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Richie Williams Names 20-Player U-17 MNT Squad for Three-Match Pacific Northwest Tour

CHICAGO (March 6, 2014) – U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach Richie Williams has named a 20-player squad to take part in a three-match tour of the Pacific Northwest that will run from March 7-18. The trip includes games against the Seattle Sounders FC U-17/18s, the University of Portland Pilots and the Portland Timbers Reserves.

The U.S. U-17 MNT begins its tour in Seattle, where the players will train for two days as well as attend the opening kickoff of the 2014 MLS season when Seattle Sounders FC hosts Sporting Kansas City on March 8. Before departing the Emerald City, the U.S. U-17s will face a Sounders squad, featuring a blend of the club’s U-17/18 Academy players and first team Reserves at Starfire Sports Complex, Field 1 on March 10, at 7 p.m. PT. The match is open to the public and free to attend.

The U.S. U-17s then travel to Portland, Ore., for a game against the Portland Pilots on March 12. The match, which is set to kick off at 7 p.m. PT, will be played at Merlo Field on the university’s campus and is free to the public.

The team will train in Portland through the weekend, including one day at the Nike Campus in Beaverton, before playing its final match on March 17 against a Portland Timbers squad comprised primarily of the club’s first team Reserves and some players from its U-17/18 Development Academy team. Kickoff for the game is set for 10 a.m. PT at Providence Park and is a Timbers season-ticket holder event.

Seventeen of the 20 players on the U.S. U-17 roster are currently enrolled in U.S. Soccer’s Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla. Two non-Residency players, Edwin Lara and Nicholas Taitague, who are age eligible for the U.S. U-15 Boys’ National Team, continue their run of call-ups for Richie Williams’ side, and the only other player not currently in Residency is New York Red Bulls Academy product Tyler Adams, who recently captained the U-15 BNT for two friendlies against the United Arab Emirates during an international training camp in Abu Dhabi in February.

Including Adams, the New York Red Bulls lead the five MLS Academy teams represented with two players on the roster; Matthew Olosunde is New York’s other Academy product on the roster. The other four MLS Academies are Chivas USA (Hugo Arellano), Crew Soccer Academy (George Braima), FC Dallas (Alejandro Zendejas) and the LA Galaxy Academy (Haji Wright).

U.S. U-17 MNT SCHEDULE:
March 10; 7 p.m. PT
– U-17 MNT vs. Seattle Sounders Reserves/U-17/18’s; Starfire Field #1
March 12; 7 p.m. PT
– U-17 MNT vs. University of Portland Pilots; Merlo Field
March 17; 10 a.m. PT
– U-17 MNT vs. Portland Timbers Reserves/U-17/18s; Providence Park

U.S. U-17 MNT ROSTER BY POSITION
:
GOALKEEPERS (2)
: William Pulisic (Richmond Strikers; Mechanicsville, Va.), Kevin Silva (PDA; Bethlehem, Pa.)
DEFENDERS (7)
: Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls Academy; Wappingers Falls, N.Y.), Hugo Arellano (Chivas USA Academy; Norwalk, Calif.), Tanner Dieterich (TN Soccer Club; Nashville, Tenn.), Edwin Lara (De Anza Force; 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 (6)
: George Braima (Crew Soccer Academy; Columbus, Ohio), Eric Calvillo (Real So Cal; Palmdale, Calif.), Thomas McCabe (PDA; South Orange, N.J.), Christian Pulisic (PA Classics; Hershey, Pa.), Nicholas Taitague (Richmond Strikers; Midlothian, Va.), Alejandro Zendejas (FC Dallas Academy; El Paso, Texas)
FORWARDS (5)
: Pierre Da Silva (New York Soccer Club; Port Chester, N.Y.), McKinze Gaines (Lonestar SC; Austin, Texas), Eric Matzelevich (Bethesda-Olney; Washington, D.C.), Elijah Rice (Chicago Magic PSG; Highland Park, Ill.), Haji Wright (LA Galaxy Academy; Los Angeles, Calif.)

U-17 MNT Quote Sheet: The Aegean Cup Experience

U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team goalkeeper Will Pulisic, midfielder Alexis Velela and forward McKinzie Gaines speak about their experiences winning the 2014 Aegean Cup in Turkey. Pulisic also elaborates on winning the tournament’s Golden Glove award and his friendship with fellow U-17 goalkeeper Kevin Silva, while Velela sheds some light on being team captain, and Gaines describes his first international experience with a U.S. Youth National Team.

U.S. U-17 MNT goalkeeper WILL PULISIC
On the overall experience of the tournament:
“The tournament went really well for our team. I thought we were able to dominate most of the games. We felt we were the better team. The better teams don’t always win, but we were able to find a way to win. In the final, the last 20 minutes was really tough. We were up one goal and we learned that as long as we keep our focus and keep playing we can come out on top even when we’re playing against Turkey in their home stadium with their fans.” 

On the team’s confidence in playing its style of football against quality opposition at home and abroad:
“We’re all a family here. Everyone is close with everyone. So, whenever someone gets down, everyone is there to pick him up. We stick together and always have each other’s back throughout tournaments and everything we do.”

On the run of winning results the team has achieved at international tournaments dating back to August:
“We just want to keep winning. We learned from the last cycle that it’s important to win. You can play as well as you want, but in the end, it’s down to winning if you want to qualify [for the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup]. It all starts now, and that’s what we’re working up to. We just need to start winning now and hopefully keep winning all the way through.”

On being part of a team that has a growing string of winning results:
“It feels really good. It builds your confidence up, makes you play a lot better, makes the chemistry with the team a lot better, and makes you want to keep winning even more, which, in the end, that’s good.”

On being the team’s primary goalkeeper for the tournament:
“This was definitely my first time being the No. 1, and I saw it as a good opportunity to prove myself. I took advantage of it. I thought I played pretty well and I was happy with that. Whenever I get my name called, I’m going to step it up.”

On winning the tournament’s Golden Glove award:
“The guys were all happy for me. It’s a good honor to win that award. I couldn’t have done it without the rest of the team though. There are a lot of guys in front of me that helped me out, so that was a nice job from them.”

On his camaraderie with fellow U-17 goalkeeper Kevin Silva, who won the Golden Glove at the team’s previous tournament: 
“We’re really good friends. He’s one of my best friends on the team. We’re really close. We’re great competition for one another. When he’s in, I got his back and when I’m in, he’s got my back. It’s a good relationship between us.”

On what he is looking forward to with the team:
“Well, here in Florida, we just need to keep working hard and then the next international trip we’ll try to win it again.”

U.S. U-17 MNT midfielder ALEXIS VELELA
On the overall experience of the tournament:
“The experience was really good playing different teams that we haven’t played before. I think we dominated most of the games and deserved to win.”

On the similarities and differences between the competition in the team’s last two tournaments:
“Brazil, Portugal and England are really good teams. They were different than these teams that we played here. The big difference was we played them on our home field and in Turkey, we’re playing somewhere else, dealing with the crowd, the environment and everything, so it was different.”

On staying composed in a hostile atmosphere to beat Turkey in the final:
“We just wanted to win and go home with another victory. We motivated each other and talked with each other before the game, picked each other up, ‘Let’s have a good game, finish on a good note, and let’s take [a trophy] home’.”

On being part of a team that has a growing string of winning results:
“For me personally, I don’t like losing. Our team is not a losing team, we do anything to take the win, but since Mexico we’ve been doing really well. I’m just so proud of this team with how we’re doing, how we’re playing with each other.”

On being team captain and how it builds leadership skills:
“Being captain is really important. Taking a leadership role and helping others keep moving forward. If they made a mistake, keep putting their head up, keep going. We all make mistakes, so pushing the team forward is basically it. We have a lot of good leaders in the team like Eric Calvillo; he’s a really good leader too. We just push everyone forward, keep going and don’t let the mistakes get to you.”

On scoring his first international goal for a Youth National Team in the U-17s 5-2 win against Norway:
“At first, I didn’t even know it was my goal. It was an own goal basically, but it hit me at the end and it felt really good to score my first goal with a National Team.”

On his assist to Joe Gallardo for the opening goal in the final against Turkey:
“It was from a goal kick I think, and the ball was coming at me. From the corner of my eye, I saw Joe standing by himself with no one behind him. I didn’t think if I hit the ball it would go right to him, but I hit a good through ball and Joe finished it.”

On what he is looking forward to with the team:
“We’re a really good team, and I think we can still improve and get better together as a team to keep moving forward toward the [U-17] World Cup and Qualifiers. That’s what we’re heading to.”

U.S. U-17 MNT forward MCKINZIE GAINES
On the over experience of his first international tournament with a Youth National Team:
“It was great! Seeing all of the talent from the other countries at the tournament was great. It was nice playing at the highest level.”

On the learning opportunity the trip provided and what he took away from the experience:
“I learned that there are players all over the world who are just as good as you, and you can’t take anything for granted. You have to go out there and play your hardest every single day at training or in a game.”

On scoring his first international goal for a Youth National Team:
“It was a great feeling scoring my first international goal. I think Logan [Panchot] had a free kick and crossed it into the box. It was a great cross, and Hugo [Arellano] was there and met it with a header, but the keeper saved it. It fell to me and I headed it in.”

On an eventful last few months in his burgeoning soccer career:
“I think I have had time to process all of it. We had [the Development Academy Winter] Showcase in December and I played in one of the Select Games. From there, I came to Residency, then the trip and then, I ended up scoring. Hopefully, I can just keep getting better and better and just keep it up.”

On his outlook in the midst of such a successful time in his young career:
“It’s great to be recognized for something that you love to do. To make the [tournament] roster was a great feeling. It definitely gives me motivation to keep going. It tells me I’m on the right path, but I need to keep improving every single day because if I stopped right now nothing would come of it; I wouldn’t reach my dreams. I just have to keep going and working hard every single day.”

U.S. U-17 MNT Punches Ticket to Aegean Cup Championship with 5-2 Victory against Norway

MANISA, Turkey (Jan. 21, 2014) – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team continued its sterling start at the 2014 Aegean Cup by defeating Norway 5-2 on Tuesday to book its place in the tournament’s championship match.

The USA (2-0-0; 6pts) sits atop Group B and will play Scotland on Thursday before advancing to the tournament championship on Saturday. With France and Scotland drawing 1-1, neither team can catch the USA on points. Should the USA lose to Scotland and Norway beat France on Thursday, bringing the Americans and Scandinavians even on points, the USA will still go through as the top team in Group B by virtue of beating Norway head-to-head.

The USA’s victory against Norway was secured with three unanswered goals early in the second half, after the two teams went in to half time tied at 2-2. U.S. captain Alexis Velela scored the winning goal seven minutes after the restart, and Christian Pulisic added another three minutes later to give the USA some breathing room. Pulisic’s strike was his third goal in as many games dating back to the USA’s final match against Brazil at the Nike International Friendlies in December.

Nicholas Taitague, a call up from the U-15 Boys’ National Team, capped the proceedings after coming on as a second-half sub with his first international goal for the U.S. U-17 MNT in the 58th minute.

In the first half, forward Elijah Rice started off a late barrage of goals when he opened his U-17 account in the 21st minute. However, a pair of strikes from Norway’s John Hou Saeter and Sander Berge saw the match tilt in favor of the Scandinavians with five minutes remaining until the break.

The USA evened matters in the final minute of the half through newcomer McKinzie Gaines, who was just added to U.S. Soccer’s Residency Program this semester. After playing 11 minutes in the team’s 2-1 win against France on Monday, Gaines seized his opportunity to haul the U.S. level by scoring his first international goal in his first start with the U.S. U-17 National Team.

- U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team Match Report -

Match: United States U-17 98-99 Men’s National Team vs. Norway
Date:
January 21st, 2014
Competition:
2014 Mercedes-Benz Aegean Cup
Venue:
Akhisar ilce Stadi
Kickoff:
12:00pm GMT/UTC + 2
Weather:
64

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                         2 3 5
Norway                    2 0 2

USA Elijah Rice 21st minute
Norway John Hou Saeter 27th minute
Norway Sander Berge 35th minute
USA Orrin McKinze Gaines 40th minute
USA Alexis Velela 47th minute
USA Christian Pulisic 50th minute
USA Nicholas Taitague (Elijah Rice) 58th minute

Lineups:
USA:
1-Will Pulisic; 13-John Nelson, 5-Hugo Arellano, 18-Tanner Dieterich, 4-Alexis Velela (capt.) (2-Matt Olosunde, 54); 16-Thomas McCabe, 14-Logan Panchot (8- Luca De La Torre, 41), 20-Nicholas Taitague (19-Joe Gallardo, 66), 15-Devin Vega (10-Christian Pulisic, 41); 9-Elijah Rice, 17-Orrin McKinze Gaines (7-Haji Wright, 41)
Subs Not Used: 12-Carlos Avilez, 3-Edwin Lara

Head Coach: Richie Williams

Norway: 1-Jonatan Strand Byttingsvik; 7-Henril Bredeli, 6-Mathias Laudal, 5-Henrik Carlyle (4-Joachim Barstad, 65), 3-Edvard Aretun; 14-Markus Myre Aanesland, 11-Behrouz Habib, 8-John Hou Saeter (capt.) (9-Kristoffer Vassbakk Ajer, 41), 16-Martin Odegaard (13-Niklas Ontonsen, 73), 10-Sandar Berge (15-Rafik Zeknini, 65); 18-Andreas Klausen Helmersen (17-Birk Risa, 65)
Subs Not Used: 2-Patrik Braathen, 12-Mariua Halvorsen
Head Coach:
Harry Hensen

Stats Summary: USA / Norway

Misconduct Summary:

Officials:

N/A

**PLEASE NOTE –Game was 80 minutes**

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.

U.S. MNT ROSTER BY POSITION :
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.

Williams Names 28 Players to U.S. U-17 Men's National Team 2014 Spring Residency Roster

CHICAGO (Jan. 7, 2014) – U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach Richie Williams has invited 28 players to the 2014 Spring Semester of the U.S. U-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla.

Twenty-one players return from the 2013 Fall Semester Residency roster and are joined by new additions in McKenzie Gaines, Eric Matzelevich, AJ Palazzolo, Raheem Taylor-Parkes and Jaret Townsend, as well as U-15 Boys’ National Team midfielder Jose Carranza and goalkeeper Eric Lopez.

In 2015, the U.S. will be participating in the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, which serves as the qualifying tournament for the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup for the CONCACAF region. 

“We are very excited about the group of players that we brought in this semester,” said Williams. “We feel very confident in this group that will provide us with 20 players to go on to World Cup qualifying and hopefully through a successful World Cup qualifying campaign to lead us to next year’s World Cup.”

The players in Bradenton represent 22 U.S. Soccer Development Academy clubs. FC Dallas Academy, LA Galaxy Academy, Players Development Academy and St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri lead the way with two players apiece.

Fifteen players were part of the U-17 MNT that took first place at the recent Nike International Friendlies, including tournament MVP Christian Pulisic, Golden Boot winner Haji Wright and Golden Glove award winner Kevin Silva.

The U.S. players live on campus at the IMG Academies in Bradenton and train in the morning under the guidance of Williams and his coaching staff. In the afternoon, the players attend classes at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School.

While in the full-time Residency Program, the U.S. team not only trains daily, but also has access to the IMG Academies facilities. The team regularly uses the state-of-the-art strength-training facilities, as well as brand new dormitories and meal rooms.

Beginning in 1999, the Residency Program has given players the opportunity to move up the ladder in the world of soccer where many have become professionals in Major League Soccer or with some of the biggest clubs in Europe. Players such as Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan and Eddie Johnson have gone on to carve out careers with the full U.S. Men’s National Team. The program in Bradenton provides players with an environment where they can prosper as individual players and come together as a team ahead of regional and world competition.

U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team Roster by Position: Detailed Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Eric Lopez (LA Galaxy Academy; Westminster, Calif.), Will Pulisic (Richmond Strikers; Mechanicsville, Va.), Kevin Silva (PDA; Bethlehem, Pa.)
DEFENDERS (8): Hugo Arellano (Chivas USA Academy; Norwalk, Calif.), George Braima (Crew Soccer Academy; Columbus, Ohio), Nikkye De Point (Revolution Empire; Rochester, N.Y.), Tanner Dieterich (TN Soccer Club; Nashville, Tenn.), John Nelson (Internationals; Medina, Ohio), Matthew Olosunde (New York Red Bulls Academy; Trenton, N.J.), AJ Palazzolo (St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri; O’Fallon, Mo.), Alexis Velela (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (10): Eric Calvillo (Real So Cal; Palmdale, Calif.), Jose Carranza (D.C. United Academy; Manassas, Va.), Kyle Gurrieri (NJSA 04; Totowa, N.J.), Thomas McCabe (PDA; South Orange, N.J.), Weston McKennie (FC Dallas Academy; Little Elm, Texas), Logan Panchot (St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri; St. Louis, Mo.), Jaret Townsend (Real Colorado; Highlands Park, Colo.), Devin Vega (San Antonio Scorpions; San Antonio, Texas), Brian Zelaya (De Anza Force; San Mateo, Calif.), Alejandro Zendejas (FC Dallas Academy; El Paso, Texas)
FORWARDS (7): Pierre Da Silva (New York Soccer Club; Port Chester, N.Y.), McKenzie Gaines (Lonestar SC; Austin, Texas), Christian Pulisic (PA Classics; Hershey, Pa.), Eric Matzelevich (Bethesda-Olney; Washington; D.C.), Elijah Rice (Chicago Magic PSG; Highland Park, Ill.), Raheem Taylor-Parkes (Philadelphia Union Academy; Wesley Chapel, Fla.), Haji Wright (LA Galaxy Academy; Los Angeles, Calif.)

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