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SPARQ Training and Nike International Friendlies Highlight Day Three of Winter Showcase

LANCASTER, Calif. (Dec. 7, 2008) – As the action continued on the fields with 39 games being contested at U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy Winter Showcase, players also took part in the first day of SPARQ testing at the Lancaster National Soccer Complex in Lancaster, Calif. The tests conducted by SPARQ staff will help players evaluate their fitness level and receive valuable feedback to improve their performance.

Along with players from the 74 clubs on hand at the Showcase, U.S. Men’s National Team defender Jonathan Bornstein went through three tests, including vertical jump, 20-meter sprint and the arrowhead agility test. Bornstein, who has played professionally for Chivas USA in MLS since 2005, scored some of the highest marks in the history of SPARQ testing.

SPARQ is an acronym that stands for speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness, which are measured via four soccer-specific physical tests that determine each athlete’s SPARQ Soccer Rating. The testing comes via U.S. Soccer’s partnership with Nike and SPARQ to enhance training for all the players in the Development Academy.

“It’s a very valuable tool to measure yourself and find the areas where you need to improve,” said Bornstein.  “I think it’s great that Nike and Sparq are providing these kids individual programs to help in their development.  I would have loved to have that kind of input when I was their age.”

The results serve as the foundation for individualized training programs that SPARQ will provide each athlete and each team after the Showcase. Each Academy club has also been put in contact with a local SPARQ trainer who can follow up and continue to assist with the SPARQ Training. The teams had previously completed the fourth component of the test, the yo-yo test, off-site.

 “The SPARQ soccer rating is representative of that athlete’s overall soccer-specific athleticism,” said SPARQ Soccer’s Eric Hakeman. “We distill it into one number because it allows for a comparison. Because the tests are standardized any athlete that has a rating can compare him or herself to any other athlete that’s tested too and then those individual test results will serve as a foundation for training programs that we can deliver to all the teams in the Development Academy.”

After going through SPARQ testing, Bornstein headed to the international field to watch the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team go up against Brazil in the Nike International Friendlies, a rematch of their game from Friday afternoon. The match, which was broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel, was a fairly even affair. The U.S. took an early lead through a Jack McInerney header, but Brazil battled back to score two goals in each half to take a 2-1 victory.

Earlier in the day, a younger U.S. U-17 squad faced Australia, quickly falling behind by two goals just nine minutes in before responding with a pair of their own to pull even at halftime. The second half was a bit more defensive, but each team was able to tally a goal to end up in a 3-3 draw.

The final day of matches will take place Monday, with almost all of the 148 teams playing their final match at Lancaster National Soccer Complex.