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One of the brightest young American talents will start his professional career with the Bundesliga's top team.
Junior Flores is widely regarded as the United States' best U-17 player and now, he is going to one of the top clubs in Europe. The 16-year-old has reportedly signed with two-time defending Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund.
A quick loose end up from back in D.C.: Junior Flores, a U.S. u-17 player, signed a pro contract with Borussia Dortmund.— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) October 4, 2012
Flores was long considered an exceptional young talent, but his real breakout came at last year's Nike Invitational. Just 15 years old at the time, Flores was considered among the best players on any of the four teams (Brazil, France and Turkey were the other three) at the U-17 tournament. He scored a goal and added three assists as he wowed observers with his skill on the ball and vision, but just as much his calm and ability to control the tempo of matches.
After that tournament, Flores was courted by several European clubs. MLS also got involved and offered him a lucrative Generation adidas contract, but he declined. He remained in the U.S. Soccer residency program while considering his options and now he has chosen Dortmund.
The early reports are that Flores will remain in the residency program and fly to Germany for stints of training with BVB for the next year before joining Dortmund full time. He will be joining a youth set-up that produced Mario Gotze and several others fine players. A recent investment has boosted the academy, too, and several other good players from the academy were sold.
Style-wise, Dortmund is an excellent fit for Flores. Jurgen Klopp has BVB playing some quick, attacking and thrilling soccer, which fits the way that Flores want to play. Klopp has also shown not hesitation to play young players so Flores will get his chance to play if and when his play in training and with the reserves dictate it.
Flores will have his work cut out for him, though. Being a big club that has invested in its youth program, Dortmund have a lot of promising young players that Flores could end up stuck behind. The competition will be tough, as Terrence Boyd learned last year when he couldn't quite crack the first team and was sold to Rapid Vienna this year.
A dual-citizen, Flores isn't tied to the U.S. He could also play for El Salvador, where his parents are from, but the California born and Virginia raised Flores told Brian Sciaretta last year that right now it is an easy decision for him.
"It’s crazy because everyone is always asking me would you rather play with the US or El Salvador," Flores said. "It’s the U.S. but if the U.S. never calls me back, I can still go to the El Salvadoran national team."
If Flores thrives with Dortmund, you can bet that the U.S. will come calling. He is one of the best young players the country has and now he is going to one of the best clubs in Europe. Hopefully, it is a match made in heaven.