One-on-One with U.S. U-17 MNT Midfielder Josh Perez
In Lakewood Ranch, Fla., with the U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team for the Nike international Friendlies, midfielder Josh Perez took a break to speak with ussoccer.com about playing for the Youth National Team, what he enjoys about the game, and reveals a not-so-hidden talent.
Dec. 11, 2013
© John Dorton/isiphotos.com
ussoccer.com: How long have you been in the U.S. National Team system?
Josh Perez: “I’ve been in since the first cycle, actually, with the U-14s and I’ve also been with the ’97s [U-18s], as well.”
ussoccer.com: What was it like for you playing up an age group with the U.S. U-18 National Team players?
JP: “Very good! [They are] very good players. It definitely improved my skill and ability as a player, and I developed pretty well. I’m appreciative of [U.S. U-17 MNT head coach] Richie Williams giving me the chance to go with them.”
ussoccer.com: What is the biggest challenge you face playing at the National Team level?
JP: “There are a lot of challenges. These kids are amazing. Technically, physically, they are all very talented players, so everything is going to be a challenge. The speed of play, the passing, this and that, it makes me a better player and improves all of us as a group, as well.”
ussoccer.com: What does it mean to you to be called up to play for the U.S. U-17 National Team?
JP: “It’s a big opportunity. I really appreciate it. I’m lucky to be here out of the thousands and millions of kids who want to be here. I really don’t take it for granted.”
ussoccer.com: The USA plays Portugal, England and Brazil this week at the Nike international Friendlies. What excites you the most about playing against those
JP: “The thing that makes me excited is the teams themselves, just the names – Portugal, Brazil and England. They are very good teams, so we’re all willing to put in the work and get it done.”
ussoccer.com: What are your thoughts on the draw the USA was handed for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil?
JP: “All of us as a group thought it was pretty difficult, I guess. Hopefully we can get out and get the wins to win our group. We all watched the draw and it was difficult to see us play Ghana, Germany and Portugal, but we’ll get out of the Group Stage.”
ussoccer.com: What professional players do you look up to or model your game after?
JP: “I kind of look at Michael Bradley, even though he’s not in my position. I think Michael is a very technical type of midfielder that I like because he went to Roma, as well. I like the way he plays – a very calm, smooth player. That’s what I look up to.”
ussoccer.com: What are some of your favorite club teams abroad and in the U.S.?
JP: “I like Roma, Juventus and Fiorentina, and I’d probably go with the [LA] Galaxy.”
ussoccer.com: What do you enjoy most about playing the beautiful game?
JP: “My favorite part is just being with my family. All my players, all my friends, that’s family. I don’t think of them as teammates, I think of them as family. That’s the best thing about being here.”
JP: “Hobbies, I do a lot of dancing with my family stuff like that. I’m a big dancer. I do my Latin style dance, very traditional.”