A few local soccer notes on this frigid Monday...
Eric Miller signs Generation Adidas contract
Woodbury native Eric Miller is heading to the pro ranks a little earlier than expected. The defender signed a Generation Adidas contract, part of a program designed to get young players into MLS before they graduate. The move means that Miller will forgo his senior season at Creighton, and will be part of the MLS SuperDraft on January 16.
Miller has been part of the USA Under-20 national team the past several years, including a trip to the U-20 World Cup last summer. A mock draft from TopDrawerSoccer.com, which covers college and club soccer, has him going eighth in the draft, to the Chicago Fire.
The list of Generation Adidas alumni is a veritable who's who of American soccer; Tim Howard, Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore, and Clint Dempsey all came through the program, back when it was known as Project-40. It's a joint program between US Soccer and Major League Soccer to help develop young talent. In one way, at least, it's risk-free; players who sign Generation Adidas contracts will have the remainder of their college schooling paid for, should soccer not work out.
Two Minnesotans part of USA U-18 national team
Two Minnesotans are part of the under-18 national team training camp that is taking place this week in Florida. Midfielders Mukwelle Akale and Jackson Yueill, both part of the Minnesota Thunder Academy in Woodbury, are in Florida this week with 22 other youth standouts for a weeklong camp. The team is preparing for the Copa del Atlantico, a yearly international youth tournament in the Canary Islands, that is played near the beginning of February.
Akale is one of five players in the squad that played for the under-18 team in October, at a similar tournament in France. He played in all three games, as the USA tied France and beat the Czech Republic and Poland on their way to second place. TopDrawerSoccer.com has him ranked as the #3 prospect on its list of club soccer players.
In some ways, the U-18 team is a feeder team for the U-20 team, in that the latter has a World Cup competition that's held every two years. Akale and Yueill, both of whom are set to graduate from high school in 2015, are thus on track to add a couple more names to the ranks of USA youth internationals, following Miller and goalkeeper Cody Cropper from last year's U-20 team.