Arevalo battles for possession. Photo courtesy Cedar Stars Academy
When 16-year-old Ronald Arevalo signed with Danish club HB Køge, it marked a massive step in the Cedar Stars Academy product’s journey to professional soccer, as well as a landmark achievement for the program.
“We are very excited about Ronald making this next step with us,” said George Altirs, CEO and President of Cedar Stars Academy and Capelli Sport. “We are always striving toward creating a strong bond between Cedar Stars Academy, HB Køge and all of our Capelli Sport partners. The feeling of being a part of a global family is important, but it’s more important for the players to feel that we can offer them something unique in terms of their development.”
Arevalo joined the Cedar Stars Academy in Bergen, New Jersey when he was just nine years old and has been progressing through the ranks ever since. The young forward recently impressed with the Cedar Stars Academy Bergen U17 Development Academy team and earned playing time with the organization’s USL League Two side, Cedar Stars Rush.
In four league appearances in 2019, Arevalo fit right in against players much older than himself, and became the youngest League Two player to score in 2019 when he netted a 79th-minute equalizer against the Long Island Rough Riders.
“After Ronald’s performance in League Two, we got on the phone right away with our partners in Denmark and within a couple of days had everything set for Ronald to attend preseason training with them this past summer,” said Cedar Stars Rush Technical Director Juan Santamaria. “It was a great experience for Ronald as well as eye-opening.”
After impressing in training stints with both HB Køge and the United States U-16 Youth National Team over the summer, Arevalo proved he was ready for the next step in the Cedar Stars player pathway. The Cedar Stars organization is owned by Capelli Sport President and CEO George Altirs, who is also the majority owner of HB Køge.
Capelli Sport has built a player pathway between those clubs and others like MSV Duisburg of the German 3. Liga (where Altirs also holds ownership shares), allowing players like Arevalo to get unique training and development opportunities.
Cedar Stars staff poses with Arevalo (center) after the signing. Photo courtesy Cedar Stars Academy
“Ronald is a player that catches the eye,” said HB Køge CEO and Sporting Director Per Rud. He has a very high technical ability -- a real dribbler and very fast. We like him very much, but we also know that he has a lot to learn and we look forward to helping him achieve his top potential.”
The shared ownership helps create top-notch development opportunities for Arevalo and other Cedar Stars players who will follow in his footsteps. The signing is a big win for the Cedars Stars’ coaching staff, who have spent countless hours with the young player both on and off the pitch, forming an individualized plan that focused on putting him in an environment which best prepares him to advance his career.
Arevalo shakes hands with Capelli Sport CEO and President George Altirs. Photo courtesy Cedar Stars Academy
For young American players moving to Europe, it’s often variables off the field that prevent them from reaching their full potential as professional soccer players. The connection between Cedar Stars Academy and HB Køge means that until he turns 18 in 2021, Arevalo will make regular trips to Denmark to train with the team. He’ll continue his education and playing with Cedar Stars on American soil for now, thus eliminating typical hurdles for Americans abroad such as culture shock.
The benefit to this system is in allowing Arevalo to become acclimatized to a foreign country and professional standards in small doses, so that he can hit the ground running when he eventually heads to Denmark full-time.
“Ronald is making the first step in our Pathway to Pro model,” said Capelli Sport Vice President of Sporting Business Jason Arnold. “We are excited to begin with such a great player in Ronald, and build the process for more players through Cedar Stars Academy. This is something very unique we can offer our players and partners, and we are looking forward to the next one.”
Arevalo may be the first player from the Cedar Stars Academy system to make the jump to Europe, but he’s not likely to be the last.
The creation of a player pathway from the youth levels to a USL League Two side to multiple professional sides in Europe offers huge upside for Cedar Stars players. There are around 2,500 in the academy, and a few others have already been identified. Beginning in February, these prospects will have an additional competitive opportunity to showcase their abilities in the USL Academy platform, with both an Eastern Conference Regional Event and a National Event set to take place in 2020.
To learn more about the USL Academy platform, visit usl-academy.com or search #USLAcademy on social media.