However, the overall tournament was a success for the Canucks.
They qualified for the 2011 U17 World Cup, after all, and Keven Aleman showed the spark to be the next great Canadian attacker.
Toronto FC Academy player Aleman led his attack at the 2010 CONCACAF Under 17 Championship, his three goals tied with Michael Petrasso to lead Canada in scoring. Aleman’s outstanding performances are being rewarded by Aron Winter, Toronto FC Head Coach and Technical Director, who has invited the 16-year-old to join the first team in Charleston for the final stage of preseason training.
Aleman, who turns 17 next month, plays as an attacking midfielder who likes to break through the back line if he sees an opening. In the quarterfinals of the tournament, Aleman’s brilliant solo effort provided Canada the insurance goal in their 2-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago. He also hit a couple deft chip shots over the T&T backline that fellow Canadian attackers failed to finish.
In the final round, Aleman notched two during Canada’s 8-0 rout of Barbados.
“Aleman was one of the stars of the Canada U17 CONCACAF Championship team. The attacker showed an excellent ability to take his defender on and finish chances while in Jamaica,” noted Goal.com youth expert J.R. Eskilson. “His goal against T&T that sealed Canada’s berth into the World Cup demonstrated the capabilities he has at the next level.
“Given the lack of depth on the TFC roster currently and the new management’s fascination with skillful players, Aleman has a chance to really show his worth during this preseason. If he can continue to develop his understanding of the game and technical abilities, he could be a real gem of the TFC program in the future.”
Aleman has great qualities for a central attacking player, as he has the vision and the touch to find the forwards and put them through, past the back line. His ability to run at defenders, with a similar gait as fellow Ontario native Dwayne De Rosario, also adds another threat to opposing defenders, which in turn generates more space for his teammates.
Due to his young age, it’s doubtful that he will break into the first team once preseason comes to an end, although this experience will benefit his development. If he is slowly integrated into the first team he could eventually become a replacement for De Rosario in the years to come.
Previous youth tournaments are famous for the numerous youngsters who went on to become great players at the senior level. However, there are seemingly more who shined in their youth only to fade with age. The youth training expertise that Winter and assistant Bob De Klerk possess from the Ajax youth academy leaves Aleman in great position to be in the former category and bring the masses that fill BMO field to their feet.
On a side note, Aleman was born in Costa Rica, which would make him eligible for both Canada and Costa Rica on the international level. Due to Canada’s history of losing dual citizenship youth talent, this will concern Canadian national team fans.
But, after clinching a place in the U17 World Cup last month, it was Aleman who was feverishly waving the Canadian flag to celebrate.
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Keven Aleman – The Next Dwayne De Rosario