We considered sleeping on the two personnel moves to happen so far this Summer. But how could we look in the mirror knowing that we’d let the acquisition of a 16 year old American go undocumented? So here is the first signing of the 2013/14 season: Arie Ammann.
If the name is at all familiar to you, it will be because Ammann’s dad, Mike, spent a couple of years at Charlton in the mid-90s, making 30 appearances in the New Old Division One before heading back to the States to take part in the inaugural season of MLS. After retiring, Ammann senior turned his hand towards youth coaching, establishing the Twenty-Four Seven Goalkeeping Academy in Virginia State. It was here, just a few years ago, that young Arie took up goalkeeping.
Interestingly, the academy is also the venue for GK Icon USA, the transatlantic branch of ex-Hornet Richard Lee’s own keeper training scheme. How much this link had to do with Arie’s arrival remains to be seen; though the young keeper has previously had trials at Norwich, Brighton and Spurs, so it’s not as if he wasn’t on the radar of English talent scouts.
So what do we know about Arie (pronounced Arr-ee) the player? He’s able to deal with terrible backpasses on ridiculous pitches – which will be handy for when he plays with Neuton at Blackpool in five years’ time, he’s saved at least one penalty in his life – though, disappointingly, it didn’t result in a goal for his own side, and he’s a whizz with a Responseball™. That’s pretty much it.
After taking up goalkeeping under his father’s tutelage, Arie successfully got himself onto the Olympic Development Program, an elite pool of players identified as the best youth prospects in the country, from which regional and national representative teams are formed. This allowed him to play in the US Development Academy League, first for McClean Youth in Virginia and then, last year, the DC United Academy.
Donning the #0 jersey, he played 21 games last season, with his side finishing third in the Eastern Conference of the USDA, just 0.24 points per game (yes, really) behind Baltimore Bays Chelsea. Readers of the British press will be unsurprised to see such an international link-up stand in the way of proper youth progression. Or something.
The few interviews on the web show that he’s got a good head on his shoulders, and even at 16 is throwing up interesting alternatives to the usual footballing soundbites. This one, in particular, shows his admiration for the set-up at Watford and his excitement at working with Alec Chamberlain.
The tall, rangy keeper – currently ranked as the 95th best player in his graduation class nationwide, those Yanks love a good ranking – will join up with the Academy. One for the future, but America loves its keepers.
Don’t say we don’t cover the bases.