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From Undiscovered Talent to Academy Standout

By Evan Unger, 09/09/20, 10:15AM EDT

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In 2016, there was a freshman who was taking New Jersey High School soccer by storm. That Trenton Central High School star player was Guinean-born forward Dantouma “Yaya” Toure. Toure would finish his freshman campaign with a conference-leading 28 goals and made himself one of the players to watch in the state.


Toure joined with Florence Township SA Lightning Premier for club soccer, and as the team was participating in the EDP League, Toure was grabbing the attention of everyone that saw him play. At the EDP Cup Fall Showcase 2016 Boys event, Toure was a guest player with Robbinsville SA Union, where he dominated each game of the event.


“In June 2016, Joe Fink, who was taking over the Trenton High School boys soccer team from me, called to see if I had room to add a player for our summer tournaments. "Yaya" came to Florence on the River Line train for a scrimmage against a team that was 2 years older than us. The moment he stepped on the field, I knew he was something special. After every game and tournament he played with us, players, parents, spectators, scouts and opposing coaches were in awe after seeing him play. "Yaya" could easily take over a game as an individual but more often he was an unselfish player.  We watched him single-handedly pick apart a top 20 team in the state by scoring 7 goals. We also watched him dish the ball off to his teammates on many occasions for them to score.  "Yaya" is a sensational player and was truly an undiscovered talent when he came our way.”
— David Tindall, Coach of Florence Township SA Lightning Premier


His standout performances led to him joining the US Soccer Development Academy in 2017 with PDA before joining the New York Red Bulls Academy for the 2018-2019 season. In 2018, Toure was called into the US Youth National Team, but after a torn ACL, did not get called back onto that squad until February 2020 when he was called up for the UEFA Development Tournament. One of the top prospects in the club, Toure made his debut for New York Red Bulls II on July 17th, 2020.


“As I continue in my career, I look back at the beginning of playing youth soccer with Florence SA and Coach David in the EDP League and remember that as my start to my pathways to professional soccer.”
— Dantouma “Yaya” Toure


During his time with the club, Toure became one of the first players to join the club’s HomeStay Program. Prior to participating in that program, Toure’s commute to training included a 20-minute walk from his house in Trenton to get a train to Newark Penn Station where a teammate would meet him to drive him to the club’s training facility in Whippany. Then, Toure and three of his teammates moved in with the host family in July 2020 while playing with Red Bulls II. Toure now goes to SALA (Scholar Athletes Leadership Academy) where their online curriculum allows for more flexibility with USL training and also provides teachers onsite as well.