[FOUR THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT ...] Guyllain Kabala, the holding midfielder on the U.S. under-17 national team that won the
championship at the Nike Friendlies in December, has enjoyed a meteoric rise from the inner-city programs of Manchester, N.H., to the U.S. U-17 national team. For four things to know about Kabala
INNER-CITY PRODUCT. Kabala, whose parents Clement Kabala and Mathilda Kekumba hail from the Democratic Republic of Congo, was first recognized while playing soccer in inner-city programs for children of immigrant families in Manchester, N.H. He played futsal in a school gym along with kids from such countries as Mexico, Ukraine and South Korea in "BRINGIT" He was also involved in "INTI," another Manchester program for disadvantaged kids.
NEW HAMPSHIRE STANDOUT. Kabala, who lists Kevin Prince Boateng, Michael Essian and Yaya Toure among his favorite players, started out playing for the New Hampshire Classics based out of Bedford, N.H., then moved to Seacoast United. Former Seacoast United coach and Development Academy scout Rodrigo Marion was involved in the “INTI” program. He immediately stood out for Seacoast in DA action, playing with its U-15/16s and U-17/18s.
FRIENDS IN RIGHT PLACES. Kabala, who is fluent in French, made his first appearance at a national team camp in 2009 when he attended the U-14 ID camp in nearby Concord, Mass. He attended U-15 national team camps in March and July 2011 in Carson, Calif., which led to an invitation to move to the U-17 residency program in Bradenton, Fla. A former Seacoast United coach, Tony Lepore, is U.S. Soccer's director of scouting and had been following the 5-foot-8 Kabala for several years. The move to Florida came shortly after he had been picked to play on the New England Revolution's U-15/16 academy team.
WORLD TRAVELER. The 2011 season saw the 15-year-old Kabala travel to Newcastle, England, with Seacoast United for the 40th edition of “Four Nations Clubs for Young People” tournament at which such future England stars as Peter Beardsley, Alan Shearer and Michael Carrick participated. Kabala and his Seacoast teammates were outfitted with U.S. jerseys for the event. Only months later, Kabala was back to Europe, wearing the real U.S. jersey at Spanish and French tournaments the U-17s played in.