Just up the road from the Sarasota Film Festival offices lies the IMG Academy; The premier sports academy in the United States for soccer, tennis and golf students. What started as Nick Bollettieri’s modest tennis academy has grown into an amazing campus for young athletes of all types; They even hold the NFL Draft combines at this facility. Saturday afternoon, after watching Rafa Benitez shit the bed with some misguided tactics against Reading, I grabbed my camera and headed up to IMG to watch the USA Men’s National Under-17 team take on the Brazil Under-17’s. There was a nice, vocal crowd surrounding the pitch, and it was a blast watching the boys beat Brazil for the first time, 2-0.
The game was end to end action, with Brazil’s No. 10 Wellington Aguilar impressing with his silky skills, while the USA’s No. 13 Joseph-Claude Gyau matched Aguilar move for move. These kids were all born in 1992 or later, many of them under the age of 15, and their abilities were pretty spectacular for being so young. But the immaturity showed in other ways; with the USA leading 2-0, the boys from Brazil lost their cool and the handbags came flying out. In addition, at least four players were stretchered off after suffering rash challenges. There was a long break late in the match when one of the Brazilian players received a red card for spitting at a USA player; when he didn’t leave the bench area, the refs demanded he depart, but there was nowhere to go as this wasn’t a stadium with an adjacent locker room. After reaching a compromise, cooler heads finally prevailed, and the USA left the field as the victors. Unfortunately, the Brazilian players surrounded the referee, furious with his decisions, only to have another player red carded after the whistle. The drama!
It was a lot of fun on a sunny afternoon, and I look forward to the opportunity to head back to Bradenton to watch these young men play the beautiful game. Well done, USA! Any win against Brazil is a a cause for celebration.
Carlos Martinez Takes A Corner
Carlos Martinez celebrates His First Goal
Stefan Jerome Cuts The Ball To The Endline
Stefan Jerome Scores A Penalty After A Clear Handball In The Box
The Boys Celebrate Their 2-0 Lead While Edson Lemus Gives A Smile
Handbags: Stefan Jerome LITERALLY Invites The Brazilians To A Fight (the things you hear that close to the pitch…)