Youth teams from the U.S. are improving every year, from the development academies to U.S. teams contending in international tournaments.
However, the kids on PDA Pele, from Zarephath, N.J., were unable to come out on top in the Volkswagen Junior Masters World Finals Championships in Madrid.
The U-13 team from Brazilian powerhouse Santos lifted the trophy after three days of matches. Santos defeated Hertha Berlin, 1-0, in the final, topping teams from 20 countries. The final was played in the Estadio Bernabeu.
PDA Pele were drawn in Group B, with Zimbabwe, Italy, Austria, and Russia. They finished in third in the group, having beaten a Zimbabwean all-star team and Picentia (ITA), before losing to HIB Graz-Liebenau (AUT) and Lokomotiv Moscow (RUS).
“The teams showed amazing character and perseverance throughout the entire Volkswagen Junior Masters tournament,” said Samuel C. Nellins, head coach of the PDA Pele. “While the U.S. team would have been thrilled to walk away with the world championship title, our main goal with this tournament was to provide the boys with a life-changing experience and an opportunity to further develop their playing skills.”
In addition to the games, the kids attended the Real Madrid-Athletic Bilbao match at the Bernabeu.
“The Volkswagen Junior Masters has offered youth soccer teams both in the U.S., and the world, a challenge unlike any they could have ever experienced before,” said Tim Ellis, Vice President of Marketing for Volkswagen of America, Inc. “Volkswagen is proud of the PDA Pele’s teamwork and determination, which not only brought them to the U.S. Finals, but placed them into the world spotlight as they competed in Madrid for the World Championship. This team represents the nation’s best, and the soccer stars of tomorrow.”