This will be the last installment of U.S. Youth National Team Notes as most of the teams will wrap up their training camps today at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The Under-18 MNT, Under-17 WNT and Under-16 GNT will play their final matches of the week this afternoon, while the Under-15 MNT will have one more game on Saturday. The U-17 ’88 MNT will also finish off the week with a game against a local club on Saturday.
Below are previews of today’s match-ups, along with features on three of the teams. The game reports for each match will be available later this evening at ussoccer.com.
U-18 MNT vs. U-17 ’88 MNT (3:30 p.m. ET)
This is the one match players from both squads have been waiting for all week. With a large contingent of the U-17 ‘87s getting called up for the U-18 camp this week, these two teams will be quite familiar with each other as it will basically be a battle between the two U-17 teams in Residency. John Ellinger, the head coach for both the ‘87s and ‘88s, has yet to pit the teams against each other since the Residency pool was increased to 40 last September, calling for the creation of an older and younger team. The U-18s, led by Danny Szetela, Rodrigo Hidalgo and Julian Valentin, have been talking about the game all week, gushing at the chance to knock around their “little brothers.” But, don’t think for a moment the ‘88s are going to just bow to the pressure as they know if they can beat the older Residency players they’ll have something to hold over the heads for the remainder of their time in Bradenton. Sounds like this one could be a classic matchup.
A DEFENSE FOR THE FUTURE: Tim Ward, Jules Valentin, Greg Folk and Nathan Sturgis. You might not know these names right now, but you probably will in the near future. The four make up the U-17 ’87 defensive back four, and this week are manning the backline for Bob Jenkins’s Under-18 squad. The quartet has only been playing together cosistently for a few months, but are being considered one of the better defensive units to come through U.S. Soccer’s Residency program since its inception in 1999. Click below to read more about the possible defense for the future:
U-17 WNT vs. Germany U-17 (2 p.m. ET)
The Under-17s are hoping to get the same result against Germany that they achieved last year almost exactly to the day, when they grabbed a 3-0 win on March 9 and then a 2-0 victory a few days later on March 13. To do that, the U-17s will have to find a way to contain Germany’s attack, which was unlucky against the U-16 GNT on Tuesday as they were able to get a couple good looks on goal but were unable to score. On the other end, the U.S. hasn’t had too much trouble scoring of late as eight different players have scored in just three games.
TRYING TO KEEP THE STREAK ALIVE: In the short time the U-17 WNT has been in existence (the team was added by U.S. Soccer last year to help develop players for the U-19 WNT), it has begun a small winning streak against international competition. With its latest 5-2 win against Canada on Tuesday (March 9), the U-17s are a perfect 4-0 against other national teams. Actually, at the end of the Canada game it was sort of a shock. Obviously, it wasn’t a shock that the U.S. won, but rather that Canada actually scored two goals. You see, last year’s U-17 WNT didn’t even let a single ball touch the back of their net. The 2003 U-17s outscored their opponents Canada and Germany (which they played twice) 9-0. Click below to read on:
U-16 WNT vs. Canada U-17 (1 p.m. ET)
The U.S. U-16 Girls’ National Team will be up for this match. After losing a tough, scrappy match to the U-17 WNT 1-0 on Thursday, the U-16s will want to take their frustration out on someone and Canada just happens to be next in line. But the girls will have to control their emotions and play solid in the back as Canada showed it can score, when it knocked home two tallies against the U-17s on Tuesday (March 9). The U-16s will have to remember how they beat Germany just a few days before, by not getting rattled early against an older and more experienced squad, and finishing when the opportunity arises.
PLAYING UP NOW TO HELP THEIR GAME LATER: The U-16 GNT not only has to play some of the best women’s national youth teams in the world, it usually has to face older, more experienced competition like it will this afternoon against Canada. With few other U-16 girls’ national teams throughout the world, the U.S. usually plays teams that are a year older, but according to their coach Sue Montagne-Patberg its something they treasure. Click below to find out why:
U-15 MNT vs. U-16 Clearwater Chargers (3:30 p.m. ET)
The Under-15 Men’s National Team is coming off a their first win of the week after coming back from a goal down to score three unawsered goals in the second half of their match with the U-17 IMG on Thursday. Now, they’ll be looking to keep their winning streak alive as they are up against a tough local club, the U-16 Clearwater Chargers. The Chargers will have their hands full with the midfield combination of Peri Mesosevic and Guiseppe Carotenuto and the blazing fast Justin True, who has given every team fits up front. The U-15s will finish up their camp against the Boca Juniors, another local club, on Saturday.