Three Top U.S. Youth National Teams Set to Compete in U.S. Amateur Soccer Festival in Portland Next Week
The U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team, which holds a 10-4-3 record on the year, is led by midfielder and captain Ian Joy (West Lothian, Scotland). Joy, whose father played with Coventry City and Blackburn in England and later went on the play in America for the San Diego Sockers, recently signed a professional contract with Tranmere Rovers in his native Scotland. Several players on the U- 18 squad goalkeeper Doug Warren (Indiana), defender Kevin Wickart (Wake Forest), and defender Jonathan Weimer (UAB) are headed to NCAA Division I colleges in the fall. Coach Mitch Murray will be looking to improve on the team's 1-2-2 performance in their last competition, the Terborg International Tournament in Holland.
The U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team, which recently qualified for the 1999 FIFA Youth Championship in New Zealand in November, will be trying to extend their unbeaten streak in inter- national competition to 15 games when they face Canada's Under-17 National Team on August 4. The U-17s have not lost a game since Aug. 30, 1998. The Under-17 squad is led by two players - midfielder DaMarcus Beasley (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and defender Nelson Akwari (Houston, Texas) - that are currently with the U.S. Under-23 National Team as they compete in the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada. The team will be without the services of superstar forward Landon Donovan, who is headed to Germany, where he is playing with his new Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen. Head Coach John Ellinger, the winningest U.S. Under-17 coach of all-time with a 21-7-7 international record (or a .686 winning percentage), has guided the team to a 12-4-8 overall record in 1999.
The U.S. Under-16 Women's National Team are coached by former U.S. Women's National Team star April Heinrichs. The U-16s finished third in their last competition, the United States Youth Soccer Association's Olympic Development Program international tournament in February. Look for defender Jessica Ballwig, midfielder Susan Flamini and forward Lindsay Tarpley to lead the charges as the teenagers try to maintain the success of their Women's National Team role models.
In past tournaments, U.S. teams have done very well, with an overall 17-4-6 record over the last two years in which they have been involved, including a 11-3-1 record and two championships in 1997 and a 6-1-5 record in last year's tournament, which did not include overall championship games.
Recognizing the need to continue the development of young American players and needing a forum to identify other up-and-coming players, the United States Amateur Soccer Association has developed this event to serve those needs through its partnership with the United States Soccer Federation and a grant from the U.S. Soccer Foundation.
The U.S. Amateur Soccer Festival was originally conceived when the Unites States Olympic Committee (USOC) discontinued the staging of their annual U.S. Sports Festival in 1995. The U.S. Amateur Soccer Festival, which is sponsored and organized by the USASA, has incorporated the concept used in the U.S. Sports Festival and has expanded it to also include several U.S. National Teams and, for the first time in the tourney's history, an international entry Canada's Under-17 Men's National Team.
The first U.S. Amateur Soccer Festival was held in San Antonio in August of 1996, with the tournament moving on to Blaine, Minn., in 1997 and Manchester, N.H., in 1998.
Tickets for the event are on sale now and may be purchased locally at Fred Meyer stores or through the Oregon Amateur Soccer Association at (503) 292-1814. Ticket prices are: $5 (adults) and $3 (children).