Back in August, we told you about how Frank Rijkaard was joining forces with Florida’s Montverde Academy to create an upper-tier development program for some of the best youth players on offer. The program, called The Soccer Institute at Montervde Academy (SIMA), promised a holistic, nurturing environment and the chance to cultivate talent to a degree not often seen on these shores.
Well, now we have an idea what that kind of talent looks like. This is a video of what essentially amounts to SIMA’s U16 team taking on various U18 Development Academy clubs last month at Clemson, Montverde coach Mike Potempa’s former stomping grounds. As you can see, the games were hardly a contest.
On balance, the scenes here are enormously impressive, for this age group especially. Potempa’s philosophy, as the highlights package lays out, is “goals, possession and building from the back.” You see these revolving triangles work their way downfield, the tactical formation never breaking ranks. Tight passing corridors, intelligent off-ball movement, lethal finishing. It’s everything you want to see from youth soccer development. Above all, it’s patience, something all too often in short supply.
SIMA has only been around since August, so the program is presumably still ironing out some kinks. But since it doesn’t compete in the high school ranks and doesn’t participate in the DA, it’s exclusively beholden to development. Which allows its coaches to drill into the core of what it means to create possession-oriented players in a culture that hasn’t traditionally valued them.