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Trip to Ajax ‘eye opening’ experience for Penn Fusion midfielder

Wilmington teenager was one of 31 players to participate in a Generation adidas International program in the Netherlands last month

When Penn Fusion Academy midfielder Andrew Rosenbaum returned to school at Archmere Academy last month, he had an interesting way to answer the “How did your summer go?” question from classmates and teachers.

He was at famed European club AFC Ajax.

The 15-year-old was one of 31 players to participate in the Generation adidas International program in the Netherlands, where they trained and played a pair of friendlies in the shadow of Amsterdam Arena.

“We got to train with some of the Ajax coaches and did the same drills the Ajax players do,” Rosenbaum said. “It was high-intensity and a lot of work. We were always moving.”

The team of teens from across the U.S. played a pair of friendlies against youth teams from Ajax and FC Utrecht. The first match was an 8-0 drubbing by an Ajax team featuring some Dutch youth international team talent, but the Americans had a more respectable 5-3 scoreline against Utrecht.

Rosenbaum scored a goal on a header off a set piece in the second game and wore the captain’s armband in central midfield for both.

“The first game was rough obviously but we were only together two days before we played Ajax,” Rosenbaum said. “But as the week went on we go to know each other better and it definitely showed in the Utrecht game.”

Though not his first trip to Europe - he’s played in Spain twice with an Olympic Development Program team and for a Global Premier Soccer team that included some of his Penn Fusion teammates - the experience was “eye opening” in many ways.

“It was really cool because it wasn’t just about soccer,” he said. “We got to see the windmills, go on a canal ride and learn about the history of Amsterdam.”

The experience is one Penn Fusion general manager Mark Thomas said helps to reinforce what the club is drilling into its players on a regular basis.

“For Andrew and other players to now and again get these opportunities it kind of makes the message we try to get across even more real,” Thomas said. “It opens their eyes a little bit too to see the higher level, and it can re-energize players and build those leadership qualities when they come back to the group.”

As he did in Amsterdam, Rosenbaum will be captaining the Penn Fusion U15 team in the inaugural boys Elite Clubs National League come December, but in the meantime he is starring for Archmere Academy as a sophomore.

“His work rate first and foremost is excellent,” Thomas said. “He has the focus, attitude and ability to play well and play the Penn Fusion way with speed and composure.”

Though primarily a deeper lying midfielder, he had four goals in Archmere’s first four games this season, including a hat trick in a 5-1 win over St. Elizabeth earlier this month.

The confidence coming out of his experience abroad is understandable.

“I realized I’m capable of playing on the field with those players who are very talented,” he said. “But at the same time it showed me what I need to work on.”

Though it’s a far cry from Amsterdam Arena, Rosenbaum and his high school teammates will have a chance to play on a professional pitch at Talen Energy Stadium against Wilmington Charter School on October 10.