|Charlotte FC adds 4 Eagles academy players to discovery side|
|2007 Silver athletes among 36 picked|
|Published Monday, March 8, 2021 4:00 pm|
|PHOTO | MICK HAUPT|
|Charlotte FC picked four Charlotte Eagles academy players to join the second phase of its discovery program for under-13 and under-12 players.|
Charlotte FC selected four Charlotte Eagles Soccer Club academy players to join the second phase of their discovery program, which includes under-13 and U-12 age groups. Jaydus Camacho, Zachary Powers, Caleb Starkey and Coen Wilson, who were among 36 athletes selected, play for the Eagles 2007 Silver team.
“The MLS academy is the top layer of youth soccer,” Eagles coach Chase Wickham said. “Just having the opportunity to train with Charlotte FC and get top-level coaching at no cost, it’s a no-brainer for any player wanting to develop to ultimately be professional soccer players or at least college players in the future. It’s the highest caliber opportunity for local players.”
Said Charlotte FC technical director Marc Nicholls: “There is a real developmental essence to having the so-called best players together from everywhere in terms of the raising of standards and training environment, and of course that is our long term goal. It’s a good balance this program. It’s not too much too soon. It’s not putting unnecessary pressure on players or raising expectations of parents.
“It’s quite a holistic idea in that it’s low-key, players come and go, we will form a pool [of players]. Everyone knows the reality that under 14s will start to make the full-time selections. Do we in the end up with a full-time U-12 and 13s? That’s something that we will have to see as we grow and develop, but right now we’ve been happy on the progress with this program.”
Players in the discovery program still compete with their home clubs, but train during the week with Charlotte FC. Eagles’ players train twice a week with the MLS academy and twice per week with the Eagles.
“At the end of the day it’s me getting my players in front of Charlotte FC staff and being like, ‘this is my team. This is how we play, and feel free to select and give this opportunity to whomever you think could be a big part of your program in the future.”
Wickham started Camacho on the wing before eventually moving him to outside back and ultimately center back. Camacho has height on his side, as he is significantly taller than some of his peers. Wickham describes him as a dominant defender who utilizes that advantage.
“Not only does he have size, but he has crazy speed,” Wickham said. “He also is magical on the ball. He is kind of the whole package physically. When Jaydus decides to turn on, he has the ability to completely change the game.”
Said Camacho in a team Facebook post: “I am excited, grateful and motivated. I’m beyond thankful for the opportunity and special shout out to my coach Chase.”
Powers plays up, as he was born in 2009. He brings a high work rate who loves to defend, but can also create space for himself on the dribble. Wickham recently moved him up top, where he splits time between the 10 and the nine, as an attacking midfielder and striker respectively.
“He has the ability to assert his will on other players,” Wickham said. “His attacking mindset and ability to jump up into play and both shoot and create in the attacking third is where Zach is super valuable.”
Said Powers: “I am really excited and honored to have been selected for the Charlotte FC Discovery Program. I will represent the Charlotte Eagles to the best of my ability at all times, on and off the field. I am now one step closer to fulfilling my ultimate goal of becoming a professional soccer player.”
Starkey is an agile midfielder, who rarely loses possession. His strengths are his intelligence, movement off the ball and ability to read the game. Wickham credits him with being able to find pockets of space to create penetrating passes and ultimately allow his team to go toward goal.
“He is an Energizer bunny—he never gets tired,” Wickham said. “Not for a second does he stop on the field. He never switches off. He has the work-ate and he has the intelligence of a top-level player.”
Said Starkey: “I feel really blessed to have this opportunity to play with the best players my age in the Carolinas. I plan to keep up the hard work and am excited to represent the Charlotte Eagles.”
Wilson, who recently recovered from an MCL sprain, excels in his distribution of the ball. Wickham considers his best position the six, or holding midfielder, but he can play the eight (box-to-box central midfielder) and 10 as well.
“He is a player who balances the field really well,” Wickham said. “He occupies spaces that covers other players and allows them to move forward. Moving the ball out to a center back so the center back can take space, he is always very natural to cover in and cycle into positions to cover space to balance the field. His special awareness, intelligence and ability to distribute the ball are the three things that really stand out.”
Said Wilson: “It feels really good to be selected for this program.”
Charlotte FC competes in MLS NEXT competition, which consists of MLS academies and elite youth clubs across North America. The Charlotte FC academy has a fulltime U-17 and U-14 team and will bring a U-15 side on full-time in August. The current U-14 will become the U-15 side, the current U-13 discovery program players will become the U-14 side. Two-thirds of the U-17 side will remain, as the club selected a very young core to kick off the program. Ultimately, they will add a reserve side for the first team MLS side, which debuts in 2022 and has signed four players—midfielders Brandt Bronico, Sergio Ruiz and Riley McGree as well as defender Jan Sobocinski.
“Over time once we get the first team up and running, which obviously right now is a big priority, we will actually have a reserve team as well,” Nicholls said. “We’ll bridge that gap between U-17s and the first team, which is a significant development and investment from the club over time.”
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