Knocking it Around Ep. 3 featuring David Kerr, writer for Chasingacup.com, with Ben Harreld from Halfspaces.com and I to interview Aethan Yohannes from AZ Alkmaar and Tony (Antonio Jr.) Leone from LAFC. This was episode 3 of Knocking it Around discussing USMNT USYNT players. We talk soccer, being a teen star and becoming a professional and to get the inside scoop on the class of 2004s.
Aethan Yohannes (AZ Alkmaar) on Knocking it Around
Aethan Yohannes joins Knocking it Around Ep. 3 from Holland where’s working with AZ Alkmaar getting ready for next season.
It has been five months since my son @aethanyohannes has joined AZ Alkmaar U15 youth academy in the Netherlands. My experience as a parent watching his development in a first class Academy is a humbling experience.Some have asked how he was doing….Here it goes.. STARTS HEREI have witnessed in close proximity about football in general outside of the US at an Amateur level and top pro academy level that could be useful to folks who may wonder how Academies work in Europe in relation to my experience through my son. Footballers here in the NL are considered an investment to the club at a young age. There are huge lines of footballers that are trying to break into the top level academies at a very young age but only the very best are invited to join after many months of scouting. Once a pro club extends a player to join though, the player is indeed an investment to the club and the club has made a full commitment to nurture their product by investing in the player upfront to be rewarded later.
You are that less then 1% that has a potential to make it big so while the club teaches you the ropes, it’s up to you to take charge of your destiny because if you don’t seize it, there are a lot of other kids waiting in line to seize it. So clubs will provide all kinds of education possible to ensure kids are developing because they recognise that if groomed right, you have a potential to make the club a lot of money that will keep the resources necessary to continue developing quality footballers in the future.
My son coming out of a local amateur club in Amsterdam,
#ScBuitenveldert, has really taken a leap to adapt to the level of intense training at #AZ Alkmaar club. School and Football consumes my son’s life today. I can literally say that he has no life except going to school, training, homework and sleeping. Free time is time to relax watching some games unless it is a holiday. However, your well being is one of the most important thing to AZ so they tailor your training schedule accordingly.“To try to get to the highest level in football at the youth level is not easy no matter how talented you may be. It takes a lot of hard work, determination and focus not to mention you are giving up a lot of things your friends might enjoy doing”
Tony Leone (LAFC) on Knocking it Around
Tony joins Knocking it Around Ep. 3 as a dual national recently signed for LAFC.
Tony (Antonio Jr.) Leone will be the largest dual-national battle that the United States will have for the next few years and this is because Leone is currently the least committed high profile dual-nat to the United States. Tony is a hulking center-back who is an elite defender for his age. Tony can also distribute well from the back and is a aerial threat as well. If is rare that there is a consensus notion that a player is a top prospect in a u17 cycle as a center back but this is a very consistent opinion of Leone. He is a lock in the back four for this cycle and is one of the two best center-back prospects to be involved in a u17 cycle since the early-mid 2000’s cycles (the other is Nati Clarke, a 2005). Leone is not the fastest player but is fast enough to keep up at the men’s level already and should be the first homegrown signing in LAFC history.
Sadly, we may lose Tony Leone to Mexico for this cycle as there have been numerous reports that Leone was very unsettled after being benched at the last u17 youth national team tournament in England. That tournament in my opinion was more meant for evaluating the pool than playing the best prospects but being benched will never end up making a prospect happy and for good reasons. This is concerning because Mexico rolled out the red carpet to Antonio in December when he was brought into a u17 camp and was given the arm band in multiple games. Leone most recent call up was to Mexico for a short camp in early March. Whoever is chosen as the coach for this cycle should be flying to his doorstep with their first move with a promise to start every game and wear the arm band.