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U.S. Soccer Player Outreach & ID Program Being Staged in South Florida on March 10 & 11

CHICAGO (March 8, 2007) – A total of 76 players from South Florida will take part in a U.S. Soccer Player Outreach & Identification Program this weekend on March 10 and 11 at Florida International University as part of the organization’s continuing focus on player development throughout the United States. The purpose of these outreach events is to provide players who have played outside of the traditional youth soccer system an opportunity to showcase their skills for collegiate, professional and U.S. Soccer coaches.

This particular outreach identification program is being staged for players from South Florida between the ages of 16-18 that have not previously been involved in the traditional youth soccer system. The local coaching staff scouted more than 375 area players throughout the past few months at six separate tryouts before deciding on the 76 players to be invited to the final event.

In 2006, the Player Outreach & ID Programs were staged in both South Florida and Houston. In South Florida, 225 players were scouted before 80 were eventually invited to the identification camp, while 345 total players participated in the process in Houston. The final Houston session took place in January with 78 players getting an opportunity to be seen by wide array of coaches. These programs are an increasingly popular method for U.S. Soccer to expand its player development initiatives to all areas of the country and player pool.

“The players in this camp closely resemble the multicultural mix that makes up so much of the United States,” said U.S. Soccer Region III National Staff Coach Juan Carlos Michia. “These players haven’t had an opportunity to be seen before through traditional methods and we are excited to be able to provide a forum for their skills.”

The 2007 event is being coordinated by Michia, with assistance from a number of South Florida area coaches, including Eric Eichmann (Boca Raton), a forward for the U.S. Men’s National Team at the 1990 FIFA World Cup. The selection of coaches also features Miami’s Luis Calix, a former member of the Honduras National Team, and Luis Perea, who represented Colombia at the 1990 and 1994 FIFA World Cups. The other coaches include Herb Dunning (Miami), Alvin James (Weston), Victor Pastora (Kendall), Julio Perdomo (Miami), Johnny Ramos (Plantation) and David Villano (Coconut Grove).

“We have a seen a little bit of everything thus far, in terms of the type of player that we have scouted,” said Michia. “Our goal as an organization is to continue to host these types of events around the country to give talented players an opportunity to be seen.”

In 2006, U.S. Soccer coaches Thomas Rongen, Dave Dir and Bob Jenkins were among those who attended the showcase event. Coaching representatives from U.S. Soccer, Major League Soccer and more than 30 colleges are expected to attend this year.

"This is an important way to cast our net wider as we continue to try and discover players throughout the United States," said U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team Head Coach John Hackworth. "There is not just one way, but rather an unlimited number of ways for a young player to be identified, improve as a player and move up the ranks. This program takes that into consideration and provides a great avenue for these players to showcase their skills."