AFC Sudbury Academy shine on 2018 USA tour
After they returned this week with surely the biggest trophies the club has ever been handed, Danny Laws hailed AFC Sudbury Academy’s third USA tour as ‘their best yet’.
The squad of 22, made up of all last season’s first-year scholars, with the exemption of Adam Dunnage and Callum Watson, triumphed in five of their six matches across California.
It included winning the Southwest Soccer Club Summer Classic in Termecula at the weekend to ensure the academy side did end the season, as last year’s crop, with a season quadruple after all.
“It was definitely the most successful we have had,” said Laws, AFC’s director of football and youth development.
“The other two have been very good as well but we aim to tweak it and we went over to the West Coast this year which was further than we have gone before as we like to make new contacts each year.
“Our tournament hosts, Southwest Soccer School, were brilliant and really looked after us, as previous hosts have done.”
Asked for his highlight of their week-long stay, Laws said: “On the pitch the highlight for me came in our second warm-up game.
“We played a team called Nomads Academy and they play in an academy league with MLS teams such as LA Galaxy, Salt Lake and even as far as Vancouver.
“We knew they would be a very good team, which they were.
“We were so disciplined and I will admit we did not see as much of the ball but we ended up winning 3-1.
“It always takes a good few days to settle into a tour and that was on the Thursday when we had visited San Diego State University and I just felt we really arrived that day.”
Dunnage captained the side as a second year scholar after having broken his leg early in last year’s tour, while Watson, who is due to start a USA soccer scholarship in The Broncos of Hastings College, Nebraska in September, was also taken having had his playing time restricted due to injuries.
The tour began with a 7-3 victory over Southwest Soccer Club on Friday with Panashe Mundawarara netting twice and Tom Maycock getting a hat-trick ahead of the 3-1 win over San Diego Nomads (Maycock, Nathan Read, Watson).
In temperatures topping 30C in the first day of the weekend Termecula tournament, AFC beat Milan Boc 2-0 (Sayer, Tatum) before recording a 3-0 win over CDA Slammers (Maycock 2, Read).
Another two games followed, a 2-1 defeat to Los Angeles side Downtown SC (Panashe Mundawarara) before ending on a high with an 8-0 thumping of FC Heat (Ollie Gravett, Issac Skubich, Baris Altintop, Luis Berkane, Watson 2 among the scorers). It ensured AFC topped the pool to win the trophy with an interesting points system of six for a win, an extra point for every goal and also a point for every clean sheet, a system which drew praise from Laws for keeping things highly entertaining.
AFC Sudbury’s first-team manager Mark Morsley was also on the tour and picked out right-back Bradley Sayer as his player of the tournament.
Laws also praised sole goalkeeper Ben Whiteman for playing every minute of every game, while the rest of the players were rotated for equal minutes across the tour.