Youth Soccer Central sat down with Barca Residency Academy standout Isaiah Kaakoush for an in-depth interview regarding his experience with Barca Residency Academy, the USYNT, and recent stints at La Masia and Nottingham Forest.
An Arizona native, Kaakoush is in his third season with Barca Residency Academy. The defender had a breakout season last year playing for Barca’s U15-U19 teams earning national team call-ups, training stints at FC Barcelona’s La Masia, and most recently a trial with Nottingham Forest. Read more below from his interview with Youth Soccer Central.
What did it mean to you to suit up for the USYNT U15s against some of the top national in the world?
“It was an amazing and surreal moment when I got to put on the USA jersey and represent my country. I am so honored to be able to play for my country.” Kaakoush played a pivotal role for the USYNT in matches at the Pintara Cup against England, Spain, and Japan a few months ago.
What did a day in the life look like with the USYNT while in Europe?
“Very Busy. We would have trainings in the morning and lots of team meetings and team bonding experiences throughout the tournament. Definitely an experience I will never forget.”
You have been one of the only USYNT players in the past few years to earn a cap without being apart of a MLS or USL academy. What does this mean to you and how have the coaches at Barca Residency helped you achieve this goal?
“It means so much to earn a cap for the US. When it comes down to it, the coaching staff of the USYNT don’t care if you’re at an MLS or USL academy or not. They treated me the same as everyone else. The Barca coaching staff is amazing. They want what is best for every player at the academy and help them reach their highest potential, which includes the national team selection.” Other notable players to be selected for the USYNT while playing for club teams include Evrit Fischer, Dylan Thomas, Mateos Carvalho, and a few other Barca Residency players.
The Club Life
What is an an average day in the life at the Barca residency academy, and how does that compare to clubs you have trialed with?
“Our days include school and soccer. First you have the school day which is on campus. Then after that we go to the main facility and have Strength and Conditioning. After that we have our session. After our session is done, we have dinner as a team and get ready for the next day.”
Walk me through the experience of trialing at a Premier League club when you played with Nottingham Forest U18s.
“One of the best experiences I have ever had. From day one to day 14 was high level training. The technology used in the facility was amazing. It was surprising how much interaction that the academy had with the First and Second team. Everything that was done in the academy mirrored what was done with the first team. Going in there were definitely nerves but once I got into the training and in with the team that feeling went away.” Nottingham Forest are a club in the English top flight. Matt Turner, the USMNT first choice keeper, and Alex Mighten, an outside forward, are the only Americans at the club.
How has playing up with Barca U17s and U19s help mold you into a better player?
“It had been great for me. It has helped me experience a faster speed of play and made me have to have faster decision making skills. At first, it was a bit difficult to do these things. As I played more with the older guys, I got more used to the speed of play and was able to keep up with them.” Kaakoush played nearly all of last year up with the Barca Residency U19s, and has begun this season with their U17 squad.
What has been your biggest achievement so far in your young career?
“My biggest achievement is definitely the USYNT call ups. Also winning GA cup at a younger age was another great thing.” Kaakoush won the U12 Generation Adidas Cup a few years ago wit the RSL Arizona team. He has also been selected for multiple USYNT as previously mentioned.
What advice would you give to ECNL, National League, and other players to help them reach the next level?
“I could definitely use some advice too. The main thing would be just keep believing in yourself and work your hardest everyday. That is what will get you to where you want to go.”
Finally, what are your goals with soccer over the next year, five years, and ten years down the road?
“The overall goal when it comes to soccer for me is to be at the highest level that I can. This is always my goal and will be for my soccer career.”