The opportunity of a lifetime is sinking in.
Standing behind the fence on the side of the main pitch at Houston Sports Park last Wednesday night, I tried to relate the Dynamo U18 experience unfolding in front of me...training with Messi and Argentina...to the equivalent of my generation. The closest comparison I could muster would be the feeling of being 17 years old and actually playing with the world famous Diego Maradona. I would have been simultaneously scared, shocked, elated, and thankful. And that's exactly what I saw in the expressions on the academy player's faces.
Charly Flores, striker on the U18 squad, was definitely thankful for the experience saying "Before anything I would like to thank the Houston Dynamo for this great opportunity to practice and scrimmage with the Argentina national team. I can now say I was one of the few players to share the field with world class players like Messi, Aguero, and Macherano. It was totally a dream come true so thank you Houston Dynamo & the Houston Dynamo Academy for this opportunity!"
The experience was more than just a chance for the players to say they played with some of the greatest players in the world but to learn from the best. "Some of the things that surprised me were their intensity levels and their movement. I am a striker so I was really paying attention to Carlos Tevez's movement. It was outstanding! He would move with & without the ball and play with defenders on his back," said Flores. "Those are the little things I picked up that will make a big impact on my future. And Macherano gave me advice after the session on Tuesday as he talked to me about my movement. I thanked him because that advice will make me better."
U18 player Hector Ramirez shared his perspective on the experience saying, "It was a surreal feeling with no comparison. Although we were playing a world class team, we got so into the game that we would forget we were trying to win a ball against Mascherano, we forgot that we were trying to tackle Messi, we wouldn't realize that the player that just scored was Aguero. It gave me a completely different perspective to the sport. This week I've learned that there's a long way to go if I want to play at the same professional level as these Argentine legends. I want to put more effort, more hard work, more passion, and more commitment into every training session and every game this season."
As the Dynamo U18 squad start the new season and look to defend their Frontier Division title, their training experience with Argentina will undoubtedly make them a better team. Follow the U18 and other Dynamo Academy teams on www.ussoccerda.com.