A solid B+.
That's how Minnesota United's academy director Tim Carter assessed the first round of tryouts, finished May 31 and June 1, for the Loons' first Under-13 and Under-14 boys' teams.
"For the first time out, every field was full," Carter said. "There are some talented young players."
Carter estimated 175 to 180 players came to the first round of tryouts, mostly local kids from Minnesota, Iowa and the Dakotas. There will be another round of tryouts June 27-28. with call-backs from the first round as well as some new players, as the academy has been flexible with other club soccer commitments this summer.
There's also a third round, June 29-30 for the Under-12 age group, which will be a developmental program rather than a team. That means players stay with their current clubs and instead just have supplemental events with United. Instead of a strict 20-player roster limit, this program will have a "pool" of players bigger than that, according to Carter.
Carter said there's likely to be about 160 participants for these later rounds.
Carter and the academy staff had help at the tryouts from some of United's first team personnel, including sporting director Manny Lagos and goalkeeping coach Marius Rovde. United's former head coach at the North American Soccer League level, Carl Craig, also helped out as an evaluator, as did some local college and youth coaches.
"To have the guys who work with our first team to be a part of it shows a little bit how the club is, from a technical side, integrated, as well as their feelings about working with young players," Carter said. "Very positive."
Carter said he could probably start making offers for the 20-player U-13 and U-14 teams after the second round of tryouts but ultimately wants to have the rosters finalized by mid-July. The teams then will begin practice the first weekend in August before their first matches Sept. 9-10 in Blaine.
"It's a pretty short turnaround this year," Carter said. "I think once we get this up and get it established, it's going to be easier in the future years. But we know this year it's just going to be tight because we just don't have as much time as we'd like."
Despite the time crunch, Carter said the turnout for the tryouts has been "very good" and that he's been "pleased" with the quality of the players. So much so that by the second round of tryouts, his grade might even bump up to an A-.
"Overall, I feel very good about it," he said. "When we put out a group, I think it'll be representative of Minnesota and the kids that are here."
National team duty
Here's a quick update on how to watch the United players on national team duty this week.
At 7 p.m. Thursday, midfielder Kevin Molino's Trinidad and Tobago takes on the U.S. in Denver. You can tune in on FS1 and UniMas. At 9 p.m. Thursday, midfielder Johan Venegas and center-back Francisco Calvo are in action with Costa Rica against Panama. Watch on Universo and beIN SPORTS.
Then at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, defender Jermaine Taylor's Jamaica plays Peru in a friendly. Later at 9 p.m., Loons line up against each other as Costa Rica faces Trinidad and Tobago. TV for these matches is TBD.
T&T and Costa Rica's matches are World Cup Qualifiers. Click here to see how the teams have done so far.
Also, Venegas, Calvo and Taylor all made the provisional rosters for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The countries have until June 23 to trim down the 40-man rosters to a final 23. The tournament begins July 7.
United also released a timeline for its St. Paul stadium last week. Here's the rough breakdown, according to the release:
Early summer 2017: groundbreaking
Late winter 2018: structural steel complete
Fall 2018: envelope (outer structure) complete
Spring 2019: opening