Not too long ago, a rising talent like Brian Iloski may have gone unnoticed in U.S. soccer circles.
The San Diego Surf midfielder doesn’t possess any overwhelming physical traits. He’s a small, creative player with a burst of pace who has quietly excelled in the Development Academy over the past few years. However, while he may not stand out physically, once he’s on the field his play is more than impressive, a dazzling and technically superb left-sided player with a good burst of pace.
Now, Iloski is one of 16 finalists in The Chance (a contest run by Nike), and is currently in the middle of a world tour that could see him sign a professional contract at the end of it.
“It was amazing because last year at this point I had no idea that this would ever come up or that I would ever have an opportunity like this,” Iloski told TopDrawerSoccer.com. “It’s just been overwhelming and a great opportunity for me.”
Over 150,000 players from 55 countries entered the global competition last summer, designed to unearth soccer talent in far-flung corners of the world. After a rigorous scouting process, 100 players were invited for a weeklong competition in Barcelona, Spain.
Iloski obviously showed well enough along the way to not just make it to Barcelona as one of the 100, but to impress the coaches and scouts so much there that he survived the cut and is one of the finalists who will travel to Portland, Los Angeles, Turin and Manchester over the coming days.
“The final was very hard competition,” Iloski said. “It was a lot faster than I was used to, but I think I coped with it well after the first couple days of training, it fit my style of play a lot.”
Success within that aspect of the competition didn’t escape the notice of U.S. Soccer scouts. Iloski received a call-up in a U.S. U18 MNT camp last fall, and in December he was selected for the U18 Select game at the Development Academy Showcase event in Florida.
Before embarking on the final stage of the journey, his dad Mike, who coached his oldest son from when he was four until U11 soccer, shared some wisdom.
“My advice to him was to have fun, enjoy this thing,” Mike Iloski told TopDrawerSoccer.com. “Don’t go out there and do too much, just play your game and people are going to see your qualities. Sure enough, that’s kind of how people started recognizing him through the Chance process. They saw his quality, liked his technique, liked his speed of play, they liked that he’s a thinker on the field.”
Proceedings are already underway for the Chance finalists, as they’ll spend a few days at Nike headquarters in Portland, before traveling to Los Angeles, where they are scheduled to play against the U.S. U17 Men’s National Team. From there, Iloski and the rest of his group will train in Turin, home of Italian powerhouse Juventus, before a final stop in Manchester, England at the Nike campus there.
Wherever Iloski ends up, he is keeping his future option open at the moment, committed to California and planning on heading there to continue his playing career in the fall.
“For right now, college is the option unless something comes on the table,” Mike said. “That’s option number one, that’s what we groomed our kids for, we want them to have an education and hopefully you can have your education through the soccer world.”
However, if a chance at a professional career comes via the Chance, it’s safe to say it will be strongly considered.
“This is has kind of been a real surprise that this whole Nike Camp came up,” Mike said. “Now that these opportunities are there, you have to do what’s in your heart and do what’s right.”
Paolo DelPiccolo decided to skip the MLS Combine on the hope that he would still be drafted or he would sign with a European club.
Well, both of those things happened.
Last week, Montreal Impact selected DelPiccolo in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft despite his absence from the scouting event in Florida and his ongoing trials in Europe.
Unsurprisingly, DelPiccolo decided to pass up the offer from MLS when a Bundesliga club came calling. After a trial with Eintracht Frankfurt, DelPiccolo inked a professional deal with the German club on Tuesday that lasts six months through the end of the current season.