Independiente del Valle disappointingly ended 10th (or 9th, the official standings weren’t published) in the 2023 edition of the Next Generation Trophy, a tournament hosted by FC Liefering. The Ecuadorians drew 1-1 in the opening match against New York Red Bulls and lost 0-1 in the last minute through a penalty against Sporting CP, leading to a third-place finish in the group stages. They had to play another group stage to battle for 9th place, in which they won 4-1 and 2-1 against Liverpool and Atletico Madrid but lost 2-1 against Juventus.
Independiente del Valle set up in a 4-3-3 with the central midfielders moving wide in first-phase possession and the full-backs moving inside. They relied a lot on the dribbling ability of Jostin Lerma and looked very nervous in the first two games. They didn’t play the football they usually do. I watched the matches against NY Red Bulls, Sporting CP, Atletico Madrid and partially Liverpool as the stream cut off after 22 minutes.
In this article, I will highlight briefly six players that stood out in this tournament.
Deinner Ordoñez was the starting central defender for Independiente del Valle and was one of the stand-out performers. He played as both a left and right central defender. The very tall but quite slim central defender displayed excellent speed over short and long distances. Ordoñez is very mobile and flexible, he can turn his body really quickly but also turn away from opponents sharply with the ball on his foot. Even though he was the youngest squad member, he displayed an excellent physical level. Ordoñez looked very strong in physical duels with his back towards the goal and in shoulder-to-shoulder duels. The defender steps up assertively and with force, almost always being on time and dominating his opponent. Ordoñez covered out wide well, displaying his well-timed slide tackles and speed. There was one moment in which he looked beat but he recovered possession with a last-ditch tackle. He has good anticipation in 1v1 duels, while his long legs often help him to get around his opponent and recover possession.
Deinner Ordonez has very good jumping reach and timing in aerial duels, though his offensive heading ability could be better. He potentially has very good on the ball ability but was a bit too casual at times on the ball, playing some sloppy play-in passes with one of them leading to the 2-1 of Atletico Madrid. Though, he does have the confidence and ability to carry the ball into midfield aggressively. His passing technique over short and long distances is very smooth but just needs to become more consistent which will come in a few years time. Ordoñez is very active in possession, always trying to create passing options for his teammates in first-phase possession.
Rating – 2
I did not know Deinner Ordoñez before this tournament and he was the biggest surprise for me this tournament. The central defender has an impressive physique, has a very good technical base and had good understanding of the game. It will be interesting to see if Independiente del Valle promote him to the U17 team in the upcoming months even though he is only 13 years old. Based on this tournament, I’d say he could have world-class potential but it is important to track him over a longer period to make such statements.
Leonel Realpe was Independiente del Valle’s starting right-back in this tournament, though he also played as a left-back. Realpe is a quite small right-back with an average build. He has very good speed over short and long distances. Realpe changes directions quickly and looks very smooth on the ball. The right-back is a very aggressive defender, often stepping up and being aggressive in duels with his back towards the goal. He sometimes tends to overcommit and can get beat on the turn. His aggressiveness and rashness nearly led toa second yellow card in one match. His tackling ability is potentially very strong but now inconsistent. Realpe gives his all in every duel and is very assertive and strong in 50/50 duels. He covers runs in behind really well. He was very active in first-phase possession, taking up an inverted position often to create space for the wide players. Realpe is capable of taking a progressive touch under pressure and has good acceleration on the ball. His long passing can be sloppy at times but his passing over short distances generally was solid. Realpe has good dribbling ability in 1v1s. He made some good overlapping runs but his crossing was not at a great level.
Rating – 3
Leo Realpe displayed a good level in this tournament. He has a good physical profile even though he needs to grow a few centimeters. Realpe has a very good technical base and had a decent understanding of the game even though he is a bit rash defensively. I had not watched Realpe before so it is too early to make a judgment of his potential. Though, with what he showed in this tournament he does have first-team potential.
Edwin Quintero was a rotational player this tournament for Independiente del Valle. The midfielder has an impressive acceleration on the ball in his locker, as he looks incredibly quick over short distances. He also has good speed over long distances. Quintero displays extreme confidence on the ball, taking on opponents and nearly always beating them with ease. He has very nice and quick changes of directions and has a very smooth running style. His technique in small spaces is excellent – he has very good close control and seems to have the ball on a string at times. His through passing technique is very good but the execution is still inconsistent at his young age. Quintero likes to play quick combinations down the centre of the pitch and is very comfortable playing one-touch football in small spaces. Quintero has a very good first touch under pressure. He also does not scare away from physical duels, looking very strong and assertive in 50/50 duels and fighting himself back into the duels after getting beat.
Rating – 2
Edwin and Holger Quintero are twins and they both breathe football. Their talent is immense and I am very curious to see where they end up in 10 years time. With that being said, I will continue to track them in the upcoming months and years. I have watched both before and they showed a similar level in those matches, though they played against lower-level opponents where they were even more dominant (and more decisive).
Holger Quintero was a starting central midfielder for Independiente del Valle but also played as a defensive midfielder when Josias Ponce got subbed off or didn’t play. Like his twin brother, Holger Quintero has an impressive acceleration on the ball and is a very technical player. He displayed excellent intensity throughout the match with some excellent third-man runs. Quintero battled well defensively, especially as a defensive midfielder. He seemed to understand his defensive responsibilites in that position which was good to see. Holger Quintero has excellent close control in small spaces and displayed a very nice passing technique, one time playing a perfect outside-of-the-boot pass leading to a chance. He has a wide range of passing techniques in his locker. Quintero scanned well before receiving, has an excellent first touch under pressure and always seems to know where to pass to before he receives the ball. Sporadically, his passing can be sloppy.
Rating – 2
Edwin and Holger have a very similar playing style which is cool to see. Holger Quintero seems like an elite talent though it is important to track him over a longer period, as I’ve only been tracking his performances for three months now. He needs to grow a few centimeters but at the age of just 14 he will definitely still grow.
Juan Angulo was the starting striker for Independiente del Valle in this tournament. Angulo is a very tall but slender striker. He could become a really interesting targetman but should improve a few aspects. The striker has inconsistent footwork in small spaces and sometimes does not use his tall frame to his advantage in physical duels. He should develop his strength in duels with his back towards the goal. He occasionally fails to hold the ball while also sometimes not being able to find a teammate. Angulo has good speed over long distances and also displays decent speed over short distances. He occasionally struggles to stay onside but looks to make runs off the opponent’s shoulder. Angulo always does well to find space in the box, also displaying good anticipation. His ball-striking is slightly inconsistent but potentially good. He has good heading ability. Angulo sporadically displays tunnel-vision in front of goal but he is very goal-oriented which can also be a good thing. The striker has a decent technique but occasionally loses control over the ball also because of his footwork that needs improvement. He sometimes has a good first touch under pressure. Angulo is a very active presser but can sometimes display frustration towards his teammates which is something to keep an eye on.
Rating – 3/4
Juan Angulo’s career could go either way but I think he does have a lot of potential if he works on his weaknesses. If Angulo can become a striker with good footwork, strength and a more consistent technique, he could become a very good targetman because he does have poaching instincts.
Justin Lerma, or Jostin Lerma as he calls himself, played as a central midfielder for Independiente del Valle and was expected to be decisive for the Ecuadorians in this tournament. Lerma had by far the most goal contributions for Independiente del Valle but I think he expected more from this tournament after Kendry Páez’s performances last year. Lerma is a tall but quite slender midfielder with very good acceleration on the ball. It was remarkable how Lerma often stayed on his feet while dribbling, especially because most opponents tried to kick him out of the tournament. He displayed immense strength and balance while dribbling. Lerma has very good changes of directions and used his body well to protect the ball in duels with his back towards the goal. The midfielder liked to move out wide in possession to take on multiple opponents from that position. He was not dispossesssed very often but was a bit too individualistic at times despite having many goal contributions this tournament. His individual quality was miles ahead of most opponents he faced which he seemed to know himself too.
Though, Lerma’s timing, close control, use of body and speed made him nearly unstoppable. He occasionally spread play well displaying a nice passing technique over longer distances. Lerma created many chances for himself and for his teammates and had a good final ball when he decided to pass. He is capable of playing one-touch football down the middle and likes to play quick combinations. His striking technique from close and long range is excellent. He can have the tendency to stay forward but like with Kendry last year, I think that was a part of Independiente del Valle’s tactics. Lerma is really strong and assertive in 50/50 duels.
Rating – 2
There are obviously a lot of similarities to Kendry Páez’s dominance last year at the Next Generation Trophy and I think it is likely that he has a similar development as I already mentioned in my scout report. I haven’t spoken to people about his mentality but that would be the only thing, next to injuries, stopping him from being a world-class talent.