Like across most of Europe, Dutch clubs operate reserve teams to fast-track young players to the pros.
In the Netherlands, the jong system allows these second teams to play in as high as
the second-tier Eerste Divisie. Two seasons ago, Jong Ajax won the Eerste Divisie but was not allowed to win promotion to the Eredivisie.
These jong teams don't draw many fans but are
closely watched by scouts because of the record of teams like Ajax and PSV for producing talent.
Monday's jong clash won by Ajax over PSV, 2-0, drew perhaps 1,500 fans at Amsterdam's
Sportcomplex De Toekomst. The had a new twist. It featured four Americans, including a rare battle of U.S. No. 10s.
On one side, Ajax started Alex Mendez
, the starting playmaker on
the USA's 2019 Under-20 World Cup team. And on the other, PSV started two of Mendez's U-20 teammates, Richie Ledezma
and Chris Gloster
. And early in the first half, Ajax brought on
17-year-old winger Joshua Pynadath
, who made his pro debut.
Mendez was the USA's starter at No. 10 in four of its five games at the
U-20 World Cup. Ledezma started the fifth game -- the 3-2 win over France -- in place of Mendez, who was suspended. Both wore the No. 10 jersey and both received yellow cards.
made his first start of the season for Jong PSV since being acquired from German club Hannover 96. Pynadath, who has been in the Ajax youth system since 2015 when his mother was transferred for work
to Amsterdam, was last called up by the U.S. U-17s for their camp in April 2019, the first under new coach Raphael Wicky