U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team Game Report
Participants: USA U17 MNT vs. Peru U17MNT
Location: Duluth, Ga.
Date: June 11, 2007
Weather: 81 degrees
1 2 F
USA 0 0 0
PER 0 0 0
USA: 18-Zac MacMath; 2- Sheanon Williams (15-Brek Shea, 52); 3-Mykell Bates; 5-Tommy Meyer; 6-Dan Wenzel; 16-Brandon Zimmerman (Howard Turk, 56); 19-Alex Nimo (20-Alex Dixon, 70); 8-Jared Jeffrey; 13-Billy Schuler; 9-Ellis McLoughlin (10-Bryan Dominguez, 58); 11-Abdus Ibrahim;
Subs not used:1-Josh Lambo; 7-Axel Levry; 12-Kirk Urso; 14-Jesse Paredes; 17-Greg Garza; 21-Chris Klute; 22-Brendan King; 23-Nick Millington; 25-Ryan Gracia;
Head Coach: John Hackworth
PER: 1-Eder Hermoza; 2-Jersi Socola; 5-Nestor Duarte; 15-Jairo Hernandez; 22-Juan Arce; 6-Bryan Salazar; 8-Carlos Bazalar; 10-Daniel Sanchez (3-Anthony Molina, 68); 11-Luis Trujillo (20-Gary Correa, 46); 9-Jruen Avila (7-Reimond Manco, 46); 19-Christian La Torre (18-Cesar Ruiz, 84);
Subs not used:4-Joseph Munoz; 12-Pedro Gallese; 13-Miguel Calderon; 16-Yovic De La Cruz; 17-Juan Zevallos; 21- Ernesto Salazar
Head Coach: Juan Jose Ore
Shots 12 2
Shots on goal 5 0
Saves 0 4
Fouls 13 20
Corner Kicks 3 3
Offside 3 2
USA Alex Nimo (caution) 17th minute
PER La Torre (caution) 43.
PER Manco (caution) 46.
USA Wenzel (caution) 51.
PER Manco (ejection) 63.
PER Salazar (caution) 69.
USA Shea (caution) 71.
PER Correa (ejection) 75.
PER Salazar (ejection) 79.
Head coach John Hackworth
On the match:
“It was a pretty strange match overall. We scored early, which is good, but then we dropped into a defensive shell which wasn’t good. We regained momentum in the game with some solid possession and got a second goal going into halftime with the game in control. We got the third goal in the second half and, as young kids are prone to do, I think we lost our composure a little bit by having a player thrown off and get three yellow cards. In the end, we did kill the game off, get our three points with a shutout. We think we can get stronger as the tournament goes on and that’s what we’re going to try and do.”
On facing Canada in their next match:
“Canada has been very impressive so far. I think they played probably the best game of the tournament in the opening game against Jamaica. They’ve played two games, haven’t given up a goal, are extremely organized and a well-defending team. I think they’re also dangerous going forward and we’ll have to increase our game to get a result against Canada on Wednesday.”
On if they’re confident due to their past performances against Canada:
“We’re always confident, but we’re always very humble to know that anytime you play international soccer, especially in CONCACAF, you have to come and bring your best. We can certainly play better than we did tonight and we’ll focus on doing that.”
On how the red card will affect the Canada match:
“That’s tough to say right now, but we lost our best attacking player. No question. He’s our leading goal scorer and the most dangerous player on the field for us. It’s going to affect us, but we have a deep team and hopefully some of the other guys step up.”
Midfielder Alex Nimo
On his first goal:
“Coach told me when we get it to go out wide for the quick switch and Wenzel had it and saw me. I was wide open and took a touch in and saw Billy making a run so I tried to play it in. It got blocked but fell right to me so I just decided to go for it and took a shot on goal. I didn’t know what to do since it was my first goal. I was relieved and really excited.”
Captain Mykell Bates
On the win:
“We’re satisfied, but not satisfied. We’re very happy we got a 3-0 win and got a shutout, but the tournament is not over and we still have a job to do. Right now, this game is in the past and our main focus is Canada on Wednesday.”
On losing Ellis McLoughlin for the next match:
“That affects us tremendously. Not only are we losing a great player, we may have to change our plans tactically. It’s just tough seeing a good player like him who scored our second goal out for the next game.”
On Trinidad & Tobago getting chances:
“We know what we did wrong. We didn’t put pressure on our left side. What we have to do in our next game against Canada is play the rules of defense, which number one is put pressure on the ball when it is in our half. That’s what we’re going to have to do and hopefully that will cut down on the number of crosses we’ll have to deal with inside the box."
KINGSTON, Jamaica (April 30, 2007) — Alex Nimo scored two goals while Ellis McLoughlin tallied once as the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team opened Group B of the 2007 CONCACAF Final Round Qualifying Tournament with a 3-0 shutout over Trinidad & Tobago at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica. The U.S. sits in third place in the five-team group with a game in hand.
Costa Rica and Canada battled to a scoreless draw in the early match of the Match Day 2 doubleheader, keeping them first and second in the group. Canada is in first with a better goal differential (plus-3) than Costa Rica (plus-two).
Nimo and McLoughlin were the story of the night from start to finish, with Nimo providing a magical opening when he finished a fantastic individual effort from close range in just the second minute for his first international goal. McLoughlin tallied just before halftime and Nimo put away his second of the night in the second half, but the pleasant night quickly turned sour when McLoughlin was sent off for a reckless challenge in the 80th minute.
McLoughlin will miss the USA’s next match against Canada, which will be on Wednesday, May 2 at 6 p.m. ET. Fans can follow the match live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
“It was a pretty strange match overall,” said U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach John Hackworth, who is at the helm for his second straight U-17 qualifying campaign. “We scored early, which is good, but then we dropped into a defensive shell which wasn’t good. We regained momentum in the game with some solid possession and got a second goal going into halftime with the game in control. We got the third goal in the second half and, as young kids are prone to do, I think we lost our composure a little bit by having a player thrown off and get three yellow cards. In the end, we did kill the game off, get our three points with a shutout. We think we can get stronger as the tournament goes on and that’s what we’re going to try and do.” [More Post-Game Quotes]
Billed as an extremely talented player even before joining U.S. Soccer’s Residency Program this January, Nimo had the stadium buzzing with a stellar performance where he showcased his fantastic touch, blinding speed and ability to finish. The Liberian-born midfielder didn’t take his time either as he provided the U.S. he lead with what was almost his first touch.
Sitting on the right flank, Nimo ran onto a long ball from Daniel Wenzel, but slowed down just enough to time his first touch, which was a sharp cut inside, to catch the backtracking defender Akeem Adams off balance and leave him in the dust. Inside the area, Nimo tried to slip the ball low across the goalmouth to a crashing Billy Schuler, but his pass was deflected by a defender, only to fall back into his path. Nimo didn’t hesitate as he took one touch toward goal before ripping his six-foot shot past helpless goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel and into the top netting.
“I didn’t know what to do since it was my first goal," said Nimo, who raced to the corner flag and danced for his celebration. "I was relieved and really excited.”
The early goal seemed to settle Trinidad as they quickly became the more aggressive team, continually pushing forward and finding room to serve in crosses from the right flank. After putting a couple shots on goal the didn’t worry U.S. goalkeeper Zach MacMatch, forward Daniel Cyrus provided a stern test in the 18th minute when a poorly cleared ball fell to his feet at the top of the box. Cyrus unleashed a low blast that looked destined for the left corner, but MacMatch stretched out just enough to get his right hand to it and deflect it wide.
After weathering the storm, the U.S. began to control the tempo, but struggled to find the final pass as Trinidad was bunkering in on defense and looking for the counter. The U.S. broke though on a quick replay that started just over the midfield stripe on the left sideline. The free kick was touched square to Greg Garza who knocked it down the right flank for Williams and he dribbled towards the endline before slipping the ball back across the box. McLoughlin almost over pursued his run, but was able to reach back to collect the pass and then with his next touch strike it past the ‘keeper into the left side of the goal for his 12th international strike.
With a 2-0 lead, the U.S. provided too many opportunities for Trinidad to get back in the game by committing fouls in the final third to give them free crosses into the box or looks on goal. In the 60th minute, Trinidad had it’s best chance of the night when Jean-Luc Rochford got free on the right edge of the penalty area and despite three challenges was able to keep his feet as he neared the endline before hitting a cross into traffic in front of the six-yard box. MacMatch got a hand on it, but couldn’t bring it in and let his defenders in front of him clean up the rest as they blocked two shots, one inside the area by Leston Paul and another by Sean DeSilva just outside the box.
Nimo then finished things off two minutes later when he got on the end of a good build-up by the U.S. After some possession, Adbusalam Ibrahim pushed the ball up the left sideline for Brek Shea and he deftly curled in a cross that Nimo buried from six yards out.
As the U.S. tried to kill off the game, McLoughlin made a costly error during a battle for a ball in the air with two Trinidad players near midfield. With a elbow raised high, McLoughlin’s challenge was deemed dangerous by the referee and he sent the USA’s leading scorer off with a straight red card.
The U.S. is the only country to qualify for every FIFA U-17 World Cup, earning a berth to all 11 previous tournaments. The 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup will take place in South Korea from August 18 to September 9.
- U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team Game Report -
Participants: USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Competition: CONCACAF Group B Qualifying Tournament (Final Round)
Location: National Stadium; Kingston, Jamaica
Date: April 30, 2007
Weather: Warm, 80 degrees
1 2 F
USA 2 1 3
TRI 0 0 0
USA – Alex Nimo 2nd minute
USA – Ellis McLoughlin (Sheanon Williams) 38.
USA – Alex Nimo (Brek Shea) 62.
USA: 18-Zach MacMath; 2-Sheanon Williams (4-Howard Turk, 67), 3-Mykell Bates, 6-Daniel Wenzel, 15-Brek Shea; 19-Alex Nimo, 8-Jared Jeffrey, 17-Greg Garza, 11-Abdusalam Ibrahim (7-Nicholas Millington, 65); 13-Billy Schuler (10-Byran Dominguez, 79), 9-Ellis McLoughlin.
Subs not used: 1-Josh Lambo, 5-Thomas Meyer, 12-Brendan King, 14-Jesse Paredes, 16-Brandon Zimmerman, 20-Alex Dixon.
Head Coach: John Hackworth
TRI: 21-Glenroy Samuel; 3-Ryan O’Neil, 4-Akeem Adams, 5-Akeem Adams, 18-Micah Lewis; 16-Marcus Joseph (9-Chad De Freitas, 61), 15-Chike Sullivan (19-Kevin Molino, 31), 6-Leston Paul, 14-Jean-Luc Rochford; 10-Stephan Knox, 11-Daniel Cyrus (8-Sean Desilva, 58).
Subs not used: 1-Jesse Fullerton, 2-Aubrey David, 7-Brenton Balbosa, 12-Robert Primus, 13-Stephan Chang, 20-Isaiah Fergusson
Head Coach: Anton Corneal
USA / TRI
Shots 10 / 11
Shots on goal 5 / 6
Saves 4 / 2
Fouls 24 / 11
Corner Kicks 3 / 3
Offside 1 / 1
USA – Sheanon Williams (caution) 24th minute
USA – Abdusalam Ibrahim (caution) 28.
TRI – Marcus Joseph (caution) 54.
USA – Mykell Bates (caution) 69.
USA – Ellis McLoughlin (sent off) 80.
TRI – Leston Paul (caution) 81.
Referee: Ruiz Bondilla (SLV)
1st Assistant: Hector Delgadillo (MEX)
2nd Assistant: Juan Zumba (SLV)
Fourth Official:Jose Guerrerro (NIC)
Sierra Mist Man of the Match: Alex Nimo
Hackworth selected the majority of his 20-man roster from the 40 available players in U.S. Soccer’s Under-17 Residency Program based in Bradenton, Fla. Defender Tommy Meyer, who was formerly in Residency for two semesters, is the only player selected not currently with the U-17s on a full-time basis in Bradenton. All of the players were born on or after Jan. 1, 1990, with five making the roster from the younger 1991 age group.
The U.S. has a bye during the opening day of the tournament on April 28 and will open up against Trinidad & Tobago on Sunday, April 30 at 8 p.m. ET. The U.S. will then face Canada on May 2 at 6 p.m. ET, Jamaica on May 4 at 8 p.m. ET and finish against Costa Rica on May 6 at 6 p.m. ET. The U.S. will play all four matches at the National Stadium in Kingston. Every U.S. match of the CONCACAF Final Round Qualifying Tournament can be followed live via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
The top three teams will advance to the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup, which will take place in South Korea from Aug. 18 to Sept. 9. Those three teams will join Haiti and Honduras, which qualified from Group A earlier this month, to make up the five CONCACAF berths. Mexico, which won the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Cup, finished third in Group A with three straight draws and did not qualify for this summer’s World Cup.
The U.S. is the only country to qualify for all 11 previous FIFA U-17 World Cups. The U.S. won the CONCACAF Final Round Qualifying Tournament twice (1983 and 1992) when just one winner was crowned from 1983-1996. Since the event became a final round qualification consisting of two groups in 1999, the U.S. has won their group four times, taking home the Group A title during the past four competitions in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2006.
"Heading down to Jamaica to try and qualify for the World Cup will be a difficult task for us to accomplish, and one we are definitely looking forward to,” said Hackworth. “With a bye on the first day of the tournament, we will have to play four games in seven days, but we’re confident that the 20 players we’ve selected will give us the best chance to get through to South Korea. We will no doubt need to play our best to succeed, but the players know our goal is to come out on top in the group and guarantee ourselves a spot in the World Cup.”
Looking to ignite the U.S. attack will be forward Ellis McLoughlin, who has been the U-17’s most consistent goal scorer during the past two years. Since joining the U-17s in Residency, the Seattle, Wash., native leads the U.S. with 11 goals in 29 international appearances. Hackworth has a number of options to join McLoughlin up top, with Bryan Dominguez, Abdusalam Ibrahim, who was drafted by FC Dallas this January, and two players who joined Residency just this past January, Alex Nimo and Billy Schuler. Alex Dixon, who has also played in midfield, is another option up front.
Jared Jeffrey and Daniel Wenzel will patrol the center of the field for the U.S., the midfielders two of the most experienced players in international play. Jeffrey leads all players with 30 appearances and his composure and field awareness will complement the hard-nosed tackling of Wenzel. On the wings, the U.S. has a complement of players including Greg Garza, who had a goal and an assist from his left midfield position in the U-17s’ last international match against El Salvador on March 25 in Tampa, Fla. Also available will be Brendan King and Jesse Paredes, who connected in the tying goal against Brazil during the Nike Friendlies, along with Nick Millington and Dane Shea.
In defense, Sheanon Williams’ athletic ability provides the U.S. with coverage at the right back spot, but also allows him to push forward into the attack. Mykell Bates, Howard Turk and Meyer are options centrally for the U.S. in the back, and while all three are dutiful as defenders, they’re also dangerous on set pieces. Brandon Zimmerman can be counted on to fill an outside back position with gritty play and an ability to get forward.
The least worrisome position for Hackworth is at goalkeeper, where he has the option of two capable players in Josh Lambo and Zac MacMath. The two ‘keepers will push each other as they battle for playing time.
Since joining U.S. Soccer’s Residency Program in September of 2005, the Under-17s have won twice as many international games then they’ve lost with a 14-7-11 record. In 2006, the U.S. competed in six international tournaments in Argentina, England, Japan, Northern Ireland, and the United States, three times finishing in second place.
U.S. Under 17 Men’s National Team
April 30th – May 6th, 2007
|1||Lambo, Josh||GK||6’0”||205||11/19/90||Middleton, Wis.||Chicago Magic|
|2||Williams, Sheanon||D||5’11”||165||03/17/90||Boston, Mass.||FC Greater Boston Bolts|
|3||Bates, Mykell||D||5’9”||170||04/15/90||Roseville, Calif.||River City Clash|
|4||Turk, Howard||D||6’1”||165||07/01/90||Fairfax, Va.||SYA Force|
|5||Meyer, Tommy||D||6’2”||170||03/20/90||St. Louis, Mo.||Scott Gallagher|
|6||Wenzel, Daniel||M||5’11”||165||04/13/90||Federal Way, Wash.||FC United|
|7||Millington, Nick||M||5’7”||140||08/09/91||Raleigh, N.C.||CASL|
|8||Jeffrey, Jared||M||5’10||160||06/14/90||Dallas, Texas||Dallas Texans|
|9||McLoughlin, Ellis||F||5’10||170||07/08/90||Seattle, Wash.||Crossfire Premier|
|10||Dominguez, Bryan||M/F||5’4”||145||03/07/91||Atlanta, Ga.||Concorde Fire|
|11||Ibrahim, Abdusalam||M/F||6’0”||155||08/15/91||Richfield, Minn.||FC Dallas (MLS)|
|12||King, Brendan||M||5’11”||150||02/25/90||Naperville, Ill.||Chicago Magic|
|13||Schuler, Billy||F||5’11”||155||04/27/90||Allentown, N.J.||Matchfit Academy FC|
|14||Paredes, Jesse||M||5’6”||150||04/01/90||Los Angeles, Calif.||ISC Strikers|
|15||Shea, Dane||D/M||6’3”||180||02/28/90||College Station, Texas||Texans FC|
|16||Zimmerman, Brandon||D/M||5’9”||180||10/06/90||Pasco, Wash.||Crossfire Premier|
|17||Garza, Greg||M||5’7”||140||08/16/91||Grapevine, Texas||Dallas Texans|
|18||MacMath, Zac||GK||6’1”||170||08/07/91||St. Petersburg, Fla.||Clearwater Chargers|
|19||Nimo, Alex||F||5’6”||150||03/21/90||Portland, Ore.||FC Portland Academy|
|20||Dixon, Alex||M/F||5’8”||140||02/07/90||Humble, Texas||Texans FC|
Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (2): Josh Lambo (Middleton, Wis.), Zac MacMath (St. Petersburg, Fla.);
DEFENDERS (5): Mykell Bates (Roseville, Calif.), Tommy Meyer (St. Louis, Mo.), Howard Turk (Fairfax, Va.), Sheanon Williams (Boston, Mass.), Brandon Zimmerman (Pasco, Wash.);
MIDFIELDERS (9): Alex Dixon (Humble, Texas), Bryan Dominguez (Atlanta, Ga.), Greg Garza (Grapevine, Texas), Jared Jeffrey (Dallas, Texas), Brendan King (Naperville, Ill.), Nick Millington (Raleigh, N.C.), Jesse Paredes (Los Angeles, Calif.), Dane Shea (College Station, Texas), Daniel Wenzel (Federal Way, Wash.);
FORWARDS (4): Abdusalam Ibrahim (Richfield, Minn.), Ellis McLoughlin (Seattle, Wash.), Alex Nimo (Portland, Ore.), Billy Schuler (Allentown, N.J.)
ESCAPING A CIVIL WAR
“I remember I actually went to sleep with the soccer ball in my hands and my shoes under my pillow cause I was so excited,” said Nimo.
Having grown up in a Liberian refugee camp in Ghana, Nimo has a unique story that spans continents and hardships before bringing him to the Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla.
To capture just a glimpse of his tumultuous past, the story leads back to the country of Liberia at the onset of a political strife in 1989. A group of rebels, later to be known as the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, invaded a small county in Ghana and started the First Liberian Civil War, which was to last until 1996. When Nimo was born in 1990, the hope of peace was far beyond reach and Nimo’s parents fled to Ghana with their children, seeking refuge in the Buduburan Refugee Camp, which had been created for the purpose of offering sanctuary for the thousands of Liberian refugees.
For Nimo’s family, there was the hope of protection and refuge within the refugee camp, but for Nimo’s father, Tommy, there was now the overwhelming burden of financially supporting his family. During the family’s time in Liberia, Tommy had been working for the government and had been financially stable. Upon the family’s arrival in Ghana, his past experience failed to offer any advantage, and he soon found a job as a bus driver, working odd hours into the night.
“He’d go for the whole day, and sometimes he’d come back and I wouldn’t even see him because I was still asleep and he would leave at six in the morning,” recalls Nimo. “Sometimes, it would go like that for a month.”
At the time, little Nimo couldn’t grasp the gravity of the situation, and only years later did he understand the sacrifices his father had made for his family. While his father worked day and night supporting his family financially, Nimo remembers that there were many others in the camp less fortunate than his family.
“I was young at the time; I didn’t understand the death of a person or somebody who died,” he said.
As many refugees struggle to find food and medication for illness, death took the lives of people who couldn’t fend for themselves. Nimo remembers being on the streets and his mother covering his eyes as they passed dead bodies on the street, yet this didn’t shield Nimo from the truth that people were dying every day.
“If he’s not your neighbor, (the person dying) is two blocks away,” said Nimo. “Every morning you’d wake up and somebody was dead. Sometimes someone was laying in your front yard…dead.”
At the tender age of nine, Nimo and his family were finally granted political asylum to escape the overwhelming destitution. With financial support from Catholic Ministries, the family was scheduled to move to Portland, Ore.
When Nimo’s father told him of their move in the United States, Nimo quickly turned to a world map to find his new home.
“I looked on the map and I couldn’t see Oregon,” he said. “I had heard of New York but I didn’t know where Oregon was.”
Regardless of its unfamiliarity, Nimo’s family was excited about the move. For Nimo though, it was several months before he found his own niche in Portland.
SOCCER AS AN ESCAPE
Back at Buduburan, soccer had become a passion for Nimo, as it had been for many other young Liberian refugees at his camp. Every Sunday, everyone from your neighbor’s grandma to your little brother went to the soccer field to watch the games. The fields were packed and for the duration of those games, the soccer players were revered as heroes.
This was where Nimo had his start in soccer. His brother was five years older and was a member of the soccer team, and Nimo spent many years pleading with his brother to teach him how to play. For a while, Nimo and his friends kicked around a ball made of old, ratty socks and Nimo would use the streets of the refugee camp as their private practice field. Oftentimes, his father would scold him for leaving the house without permission. For Nimo though, it was all worth the effort, because his older brother noticed he was actually improving and began to train him.
When Nimo was eight, he was finally old enough to play with the camp teams and after a successful tryout, he was allowed to train with his brother and all the other older players. For an aspiring soccer player, training might seem like the golden ticket to stardom, but for Nimo it was the contrary, as all he remembers from those sessions is running.
“I thought, ‘Soccer is too much running,’” said Nimo. “You don’t play soccer, you just run.”
What was a disappointing introduction though eventually led to his first soccer game. One day, when Nimo’s brother had to sit out a game because of an injury, Nimo was told to grab his stuff and head to the field. With one brother traded for another, Nimo was given the opportunity he needed to show off his skill. After that successful debut, Nimo was given regular time on the playing field.
After a year of refugee camp soccer with his fellow teammates and coaches, Nimo undoubtedly sensed a pang of sadness when he was told his family was moving to Oregon. What had become such an integral part of his life seemed to slip away at the prospect of moving continents. Nimo wasn’t familiar with the U.S. sports scene and feared losing the opportunity to continue playing soccer.
THE SOCCER DREAM CONTINUES
For months after arriving in Portland, this continued to wrack Nimo’s thoughts and only after countless pleadings did his father inquire about information on soccer teams in the area. In 2000, Nimo and his brother hopped on a bus to make the trip to the FC Portland Academy tryouts at the University of Portland. When Nimo took the field with his brother on the Under-14 team, the pair was unstoppable, and his introduction into soccer in the U.S. became a day he wouldn’t soon forget.
“We both understand each other and we both have chemistry,” said Nimo. “He knows what kind of runs I can make so he was just giving me the ball and I kept on scoring with all these big guys on the U-14s.”
It didn’t take long for former FC Portland head coach Clive Charles to notice the youngster continually knocking the ball into the net despite going up against players five years older. Charles, who passed away in 2003, was also the head coach of the men’s and women’s soccer teams at the University of Portland and a former assistant for the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team, and was known for his ability to eye talent. On this day however, just about anyone could have picked out the nine-year-old Nimo.
At the time of the tryouts, Nimo and his brother didn’t even have cleats, instead wearing indoor tennis shoes to play on the outdoor fields. At the end of the tryout, Charles presented both them with their first pair of cleats and offered to drive them home. Charles spoke to Nimo’s parents and offered both boys a full scholarship to the FC Portland Academy.
Nimo attended the FC Portland Academy with a full scholarship and additional financial support for school supplies and clothes until making another step in his young soccer career in January of 2007. After receiving his citizenship, the door was finally wide open for Nimo to join the U.S. Soccer Under-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla.
U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach John Hackworth said Charles informed him about Nimo in 2003 and that he got to meet him during a trip out to Portland to scout players a year later.
“Right away we knew he was a good player, but he didn’t have citizenship at that time, so we basically had to wait to see if he would get his citizenship by the time he was old enough for the Residency Program,” said Hackworth. “He was high on my list for almost three years and thankfully, he ended up getting citizenship. We brought him in as soon we could.”
Nimo has only been with the Under-17s for three months, but has already made an impression on the coaching staff.
“Since he’s been here he’s done very well,” said Hackworth. “It’s a tough position to come into, but he’s done exceptional and we hope he will continue to improve. He’s definitely pushing for the qualifying roster and could even be a starter for us.”
What was a long and arduous road for the now 16-year-old seems incomprehensible for many other youth soccer players. Even after eight years in the United States, Nimo continues to find it difficult to share his story.
“It hurts me when I bring it up and sometimes someone will say, ‘That’s Africa,’” said Nimo. “It is Africa, it is what people go through, but you don’t understand it until you actually go through it yourself.”
What remains a difficult story to tell today will hopefully be openly shared in the future. With many friendships developing in Nimo’s life, he has found support within his colleagues.
“Actually, a friend of mine talked to me and said, ‘Don’t think about it just as negative, but as a positive…as something that can help somebody else with their life, because if you can go through it, somebody else might be able to go through it and keep strong,’” said Nimo.
As the years pass and Nimo grows from his past hardships, he has much to look forward to in the future with the U.S. Youth National Teams.
“I want to make the team for U-17 World Cup qualifying and I want to be on the team for our first game against Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.
As he continues his training at the U-17 Residency Program, Nimo seems to be on a straight path for success in U.S. Soccer. And even beyond 2007, his hopes and dreams stretch far into the future—three years to be exact.
“I pray to God that I can be able to play in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with the U.S.,” said Nimo. “That’s my goal for right now.”