Competition Will Include 65 Teams Across the U-16, U-17 and U-18 Age Groups;
Brazil Returns For Second Nike Friendlies Appearance;
Coaching Symposium With U.S. Soccer National Team Staff to Coincide
CHICAGO (November 15, 2005) – The 2005 Nike Friendlies will take place from Dec. 1-4 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., with 65 teams competing across the Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 age groups. Elite clubs from 20 states will partake in the fifth annual event, along with the U.S. Under-15 Boys’ National Team, teams from the USA’s 40-player Under-17 Residency Program and a Brazil Youth National Team, which is making its second appearance at the Nike Friendlies.
U.S. Soccer’s Nike Friendlies is an annual competition in which the best youth soccer clubs around the United States are invited for a high-level four-day tournament which stresses quality soccer and player development over wins and losses. Tournament standings are not kept during the competition, in which each team plays four 80-minute games over the four days. A full list of teams and schedule of games will be released in the near future on ussoccer.com.
With 65 teams participating in more than 130 matches, the competition has more than tripled in size since 19 teams competed in the inaugural Nike Friendlies in 2001. The event has become highly anticipated by clubs and college coaches because of the emphasis on quality soccer and the top-level competition.
“For players wanting to be seen competing at an elite level, the Nike Friendlies is the most beneficial youth soccer event in the country,” said U-17 Men’s National Team Head Coach John Hackworth. “The Nike Friendlies has become one of the premier events in the country as it allows for optimal player development against high-quality competition. The advantages the players have taken away from this event over the past four years are tremendous and we are expecting the same will be true this year.”
U.S. Soccer will once again host a coaching symposium and a Premier Referee Academy as part of the Nike Friendlies extended weekend. The Coaching Symposium will last three days and features sessions led by Hackworth, U.S. Under-18 MNT Head Coach and Director of Education & Youth Development Bob Jenkins, U.S. MNT Goalkeeping Coach Phil Wheddon, U.S. U-17 MNT Goalkeeping Coach Tim Mulqueen and U.S. Men’s National Team Strength and Conditioning Coach Pierre Barrieu. For more information about the symposium, click here.
U.S. Soccer’s Referee Academy is a chance for 32 referees to be evaluated while learning what it takes to advance and work at the game’s highest levels. In conjunction, there will also be an Assessor Academy that will train six provisional national assessors. There will be six Coach/Mentors on hand to support the U.S. Soccer Referee Department staff develop the referees and national assessors. A select number of referees attending the academy may be chosen to work the MLS Combine and, from there, individual officials may be invited to join U.S. Soccer’s referee pool for the professional level.
Three U.S. U-17 Men’s National Teams will represent the United States during the event – the U-17 ’88 MNT, which finished fifth in the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship, the U-17 ’89 MNT and the U-17 ’90 MNT. To provide enough players for all three squads during the Nike Friendlies, an additional 11 players born in 1990 will be invited in to join the already 40 players in U.S. Soccer’s Residency Program.
The extra player invitations will also provide the U-17 National Team coaching staff the chance to see new players first-hand as they continue the process of determining the 40-player roster for the spring semester. At the end of the year, the 1988-born players will be leaving Residency, opening up a number of spots on the 40-man roster for the upcoming spring semester. Players born in 1990 will fill most of those open spots because the age cutoff for the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Championship is a player born on or after Jan. 1, 1990.
Brazil’s participation marks the fourth consecutive appearance by an international team at the Nike Friendlies. Brazil’s team will consist of players born in 1990 and is the squad that is beginning preparations to win a spot in the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Championship. This will be Brazil’s second appearance as they also competed in the 2003 event. Finland was the first team to participate in 2001, while Australia was involved last year.