Wolves give two young Americans ‘golden chance’ to shine in training camp

For Gabriel Gonzalez and Phillie Villapudua, Wolverhampton The Wolverhamptons’ visit to the United States was a pre-season tour like no other. These two natives of Arizona had the chance to show their talents to the coaches of one of the best clubs in the Premier League.

Gonzalez and Villapudua joined Wolves’ Under-21 squad in Salt Lake City on Monday, taking part in the team’s preparation for the MLS Next Pro Invitational ahead of their opener against England. Chelsea U21s au Zions Bank Stadium.

“It’s a unique experience that many don’t have the opportunity to have,” said 18-year-old Villapudua. “I’m just grateful to have had this opportunity with Gabi. We’re both from Phoenix, there are a lot of good players here and we’ve just dreamed of opportunities like this since we were young. »

Both players were finalists in the Wolves Academy’s Golden Chance program, a first of its kind in the United States, which allowed 70 players from the Arizona area (and specifically the Phoenix metropolitan area) to train and play under the watchful eye of some of the club’s best coaches. Aged between 16 and 21, the unsigned talents gathered at FBSL Tuzos to work with academy coaches, head of elite player development Darren Ryan and head of international projects Joe Hunt.

Villapudua and Gonzalez, 20, were the brightest in what the latter describes as a “family”. Reflecting on his time so far with Wolves U21s, Gonzalez said it has been “a wonderful experience in training, but a difficult experience. »

He added: “Once you adapt, you start to find your rhythm, to lock yourself into the game.

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FBSL Tuzos is one of Phoenix’s most successful clubs, having won three National Championships and 20 Arizona State Championships. The club, which is run entirely by volunteers, allows around 1,700 players between the ages of five and 19 to compete in competitive matches and has developed talent including Liga MX defender Ventura Alvarado.

Club chairman Jesse Cedena said of the program: “It’s incredible for our club to partner with Wolves. We believe that every child should be able to play top-level club football, regardless of their financial situation. Wolves can help us find the best ways to develop our children, our teams and our leagues, while pursuing the mission of FBSL Tuzos – we share the philosophy that football is for everyone. »

This is the second edition of Wolves’ Golden Chance scheme. In 2019, Hong Kong youngsters Loong Tsz Hin and Tang Tsz Shing were selected to spend four weeks at the Compton Park training ground.

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