BLAINE, Minn. – After midfielder Hany Mukhtar’s star turn at the MLS Skills Challenge last night, the future of Nashville SC was on display Wednesday afternoon. The MLS Next All-Star game matched up top academy players from around the country, in an East-v-West format. The East ultimately took home a 2-1 victory, but that wasn’t the interesting part for Nashville SC fans.
NSC U-17 centerback Alejandro Carrillo suited up for the West Team, and played 27 minutes as a substitute. The game was exciting for the Antioch native, but the entire experience in Minnesota has been enlightening for his future.
“This experience, I think it was a top experience – world-class experience,” he said. “Not just for me, but especially for all the guys. Because I think us getting treated as professional footballers, I think it helps push us to the next level and potentially playing for the first team in the future.”
The West carried a 1-0 lead throughout much of the action, before two late East goals delivered victory. While Carrillo may have had some culpability on the first – a runner got behind him at right centerback in a back-three formation, and the keeper was forced to concede a penalty one-on-one – the day was about much more than one moment.
For Carrillo, testing himself against top talent was an exciting experience, and even playing for NSC in MLS Next, the sheer number of elite players on one field was a chance to see what being a pro is like.
“It was great. I know I’ll put out some positives, but also some negatives to improve on,” he said. “So yeah, I just tried to improve and look forward to the season. I think my individual performance was good. I think I displayed good enough tackles, but the result wasn’t what we wanted in the end.”
The MLS All-Star week of festivities wraps up this evening with the All-Star game itself. Mukhtar and centerback Walker Zimmerman will represent theBoys in Gold.