The future soccer stars of North America had joined adidas and Major League Soccer for the MLS All Star week.
14-year-old Chicago native Brian Gutierrez now knows what it’s like to score a goal inside a Major League Soccer stadium. Brian’s “awesome” experience, of scoring in a match with some of the best players in the country, played out on the same field where he watches the Chicago Fire. “It’s like home for me” says Brian, “I’d never been on the field before, it’s a great pitch.”
Brian is part of the MLS development league and one of 50 players at this year’s adidas Elite Soccer Program’s MLS All-Star camp in Chicago. It’s a four-day, dream experience of competition and bonding for some of the best 14 and 15-year-old soccer players in North America.
“These kids literally represent the future of MLS and potentially North American soccer at the international level” says Aaron Maines Director of Soccer Sports Marketing for adidas, “the sky is the limit for them.”
Each of the 22 MLS teams sent players from their development academies to experience the adidas “unleashed” environment of competition, collaboration, and creativity.
14-year-old Dante Sealy is from FC Dallas. “Seeing all these great players makes me realize I have to keep working hard,” says Dante, who says he tries to use a creator mentality to stand out on the pitch. “To get to the next level, I try to be different.”
These players have all seen their lives change through the sport of soccer. While most have played against each other at events around the country, this adidas “unleashed” experience is different. There’s competition, including 7 on 7 tournaments and a futsal skills test, but there’s also plenty of down time and bonding in the adidas (teenagers dream) lounge created for them at the hotel. “It was nice to get to know everyone’s personalities,” says 14-year-old Jayden Nelson from FC Toronto “that was my favorite part.”
“The goal of this week is to really give them an environment where they can be creators and take chances,” says Maines “having fun, in a competitive environment, which brings out the best in them.”
Part of the experience also includes interacting with MLS All-Stars who were staying at the same hotel. “Seeing all the pro players makes you think ‘I’m getting closer’ “says Jayden, “just one more step toward becoming a professional in the future.”
After playing an East vs. West All Star game of their own at Toyota Park, where Brian Gutierrez scored his goal, the players went to watch the MLS All Stars vs. Real Madrid at Soldier Field. “You see them on TV, and they look so different in person,” says Brian, “that could be me one day.”