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American youth player guest plays for Manchester City, wins tournament MVP

Sep 3, 2013, 8:01 PM EDT

John Kenneth Hilton, known by his nickname Xuxuh, is no stranger to playing against tough competition, having been called up to a United States under-14 national team camp at age 11. Now 12, the Long Beach, Calif., native completed a recent training stint with the Manchester City academy by winning the tournament MVP award at the United Jeugd Cup.

In six games over two days in the Netherlands, City won all six matches against other academy teams from across Europe. Xuxuh, guest playing from his usual team in the Chivas USA academy, “blew that place up,” as Gary Kleiban, whose brother, Brian, coaches Xuxuh at Chivas, put it in a blog post.

A right back in the mold of Dani Alves, the Barcelona USA academy product stood out at the prestigious MIC Cup youth tournament earlier this year, receiving interest from Manchester United, FC Barcelona and Ajax, along with Manchester City. City got another look at him over the summer at Surf Cup in San Diego.

From there, the Manchester club invited Xuxuh to train with its academy for a week and play in the Dutch tournament in August. Watching a highlight video of him, it’s easy to see why:

From his full profile on the 3four3 website, run by Gary Kleiban:

Born to parents Kenneth Hilton, an American, and Dina Conceicao, a Brazilian, from Salvador, Brazil, Xuxuh displays the athleticism of an Western athlete with the skill and ball control of a Samba boy from South America.

Whether it’s on the soccer pitches of southern California or in the classroom, Xuxuh has a drive to compete. At the age of 10, he was challenged to win an Xbox by juggling a ball for 30 minutes straight without dropping it. The next morning he recorded his all time high of 2,845 juggles.

That skill and determination led U.S. U14 head coach Hugo Perez to select him for a training camp with the national team in April. Xuxuh follows Ben Lederman, who lives and plays at FC Barcelona’s La Masia academy, and new Real Madrid signing Joshua Pynadath as (very) young Americans who have found success in Europe.

  1. krazymunky - Sep 3, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    quickly jurgen, call him up for the last qualifier (we shouldve qualified by then) and cap tie him!

    before he chooses to play for brazil 😦

  2. hildezero - Sep 3, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    I doubt that he would choose Brazil over US Soccer. I mean, C’mon. Do you really think his mom will say, “choose Brazil, not US”?

    • 77cjh77 - Sep 4, 2013 at 12:04 PM

      it wouldn’t be up to his mom. he might think to himself “where do i stand the best chance of winning the world cup?” (brazil). i find it highly unlikely that brazil would even bother with him though. see where he’s at in 5 or 6 years, then maybe, but i doubt it. they have more than enough players to choose from

  3. scohen3 - Sep 3, 2013 at 10:28 PM

    I got to watch him live at the United Jeugd Cup. He, and Manchester City’s #9 (English unfortunately), were more than impressive.

    Manchester also had another American guest player, Gio Reyna (Son of USMNT captain Claudio Reyna) who also had a good showing.

  4. sdreynolds111 - Sep 3, 2013 at 11:29 PM

    Reminds me a lot of the way that other child phenom dominated his age group. What was his name? Oh yeah, Adu.

  5. hildezero - Sep 4, 2013 at 12:30 AM

    Adu’s situation was different.

    • 77cjh77 - Sep 4, 2013 at 12:06 PM

      it was. he was a lot better, comparatively, at this age. look how that turned out. being a 12 year old phenom doesn’t amount to jack

  6. hildezero - Sep 4, 2013 at 1:37 PM


    I know that it wouldn’t rely on his mom’s decision. His decision won’t just be, on where can I win a World Cup. It’ll have to be more to it. Plus, I do think Brazil wouldn’t even bother looking at him anyways. Also, no. This is a different situation than Adu’s and no Adu was not better than this kid at his age. Adu was doing it in lesser competition that this kid.

  7. rarosell - Sep 4, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    This kid is phenomenal and by phenomenal I mean comparatively dominant vs kids his age throughout the world. The likelihood is that unless he has a strong emotional connection to the US, he will play for Brazil. Those saying that Brazil won’t even look at him are a bit clueless considering the he just played a tournament for one of the best teams in the world as a GUEST and was voted the best player in the entire tournament.

    This kid will be absolutely fantastic and unless USSF makes HUGE waves to try to keep him, we can wave him goodbye.

  8. 2leftknees - Oct 28, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    Look at this kid, he’s working! He’s not out on the field with other kids loving it. No smile, no fun. He’s doing what adults are telling him he should be doing. While all the other kids are outside together on a sunny day on the soccer field, he’s there doing the ‘strength training’ the adults told him will benefit him. This is what the Army does to soldiers. “no pain-no gain”. All these exercises will not benefit his game, but they will be good for his body. He will be fit. But the awareness of the game, of the ball, that’s what he’s not getting that in the gym. This is a kid that won’t be prepared to deal with frustration. He’ll get angry and kick or push other players. He needs to train out there on the field playing with the ball, passing the ball, kicking the ball, touching the ball, running with the ball. After that, shower with the ball and sleep with the ball. Put it on the table when he eats. Kiss that ball. It doesn’t matter how good you are on your own. If you’re inside working at gym training while all the other kids are outside playing together on a field he won’t make the cut. If you aren’t a team player, no matter how good you are, you won’t make it in soccer.

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