da story

It’s not at all new that several Orlando City Development Academy players got called up to the U.S. youth national team. But the five most recent names called are.

Luc Granitur, Jahlane Forbes, Sahyd Nevado-Masso, Edison Azcona and Wilfredo Rivera all recently earned their first call-ups to the national team.

“All of them have unique qualities that make them individually stand out as players of a high caliber,” said Mike Potempa, the Orlando City DA director and Orlando City B general manager. “It’s very good to see that U.S. Soccer and the men’s national team is recognizing what we’re doing here and is obviously excited and interested in our players.”

Nevado-Masso earned his first call-up to the U-15s. Granitur got called to the U-16s in June after setting nets on fire with 33 goals in 32 games last year. Azcona and Rivera are both currently with the U-16s. Forbes was called into the U-17 camp for the first time and picked up two assists -- including a game-winner against Mexico. And Azcona and Rivera are both currently with the U-16s.

They never would have made it if not for their individual talent and commitment, but at least a small part of the credit should go to the partnership between Orlando City and Montverde Academy, which has housed all OCDA age groups since April.

“The environment here is great. The coaches brought us in really well when we had the switch,” Forbes said. “Everything from the training facility -- these fields are amazing -- everything at Montverde has helped us develop a lot.”

What the partnership with the Orlando City DA at Soccer Institute at Montverde Academy -- S.I.M.A. -- offers is a place for exceptional young talents to continue their development with elite youth coaches and receive a college preparatory education in a full-time residence.

“We have the ability to keep our finger on the pulse of all these kids, checking their grades, meeting with them, talking with their parents,” Potempa said.

“All of them have done very well under the new structure with the holistic developmental approach because all five of those were not involved in the national team prior to our new partnership,” Potempa said. “They understand within the atmosphere what’s expected and demanded. They’ve really flourished.”