We remained unbeaten in the four games we played at the IMG Cup, finishing second out of eight teams in the overall standings.
And now the dust has settled on a highly entertaining week, Academy Manager John believes the excursion has served the players well.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the tournament,” he said. “Under Armour have been fantastic in sourcing the tournament and supporting us there and IMG have been fantastic hosts.”
After travelling out last weekend, our group of 20 lads had a couple of days to prepare for the tournament opener on Wednesday – a difficult test against Mexican side Queretaro which saw us run out 3-0 winners.
A 2-2 draw with Baltimore Celtic followed on Thursday before we thumped the USA Under-17 national side 6-2 on Friday – with all travelling players given the chance to start at least one of the opening three games.
Our final match was on Sunday, as we battled to a 1-1 draw against Brazilian side Cruzeiro. Had we not had a goal disallowed in the dying moments we would have won the game – and the tournament overall – but as it transpired the draw was enough for Cruzeiro to take the title.
John was in philosophical mood afterwards, explaining that such scenarios are all part of the game and adding that the overall atmosphere at the tournament has been good for the players’ development: “That’s why we go – for the heat, for the opportunity to play a game where there’s things riding on it and for the tension,” he said.
“Often within a tournament you get the highs and lows of a season all in five days. We’ve certainly got that.
“We’re still feeling a little bit disappointed but I’m sure we’ll look back on the tournament positively.
“We’re disappointed that we didn’t get that one goal to make us champions but at the same time we’ve learned a lot about the players, who’ve been under some intense pressure in some very, very good games and overall a lot of them have come out with a lot of credit.”