half-dozen players chosen to progress out of the 30 that carried over from the event’s first day on Saturday.
The six players – who ranged in ages 14-17 and came from as far as Elizabeth, N.J., and Indianapolis – found out their fate during a live broadcast of Republic Deportiva after playing in 20-minute games with 10-man teams. But what made the six the cream of the crop went farther than their performances, according to United’s team of scouts.
“We were looking for guys who were more leaders, guys that were more vocal on the field, guys that were doing more off the ball than on the ball” United scout Junior Castro told MLSsoccer.com. “Obviously, we’re looking at what they do with the ball – possession, passing, all that good stuff – but more or less having guys speak up more makes them stand out more.
“If a center back is too quiet but he’s solid, we’re going to look at the guy at midfield who’s yelling at everybody, kind of driving the ship. That’s what made guys stand out a little bit more today as compared to the rest.”
While the emphasis on vocal leadership is a lesson that some of the aspiring youngsters will take away from this event, some of the winners already knew its importance.
“You definitely have to be vocal in any position, it doesn’t matter where you are,” LaBonte told MLSsoccer.com. “You have to be able to talk and you have to see the field and have to make sure everyone knows where you are. You’ve got to let everyone know that you’re there.”
As expected, the games were much better on Sunday than Saturday. Players seemed to have a slightly better understanding with one another and their hunger to impress was only amplified.
“It’s a success, not only for Sueno MLS but also for us as an academy as well,” said Castro. “I think we got to take a look at 400 kids that we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do just off the normal basis. But I think today, with the quality of level that was displayed and played today, shows the game is definitely on the rise.
“We’re very happy with how everything was run and we’re very happy with the guys that we picked out.”
The six players selected will now either return home or stick around with United’s academy for a week-long trial. They will then head to Los Angeles for a shot at being named the 2013 Sueño MLS winner on May 12.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.