Mark Allen on Playing Soccer in the MCFC Americas Cup
Manchester City FC’s Academy Director Mark Allen on Youth Soccer in the USA and competing in the second annual MCFC Americas Cup Youth Soccer Tournament held in San Diego, California.
Related Coverage: MAN CITY FC ACADEMY DIRECTOR ON DEVELOPING YOUTH SOCCER PLAYERS
SoccerToday’s Diane Scavuzzo spoke with Mark Allen after his Manchester City FC Academy team beat San Diego Surf SC ’03 team in the Super Group in the MCFC Americas Cup.
The game was action packed, with the sideline flanked with spectators and photographers. Coached by Josh Henderson, the Surf SC team was ahead at halftime, but Manchester City FC Academy team rallied in the second half and ended victorious.
While the day was gray, the youth soccer game was action packed. The sideline was flanked with spectators and photographers at the expansive SoCal Sports Complex in Oceanside, California as the Surf SC players battled their English compatriots.
While the American youths were ahead at halftime, the win in the end went to the guests. The English players notched the match into a resounding win after a slow start — and, after the final whistle — both teams were delighted to greet each other.
Diane Scavuzzo: How do you think the game went?
Mark Allen: I think in classic football, it was a game of two halves. I thought the Surf SC players were the better team in the first half. They came with purpose, worked hard and played the ball around the field. It took a while for our boys to wake up to be honest — and, to start playing the way we wanted to play.
And, as always, we don’t panic. We kept to the Manchester City FC Academy philosophy and our game plan. And, it pays off — just the way it did in the second half of the match.
Diane Scavuzzo: What did your boys do differently in the second half of the Super Group match?
Mark Allen: I think we passed the ball better, I don’t think we passed very well in the first half and we were playing like a group of individuals as opposed to a team.
I think once we started to play as a team, we gained control on top and I thought we were the worthy winners in the end.
Diane Scavuzzo: How do you think your team of young players is performing after traveling from the UK?
Mark Allen: I am very pleased with them. I think we saw a little bit of tiredness today, maybe the jet lag and the different hours are catching up with them.
They’re young, under 12 year old boys, so we have to be aware of that, but as a whole, I am very pleased with the way they are conducting themselves both on and off the pitch — which is a massive part of our program. We look to build great people as well as great players at Manchester City FC Academy.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do you think bringing teams from England to the United States is something you wish to continue?
Mark Allen: Absolutely, it’s a massive part of our program. As we have one team playing here in San Diego, I have a U10 team playing in Germany. Last week, we had another Manchester City FC Academy team playing in the Cayman Islands. Over Easter, and various other holidays, all our teams go away to travel and play as far as Malaysia, and we are even off to Japan in August.
It’s absolutely critical that we give these developing youth soccer players as much exposure to different cultures, different climates, and different styles of play to enhance their football education.
Coming here to play in the MCFC Americas Cup is fantastic. We’ve been received exceptionally well by our hosts and it was great to see so many people come out to watch the Super Group game and support it.
Diane Scavuzzo: How do you think American soccer players have developed in the last five years? Do you think they’ve improved?Mark Allen: Without a doubt youth soccer players in the USA have improved. From a technical standpoint, they’re developing. From a tactical standpoint, it’s getting better. I think America is becoming stronger. I think it’s only a matter of time until they’re a real force within the game of soccer. The size of this country is tremendous. Just wait until soccer is really organized here. It will be amazing.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do you think if the United States made the necessary steps we’d be a force to be reckoned with on the international stage?
Mark Allen: Yes, and investment in youth development is absolutely fundamental.
Everybody wants to produce their own homegrown players. If you look at our squad, it’s pretty much all Manchester boys who have grown up and been born and bred.
I think everybody, every fan — whether you’re American, British or European — they want to see homegrown talent and I think the more investment in that the better.