First, the speed. Those feet that seem to just graze the grass so fast that they hardly leave a dent on a blade.
That’s the first thing you notice when watching 16-year-old Paradise Valley native Brooks Lennon do what he does better than almost anybody else at his age in the country.
Then, there’s the skills on the ball, which acts upon his will. You could call it magic, but even magicians use strings.
That talent has garnered notice from coaches in the U.S. (at the Real Salt Lake-AZ academy where he is playing a year up with the U-18 team, the U.S. U-17 national team and more recently the U.S. U-18), in Portugal (Sporting Lisbon and Victoria Guimaraes) and in England (Aston Villa and Liverpool).
Lennon trained with Liverpool in April and started for the club’s U-16 academy team in a scrimmage. He could be going back to Merseyside soon. This time, for good.
“I’ve been in contact with them the past several months,” Lennon told ODFC news earlier this week. “We’ve been communicating a lot with Liverpool, trying to figure things out with the E.U. passport and a visa. Hopefully it all plays out.
“The plan is to go over there and play with the academy and see how it goes. Hopefully it all plays out soon and if it does, that’s great.”
But that doesn’t mean Lennon is forgetting about his play and progress in the U.S. He participated in the U.S. U-18 national team camp last month, scoring twice in the team’s scrimmage against Real So Cal U-18 and earning an assist in an intrasquad scrimmage to help his side win. Lennon was coming off an impressive stint with the U.S. U-17 national team over the summer when he led the Caspian Cup in Azerbaijan with seven goals in four matches and was a starter when the team won the Niigata International Tournament in Tokyo.
Back with RSL-AZ, Lennon and defender Justen Glad, a Tucson native, are the two players who are playing a year up with the academy club’s U-18 team.
“Right now, I’m focused on the this team and succeeding this season,” Lennon said.
He has. Lennon, who led RSL-AZ U-16 with 15 goals last season, started the U-18 team’s two games (both wins; over Chivas USA and the Los Angeles Galaxy) in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy season. He scored the eventual game-winning goal in a 2-0 win over Chivas USA.
Lennon is now a bonafide rising star. He is ranked third in leading youth soccer news website TopDrawerSoccer.com’s IMG Academy Top 150 rankings and the No. 1 forward at his age in the nation. The attention, which is likely to increase as the weeks pass, hasn’t gotten to his head.
“It feels good when people recognize my talent and my ability,” he said. “It’s something that I’ve dreamed of. But if I want to become a professional soccer player, I have to work hard every day. My mindset is just keep working harder whether things are going good or bad. Just keep working hard and hopefully sooner or later I can realize my dream.”