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Under-17 Men's National Team in Focus: Tyler Turner

U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team captain Tyler Turner was destined to play soccer. Growing up with a mother who played and a grandfather who coached, Turner was raised with a ball at his feet. The Connecticut native joined the Residency Program in the fall, and already he has helped the U-17’s to victories against Turkey and Brazil at the 2011 Nike International Friendlies. Turner scored a goal in each game, and as captain was the first to hoist the tournament trophy.

When Turner joined the Residency program, he had previously been a center midfielder for Development Academy club South Central Premier and looked up to Arsenal’s Jack Wilshire, his favorite player on his favorite team. But U-17 MNT head coach Wilmer Cabrera saw Turner as a centerback, and he has adjusted well to the new position.

“When I go into play center back, I just try to keep my composure, and when the ball’s on my foot not to panic and just relax and play to feet. I want to bring a center midfielder’s qualities into a centerback’s game,” Tuner said.

Even he has adjusted to new role, Turner says he still has to remind himself that he’s not playing in midfield anymore, which means fewer runs toward goal.

“At times it could also be a tragedy, because sometimes I find myself getting overconfident and wanting to dribble out, but I always have to remind myself to relax and play smart,” Turner said.

Those skills were on display when he scored the game-winning goal against Brazil, when he skillfully avoided two Brazil defenders before unleashing a wicked blast into the upper 90.

“I just found the ball on my foot, and I just tried to work my way through the defense,” Turner recalled. “I found an opening, so I just shot it hoping it would go in, and it found the frame and went in.”

The celebration following the U.S.’s return to the lead was one of pure jubilation between the players and the many U.S. fans who came out to support the team.

“It was just a great feeling, because you’re never going to get another opportunity like this,” he said. “So you just have to take it to the max. Celebrating with my old teammates and my current teammates, it’s just a great feeling with all the love around us. We’re pretty much like brothers now. If one person is happy, all of us are happy for each other.”

As far as his professional goals go, Turner said he only takes things one day at a time. 

“To be honest, every day in Residency is a challenge and a competition,”  Turner remarked. “Every day I look forward to how I’m going to keep my spot in the starting 11, and how I can make myself the best player I can be. I just look to the day ahead and see where it takes me.”