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Players to Watch at the USL Academy Eastern Conference Event

By USL-Academy.com Staff, 01/28/20, 10:30AM EST

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Keep an eye on these top talents in Bradenton


Tormenta FC Academy Signing Grant Hampton is one of the top players to watch at the USL Academy Eastern Conference Event | Photo courtesy Tormenta FC

The USL Academy Eastern Conference regional event kicks off in just over two weeks, with 12 teams headed to the Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch in Bradenton, Florida to test themselves against the nation's other elite youth players. The talent on display should provide a glimpse of future professionals, and from this field of excellent players there are a few that stand out as the event's top players to watch.

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Grant Hampton
Midfielder
South Georgia Tormenta FC
Recently signed to an academy contract which will allow him to appear for Tormenta FC’s first team in USL League One this season, Hampton is a promising young midfielder who is skilled on both sides of the ball.
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Luke Hille
Forward/Midfielder
North Carolina FC
Another player signed to an academy contract with his club’s first team, Hille is a natural goal-scorer who plays up with NCFC’s U19 team despite being just 16. Hille is currently training with FC Helsingor, the first-place team in the Danish second division.
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John-Paul Mbuthia
Forward
Charlotte Independence
Mbuthia will enter the USL Academy event in excellent form, having scored four goals in his last eight games for Charlotte at the U17 level. Capable of leading the line or dropping further back into a midfield role, Mbuthia is sure to be a threat against any opponent.
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Sam Farner
Midfielder
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Farner is quick and versatile, playing in both offensive and defensive roles on the right flank for Pittsburgh. A vital piece in the team’s playing style, he’s likely to have an impact on his team’s performance as one of the top prospects in USL Academy.
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Curtis De Leon
Midfielder
North Carolina FC
De Leon is a left-footed player with high soccer IQ and the ability to play on both sides of the ball. His abilities earned him a spot on the Trinidad and Tobago U17 team for World Cup qualifiers in 2019.
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Hayden Morgan
Midfielder
Tampa Bay Rowdies
An excellent ball-winner, Morgan is instrumental in breaking up opposition play and jump-starting his team’s attack from a central defensive role. He’ll be a key cog in the Rowdies’ midfield for the duration of the Eastern Conference event.
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Stephen O’Hearn
Goalkeeper
South Georgia Tormenta FC
Like his teammate Hampton, O’Hearn signed an academy contract with Tormenta FC and will be eligible to appear for the club in League One after competing at the USL Academy Eastern Conference Event. A gifted shot-stopper with excellent command of his area, O’Hearn is one of the toughest young keepers to score on in the nation.
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Joseph Skinner
Defender
Charlotte Independence
A highly-skilled center back, Skinner checks all the boxes. He leads the team from the back, is strong in the air, and intelligent with his positioning. He’ll be tasked with stopping some of the top young strikers in the country at the USL Academy event, but appears more than ready to do so.
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Connor Gibson
Midfielder
Boston Bolts
Gibson does a little bit of everything in midfield for Boston, with tremendous ability and versatility. Though born in 2004, he has already been playing up at the U19 level for the Bolts, and has excelled despite facing much older competition.
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Julio Plata
Midfielder
Tampa Bay Rowdies
A talented #10, Plata’s creativity is sure to catch the eye. Adept both at setting up chances and at finishing them himself, Plata is the driving force behind the attack for this Tampa Bay team.