Nearly One Year Removed from Nike’s Global Competition, Academy Product Looks to Take Game to Another Level
Rising out of a field of 150,000 participants certainly brings some well-deserved praise and recognition.
U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team midfielder Brian Iloski, who is with the U-18s at the 2013 Northern Ireland Milk Cup, became a bit of a household name when he was one of just 16 players to be selected from Nike’s “The Chance” competition in late August of 2012.
The Chance launched in 2010 and included the USA for the first time in 2012 as players from approximately 55 countries were noticed by top scouts and coaches throughout the world with the hope of reaching the Global Finals in Barcelona.
The Escondido, Calif., native and former San Diego Surf Academy player took the opportunity that originated locally at Nike Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., and ran with it.
“It was a great experience and I enjoyed it very much,” Iloski said. “It really motivated me to keep pushing on in soccer.
“I didn’t know much about it at first, but I got an official invite from The Chance and I decided to go,” Iloski said. “I won the top-four in Oregon, and after that 100 players from around the world went to Barcelona to try out for the top-16.”
Reaching the top-16 earned him the privilege of traveling around the globe for 35 days, playing soccer on a daily basis and competing in regular matches against other international talent.
“I had the experience of sharing that trip with people from all around the world, trying to communicate with them and get to know how their lifestyle is in Europe,” Iloski said. “Some of the guys came from England, Netherlands, Belgium, Serbia, all over the place. We were able to connect with all the players and the coaching staff and we played against a bunch of teams.”
The trip also included a stop in his home state of California, where The Chance squad defeated the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team 4-3 on Feb. 4 at U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center in Carson, Calif. Iloski assisted the game’s first two goals.
“That game was really neat because all of my family and friends came out to watch,” Iloski said. “I had a lot of support in that game, and it was fun playing against some guys that I knew on the U-17s.”
Iloski made his U.S. U-18 MNT debut with a start against Northern Ireland on July 31 at the 2013 Milk Cup. Iloski and his teammates are looking to utilize this international event and solidify themselves as the foundation for the U-20 MNT’s next cycle and the long-term goal of taking part in the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
“The Milk Cup is a huge tournament – one of the best around in the world,” Iloski said. “It’s an honor getting to play with the U-18 National Team here and experience something new.”
The U-18 MNT is another chapter for Iloski as he continues taking his game to the next level.
“I think I’ve learned a lot through everything – going through The Chance and going to camps with the National Team,” Iloski said. “It’s helped me learn more about the game and has developed me more as a player. There were times before where maybe I would lack confidence. But I’ve been confident on the field, and that’s the best feeling for me.”