China's Guangdong FA U19 bounced back with authority at the IMG Cup – Boy’s Invitational today, coming off a disappointing 2-0 loss to Israel's Maccabi Haifa on Friday. Guangdong began the day with a team meeting where head coach Chao Mai challenged his squad to show who they really are as a team. Mai's challenge was accepted, and the Chinese provincial team was on a mission to make a statement when they took the field against the defending Dallas Cup champion OBGC Olney Rangers U17 team this afternoon. There was no doubt who would emerge victorious when Guangdong took a 2-0 lead into the half and never looked back, finishing the game by a score of 8-1.
“Our team recognized that it had a problem yesterday, and they solved it,” said Head Coach Chao Mai on the win.
“As a [soccer] team, winning and losing are both part of the game, and after the match yesterday, we recovered well and won today.”
From the time Guangdong arrived, until the game’s final whistle, the team was much more confident, poised and aggressive on the pitch than just a day ago.
“We gave the other team much more trouble than they could handle,” remarked team captain Yongfa Hu, No. 26. “We played well because we moved on from the game yesterday.”
For the Guangdong team, they are aiming to get as much from the experience of traveling to the United States as they possibly can, and were eager to share their enthusiasm about participating in the IMG Cup at IMG Academy.
Chao Mai commented, “We came here because we want to gain more international match experience. By competing here, we’re setting ourselves up for better matches in the future”
“Everything is going so well – will IMG Academy just sign me here?” Mai continued jokingly. “I love it here, I wish I could stay. The weather, the grass and the facilities – everything is so good. There are so many great players here. It’s better than China.”
Guangdong will have a final round robin match in the Super Group division tomorrow against the IMG Academy U18 squad. Then on Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. they are set to play a friendly rematch against the U.S. U17 Men’s National Team on IMG Academy’s West Campus.
IMG Cup – Boy’s Invitational action picks back up for the final day tomorrow at 8 a.m., with finals matches set to begin at 10 a.m.
The event is open to the public and admission is free. Parking $5.
For more information on the event including schedules, past results and more, visit the IMG Cup Web site by clicking HERE.
College recruitment in full force
The players on the field are not the only ones competing at the IMG Cup. Coaches and scouts from more than 40 collegiate programs have been on campus, including the likes of Indiana University and Lynn University, the 2012 Division I and II national champions, respectively. They arrived to evaluate top young players from all over the United States, and the nations of Israel, Bermuda and China.
“There is a lot of talent that comes here ... You know there are going to be a lot of great teams, some of the very best at the Academy level,” remarked one Division I coach in attendance.
“With such a high level of competition, you know the guys they’re up against are high level, and you get the most realistic idea of how a player might perform in college.”
Some teams have had recent success scouting at IMG Academy. Notably, the 2012 Division II national champion Lynn University Fighting Knights were led by three IMG Academy PDL alumni - Michael Kutscher, Heiko Eberhardt and James Aldred.
More photos from the day: