U.S. Under-17 MNT Positional Breakdown: Midfielders
U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach Richie Williams comments on the team’s midfielders for the 2012 Nike International Friendlies.
On the midfielders as a group: “With guys like Junior Flores and Christopher Lema, we have very good players in this group who have some experience and continue to develop every semester. They continue to get better, and I’m sure they’re very excited for the Friendlies this week to show that they can develop even more and become even better players.”
On non-Residency midfielders Emerson Hyndman and Cameron Lindley: “We brought in Cameron Lindley who was in Residency last semester, turned it down this semester but might come back in the future. Emerson is in a different situation where he’s at Fulham on a full-time basis. So it’s just an opportunity to bring guys in that we see that have a future with us that are good young players and could be part of our team for qualification for hopefully the World Cup.”
Birthdate: Jan. 18, 1997
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minn.
2012 Highlights: The Minneapolis native has scored two goals this season for the U-17 MNT, including what would turn out to be the game-winning goal – a 44th-minute penalty kick – in a 2-0 win against the United Arab Emirates on Sept. 30 at the 2012 AGS Cup in Spain. His other goal this year came on Oct. 23 in a 5-1 victory against Chile in Santa Fe, Argentina. Entering the match as a 63rd-minute sub, Akale scored just six minutes after taking the field to give the United States a 5-0 lead. Akale has largely played a reserve role for the U.S. during 2012, coming off the bench in many of the matches in which he’s appeared. He is also one of just six players born in the 1997.
Previous Years: A former member of the U.S. U-15 BNT player pool, Akale was a member of the 2012 Spring Semester at the U-17 Residency Program and has also been a part of the Minnesota Thunder Academy U-15/16 team during the past two years, but has seen very limited playing time due to his involvement with the U-17s.
Birthdate: March 26, 1996
Hometown: Manassas Park, Va.
2012 Highlights: One of the more high-profile names on the U-17 MNT roster, Flores made headlines recently for signing a pre-contract agreement with back-to-back German Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund. Still just 16, Flores’ contract doesn’t start until March 2014 when the midfielder turns 18 years-old. Flores has been a part of every U-17 MNT international trip this year and will be playing in his second Nike International Friendlies tournament.
Previous Years: Flores hit the scene at the 2011 Nike International Friendlies, assisting on a goal during the first match against France, scoring the game-winning goal in the 88th minute against Turkey and adding another assist in the 3-1 win against Brazil. Flores played a handful of matches for McLean Youth Soccer U-15/16 during the 2011-12 Development Academy season.
Birthdate: April 9, 1996
Hometown: Canton, Texas
2012 Highlights: The grandson of FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman, the Texas native is one of the more technically gifted players on a talented Fulham Under-18 squad that has compiled a 7-3-1 record this season. This is Hyndman’s first call into the U-17 Men’s National Team.
Previous Years: Starting out at FC Dallas during the 2009-10 U.S. Soccer Development Academy season, Hyndman scored two goals in just five appearances playing against opponents 2-3 years older than him. That would be Hyndman’s only season in the Development Academy as the talented youth earned trials with European teams before landing at the Fulham Academy earlier this year.
Birthdate: Aug. 5, 1996
Hometown: Ridgefield, N.J.
2012 Highlights: Lema has been a consistent presence in midfield for the U-17 MNT since the 2011 Fall Semester. Steady and dependable, the New Jersey native turned 16-years-old nearly four months ago and looks to have a bright future. Lema was part of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-15/16 champion New York Red Bulls team that triumphed in Houston in July.
Previous Years: Lema was part of the Red Bulls Academy during the 2010-11 season as a developmental player and appeared in three matches. He was also a member of the U-15 BNT prior to joining the U-17 Residency Program.
Birthdate: July 18, 1997
Hometown: Carmel, Ind.
2012 Highlights: The 15-year-old Carmel, Ind., native is tied for the youngest player on the roster with fellow midfielder Ben Swanson. Lindley suited up for the U-15 BNT earlier this year in the International Marveld tournament in the Netherlands and was included in the U-17 Residency Program for the 2012 Spring Semester, earning roster spots for the Mondial Minimes tournament in France and the Copa Saprissa Internacional in Costa Rica, as well as a friendly against the Houston Dynamo Academy in May.
Previous Years: Lindley made 20 appearances and 12 starts for Indiana United during the 2010-11 season, which were followed up by training camp trips with the U-14 and U-15 BNT. The midfielder also was part of the ’96-’97 Academy Select team for the 2011 Winter Showcase.
Birthdate: Oct. 1, 1996
Hometown: Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
2012 Highlights: The California native first appeared for the U-17 MNT during the 2012 Copa Saprissa Internacional tournament in June and then earned a spot at the Residency Program in the 2012 Fall Semester. Muñoz scored goals in back-to-back wins against Costa Rica and Chorrillo FC at the Copa Saprissa on June 25 and 26. He also traveled with the team for international tournaments in Spain and Argentina.
Previous Years: Muñoz captained the LA Galaxy U-15/16 side during the 2011-12 Development Academy season, scoring four goals in 21 matches as the team reached the Academy Playoffs in Frisco, Texas. During the 2011 Winter Showcase, Muñoz was a member of the ’96-’97 Academy Select team.
BEN SWANSON, Midfielder
Birthdate: July 18, 1997
Hometown: Grove City, Ohio
2012 Highlights: The Ohio native joined the U-17 Residency Program for the 2012 Fall Semester following a strong showing in the 2011-12 U.S. Soccer Development Academy season and a July training camp with the U-17s. Sharing the honor of the youngest player on the U-17 roster for the Nike International Friendlies with Cameron Lindley, Swanson has yet to see any premium minutes with the team as he works his way into the fold. Swanson saw his first minutes with the U-17 MNT on Sept. 10. during a match against his old club, the Crew Soccer Academy. Earlier this year, Swanson came on as a substitute during a Columbus Crew Reserves match on April 12 against the New York Red Bulls.
Previous Years: Swanson appeared in 16 matches for the Crew Soccer Academy during the 2011-12 U.S. Soccer Development Academy season as well as making 14 appearances and five starts in 2010-11.