Commentary

Barcelona academy suffers some setbacks

By Mike Woitalla

Barcelona planned to open an "academy" in Copenhagen. And the Danish soccer federation (DBU) said, "No, thank you."

In the Denmark, one must get DBU approval to set up such a program. And the DBU, reports The Guardian, did not feel it was wise for children as young as 6 to be in an elite training environment. And that it was worried about Danish clubs losing homegrown talent to the Spanish club.

I’m not sure whether Barcelona’s Danish venture was about searching for talent or making money, but the FCBEscola that wants to set up in Copehagen is the same organization that has created a pay-to-play academy in Florida.

FCBEscola Florida’s website’s FAQs include this:

“Will you have a financial assistance available?”
– “We will offer families the possibility to pay the tuition in 6 installments.”

I find the Denmark rejection of Barcelona somewhat amusing when compared to the USA, where we throw down the red carpet for all kinds of foreign clubs -- whether they have a record of developing talent, as Barcelona does, or not.

It’s not just the club partnerships with foreign clubs or the academy programs. I, like I imagine many American youth coaches, are constantly courted to attend clinics held by coaches from foreign clubs who can’t point to stars that came out their youth programs.

Of course, I don’t believe the U.S. Soccer Federation, even if it could, should ban foreign ventures. Sometimes there are good influences. But foreign clubs and coaches will keep coming to the USA because we spend more money on youth soccer than any nation in history -- and it’s up to the buyer to beware.

A more serious setback for Barcelona -- and there’s also a U.S. angle to this story -- is FIFA banning it from signing new players in 2015 as punishment for breaking the rules on signing foreign players under age 18.

Barcelona was found guilty of 10 irregular signings. Non-European Union players can’t be signed unless their families move to that club’s country for non-soccer reasons.

One of the 10 players is Ben Lederman, the Californian who joined La Masia at age 11 in 2011. His entire family moved with him to Barcelona and he seemed doing well there. But the family’s move was not for non-soccer reasons. He is now ineligible to play for Barcelona’s teams until he turns 18.

That’s a cruel blow for the 15-year-old, and his family -- punished for being misled by Barcelona.

Meanwhile, the transfer ban shouldn’t hurt Barcelona much. It spent for than $150 million before this season on new players planning on a year without transfers. Plus, one would think there's legitimately acquired talent at La Masia that it can move up.

U.S. U-15 boys beat Italy to reach tourney final

The U.S. U-15 boys national team, coached by John Hackworth, scored 12 goals in its three group-stage games at the Torneo Delle Nazioni before reaching the final with a penalty-kick shootout win after a scoreless semifinal against host Italy.

After playing its first three games in Slovenia, which is hosting the 12-team tournament along with Austria and Italy, the USA faced the Italians in Romans D’Isonzo. The Americans were unable to capitalize on the 56th-minute ejection of midfielder Sdaigui Zakaria but prevailed, 5-4, in the shootout. U.S. goalkeeper Eric Lopez (already signed by LA Galaxy II) saved Italy's fifth shot from the spot to tie the shootout, 4-4, after five rounds. Tim Weah converted the USA's sixth shot before Italy's Gavioli Lorenzo missed.

The Americans clinched a semifinal spot with wins over Costa Rica (4-1) and Croatia (6-2), before falling to Slovenia, 3-2. The Croatia match featured four goals and an assist by Toronto resident Ayo Akinola.

The USA faces Austria, a 2-0 semifinal winner over Slovenia, in the final on Friday.

Tourneo Delle Nazioni
Semifinal
April 29 in Romans D’Isonzo, Italy.

Italy 0 USA 0. (USA wins, 5-4, on PKs).
Italy -- Alessandro, Raoul, Gomes, B.Davide, Federico (Simone, 65th), Zakaria, Lorenzo, Salvatore (Andrea, 41), Marco (Ludovico, 41), M. Davide (Federico, 59; Flavio Junior, 84th Bioty Moise.
USA -- Lopez, Bailey, Lindsey, Cornfield-Saunders, Vaughn, Durkin, Goslin, Acosta, Del Rosario (Weah, 58th), Akinola (Villegas, 75th), Carleton.

Group C
April 27 in Nova Gorica, Slovenia
Slovenia 3 USA 2. Goals: Bijol 23, Zan 37 Kerin 40; Goslin 66, Acosta 70.
Slovenia -- Bicic, Hodzic, Drkusic, Urh, Mesaric (Spanja, 50), Bijol, Medved (Milic, 48), Bozic (Rogelj, 36), Horvat (Kovacic, 58), Kerin (Jasaragic, 60), Celarn (Piskule, 65).
USA -- Lopez, Perez, Arteaga (Vaughn, 42), McGann (Lindsey, 12), Cornfield-Saunders, Anguiano Diaz (Goslin, 46), Durkin, Villegas (Acosta), Weah (Bailey, 54), Del Rosario (Akinola, 46), Carleton.

April 26 in Renje, Slovenia.
USA 6 Croatia 2. Goals: Akinola (Acosta) 31, Akinola (Acosta) 42, Akinola (Villegas) 45, Akinola (Villegas) 60, Carleton (Akinola), Carleton (Villegas) 65.
USA -- Budnik, Lindsey (Perez, 53), McGann, Cornfield-Saunders, Vaughn (Durkin, 53), Goslin, Ferri (Anguiano Diaz, 60), Villegas, Acosta (Carleton, 60), Akinola, Bailey.
Croatia -- Pandur, Kapitanovic, Jelenic (Palaversa, 36), Radic, Colina (Krizmanic, 36), Dumlijan, Lovric (Franjic, 36), Pavlak, Petrovic (Ernst, 36), Baturina, Vuk (Marin, 18).

April 25 in Vipolze, Slovenia.
USA 4 Costa Rica 1. Goals: Carleton 10, de Rosario (Weah) 17, del Rosario (Weah) 23, Carleton (del Rosario) 28; Valverde 2.
USA -- Lopez, Perez, Arteaga, Lindsey, Vaughn (Cornfield-Saunders, 56), Durkin, Anguiano Diaz (Ferri, 56), Taitague (Acosta, 28), Weah (Villegas, 50), Del Rosario (Akinola, 50), Carleton (Bailey, 50).
Costa Rica -- Mejas, Loasiga, Morales, Guzman, Bolivar Garcia, Salazar (Quesada, 43),Bustamante (Fonseca, 36), Guiles (Vargas, 36), Roldan (Guzman, 54), Vado (Tristan, 66), Valverde.

16 comments about "Barcelona academy suffers some setbacks ".
  1. Mark Torguson, April 30, 2015 at 1:21 p.m.

    Well done Mike! We hear so much about "Barcelona" and the "Academy" glad to see an article that puts things into perspective. Barcelona are a buying club like all the giants, most academies will be good when you can afford to pay for the best around the world to attend

  2. FRANCISCO VILLA, April 30, 2015 at 10:47 p.m.

    This USA U15 team is listed as a U16 Team in the tournament website and that is because they played with 3 99's. They beat a U15 team that played all with 00' players. I think this is important to note to not mislead people into thinking that our U15/00 team beat Italy U15/00. Would have been better to play them straight up and no help from our older players.

  3. FRANCISCO VILLA, April 30, 2015 at 10:49 p.m.

    There will be more and more top clubs comeing to USA because it's a free for all here. We have the most naive paying customers in the world thinking they can pay their kid's way to superstardom when historical facts point to the opposite.

  4. Didi P, April 30, 2015 at 11:13 p.m.

    This is the tournament where US always sends U15 to compete even though it allows U16 players (Austria, for example, sends U16 team). This is one big reason why US never had good results before.

    This year US adds three 99's. However, one is the keeper and one didn't even dress for the Italy game. It's not like US had such a huge advantage.

  5. Didi P, April 30, 2015 at 11:15 p.m.

    And the third 99's played only 50 minutes.

  6. BJ Genovese, April 30, 2015 at 11:30 p.m.

    I would consider Nick Taitague a huge advantage... has anyone here seen him play. The kids is was insane two plus years ago...

  7. Didi P, May 1, 2015 at 2:56 a.m.

    Yes, he is a great talent but he only played one game

  8. Didi P, May 1, 2015 at 3:01 a.m.

    I have seen Nick play. He is indeed very special (ranked #1 in US among 2017's). Actually he only played total of 28 minutes. Hope he is not hurt.

  9. FRANCISCO VILLA, May 1, 2015 at 8:41 a.m.

    Didi, the Italy team took U15's only (not one U16, thats why they are listed as U15 Team) and was really the only team worth beating. Think about it. Austria made the final.

  10. FRANCISCO VILLA, May 1, 2015 at 8:43 a.m.

    The 3 99's are all U16 starters and arguably the best 3 on that team.

  11. FRANCISCO VILLA, May 1, 2015 at 10:20 a.m.

    Question is why did we send 3 99's to this tournament. The whole point of sending a U15 team to a midlevel U16 Tourney is to give our U15's a greater challenge and valuable experience in preperation for U17 Qualifiers & World Cup in 2 years. Taking 3 99's took away valuable experience from 3 more 00's that could have been added to roster and valuable playing time to U15's. This is why Italy took U15's and no U16's. There is perhaps no other position more important physically than the goalie position so having a 99 goalie is a huge advantage over a U15 team.

  12. David V, May 2, 2015 at 12:03 a.m.

    too bad the pacific northwest doesn't get great opportunities from clubs like Barcelona... we only get garbage 4th rate British players around the PNW... they come over and "trick/dupe" American parents into thinking they are something, just because they are from across the pond...

  13. FRANCISCO VILLA, May 2, 2015 at 8:56 a.m.

    Didi, Nick only played one game but Del Rosario and Lopez played in 3 of the 4 up to final. Final rosters arent out yet.

  14. BJ Genovese, May 3, 2015 at 1:40 a.m.

    Good point Francisco regarding 99 taking experience away from future prospects... WTH is that all about. Possibly trying to get some wins to justify the program?

  15. FRANCISCO VILLA, May 4, 2015 at 9:52 a.m.

    BJ, last year Hugo Perez played his 99's as U15's in a tournament vs much better competition overall. They only beat or tied Japan who also played with mostly 99's. The report was that we beat Japan's U16 team because thye played 1-2 98's. These 99's were said to be one of the most talented teams in our USA side. Out of last 10 games or so they have won 1 or 2 games losing to the likes of the Republic of Ireland, not beinng able to score many goals. Posession was highly praised by our coaches. I just dont get what the overall objective is.

  16. Rick Estupinan, May 5, 2015 at 2:26 a.m.

    Very good for the Danish,Barcelona trying to establish an academy is nothing more than a way to make money.

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