FRISCO, Texas — Sueño MLS 2011 – presented by Allstate crowned another winner Sunday afternoon at Pizza Hut Park, as Camden, N.J., resident Birnis Adames won the competition by impressing the Sueño coaching staff with his ability to score.
Adames, who will join the Philadelphia Union academy ranks, could barely contain his excitement.
“I feel great, extremely happy, excited, overjoyed,” he told MLSsoccer.com after Univisión made the live announcement Sunday on national TV. “It’s a beautiful and tremendous experience.
"There are 18 [finalists] and only two winners [Anthony Hall won Good Hands – El Portero Allstate]. It’s a great experience to share with them, to become friends, like brothers. It’s just great.”
Adames impressed coaches with his ability to put the ball in the back of the net. In the final event against the FC Dallas U-16 and U-18 teams, the Dominican Republic native scored four goals, including three against the U-16s.
US soccer legend Marcelo Balboa, one of three “celebrity” scouts that helped make the decision, praised Adames' scoring ability and mentality throughout the competition.
“One of the hardest things you can do is find somebody that has that edge to put it in the back of the net, and Birnis had it this week,” Balboa said. “When you have a forward that scores four goals in two games – I think he made himself stand out. The flair he brought, the confidence – that’s what you look for in a forward.”
Mexican soccer player Joaquín Beltrán echoed Balboa’s sentiments.
“He played with the team very well,” said Beltrán. “He is a fast player, a player that attacks, and he scored [four] goals in the two games, which is not easy.”
On and off the field, Adames was making noise all weekend. His extroverted nature made him a favorite of all the MLS Sueño participants, but as the announcement for the winner drew nearer, Adames found himself extremely nervous.
“I was nervous and anxious,” he said. “I was very nervous, especially because my good friend [Brian Garcia, one of the top three finalists] was standing next to me with tremendous quality. He’s a midfielder that did some excellent work and scored a goal.”
Now, Adames will have the opportunity to train and play within the Philadelphia Union youth system and don the same uniform as players like Carlos Ruiz, Carlos Valdés and Faryd Mondragón.
“Who wouldn’t like to play with Carlos Ruiz? This is the experience of my life and I am going to enjoy it as best I can,” Adames said.
After an experience like Sueño MLS – which provides players with motivational speeches from active and retired professional players – Adames said he felt better equipped to endure the challenges that athletes face on a daily basis.
“I learned so much. I learned how the professional soccer players live. I learned everything,” he said. “To be a part of this experience has been incredible. In everything I do, I have to use my heart, go 100 percent, work hard in training, and be humble.
“With hard work, I can obtain anything in life I want to. Nothing is impossible and you can do anything.”
WATCH: Adames profile from Philadelphia tryouts