Fall 2007 Residency Underway in Bradenton, Fla.
CHICAGO (Sept. 5, 2007) — U.S. Soccer’s Under-17 Residency Program’s fall semester kicked off this week as more than 40 players resumed training at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla. The Residency pool is made of players born in 1990, 1991, 1992 and one player born in 1993.
Of the players in Residency, 26 are beginning their first semester of training under U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach John Hackworth, with 25 of those born in 1992. Those players born in 1992 or later will be working toward the next FIFA Under-17 World Cup, which will be held in 2009 in Nigeria. Of the 14 players born in 1991, four were a part of the most recent edition of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in South Korea.
A total of 22 players will be returning to the Residency Program for at least their second semester, including 10 players born in 1990 that will finish up their high school education this semester while training with the team.
“We looked long and hard, and we feel that we have brought in a new group of players who will complement those who are starting their second year,” said Hackworth. “These are players we can help develop and who hopefully have success in both this age group, and far beyond this program.”
The 48 players live on campus at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla., and train daily under the guidance of Hackworth and assistant coaches Keith Fulk, Raul Diaz Arce, Tim Mulqueen and Brian Maisonneuve. The players train at IMG in the morning and attend classes at Edison Academy in the afternoon.
Started in 1999, the U.S. Soccer Residency Program has become a symbol of U.S. Soccer’s dedication to producing development opportunities for players and the success of the Youth National Teams. With the successes of the U.S. Under-17 MNT during the first few years, the number of players invited into the full-time Residency Program was doubled from 20 to 40, adding 10 additional players in both fall semesters of 2002 and 2003. U.S. Soccer has been able to increase the number of players enrolled in the program to provide greater opportunities for young players and increase its investment in player development. With 40 players in Residency, the program is able to field two full teams that train together during the week, and get the chance to compete against club, college and international teams on the weekends.
"The residency program has given our players an excellent opportunity to grow and move up the ladder in the world of soccer and become professionals in Major League Soccer, some of the biggest clubs in Europe and even make an impact on the full U.S. Men's National Team,” said Hackworth. “We will look to continue this progress here in Bradenton by providing the players with an environment where they can prosper as individual players and gel as a team, crucial elements that have allowed for a positive move forward for all of our men's national team programs."
Since its inception, about 200 players have been through the full-time Residency Program, and more than 70 of those players have moved on to Major League Soccer, or the professional leagues in Europe. Thirteen players have also registered at least one cap with the full MNT: Freddy Adu, DaMarcus Beasley, Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Bobby Convey, Landon Donovan, Eddie Gaven, Eddie Johnson, Chad Marshall, Oguchi Onyewu, Heath Pearce, Santino Quaranta and Jonathan Spector. Beasley and Donovan both started in the 2002 FIFA World Cup as 20-year-olds, and were joined by Convey, Onyewu and Johnson in 2006.
In its first year of existence, the U.S. Soccer Residency Program enrolled 20 of the elite players in the country to train together in Bradenton and produced instant success as the Under-17s qualified for the FIFA Under-17 World Championship in New Zealand in November of 1999. On the world stage, the American teenagers rose to the occasion, winning their group and advancing to the semifinals before being ousted in a penalty shootout. The fourth-place finish tied for the best showing by a U.S. Men’s Youth National Team in a major international competition. Also, U.S. stars Donovan and Beasley were awarded the Gold and Silver Balls, respectively, as the top two players in the entire tournament.
After struggling in the “Group of Death” two years later, the U.S. rebounded with back-to-back fifth place finishes in the following two FIFA U-17 World Championships in 2003 and 2005. In the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship, the U.S. went undefeated in group play to win their group for just the third time in 11 appearances, and the first time since 1999. With expansion of the tournament to 24 teams in 2007, the U.S. advanced to the Round of 16 before being ousted by Germany.