Soccer

Hundreds of local youths invited to try out for Beckham’s Inter Miami academy teams

While Inter Miami owners continue to work out their stadium deals, the team’s scouting staff has been busy scouring South Florida youth players for the development academy.

On Tuesday night, nearly 550 of 6,000 players scouted began trying out in the club’s invitation-only I.D. sessions, which will continue through May 1 at Central Broward Regional Park. The list will be narrowed to 120 players to field seven Academy teams for U12 through U19 age groups.

Those young players will be the first to wear the team’s uniform.

“This is a big milestone for us to build a professional development academy with youth players in South Florida — from Palm Beach all the way down to the Florida Keys,” said sporting director Paul McDonough. “We are establishing a solid foundation to give our local players the best opportunities to grow and pursue professional careers with our club’s first team and beyond.”

The players are being evaluated by McDonough, director of soccer operations Niki Budalic, technical director Kurt Schmid, coaches Javier Morales, Victor Pastora and Juan Carlos Michia, as well as club coach and the U.S Men’s National Under-23 Team coach Jason Kreis.

Players are being judged on technical skill, athleticism, field vision and attitude.

“We began scouting last August,” McDonough said. “We’ve spoken with local clubs, schools, coaches and everyone in the soccer community to find the most talented players across every zip code in our market.”

They invited players from established clubs as well as players from underrepresented neighborhoods who have flown under the radar. All training expenses will be covered by the club, including coaching, trainers, nutritionists, equipment, meals and travel for away games.

The teams will be competing as part of the U.S. Development Academy league for the 2019-20 season. They will begin preseason training in August, and the season kicks off in September. The Lockhart Stadium site in Fort Lauderdale has been selected as the location for the academy. Lockhart will be demolished and construction will begin in the next month.

The team hopes to sign its first professional player sometime this spring, and fill the rest of the roster as the year goes on.

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Miami Herald sportswriter Michelle Kaufman has covered 14 Olympics, six World Cups, Wimbledon, U.S. Open, NCAA Basketball Tournaments, NBA Playoffs, and has been the University of Miami basketball beat writer for 20 years. She was born in Frederick, Md., and grew up in Miami.
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