BOSTON- Fourteen-year-old Revolution Academy product Amos Shapiro-Thompson took a big step forward in his young soccer career on Wednesday when he earned his first call-up to the U-14 U.S. national team.
He will join 35 of the nation's top U-14 players for a week-long training camp in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. The camp consists of two friendlies against local club teams, a scrimmage against a U.S. Residency Program team, and two practice sessions per day.
"We weren't surprised that he was called up," said Bryan Scales, the Director of Youth Development for the Revolution Academy, in a phone interview. "Amos has a ton of talent, we've seen that over the Fall season. They've been tracking him over the last year."
"He'll really enjoy it," continued Scales, who served as an assistant coach for the U.S. U-15 team and coached at Cornell University. "He'll be there with the best players in the country. Amos is the youngest, but it's good for him to get in, get measured, and see how he gets in with other top players."
This is Shapiro-Thompson's first season with the Revolution Academy. In the Fall, he made eight appearances, tallied one goal, and added three assists.
Scales said Shapiro-Thompson still has more developing to do before he can be considered for the first team. But the Revolution Academy has a proven record in helping raw talent flourish, evident by the success that Diego Fagundez and Scott Caldwell, both Academy alumni, have had. Revolution personnel, including General Manager Mike Burns and Head Coach Jay Heaps, have seen Shapiro-Thompson play, according to Scales.
Time will tell if they'll one day be watching him as a regular contributor at the professional level.
"He has a ways to go," said Scales. "He has the talent...our job is to find players and find kids who can play for the first team. Our job is to create an environment for them to develop."
Revolution President Brian Bilello has said repeatedly that a club goal isn't to lead the league in number of homegrown players, but to lead it in homegrown player minutes played.
This off-season alone, 12 players have signed homegrown contracts.
Fagundez and Caldwell are the only homegrown players on the Revolution (Juan Agudelo was a homegrown player, but out of the New York system).
Together, they accounted for 4,601 total minutes last season. The Revolution had the second-highest homegrown player minutes in 2013, behind Columbus (5,106). But Columbus had four homegrown players while the Revolution had two (not counting Agudelo).
FC Dallas has nine homegrown players, but they combined for just 1,394 minutes last year.
Those figures show that the Revolution cares about having homegrown players that are able and ready to contribute to the first team. Fagundez is one of the league's best attacking players, while Caldwell is easily one of its top 10 holding midfielders.
Shapiro-Thompson will remain homegrown eligible unless he decides to participate in the MLS drafts. But even that could be predicated on whether or not he goes to college. Scales says there's still a long way to go before those types of decisions need to be made. The good news, for the Revolution, is that quality has come both from players who came out of the college system or skipped college entirely.
Caldwell played at Akron for four years, winning the national title in 2010. Meanwhile Fagundez didn't attend college, signing a professional contract in Nov. 2010 when he was still 15.
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