After a week in Belgium, the New York Red Bulls academy can put their name up alongside the likes of FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Celtic, and other European powers as Bassevelde Cup champions.

The Bassevelde U13 Cup Tournament is an annual meeting of some of the top academy teams from across the world. It has been deemed the “Champions League” of U13 competitions, but for the first time in its 26 year history, an MLS club was in attendance.

Like the youth soccer version of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA, thousands of fans flocked to the rural Belgian town of Bassevelde to potentially see future stars like tournament alumni Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois, Memphis Depay and Romelu Lukaku.

The Red Bulls U13 team was the talk of the tournament, but was an unknown quantity for many in attendance heading into it. Over a two day period, though, they showed what they could do.


“This tournament represented a good opportunity for the Academy to benchmark ourselves against the best competition in the world at the youngest ages,” U13 Head Coach Juan BijKebbe said.

They did more than benchmark themselves, though. They went undefeated and won the championship.

“To have competed, and to have taken the trophy home, means that the New York Red Bulls Academy is taking steps in the right direction in continuing to develop elite talent,” BIjKebbe said.

The Red Bulls started the tournament in a group with European academy powers like SL Benfica and PSV Eindhoven, along with an all-star team of local Bassevelde talent.

2-1 wins over Benfica and the Bassevelde U-13 select team, along with a 1-1 draw with PSV, placed the Red Bulls at the top of the group and set up a match against Italian giants Juventus.

A last-minute goal stunned the tournament and saw the Red Bulls run away 1-0 winners and semifinalists.

A 2-0 win over West Ham United in the semifinals, winners of their own group, meant that the Red Bulls were one win away from a trophy.

In front of a crowd of over 1,000 people, Belgian side Club Brugge NXT stood in the way of the Red Bulls and a tournament title. Brugge NXT arrived at the final having won all of their matches by a combined scoreline of 13-2.


In the first half, for the first time all tournament, the Red Bulls trailed. A second half surge turned the game around, though, and New York emerged as 2-1 victors and champions.

“The group made the entire club proud with their performances against top European competition,” Senior Manager of Academy Business Operations Ryan Brooks said. "We go to these events to compete and showcase what we can do. This group did just that."

For many of the kids that made up the Red Bulls U13 team, it was their first time traveling this far for a soccer tournament.

From being away from their families, to having the opportunity to interact with players from across the world off the pitch, BijKebbe believes it was a valuable learning experience.

“Values like accountability, teamwork and discipline were all at top display in his tournament- being away from home for this long for the first time,” BijKebbe said.


For this Red Bulls team, a week in Belgium turned into a spot in the history of one of the most famous U13 youth tournaments in the world.

“The Academy is really proud of the hard work, commitment and the accomplishments of these 18 boys,“ BijKebbe said.