Former Grande Sports Academy defender Justen Glad has a huge year in front of him. As a member of the U-17 National Residency Program, located in Bradenton, Florida, he and his teammates will try to qualify for the 2013 U-17 World Cup in United Arab Emirates. Before this, he and his teammates must finish with a top 4 placing in the CONCACAF U-17 Championships in Panama. The CONCACAF Championship will be between April, 6th – April 19th, and the World Cup between October, 17th – November 8th.
Justen joined the Academy at the start of the 2012 fall semester. In December, Grande Sports Academy participated in the 2012 USSDA Winter Showcase in Florida. Justen performed exceptionally well and was called into the National Residency Program.
Coaches at the Academy have praised him for his good size, speed, foot work and strength in the air.
Assistant Coach Freddy Juarez talks about how he ended up at the Residency Program and how the Grande Sports Academy helped him.
“We spotted him playing with two kids from Tucson. He was playing on that team as a CM and when you looked at him he was getting dominated by our guys but was still able to hold his own. But when you found out he was a 1997, you’re like ‘whoa he’s playing two years up’. We bring him in, the environment your training him 5 days a week, and he’s playing with players that are now pushing him and forcing him to compete. We had talks before with US Soccer and 80% of our Academy games have a National Team scout and his name was coming up. Even there he is playing up. World cup year is 96, and if you are 97 then you are a special player.”
Grande Sports Academy caught up with Justin and here is the Q & A:
Grande – What was it like being away from home when you first came to the Academy?
Glad – There wasn’t an awkward stage trying to get to know everyone because I knew most of the kids already. I just jumped into it but it was weird living away from home even though my home was about an hour away.
Grande – Was it a good decision to join the Academy?
Glad – Oh for sure, definitely a good decision. The coaching was much higher quality and we were always playing soccer tennis or doing something beneficial to our soccer ability. Plus there was a lot more potential to get scouted by Real Salt Lake.
Grande – You are now with the U17 National Residency Program, how did this happen?
Glad – I’m pretty sure we had a US Soccer scout at every game, so throughout the season they would watch us play. Later in the year we went to a tournament in Florida and in Florida there was a select game and after the select game they just called me and told me they wanted me to come over here. So it was just instantaneous. I really wasn’t expecting it. After the Florida game everything just fell into place.
Grande – Did anything special happen in that game that made you really stand out?
Glad – Honestly not really, it was kind of another game. I just worked hard and played my game.
Grande – How has the Residency Program gone so far?
Glad – It has been great. The training has been demanding but it’s also been good for development. the kids are always fun to hang around and it is very structured and very organized.
Grande – Now you’re even further away from home. Did the Academy help you get used to being away from home?
Glad – Yes for sure. It was definitely a good transitional thing because when I was at Grande Sports Academy I would go home at the weekends if we had a home game. I was kind of away from home maybe a week or two weeks at a time. It made it an easier transition being away from home longer.
Grande – The Residency Program has the U-17 CONCACAF Championship coming up and if you qualify for that the U-17 World Cup later this year. What is this whole experience going to be like?
Glad – Nervous excitement. It is always good playing with people better, well for me it raises my level of play. It will be fun to see how I perform against the best players from other countries. I’m looking forward to it.
Grande – You played with very good players at Grande Sports Academy. Now you are with the best players at your age in the entire US. What has this been like?
Glad – Demanding but also very beneficial.
Grande – For future Grande Sports Academy players what would you tell them and why going to the Academy is beneficial?
Glad – All the kids are wonderful, there is always something to do. Ping Pong, soccer tennis hanging out in your room. Practices are good and you’re going to get noticed. There probably isn’t any downside besides being away from your family. But you go there for soccer and you make good friends doing it. It is definitely worth it.