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Under-17 Men's National Team in Focus: Junior Flores

For much of the Under-17 Men’s National Team’s run to the championship of the 2011 Nike International Friendlies, Junior Flores was the engine behind the U.S. attack. Recording a goal and three assists in the tournament, Flores earned Man of the Match for his performance in the 3-1 win against Brazil.

Having joined the Residency program from Academy club McLean Youth Soccer, Flores is part of an entirely new cycle of players in Bradenton. The dynamic attacker earned an assist on Tyler Turner’s game-winner against Brazil and scored the winning goal against Turkey on Dec. 2. His important contributions in games with the U-17 MNT are built on the foundation of the high level of training in Bradenton with his teammates.

“It’s a great experience for me, because I’m not used to training every day,” Flores said. “It’s competition every day with my teammates, so I’ve just got to keep working hard.”

The victory against Brazil and winning the Nike International Friendlies were especially satisfying for this young group of players, who are only three months into their time in the program.

“The team did really well [against Brazil],” Flores said. “I think we played really hard the whole 90 minutes, and we tried our hardest and came out with the three goals in the first half. That led us to victory.”

The Virginia-based midfielder, who is of Salvadorean descent, looks up to the Barcelona team for inspiration.

“I love watching Xavi and Lionel Messi at Barcelona,” the creative midfielder said. “They just keep it simple, passing around to the team. They don’t force goals, they just play simple. And if they have the chance to score, they score.”

For now, Flores is keeping his personal goals simple too. He’s not thinking too far ahead into the future and what that may bring. The immediate focus is improving his performance on a daily basis.

“My goals are just to keep working and trying my hardest, especially in practice every day,” said Flores. “I want to keep building confidence.”

After the success at the Nike International Friendlies, the U-17s head back to Residency for two more weeks of training and matches before finishing the semester. For Flores, that means a return to Virginia where he is excited to see his family and friends after being away from them for three months.