After spending the summer playing with the United States U-15 and U-17 National Teams, Crew Soccer Academy standout Benny Swanson has accepted an offer to participate in the US U-17 Residency program in Bradenton, Florida.
The 15-year-old Grove City native hopes his decision will help him secure a spot in next year's U-17 World Cup.
"It's a great opportunity. It was kind of hard to pass up," Swanson said. "The [FIFA U-17] World Cup is next year in Dubai. I would like to make that roster, hopefully. If I don't, I hope I just learn every day in training in that environment with that pro mentality."
"It's great for our organization," Crew Technical Director Brian Bliss said. "Obviously it's a little bit premature to be speaking about Benny as a future pro for the club, but he's on the right track. It gives credibility to our organization on the youth side as to what we're doing."
Bliss says residency can only help Swanson's promising skill set.
"Right now, he's only getting three or four days of training each week, he's going to get five or six days each week training with the top players in the country at his age [in Bradenton]." Bliss explained. "He's got the ability to break down players off of the dribble and create on his own. He works for the good of the team in terms of being a team player. He's got an eye for the pass and can deliver it. He's got a multitude of skills and being in that environment for the next year, it's going to make him a better player."
The young midfielder's drive and skill set reminds Bliss of a certain US Men's National Team mainstay.
"He's got a lot of things Michael Bradley had," Bliss said. "Bradley grew physically really quick at the end, but he was also undersized. [Bradley] had the ability to dribble, pass, create, and had the same attitude and hunger for the game that Benny has. There are some comparisons. They may be unfair because Michael is a full national team player and I don't want to put pressure on [Swanson], but he's got a lot of this same [skills]."
Being in the same sentence with Bradley and others who attended the U-17 Residencty previously such as Landon Donovan, Brek Shea, and Eddie Gaven is still surreal Swanson says, but he remains determined to one day don the Black & Gold as a professional.
"It's kind of surreal, but I've been working hard. That's where hard work will get you," Swanson said. "The Crew has helped me a lot to progress as a player and as a person."
"[Playing professionally for the Crew] would be a dream come true," he finished.