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NCFC Continues Success Story with NCFC Youth Academy

Aug 4, 2017

When North Carolina FC signed D.J. Taylor to a professional contract on July 27, it was a win-win situation for both parties. Taylor, who recently wrapped up a stint in Spain with FC Torre Levante, found his next professional opportunity and the club secured the signing of another NCFC Youth Academy product with a bright future.

“We’ve been trying to persuade him that this is the right place for him the past six months and I’m happy to say that he’s decided that it is,” said NCFC Head Coach Colin Clarke. “I think you could see what a great prospect he is in the match against Swansea. He’s a good young player. He came in and looked like he’d been here for a year or two. I think he’ll mature and grow into a very good player. I’m happy that he’s decided to join us.”

For North Carolina FC, a club that has embraced bringing in homegrown players for professional opportunities, the matchup against Swansea City of the English Premier League on July 22 showed a clear view of what the club’s youth to professional set up is all about.

Starting in the center of the pitch was Dre Fortune, the club’s first Academy prospect to sign a professional contract with the first team. At the right back position stood D.J. Taylor, a guest player for the night and former Academy standout. More Academy products lined the NCFC bench with current NCFC and U18 Academy goalkeeper George Marks as well as Aidan Foster and Manny Perez.

“The game against Swansea was another indicator that our club provides valuable opportunities to take on top-level competition,” said NCFC Youth Academy Director John Bradford. “Whether it’s against West Ham last year or Swansea this year, the opportunity for our players to develop in these matches is irreplaceable.”

As the match played out, four players with ties to the Academy earned a combined 147 minutes on the pitch, testing themselves against the EPL squad. The Academy’s impact was obvious as the local talents provided several highlights for the club.

Fortune created arguably North Carolina’s best attacking chance of the entire match. The Raleigh native combined with Matt Fondy in a beautiful give-and-go that pulled Fortune into a one-on-one with Łukasz Fabiański. However, the seasoned goalkeeper came away with the save to keep the match level.

Taylor showcased his two-way ability from the right back role. The 19-year-old helped the team keep a clean sheet and combined on the right wing for several of NCFC’s most dangerous attacking combinations in Swansea’s half.

“I think it was a great opportunity to showcase how good you are compared to other guys overseas,” said Taylor. “Playing against Tammy Abraham was a good measuring stick to see how well I could really defend one of the top youth players coming up in England.”

With time winding down, Perez entered the match in the 62nd minute, and Foster came on in the 77th minute. The young duo seized their opportunity and closed out the match on the backline to clinch the shutout.

“As Academy Director, I took a lot of pride in how well the boys played,” added Bradford. “It also shows that we’re on to something in developing players at the top level. Additional credit goes to Colin and his staff, as well as the club leadership for having faith in the young guys and giving them the opportunity.”

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