Philadelphia Union finalists announced for national "Final Event" of Sueño MLS 2011

May 2, 2011 1:01:59 PM PDT
Philadelphia Union and Major League Soccer announced today the names of the five field players who will represent the club at this week's national "Final Event" of Sueño MLS 2011 ? presented by Allstate in Frisco, Texas May 5-8. Also named was the local finalist of the "Good Hands®" top goalkeeper - El Portero Allstate. The nationally-televised player search is showcased on "República Deportiva," the popular Univision weekly Spanish-language sports show that chronicles the tryouts in a "reality show within a show" format. The six standouts from the Union tryouts are:

Name | Position | Age | Hometown

Birnis Adames Forward 18 Camden, NJ

Richy Amador Midfielder 18 Santa Rosa, CA

Juan Cortez Midfielder 15 Bridgeport, CT

Kevin Olaya Midfielder 16 Elizabeth, NJ

Milton Rico Midfielder 18 Philadelphia, PA

Gianluigi Mardoni Goalkeeper 17 Sacramento, CA

The five field players, whose diverse backgrounds and personal stories were featured on "República Deportiva" this past Sunday, May 1, fought their way past more than 400 competitors in an open tryout to earn a week-long trial with the Philadelphia Union Academy, and a trip to the "Final Event," where they will be joined by the FC Dallas and Chicago Fire finalists announced last week. Gianluigi Mardoni, selected as the local "Good Hands®" top goalkeeper - El Portero Allstate, will also join the other two national goalkeeper finalists in Frisco, Texas later this week.

In each city, Dallas, Chicago and Philadelphia, players were battling for one of five invitations to a week-long trial with their respective youth development host club and an invitation to the exciting four-day "Final Event" which will be staged for the first time in the Dallas area. The finals will include training sessions, scrimmages, guest celebrity scouts, and an opportunity to meet some of the League's biggest stars. The ultimate champion will be crowned on Sunday, May 8, live on "República Deportiva" (see calendar below for more information).

New to Sueño MLS for 2011 is the Allstate "Good Hands®" top goalkeeper award - El Portero Allstate. One goalkeeper at each of the three local tryouts will be selected as the top goalkeeper, and at least two of the three will be chosen to join the other local finalists at the national final. "El Portero Allstate" will be selected in addition to the Sueño MLS 2011 - presented by Allstate champion.


Birnis Adames (Forward - 18 years old - Camden, NJ)
Born in Santa Cruz de Mao, Dominican Republic, Birnis started playing soccer only four years ago. At the Philadelphia trials, he quickly caught the attention of the Union scouts who regard him as one of the best prospects in the competition. The Ronaldinho and FC Barcelona fan is an outstanding athlete whose speed makes him one of the players to watch during the "Final Event" in Texas. His older brother, Chanel, played for the Under-17 Dominican Republic National Team, and was a key factor in Birnis' decision to change his focus from baseball to soccer. The Union coaches commented that Birnis reminded them of New York Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry because of his vision on the field.

Richy Amador (Midfielder - 18 years old - Santa Rosa, CA)
Born in Mexico City and a current resident of Santa Rosa, CA, Richy had to catch two flights to attend the Philadelphia event. The Union coaches selected him because of his impressive dribbling, which made him one of the most exceptional midfielders at the tryouts. Amador uses pink cleats to help attract the attention of the scouts.

Juan Cortez (Midfielder - 15 years old - Bridgeport, CT)
Juan was born in Santa Rosa de Osos, Colombia (north of Medellin), and currently resides in Bridgeport, CT. Juan not only stood out for his abilities in the midfield, but for being a humble individual who is willing to help his teammates. Coached by his father from a young age, their dedication paid off as the scouts caught Juan's ability to place dangerous crosses, as well as recover balls in the midfield. His favorite player is Spanish World Cup champion Xavi, and his favorite club is FC Barcelona.

Kevin Olaya (Midfielder - 16 years old - Elizabeth, NJ)
Kevin was born in Elizabeth, NJ to a Colombian family, but lived in Cali, Colombia since he was one year old. A fan of Colombian side America de Cali and Argentine club Boca Juniors, Kevin believes Andres Iniesta is the best player in the world, and sees himself playing in Major League Soccer in the future. The Philadelphia Union scouts think he is a player who can easily work as a center midfielder, but has the ability to run through the flanks, creating more spaces for his team. He traveled to the trials with his father, who believes his son is a talented soccer player who will make a great impression at the National Final.

Milton Rico (Midfielder - 18 years old - Philadelphia, PA)
Colombian-born Milton Rico didn't originally register for the tryouts, but rather, was part of the event staff working for Sueño MLS in Philadelphia. A former coach and friend spotted him at the event and encouraged him to sign up for the "walk-up" list. He played during the last hour of the tryouts, immediately catching the scouting group's attention. Although he hadn't played for the past six months because of broken nose, Milton stood out for his strength and vision of the game. His favorite player is former Colombian international and MLS superstar Carlos "El Pibe" Valderrama, and his favorite team is Colombian side Atletico Nacional.

Gianluigi Mardoni (Goalkeeper - 17 years old - Sacramento, CA) - Local Philadelphia Union winner of El Portero Allstate "In Good Hands®"
Gianluigi was the participant who traveled the furthest to try out at Sueño MLS Philadelphia. Born in Rome, Italy, Gianluigi's father is Italian, and his mother is Colombian. They moved to the U.S. when Gianluigi was six years-old, and he started playing soccer immediately. Many of his Italian and Colombian cousins have played in semi-professional leagues in their respective countries, and Gianluigi's father (a professional racing car mechanic) had a similar experience to Sueño MLS many years ago with Italian side Fiorentina. Since he was very young, Gianluigi knew he was destined to become a goalkeeper, because of his height and vertical leap. Faryd Mondragón, Philadelphia Union captain and goalkeeper, said he chose Gianluigi as the top goalkeeper of the Union tryouts because of his impressive skills with his hands, feet and body movement. Gianluigi speaks fluent English, Spanish and Italian.


May 5-8 "Final Event" in Frisco, Texas

May 8 Announcement of winner on Univision Network's República Deportiva

(Copyright 2011 Philadelphia Union. Reprinted by permission)