Minnesota United’s Development Academy’s mission is to help players realize their potential as they grow into quality individuals, respected teammates and outstanding players. For forward Jonah Gasho, his first year in the Academy set him squarely on the path to all three.
It began with the first match of the season last September at the National Sports Center in Blaine. Gasho and his teammates on the U13 team defeated Campton United SC in the season opener with some help from the supporters who showed up to sing, chant and cheer.
“I liked our first home game because, well, it was our first game,” said Gasho. “And I liked how True North Elite came down and watched us and cheered us on.”
It took time, though, for Gasho to get to know his teammates and the other players at the Development Academy. Those connections are the ones that can last well beyond a player’s time at the Academy; just look at the enduring connection between current first team players Brent Kallman and Eric Miller, who first played together at Woodbury High School. The relationships Gasho formed grew exponentially on the team’s trip to Texas to compete in the Central Conference Boys’ Regional Showcase. His enjoyment of the tournament probably wasn’t hurt by notching his first points as a Loon.
“I liked going to Dallas because before I went to Dallas, I didn’t know too many of the U14s,” said Gasho. “After that, I knew all of the U14s. It was really fun because I scored my first goal down there. And I became better friends with my teammates.”
The competition at the Academy has also driven Gasho’s growth as a player. He’s had to earn a spot in the starting XI week in and week out — no mean feat for an attacker.
“There are a lot of players,” said Gasho. “A lot of good players here. And there are a lot of good center mids and wingers. So it’s really hard, and you have to compete every time you play.”
His experience playing on the wing helped him identify a specific are he wanted to target to improve: his shooting. Over the winter months when the team was training indoors, he focused on this. He also had a chance to travel to Montreal to play for the U.S. Futsal National U13 squad and experience another kind of competitive environment, where all the various U.S. teams were cheering for each other in the stands.
“I wanted to get better with shooting, because when I was playing as a winger, I would cut in, and I wouldn’t really shoot because my shooting from distance wasn’t too great,” said Gasho.
To Gasho, playing for the Development Academy is more than just for the love of the game. It’s about being involved with the club; seeing the first team players in the gym, training in the facilities, representing the club. Each day is a chance to learn, grow and enjoy.
“I really look forward to signing a homegrown player contract and playing with the first team,” said Gasho. “Or being called up for Youth National Team camps. Because I like watching the U17 National team play, and I look up to a lot of those players. And I know that they’re homegrown players. And I want to be like them.”