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Day One Under Wraps from Development Academy and Winter Showcase and Nike International Friendlies

• Everyday Training Theme in Full Effect with Individual Training on Display
• U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team Drops 2-1 Decision to Portugal in Nike International Friendlies
• Coaching and Referee Education Continues at the Reach 11 Sports Complex

PHOENIX (Dec. 5, 2009) -- As the 2009 Development Academy Winter Showcase gets underway, the overall theme for the year is in full effect, as Everyday Training is being incorporated into player and coaching education surrounding games as well as in the matches themselves.

Highlighting the day’s activities were a pair of international matches, pitting the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team against Portugal and the Netherlands against Brazil.

The new cycle of players for the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team played their first international game live on Fox Soccer Channel from the Development Academy Winter Showcase in Phoenix, falling 2-1 to Portugal.

The U.S. will regroup for its second match of the 2009 Nike International Friendlies on Saturday, Dec. 5, at 7 p.m. MT in a match against Brazil that will be shown live on Fox Soccer Channel. On Friday afternoon, Brazil defeated the Netherlands 2-0.

The international games, were well attended by the Showcase participants and highlighted players who have reached high levels by training individually as well as with their team.

Technical advisor Louis Mateus, who has seen hundreds of players rise from the club ranks to various youth national teams, explains that along with the Academy-mandated three training sessions per week, players have to train individually to reach the highest levels of the game. Training, he says, incorporates more than ball work.

“(Every day training) becomes important because in order to be competitive in a world market, in order for the players to be better, we have to get better in what we do,” said Mateus.

“That has to come not just on game day or practice day, but in everything we do. Physical fitness, the way we eat, sleep, rest, all those things become much more important in order for us to be successful. I think first of all, it has to come from the players.”

Tony Lepore, who has seen the Academy mature into its third season, agrees players in the United States must adapt to meet the high technical standards set by top-level players around the world.

“If you look at all the top players and skill development, it wasn’t taught by the coach,” said Lepore. “It was spent through a relationship the player had with the ball on his own. I think young players especially need to know that they’re training only through the time spent at practice, it’s just not enough.”

Through opportunities to work with national staff coaches and see elite players competing on the next field over at the Winter Showcase and Nike International Friendlies, players can see the next level and find out first hand what it takes to reach the world stage.

With six international games featuring U-17 Men’s National Teams from Brazil, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United States, Academy teams get an up close look at the highest level for players in their age group.

First up in the Nike International Friendlies was the Netherlands against Brazil, pitting two of the world’s top youth programs against each other on Field Four of the Reach 11 Complex. The South Americans stole the show, putting on a display of technical skill that led to a 2-0 win.

In the second match of the double header, the U.S. gave up two early goals before finding their rhythm, eventually falling 2-1. Irvin Gijon converted a 37th minute penalty for the Americans’ lone goal.

More from Phoenix

-Action continues on Saturday at Reach 11 with a full slate of 58 games, including two Development Academy Select games. Both the U-15/16 and U-17/18 age groups are in action across 16 fields

-On Saturday evening, the U.S. U-17 MNT will take the field for its second of three games this weekend, taking on Brazil under the lights. Wilmer Cabrera’s side rounds out its week in Phoenix with a match against the Netherlands on Monday. Both games kick off at 7 p.m. MT and will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel.

-In other international action, Portugal and the Netherlands square off on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. local time, while Monday will see Brazil against Portugal as the lead in to the USA game.

-More than 250 college coaches are in attendance in Phoenix, joining 30 members of U.S. Soccer's youth national team scouting network and coaches.

-TheYNT Blog is chronicling all the action both on and off the field at Reach 11. Be sure to stay tuned for exclusive videos and photos, along with regular updates throughout the weekend.

-For more on individual training from the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Technical Advisors, be sure to check out the full-length feature from Tony Lepore, Louis Matues and Hugo Perez at