Though Queensboro FC won’t join the USL Championship until next season, the club chose to start investing in the development of local talent through the USL Academy system ahead of the inaugural season.
The club has had a successful run in the first season of USL Academy League, currently sitting second in the Northeast Division with seven games to be played, and much success has come from the bond of the team and the talent it possesses.
One of those bright talents is 17-year-old Cristian LoGrasso. LoGrasso played for some of the top academies in the New York area, including New York City FC (NYCFC), New York Red Bulls (RBNY), and Premier Development Academy (PDA), before joining Queensboro earlier this year.
“I was a little nervous [to join the team] at first since it was new, but the big names they have [involved] are a big deal so it was definitely worth it,” said LoGrasso. “We talked to Luis [Gutierrez] and he promised us the system would work. So then, I wanted to try out and they really liked me so I joined in February.”
LoGrasso’s development has accelerated substantially since his move, thanks to Queensboro’s commitment to the growth of its players. He appeared for Queensboro II, the USL Academy team, in multiple league matches where he was able to showcase his talent and leadership on the field.
He was then given the opportunity to trial with AD Alcorcón in LaLiga 2, Spain’s second tier of pro soccer. Closing in on his 18th birthday, LoGrasso will sign his first professional contract with AD Alcorcón U-19 squad after impressing the team during his trial.
"Cristian is one of the first players that I signed for QBFC II,” said Technical Director Luis Gutierrez. “He is a player that every coach wants to have in his team: he is tactically really smart, able to adapt to different positions, very technical and defensively committed and supportive to his teammates. His commitment and skills made him a key player during the Spring season of the team and now we are really happy for him.”
Photo courtesy of Sergio Reyes/AD Alcorcon
Between Gutierrez and Head Coach and Sporting Director Josep Gombau, the club has many Spanish ties, and it shows in the style of play on the field. The club has already developed relationships with clubs in different tiers of Spanish soccer, including AD Alcorcón, a club that is currently home to Panamanian international Fidel Escobar.
“[Queensboro] taught me a lot and it’s very similar to what I’m experiencing [in Spain],” said LoGrasso. “I was there for like four or five months and they prepared me for here. The [Queensboro] coaches have come from here so they play a similar style and train the same.”
LoGrasso is not the only Queensboro Academy player to get a chance to show off their skills in Europe. Leo Guarino spent two weeks in Valencia where he trained with Valencia CF, one of the top clubs in La Liga. The 18-year-old also spent time with the historic CD Castellon while in Valencia before returning to the states.
At his new club, LoGrasso will have the opportunity to continue his development in Spain within the system by training and playing up with the U-23 squad for a potential move to the AD Alcorcón First Team.
"This is a clear example of our pathway to the pro system,” said Gutierrez. “Through top level soccer education, Queensboro FC is providing opportunities to the talent of Queens and New York to play professionally, even in Europe. This is a great step for our club, but just the beginning of many more to come.”