The trend in Major League Soccer is for young players to head to Europe in the offseason to hone their skills with or against the region’s best clubs. Houston Dynamo rookies Will Bruin and Kofi Sarkodie will get the chance to do just that when they take part in the Generation adidas tour starting next week.
“It’s going to be a great experience," Sarkodie told MLSsoccer.com Friday afternoon. "It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing you get to be a part of. Getting to go there and see how they do things on their turf is always a great international experience, and you can take so much from that.”
Bruin (pictured above) and Sarkodie were part of the 2011 Generation adidas class, a group of collegiate underclassmen who are signed by MLS making them eligible for the SuperDraft. The Dynamo pair are part of an 18-player roster that includes young players from throughout the league that are set to trek to the Netherlands for two weeks.
For the Houston duo, this trip comes at the end of a rookie season that saw them take very different paths. Bruin, the 11th pick in the 2011 SuperDraft, started off hot, scoring four goals in the first seven games of the season. He finished the season with five goals and played in 25 games, a Dynamo rookie record.
Sarkodie (pictured right), the seventh pick in 2011 SuperDraft, found playing time tough to come by in a stacked Dynamo defense that got better throughout the year. For both players, this trip offers the opportunity to gain playing time while developing their skills against quality competition, including the Ajax reserve squad.
“It’s going to be great to be able to play against some of those guys and see what the talent is actually like over there," said Bruin. I’ll be trying to learn as much as I can."
While Bruin and Sarkodie are intent on using the trip to aid in their offseason training, part of the intrigue of the trip is getting exposed to the European game. The group will get to see a UEFA Champions League match and get to play in front of international scouts.
The 2010 trip to Spain helped launch international interest in MLS youngsters Juan Agudelo, Brek Shea and Teal Bunbury. That opportunity is not lost on either of Houston’s representatives.
“Everyone’s a pro and every time you get a chance on the pitch, whether it’s for Houston or for your nation or on a trip like this, there’s always going to be people watching you,” Sarkodie said. “They’re looking for talent and guys that can help their teams. It’s going to be a great atmosphere and there are going to be scouts watching. You never know what can happen.”
The group departs December 5 and will play aganist the Ajax reserves, FC Volendam and Almere City before returning Dec. 15.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com