When the Houston Dynamo U-18s took on the senior side in a scrimmage on Saturday, they obviously did not expect to come out on top. More important was garnering some experience and learning what it really takes to play at the highest pro level.
“It was a great learning experience for our players and gives them a great look at what the standard is really like and what they have to try and achieve and get too,” Dynamo Director of Youth Development James Clarkson said after the match.
Despite the difference in age and experience, the Academy players displayed an aggressive style of play. They were unafraid to tackle the Dynamo’s marquee players such as Brian Ching and Brad Davis, and at times showed the ability to take control of the match.
“I thought their energy today was excellent, and there are some good players across the way," Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said. "I hope the experience was good for them.”
A few players stood out for the Academy side. Left back Leo Ayala (pictured above), who has verbally committed to the University of Central Florida, made several decisive defensive plays and showed well when he had the ball at his feet.
“He did well today,” Clarkson said of Ayala. “He enjoys tackling and he has a nice left foot.”
Forward Jade George caused some problems in the second half for the back line, making two nice runs at goal. Speed was his greatest weapon.
“He caused some problems with his pace,” Clarkson said. “A little more composure and he would have had a couple of goals today.”
With four home-grown players currently on the senior roster, the Dynamo are one of the most aggressive sides in the league with regard to signing young talent. This, in turn, provides encouragement for the Academy players any time they have a chance to showcase their skills for the club’s technical staff.
“This is definitely a great way to prove yourself with [Kinnear] out here looking at you,” Ayala said. “It is a chance to show him I am in for it.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.