Post-Game Quote Sheet: U.S. U-17 MNT vs. Honduras
April 14, 2013
U-17 MNT head coach RICHIE WILLIAMS
On the game overall and missing out on the U-17 World Cup:
“Obviously we’re extremely disappointed. The players have put so much into this preparation over the last 16 months with us and our goal was to get to the World Cup, and that’s not going to happen now. The game itself, I thought we came out and did a pretty good job in the first half. We had some opportunities that we did not take. Honduras was playing very direct, which gave us a little bit of problems here and there with their strength. For the most part, I thought we did OK. They had the goal and then we came back with another goal to go even at halftime. We made a couple mistakes in the second half, and at the end of the day we couldn’t take our chances. That’s soccer at times.”
On the players’ development and the big picture of their futures:
“We’re extremely proud of our players. We believe they have great futures ahead of them. One game is not going to define their career. You could see over the last 16 months working with them how they’ve developed, how they’ve become better soccer players and better people. They have great futures ahead of them. It’s unfortunate sometimes when it comes down to one game. People want to be critical. They’ve won a lot of games over the last 16 months against a lot of good teams. Coming down to one game, we can’t sit there and say that’s affected their development. We’re very disappointed. We tried our hardest. They tried their hardest to try to qualify for the World Cup. For whatever reason tonight it just didn’t work out. Honduras was the better team on the night and got the result they needed, and we didn’t, and that’s just the way it is sometimes.”
On the effectiveness of Honduras’ play:
“Honduras won the game and they did what they needed to do. At the end of the day it’s winning or losing. I thought their approach to play the game was very direct, which is fine. That’s the way they want to play. At times it was a handful for us during the game. It was effective for them. They had a couple chances from it and scored. They took their free kick well. I give them all the credit in the world for doing what they needed to do for qualifying for the World Cup, so good luck to them.”
U-17 MNT goalkeeper JEFF CALDWELL
On the team’s efforts coming up short during this process:
“We all worked really, really hard and put in 100 percent for a very long time. We all got better. At the end of the day, we just didn’t get it done tonight. It stinks. We’ll all have learned from this and it’ll make us better players and better individuals. It’s something tough and we’ll have to get stronger and get on with it.”
On rebounding from the loss in future events in the players’ young careers:
“Sometimes in a one-off game it doesn’t go your way. We were outplayed tonight. I let the team down partially. It’s tough and it hurts. We’ll just have to rebound in future World Cups and other cycles will have to be stronger and better and learn from this.”
U-17 MNT defender SHAQ MOORE
On what the team took away from the loss to Honduras:
“Tonight was a tough loss. After the game [head coach Richie Williams] just preached to keep our heads up. It’s not the last game and it’s not the end of the world. We can still bounce back from it, even though it’s a tough loss, and stay positive after everything that happened.”
On the team’s early scoring chances against Honduras:
“It was really tough because the first goal would dictate the whole game. I had one chance, Rubio had one and other people had one. That first goal is really crucial, but unfortunately we couldn’t get the first one and they took advantage of their effort, so you have to give them credit, too.”
CONCACAF U-17 Championship’s Caldwell and Louro Represent Strong Foundation Among Residency’s Four Goalkeepers
With only one starting position up for grabs, a team’s goalkeeping dynamic tends to be one of the most intriguing from a competition standpoint.
For the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team, Jeff Caldwell has established himself as the starter during the USA’s run at the 2013 CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Panama.
But among the U-17s at the Residency Program, there are plenty of alternative options waiting in the balance and pushing each other along the way. Evan Louro has teamed with Caldwell as the USA’s goalkeeping tandem in this tournament, while Residency keepers Paul Christensen and Carter Richardson have also been integral to the competitive nature within the group. Louro and Christensen have been the longest tenured Residency goalkeepers while Caldwell and Richardson joined in the early fall of 2012.
“Bringing in Jeff and Carter completely changed the dynamic of the four because it raised the level of training,” U-17 MNT goalkeeper coach Anthony Latronica said. “It started to establish a culture, and each of them pushed one another in as positive of a manner as you could hope. That’s the nature of our position – there’s one guy and there’s the next guy. But you always have to be ready because you’re one injury or one red card away from playing, and you’re one injury or one red card away from traveling. There’s motivation along the way.”
The goalkeeping corps has soaked in Latronica’s approach with the team, and it helps that he has been through the rigors with various U.S. Youth National Teams (U-20s and U-23s), played in Europe (Millwall in England and Monselice Calcio in Italy) and played domestically for various MLS teams for several years.
“He’s been very helpful, and you can just tell that he cares about what he does,” Louro said. “He’s been through it and he’s been a professional, he knows what to do and when to do it. Because of his style, it’s kind of like training with five people – four goalkeepers and a coach. It makes it easier.”
“He’s been great,” Caldwell said. “I came in and I’ve never had a full-time goalkeeper coach before I got here. He has taken most of my technique and polished it up, or in some cases built it from scratch because there were some areas of my game that were not as developed. He’s helped me round out my game and become more of a complete goalkeeper.”
Two themes – among many – that Latronica has focused on with the four Residency goalkeepers are playing well with their feet and improving their ability to read the tactical part of the game. For a player such as Caldwell, who had been a goalkeeper his entire career and never a field player, it is integral toward the team’s possession-oriented approach.
“We expect our keepers to play out of the back and build from the back, not only with their feet but with their throwing distribution, as well,” Latronica said. “A lot of people don’t teach that as much as they should. And we’ve created a functional environment in training that looks like what they’re going to face in the game to help them read the game and go over scenarios, how to effectively communicate, the timing and accuracy of the communication, staying connected to the back four and not be a disconnected goalkeeper.”
Setbacks and Opportunities
The road for all four players is bound to have some bumps along the way, and shortly into Caldwell’s Residency tenure, he suffered a left shoulder injury before the 2012 Nike Friendlies.
“It was kind of a freak thing where we were doing a finishing drill on Thursday morning, I dove, went fully extended and felt a little bit of a pop,” Caldwell said of his left shoulder injury. “I didn’t really think much of it, and then about 30 or 40 seconds later, I landed again in the same place and felt my arm go real weak. I had a lot of trouble lifting it up.”
The injury was a sprained capsule on the back, just to the bottom left of the shoulder. The U-17s had a short break before the Nike Friendlies kicked off the following week, but Caldwell was not able to return in that time frame.
“It was a little frustrating and kind of a setback, but after the Nike Friendlies we didn’t really have any intense competition for a while until the restart of the semester,” Caldwell said. “I stayed involved in trainings and serving a lot with my feet, so it wasn’t like I couldn’t move around.”
In retrospect, it was beneficial for both Louro and Caldwell. U-17 MNT head coach Richie Williams gave Louro some regular playing time at the Nike Friendlies, providing Louro with the platform to perform well and solidify his spot on the CONCACAF U-17 Championship roster. Caldwell, meanwhile, had enough of a stretch where he could work his way back in time for the big tournament in Panama.
“I think it was good for me,” Louro said. “I appreciate that the coaches had faith to put me in. I’d imagine it was tough for Jeff because he was pretty pumped and it’s held in the United States with all your friends there watching. It was a good opportunity for me to step in and show what I can do, and I thank Coach for putting me in for that.”
“You’re going to get hurt at times,” Caldwell said. “Obviously the timing wasn’t great. It was one of those things where I would have loved to have been there, but it does happen. Evan and Paul did well. I’m glad it was then, compared to two weeks before going to qualifying. In hindsight, it was better timing than it could have been, and you learn from it.”
Latronica on Louro’s Game
Louro’s raw ability in the goal has never been in doubt. Latronica says the mental and informational approaches to the game were something that he wanted to work with the most for the New York Red Bulls Academy product. Considering the amount of information goalkeepers have to assess and process, those areas of the game significantly improved for Louro.
“Obviously they’re all young for the position – very young,” Latronica said. “What he understands is that the daily approach in training, the consistency in not giving up goals in training and in our friendly matches, it starts building trust over time, and you constantly process information and learn from it. He is taking that information that we provide in a positive way and applying that in training.”
Latronica on Caldwell’s Game
Caldwell has only been with the Residency group for eight months, but Latronica has been impressed with the North Carolina Fusion product’s demeanor from the get-go.
“What Jeff brought to the table immediately was a work ethic, a great attitude, extremely good listening skills and he’s very intelligent,” Latronica said. “Coming from the soccer background he came from, there’s going to be a natural adjustment from a soccer standpoint. But in saying that, he has certain tools psychologically that helped him and he had a good foundation physically, as well as technically. You take all those components of a game and you pull them out one by one and you work on them, and then you plug them back in and you see what it looks like on the weekend. Jeff from the beginning started that process and was able to take the information and apply it and do well. In his first international trip, he did extremely well. That was the first true gauge that we knew potentially he could be the guy we could count on.”
Both goalkeepers have described the competitive atmosphere as a positive one, even though the nature of the business is tougher for the keeper who does not crack the starting lineup.
“We don’t look at it as a No. 1, 2, 3 and 4. We all go to training and we all work hard,” Louro said. “At the end of the day, it’s not our decision – it’s whoever Coach Williams and the staff decides. We’re all friends. We all live together and mess with each other, play video games.”
“The entire time I’ve been here, it has been really positive and competitive,” Caldwell said. “Everyone wants the spot and the job. It’s been a competitive environment. There’s no animosity among us. We all push each other and work hard. At the end of the day, we understand who’s earned the job.”
Like any of their predecessors who have worn the U.S. Soccer jersey, the players on the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team comprise a group with its own unique background. Each of those players has traveled on a different path, but all with the same goal: to reach the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Captain and starting right back Shaq Moore has spent the better part of two years at the Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla., representing part of a cohesive base under U-17 MNT head coach Richie Williams. Others, such as starting goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell, are a bit newer to the Residency lifestyle and have spent a good portion of their young career in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy system.
The players’ various experiences have converged in Panama City, where the USA opened the 2013 CONCACAF U-17 Championship with a 3-0 win against Haiti on Sunday. Next up is Guatemala on April 7 (6:30 p.m. ET on FOX Soccer).
“When you’re here together for two years, naturally you just gel,” Moore said. “You do everything together, and that creates good chemistry that’s tied to the team.
“It’s a professional environment, and waking up to that every day helps you get a lot better,” Moore said. “Technically, we work on our touches every day and you have to be able to think about the game. At this level, you can’t just play anymore. You have to be smart, too.”
Caldwell, who hails from the Academy’s North Carolina Fusion, was hoping to be on the Residency path a bit sooner and he got his chance in the fall of 2012.
“I made the Select game last December [in the 2011 Winter Showcase] and I didn’t make Residency, so that was kind of a motivator,” Caldwell said. “I’ve been familiar with how the program works and that’s where I wanted to be for the whole year before. I think I was ready for it because that’s what I was working toward the whole time when I wasn’t there. Obviously you miss home sometimes, but there’s nothing better than playing six days a week. In the grand scheme of things, it’s something I’m getting a lot out of with this experience.”
Moore’s path included club ball in Florida before his family moved to Georgia and he played for Cobb FC. In Residency, Moore has grown into a leader.
“Before Residency, I wasn’t really noticed like I would have liked to have been,” Moore said. “I didn’t go through the U-14s or U-15s. But in Residency I got noticed, and ever since I’ve gotten here I took it in stride and tried to do my best every day.”
Caldwell is quick to credit the Academy environment and the guidance of the Fusion for preparing him for Residency and now the spotlight of the 2013 CONCACAF U-17 Championship.
“The Academy is the reason I’m here,” Caldwell said. “I started playing at the club when I was in the eighth grade. It’s actually a two-hour drive from where I live. We went to back-to-back Finals Weeks – first with the U-15/16s and last year with the U-17/18s. Without that team and without the coaches I have, I wouldn’t be here right now. It’s a credit to them and it’s a credit to the system. I’ll give the Academy and my mom for driving me to practice the full credit to where I am right now.”
The U-17 Residency environment brings together the best of the best, and Caldwell has spoken to his coaches Chris Little (Fusion U-15/16 team) and Mark Nichols (U-17/18) about how beneficial the Academy process has been in making an easy transition.
“One of the things I told them is that their training sessions and preparation for the game got me ready for Residency,” Caldwell said. “It wasn’t like I was shocked by how similar it was from there to Residency. Coach Anthony Latronica has helped with my technique here at the U-17s, but the Fusion really helped me understand the game and understand my role. Both of them helped get us to Finals Week in consecutive years, so from a training standpoint, I don’t think they could have done much better than what they have done.”
Post-Game Quote Sheet: U.S. U-17 MNT vs. Haiti
April 7, 2013
U-17 MNT head coach RICHIE WILLIAMS
On the game overall:
“We’re very happy we got the three points. I thought the guys did a great job. A lot of times the first game of a tournament is difficult, with a little bit of nerves. I thought that the guys did a very good job and we got a result; that’s important.”
On whether he was surprised by Haiti’s showing:
“No, not surprised at all. I’ve played against Haiti when I played for the National Team and you saw Haiti in the Under-20 qualifying and they have a lot of talent. They’re athletic, they’re strong, they’re fast and they can play. They’re definitely a difficult team to play against. We tried to make sure our guys were aware, and early in the first half they came at us with pace. We thought if we kept our composure, we passed better and kept our shape a little bit better we would get our opportunities, which we did. After our defense settled down, I don’t think we gave them too much to look at in front of the goal.”
On Christopher Lema, who scored the game’s first two goals:
“Chris had a great game for us. He was very good on the ball, very good passing, was able to link up our defenders with our attackers, obviously took the penalty and had a nice second goal. He was very good tonight. Chris has been improving with our group from Day 1. He’s a valuable player for us and it’s great to see him grow as a player and to go out and score some goals for us.”
On the first goal settling the team down:
“I think it definitely helped, for sure, to get the goal. I still thought we had some chances. We had one really early in the game in the [first] minute of the game [from Ahinga Selemani]. Anytime you get an early goal and the first goal, it’s really important. It definitely helped us and gave us confidence.”
On Corey Baird, who moved into an attacking role during the second half:
“Corey’s been doing a great job for us as the number 10, and he does a really good job usually finding space in between the back four and the midfielders. He was having a little more of a difficult time in this game in the transition finding the ball. It looked like a little bit of man marking going on with him, so we thought by moving him out left, we thought Alan [Winn] got a little bit tired and we put Corey out left, brought Joel [Sonora] in to see if he could have a little more success holding the ball for us, which I thought worked.”
U-17 MNT midfielder COREY BAIRD
On drawing the penalty kick leading to Christopher Lema’s game-winner:
“We strung a bunch of passes together and I found the ball out wide. It was a big gap. I knew I could take the guy on. I got past him and he just put me down.”
On switching from a midfield to forward role in the second half:
“When I first came to Residency two years ago, I started playing as a winger and I moved over to attacking midfield about six or seven months ago. It was a position that I was not used to. It was good to find my way further up the field today and attack more.”
U-17 MNT midfielder CHRISTOPHER LEMA
On the team’s improvement during the course of game:
“We just picked it up, and we all started playing the ball, passing, finding opportunities, taking the shots. In the second half we came out stronger than the first half and just pulled through it. We got the three goals and the win. That’s what we needed.”
On the first-half penalty kick:
“My teammates trusted me taking the PK. Therefore I have to trust myself. I did a little stutter step, saw the goalkeeper move and just went to the other side.”
On the buildup for his second goal, assisted by Rubio Rubin:
“You would expect a forward to cross that ball back into the box or go for the header himself, but he saw that I was there, flicked it back to me and I just finished. Once I hit it, it felt perfect.”
U-17 MNT goalkeeper JEFF CALDWELL
On rebounding from a slow start to shut out Haiti:
“It was a little shaky the first 20 minutes, getting the first-game-of-the-tournament nerves out of our system. Once we got in a flow and we started stringing some passes together, we got in our rhythm, we got the first goal, Corey drew the penalty and Chris tucked it away. That’s always huge to get the first goal. Overall, I thought the back line was great. I didn’t have much to do today but we got our feet under us. We got into halftime up 1-0, came out the right way in the second half, stayed composed, got the second and third goal and did exactly what we needed to do. At the end of the day, we got three points, three goals for a positive goal difference and we’re looking forward to Guatemala.”
On the excitement of kicking off the big-stage event:
“It’s tremendously exciting. It’s great to finally be here and get it done. This is what we’ve been working toward. For me, it’s been eight months. It’s exciting to get out here and be in the moment and take advantage of it. There were jitters, but it’s what we’re here for. I enjoyed it, and I think everybody enjoyed it too after we got rolling.”
Date of Birth
Feb 20, 1996