The Inter Miami CF Academy presented by Baptist Health completed its participation in the 2021 Copa Rayados International this weekend, with the U-13 team winning the gold bracket and the U-14 team winning the silver bracket.
"Copa Rayados is an extremely valuable experience for players and staff as it pits us against high-level competition that we don't see regularly, and through the experience of travelling as a team,” said U-13 head coach Gibran Tevar. “We aspire to continue to expose our teams and players to these types of competitions and hope to play even more international and domestic teams. I want to thank the Club for giving me the opportunity to work with these players and with fellow staff to be able to represent our city on a national level."
“Copa Rayados was a very positive experience for all the players and staff, and an opportunity to represent Inter Miami and our city at a national level, competing against the best clubs from different states, including two MLS teams we played against,” added U-14 head coach Pedro Cavalcanti.
The U-13 team’s path to its gold bracket triumph saw it go unbeaten through six total matches, including five wins and just one draw, topping its group and winning the title in the highest division for the age group. En route to claiming the trophy, Inter Miami defeated fellow MLS opposition Austin FC 3-1, Sporting Kansas City 2-0 and Houston Dynamo FC 2-0, before claiming a dramatic 4-2 victory after two periods of extra time in the final.
“It’s important that at the younger ages we expose our players to MLS competition on a regular basis so they can increase their level of play to be more effective and successful when they reach the older age groups. We want them to vie for national championships, international tournament success, and ultimately to prepare players to be future MLS professionals within our Club. As a staff, our objectives are to put Academy players in the First Team, and participating in a national tournament like the Copa Rayados allows us to progress the players towards achieving this goal,” said Tevar.
The U-14 team, meanwhile, finished second in the group stage, placing it in the silver bracket for the knockout rounds. Cavalcanti’s team faced two MLS opponents in the tournament, first falling 0-1 to Austin FC in the opening match, before playing to a scoreless draw with Houston Dynamo FC and eventually earning a 2-0 victory in a rematch with Austin in the silver bracket final.
“It was a great opportunity for growth for everybody, for the players to get to experience all of the travel and high standards at such a young age, and the professional environment it exposes them to at many levels. We all grew both individually and collectively, so I’m very proud of the team and how they represented the badge and brought the results home that are a representation of the hard work they do daily,” said Cavalcanti.