FUEL Soccer Talk: Celtic prospect turns 16; Rough beginning for Bello; MLS clubs in the community;

Youth is served in today’s soccer edition! 

Happy Sweet 16 birthday Karamoko Dembele!

Celtic prodigy Karamoko Dembele turned 16 this week and that’s a present Celtic fans have been waiting for since first seeing the talented Dembele kick a soccer ball. The much talked-about prospect is now allowed to play first team football, should manager Brendan Rodgers so choose. Under regulation 4.2 of the governing body’s registration rules nobody under the age of 16 can play professional first team football in Scotland. At 15, Dembélé signed his first full-time professional contract in a deal that ties him to the club until at least 2021. The highy rated midfielder joined Celtic in 2013 and made his Under-20s debut against Hearts in October 2016 – coming off the bench for a side then seven years above his age group.

Do the benefits outweigh potential growing pains of playing a teenager on first team (see below before answering)?

Rough start for Atlanta United, George Bello

Photo by Ezequiel BECERRA / AFP / Getty

It was a rough night not only for Atlanta United but its young future star as well as the defending MLS champions lost 3-1 to Herediano in the Concacaf Champions League before a packed home-partisan crowd at Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero in Costa Rica. Getting the start for Atlanta was 17-year-old George Bello who looked over matched at times – a breakdown on defense on his part clearly leading to a goal for Herediano.
Bello also received a yellow card in the 49th minute for unsporting behavior. Meanwhile, Brek Shea, who has played in nine Concacaf Champions League contests, never got off the bench. It was a learning experience for Bello and one he sure won’t soon forget – his teammates also shouldn’t forget it since no one looked particulary prepared to play this game.
In Atlanta United’s defense – first game of the season, new coach, on the road against a quality side. This is a beginning, not an end. for Atlanta and especially Bello.

What did you think of Bello’s first Concacaf game?

MLS clubs pitching in to build pitches in their communities

Photo courtesy of BK Reader

MLS clubs are kicking back to their communities. According to Soccer America (, more than 175 fields and mini pitches have been built nationwide during last four years with the support of the league’s charitable arm, MLS WORKS, and national foundations and local groups, and 200 more will be constructed by 2023, pushing the number of new soccer spaces in MLS markets in the United States and Canada to almost 500.
One of the projects is in New York City. In October, students of Brownsville’s P.S. 446 Riverdale Avenue Community School celebrated “NYC Soccer Day” with the opening of a brand-new mini-soccer pitch, thanks to the NYC Soccer Initiative, a partnership between the Mayor’s Fund and NYC’s major league football club New York City FC (NYCFC). The project also is supported by the U.S. Soccer Foundation, adidas and Etihad Airways. The project calls for New York City to build and maintain 50 mini-soccer pitches in all five boroughs from 2017-21 and provide free programming for children focused on promoting healthy eating habits, active living and mentorship.
Launched in 2016, the New York City Soccer Initiative is a $3 million public-private partnership to build and maintain 50 soccer pitches in underserved NYC neighborhoods and provide free programming for school children. The initiative repurposes underutilized public spaces into safe places to promote physical health and youth development and community engagement where soccer is not always accessible.
For the full story:

What else can MLS teams do in their community? 

Main photo courtesy SNS

LET’S TALK: OK, now you’ve read what’s on my mind…what are your thoughts on the above or any other “football” happenings?

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