Academy Update: National Teams, Expansion & Galaxy

A monthly update on the news surrounding the LAFC Academy and its players.

While first team is off to a perfect start in 2018, the LAFC Academy has also been making headlines of its own this month. Here’s a look at the big stories from March:

National Team Call-Ups

Four players from the LAFC Academy were invited to national team camps at the beginning of March. Three LAFC players joined the U-15 U.S. Boy’s National Team from March 4-11 at the second BNT camp of the year in Chula Vista, while one player was called in to the Mexican Boy’s National Team. Here’s a little background on the LAFC U-14 boys called in:

Antonio Leone – The captain of the LAFC U-14s, Leone plays center back and is described as a physical player with the maturity and tools necessary to play an important role for the BNT.

Beau Yantz – Yantz plays at left back for the U-14s. Comfortable with ball at his feet, Yantz is very good going forward and has a scoring touch from defense.

Dylan Pesto – Playing as a center midfielder for the U-14s, Presto’s combination of athletic and technical ability makes him the full package in the center of the pitch. A true box-to-box player, he balances good attacking runs with a strong desire to track back on the defensive end.

Donovan Palomares – Called into the Mexican Boy’s National Team, Palomares is an explosive goalkeeper with excellent shot-stopping abilities. His strong personality serves to organize the back line.

With the players now back in training, LAFC U-14 head coach Cristiano Scapolo said he’s noticed the impact the national team camps have had on the returning players, as well as the rest of the team.

“Great experience for them because they are going into a different environment and playing with the best of the best,” Scapolo said. “They came back very confident. They are going to elevate the level of the entire team.”

The four call-ups from the LAFC Academy were the most by any MLS team during the March camps. Additionally, Academy products Abel Salazar, Alejandro Torres, Anthony Tacan, and Palomares were invited to participate in the U.S. U-15 Training Center Camp on March 21 in Carson.

Academy Expansion

The LAFC Academy is growing.

The Academy will add the Boy’s U-15 age group for the 2018-2019 U.S. Development Academy season. The team will be comprised of the U-14 players stepping up in age.

“It gets us closer and closer to the first team and the professional level,” LAFC Academy Director Todd Saldaña said of the expansion. “For us, that’s exciting because you start to see and evaluate which players have a chance to make it to that top level.”

In addition to the U-14s stepping up an age group, all levels of the LAFC Academy will move up one year resulting in a new crop of players for the U-12 ranks.

Matches Against The Galaxy

A week before the first team travels south to take on the Galaxy, the LAFC Academy will renew the rivalry with its Carson counterparts on March 24.

Scapolo thinks it will be a good test for all levels of the Academy.

“The kids need to play very competitive games. The Galaxy games will definitely be that,” Scapolo said. “The Galaxy have been around for a long time. They are going to compete well. But at the end of the day, we are going to try to do our job and get the kids to perform well and show their abilities.”

In previous matches with the Galaxy, the Academy has enjoyed immense support from LAFC fans. With the first team set to play its first match at StubHub the following week, the Academy matches are likely to be a precursor to the week’s rivalry theme.

“Last year, we had these matches with our younger team and our Supporters came out and really showed how much support LAFC overall, from academy to first team, is going to get,” Saldaña said of the upcoming matches.

All matches will be at StubHub Field No. 5. Kick off times are below:

LAFC Academy at LA Galaxy

U-12: 9a

U-12: 10:30a

U-13: 2:30p

U-14: 5:00p