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Pitch Points makes the big-time

Header photo via Nashville Rhythm

Welcome to Pitch Points, with the latest roundup of stories of interest from around the Nashville SC and USMNT-o-sphere. As always, thanks for visiting. Feel free to share with a friend who may be interested, and make sure you’re following the site on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to stay up to date.

The call-up(s)

Whether it’s to youth (even senior!) national teams or to high-caliber academies, it’s been a productive couple weeks for local players.

Former Cumberland University and Nashville Rhythm – and now Birmingham City in England’s top flight – defender Becks Holloway earned a call-up to the Northern Ireland National Team:

The Green and White Army – rad name, IMO – will take on England in a friendly next Tuesday.

Tennessee SC’s Katie Shea Collins was selected to the USYNT pool for the upcoming U-17 World Cup cycle. She is not in camp with the U-17 GNT as the team prepares for two friendlies against England this weekend.

Nashville United youth player Alex Carillo was tapped for NSC Academy:

And wrapping the NSC Academy portion of our programming, Butler University’s 2021 signees include a Brentwood native, Ricky Ybarra. Although he played his high school soccer at Shattuck St. Mary’s in Minnesota – which played in the DA, rather than its state high school association – there’s an interesting sentence in his blurb:

Ybarra finished his prep career at Shattuck St. Mary’s in Minnesota, while also spending time with club programs FC Cincinnati MLSNext and Nashville SC MLSNext. As a freshman at Brentwood High School in Tennessee, Ybarra helped his team to a third-place finish in the state playoffs, starting every game.

Butler University athletics

May be something to keep an eye on if he develops into a potential pro down the road.

Speaking of Development pipelines…

I’ll be interested to see how Orlando City‘s new Youth Soccer Network pans out. The concept is rather logical: there are too many talented youth players in Central Florida to all play in Orlando City’s academy proper, so there’s a funnel/pyramid with partner youth programs getting players into OCSC affiliate programs, and then the cream of the crop heads to the true academy.

It’s an interesting comparison with Minnesota United‘s new setup, sharing a similar philosophy but executing it very differently to meet different needs. Indeed, those needs are almost opposite: whereas OCSC is dealing with a glut of talented players and trying to find a way to whittle them down, Minnesota United is dealing with a scarcity of them, so instead of shoehorning kids into an academy setup, they let them train at partner clubs and then make callups when tournaments roll around.

Yes, part of Minnesota United’s strategy is based largely around “how can we meet MLS’s academy requirements while spending as little money as possible.” But at the same time, different development landscapes in different places also call for different development solutions.

From a national team perspective, finding the best solutions for the different localities around the country has long been a struggle (among the reasons the DA, while well-intentioned, had serious flaws). This is a good way for the different MLS sides to develop talent – or do the bare minimum to be development-adjacent – based on their own areas.

From a Nashville SC perspective, you’re not likely to see either of these extremes in structure. The state of Tennessee is far more similar to Minnesota than Florida in terms of talent (surely I’m not blowing any minds here), but NSC’s plan is to populate a pure residential academy from its own home territory, as well as cherry-picking from around the country. It’s almost hack to say at this point, but a Sporting KC-inspired system under Mike Jacobs seems like the move.


American Soccer Now‘s Brian Sciaretta catches up with Philadelphia Union-turned-RB Salzburg midfielder Brenden Aaronson.

Antioch native – and ephemeral Nashville SC player – Shak Adams featured by his current club, FC Tucson:

 The US and St. Vincent and the Grenadines dual national was selected by Nashville SC with the second pick in the Third Round of the 2020 MLS SuperDraft. Although released following his participation in the club’s preseason, Adams had impressed many clubs throughout the United Soccer League (USL) ranks. His signing with FC Tucson soon followed in February of 2020. In his professional debut season with the Men in Black, Adams featured in 12 matches with 9 starts, leading the club with 4 goals and tied for the 9th spot in USL League One for goals scored.

FC Tucson

That’s part of a broader Black History Month series by FC Tucson.

Sports Talk Nashville on potential rivalries for the Boys in Gold in MLS … Happy seventh birthday to the NSC Roadies … There’s a new Maher in town … Euro transfers to watch during the summer window in MLS … A little fluff on Randall Leal‘s recent Costa Rica call-up.

As always, thanks for reading and feel free – nay, encouraged – to like/share/retweet/whatever and make sure you follow the site on all your social media platforms.

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