US SoccerUS Soccer

16-Year-Old Phenoms Johnson and Quaranta Join Nike Project-40

CHICAGO (Thursday, January 25, 2001) - Major League Soccer's Vice President of Player Personnel and Managing Director of Nike Project-40 Todd Durbin announced today the signing of United States Under-17 National Team prodigies Edward Johnson and Santino Quaranta. The pair of attackers are currently among the 20 players in residency with the U-17's in Bradenton, Florida but will report to Ft. Lauderdale in early February where they will be eligible for the 2001 MLS SuperDraft on February 5 at the Signature Grand. At the age of 16 years and four months, Quaranta is the youngest player ever to sign with MLS, just nipping D.C. United's Bobby Convey, who signed with MLS at 16 years and eight months.

Johnson and Quaranta, who will both turn 17 this year, combined to score 55 goals for the U-17's last year, while appearing in 52 and 51 matches, respectively. The dynamic duo will be watched closely as the U-17's attempt to qualify for the 2001 FIFA U-17 World Youth Championships scheduled for Trinidad and Tobago in September. Qualifying matches for teams within the Football Confederation will take place in St. Louis, Missouri from April 18-22. Additionally, the two have forged a close friendship while competing in the national team system and are roommates at the Bollettieri Sports Academy in Bradenton.

Led by Head Coach John Ellinger, the U-17's played an aggressive 56-game schedule in 2000, compiling a record of 35-14-7. In 12 full international matches, the team went 5-4-3, competing against the likes of Italy, Germany, England, Holland, Mexico and Argentina. According to Ellinger, the scoring exploits of Johnson and Quaranta were a key to the team's success.

"Edward possesses all the tools," said Ellinger. "He is technically sound, has break away speed, is good in the air, and plays well with his back to the goal or the ball at his feet. Santino is superb technically and plays with a lot of pace. His has a strong work ethic on and off the ball, " Ellinger added. "Both of them are extremely strong finishers."

A native of Palm Coast, Florida, Johnson led the U-17's in scoring last year, registering 85 points on 33 goals and 19 assists in 52 games. In addition to being the team's leading goal-scorer, he was second in assists. At 6 feet 2 inches, 170 pounds, he reportedly had also drawn interest from Juventus of Italy's Serie A and some top Portuguese clubs.

"Eddie is one of the outstanding young goal-scorers in our country," said U.S. Men's National Team Coach Bruce Arena. "His decision to enter the professional ranks at this time should accelerate his development as a player."

Quaranta, who measures 6-foot, 165 pounds, led the U-17's in assists with 22 and finished second to Johnson in goals with 23. At the Mundialito of Salerno Tournament in Italy this past summer, he won the competition's Golden Boot award as the top goal-scorer. Highlighting that performance was a two-goal effort during a 3-1 win over Germany. The Baltimore, Maryland, native finished the tournament, which featured Italy, France, Argentina and Brazil, with three goals.

"Santino is at his best when he's running at opponents, said Ellinger. "With the exception of his size, he's very similar to Landon Donovan."

Created in 1997, Nike Project-40 is a join venture between MLS and U.S. Soccer aimed at providing America's top young soccer players with the opportunity to play and train in a professional environment on a daily basis. Players signed to Nike Project-40 contracts receive an educational stipend in addition to their salary but do no count against the official roster size of their MLS clubs.

2001 Nike Project-40 Alphabetical Roster
Asad, ShakerM/F5'7"14008/18/79Raleigh, N.C.N.C. StateN.E. Revolution
Barclay, DevinF5'9"16504/09/83Annapolis, Md.-Draft Eligible
Bardales Jr., IsaiasF5'10"15508/18/79San Jose, Calif.San Jose StateDraft Eligible
Beasley, DaMarcusM5'7"12605/24/82Ft. Wayne, Ind.-Chicago Fire
Beckerman, KyleM5'10"15504/23/82Crofton, Md.-Miami Fusion
Bower, ScottM5'8"16006/27/78Tampa, Fla.ClemsonS.J. Earthquakes
Buddle, EdsonF6'1"17005/21/81New Rochelle, N.Y.-Draft Eligible
Burciaga Jr., JoseD6'1"16611/16/81Duncanville, Texas-Draft Eligible
Carrieri, ChrisF/M5'8"15004/28/80Stafford, Va.North CarolinaDraft Eligible
Convey, BobbyM/F5'8"15005/27/83Philadelphia, Pa.-D.C. United
Cooks, MicahM6'0"16507/02/81Bethesda, Md.-D.C. United
Downing, NickD5'9"14501/25/80Redmond, Wash.MarylandDraft Eligible
Gomez, FranciscoM5'11"17001/25/79Watsonville, Calif.-K.C. Wizards
Green, MichaelD6'4"19007/16/78Columbia, Md.VirginiaK.C. Wizards
Johnson, EdwardF6'2"17003/31/84Palm Coast, Fla.-Draft Eligible
Longo, MarioM5'1"16812/03/80Raleigh, N.C.-Columbus Crew
Quaranta, SantinoF/M6'0"16510/14/84Baltimore, Md.-Draft Eligible
Quijano, MarvinM/F5'8"15010/09/79N. Hollywood, Calif.Rio HondoL.A. Galaxy
Rimando, NickGK5'11"18106/17/79Monclair, Calif.UCLAMiami Fusion
Saavedra, MiguelM5'11"15507/03/83Milwaukee, Wis.-Draft Eligble
Salas, SergioF5'8"15403/21/81Falls Church, Va.-D.C. United
Trembly, SethD/M5'6"14003/21/82Littleton, Colo.-Colorado Rapids