RISING STAR

Inter Miami CF midfielder Gregore, left, fights for the ball with forward Edison Azcona during MLS soccer practice, Wednesday, April 21, 2021 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
David Santiago/Miami Herald via Associated Press, file

For Edison Azcona, 2021 will be a year that he will always remember, according to CONCACAF.

It said that, on Sunday, May 2, the 17-year-old made his first team debut with MLS side Inter Miami, coming on as a substitute in the second half of the team’s 0-0 draw with Nashville SC.

“In some ways, it was the completion of a journey that started in 2007 when his parents arrived to the US from the Dominican Republic when Azcona was just four years old,” CONCACAF said.

“Since then, football (soccer) has been his life, and it reached the first of many peaks in 2021,” it added.

CONCACAF said not only did Azcona make his MLS debut, but, earlier this year, he played in the 2020 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship with the Dominican Republic in what was the country’s first ever appearance in the tournament.

Despite his young age, CONCACAF said Azcona was one of the top performers in the tournament for the Caribbean side.

Costa Rica’s Randall Leal, right, takes a free kick as Dominican Republic’s Fabian Messina (6) and Edison Azcona try to block during a Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying championship soccer match in Guadalajara, Mexico, Wednesday, March 24, 2021.  Associated Press/Fernando Llano

CONCACAF said the forward started all three matches for the islanders, playing in every single minute and scoring the Dominican Republic’s first ever goal in a CMOQ, “when he slotted home a penalty kick against host nation Mexico with the calm and poise of a veteran player.”

In looking back on last March’s CMOQ, CONCACAF said “Azcona relished the opportunity to play for his country on such a large stage and believes the time in Guadalajara, Mexico was the perfect place-setting for his 2021 MLS season.”

Not only was Azcona a member of the Dominican Republic’s history-making CMOQ squad, but his play had previously garnered the attention of Senior National Team Head Coach Jacques Passy, who handed Azcona his debut in a January friendly versus Puerto Rico, followed by a second appearance six days later against Serbia, according to CONCACAF.

“I feel like he is one of the upcoming players in CONCACAF for the next 15 years, and I am very happy that I gave him his debut in the Dominican Republic National Team,” Passy told CONCACAF. “When you talk about Edison Azcona in two or three years, he will be one of the players in CONCACAF who everyone uses as a reference of a top player.”

CONCACAF said the experienced Mexican manager has seen his share of young players throughout the CONCACAF region and highlighted the work ethic possessed by Azcona in all phases of the game.

“I have not coached someone who is perhaps so complete at this very early age,” Passy said. “He’s not only a phenomenal player and has this fantastic potential, and is a natural talent, but also someone who is a workhorse. He works like crazy.

“He is a guy who wakes up every morning and wants to become better,” Passy added. “He wants to be a better player, a more complete player. Having the capacity that he has in attacking and his movement, it is amazing to see how good he is at defending as well. He is a very good teammate and his potential is endless.”

Yet for Azcona, the genesis of his rise comes from all the years of commitment and dedication to his craft, according to CONCACAF.

“At my age, all the time that I have had playing football at a competitive level, I have had to sacrifice a lot of time for football,” Azcona said. “So, everything I do revolves around football, because that is my priority.”

And at age 17, CONCACAF said “Azcona has fans in the Dominican Republic believing that their future is bright in football.”

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