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Williams Calls 20 Players for U.S. U-17 MNT Trip to Turkey

CHICAGO (Jan. 15, 2014) – U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach Richie Williams has selected a 20-player roster for the Aegean Cup, which runs from Jan. 20-25 in Manisa, Turkey.

The USA has been placed into Group B with Norway and Scotland, as well as perennial attendee and reigning champion France. Host Turkey, Azerbaijan, Greece and Ukraine comprise Group A. The two group winners will play in the championship match on Saturday, Jan. 25, while the two group runners-up will meet the same day to decide third and fourth place, respectively.

The USA begins the tournament against France on Jan. 20, before facing Norway on Jan. 21 and Scotland on Jan. 23.

This is the third international tournament for this edition of the U-17 MNT. Previously, the team collected an unbeaten 1-0-2 record during a tour of Madrid, Spain, last October, and most recently won the Nike International Friendlies in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., by defeating Brazil 4-1 in its final match to claim a tournament-best 2-0-1 record.

All but two players on the roster, Pierre Da Silva and Tanner Dieterich, have ties to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. Of the 15 players currently registered with Academy teams, four are members of MLS Academy sides – Hugo Arellano, Carlos Avilez, Matthew Olosunde and Haji Wright.

Additionally, U.S. U-15 Boys’ National Team players Avilez and Nicholas Taitague have been called up and could see their first action with Williams’ U-17 side during the trip.

GOALKEEPERS (2): Carlos Avilez (FC Dallas Academy; Dallas, Texas), Will Pulisic (Richmond Strikers; Mechanicsville, Va.)
DEFENDERS (6): Hugo Arellano (Chivas USA Academy; Norwalk, Calif.), Tanner Dieterich (unattached, Tenn.), Edwin Lara (unattached; San Leandro, Calif.), John Nelson (Internationals; Medina, Ohio), Matthew Olosunde (New York Red Bulls Academy; Trenton, N.J.), Alexis Velela (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Eric Calvillo (Real So Cal; Palmdale, Calif.), Luca de la Torre (Fulham; San Diego, Calif.), Thomas McCabe (PDA; South Orange, N.J.), Logan Panchot (St. Louis, Mo.; St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri), Christian Pulisic (PA Classics; Hershey, Pa.), Nicholas Taitague (Richmond Strikers; Midlothian, Va.), Devin Vega (San Antonio Scorpions; San Antonio, Texas)
FORWARDS (5): Pierre Da Silva (New York Soccer Club; Port Chester, N.Y.), Orrin McKinze Gaines (Lonestar SC; Austin, Texas), Joe Gallardo (Monterrey FC; San Diego, Calif.) Elijah Rice (Chicago Magic PSG; Highland Park, Ill.), Haji Wright (LA Galaxy Academy; Los Angeles, Calif.)

Additional Notes:

  • Eleven players on the tournament roster were teammates on the U.S. U-15 Boys’ National Team that took third place at the Copa Mexico de Naciones last August under the guidance of head coach Richie Williams. The eleven players include: Hugo Arellano, Eric Calvillo, Joe Gallardo, Edwin Lara, John Nelson, Matthew Olosunde, Logan Panchot, Christian Pulisic, Nicholas Taitague, Alexis Velela and Haji Wright.
  • Thirteen players on the U.S. squad have been part of the U.S. Soccer Residency Program at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., since last autumn, not including forward McKinzie Gaines and defender John Nelson, who were added to the Residency roster this spring.
  • Nelson was previously included on the roster for the U.S. U-17 MNT’s tour of Madrid last October and for the Nike International Friendlies this past December.
  • This will be the first international tournament with the U-17 MNT for Gaines, forward Elijah Rice and midfielder Devin Vega. Rice and Vega have been in Residency with U.S. Soccer since last September when the current U-17 cycle began.
  • Haji Wright has been in superb form for the U-17 MNT. The LA Galaxy Academy forward scored eight goals in six games (five starts) during the Americans’ two previous international tournaments this cycle. Strike partner Joe Gallardo has also done well, notching six goals in six appearances (four starts). Both strikers also netted a goal apiece in the first of back-to-back friendlies with the Canada U-17 national team in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., last November.