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U-17 MNT Kicks Off 2006 Fall Semester in Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla.

40-Man Roster Consists of Players Born in 1990 and 1991;
Residency Program Has Produced More Than 40 Professional Players

CHICAGO (August 22, 2006) — U.S. Soccer’s Under-17 Residency Program’s fall semester kicked off this week as the 40 players began training at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

With only a year until the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup, the 40-player roster consists almost entirely of eligible players (born on or after Jan. 1, 1990), as 26 of the players were born in 1990 and 13 in 1991. Eleven of the 12 older players (born in 1988 and 1989) moved on to college or the professional ranks earlier this summer, with only Kyle Davies remaining in Residency to finish up his high school studies this semester.

In all, 21 players return to the Residency Program for at least their second semester, while 19 players will begin their first semester under the instruction of U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach John Hackworth. Of the new players, nine were born in 1990 and 10 were born in 1991.

In an effort to ensure they identified the top 40 players in the extensive player pool, Hackworth and the U-17 staff invited a total of 76 players into selected camps from August 2005 to July 2006. While the U-17 coaching staff travels around the country to scout players, inviting them into a U-17 national camp allowed the coaching staff to get an in-depth and personal view of each player.

“In the past, finding the best players has always been a little tough because you’re basing your decisions on watching players with their club teams,” said Hackworth. “It is much different when you have them with you in the national team camp, have them in training and when you put them in game situations and they put on a national team jersey. Getting a chance to see these kids perform as part of the U-17s has been invaluable in terms of picking out the best players for the Residency Program.”

All of the players will be competing to be a part of the next FIFA U-17 World Cup, which will take place from Aug. 18 to Sept. 9, 2007, in South Korea. The U.S. is the only country that has qualified and competed in all 11 FIFA World Championships at this age group. The U.S. will attempt to continue the streak as the CONCACAF Under-17 Qualifying Tournament will take place in April of 2007.

The 40 U.S. players live on campus at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and train daily under the guidance of Hackworth and assistant coaches Keith Fulk, Raul Diaz Arce, Tim Mulqueen and Brian Maisonneuve. Starting this semester, there is one notable schedule change in the Residency Program as the players will now train at IMG Academy 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, 170 players have been through the full-time Residency Program, and more than 40 of those players have moved on to Major League Soccer, or the professional leagues in Europe. Twelve players have also registered at least one cap with the full MNT: Freddy Adu, DaMarcus Beasley, 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. Last September at 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.

U-17 MNT Residency Program Roster - 2006 Fall Semester

U-17 MNT Roster By Position
GOALKEEPERS (4): Josh Lambo (Middleton, Wis.), Zac MacMath* (St. Petersburg, Fla.), David Meves* (Arlington Heights, Ill.), Larry Jackson (East Palo Alto, Calif.)

DEFENDERS (11): Brandon Lee (Tenafly, N.J.), Howard Turk* (Fairfax, Va.), TJ Nelson (Garland, Texas), Mykell Bates (Roseville, Calif.), Christian Ibeagha* (Edmond, Okla.), Alonzo Carter* (Fairfax, Va.), Zarek Valentin* (Lancaster, Pa.), Aubrey Perry* (Oconee, Fla.), Kofi Sarkodie* (Huber Heights, Ohio), Nick Millington* (Raleigh, N.C.), Kyle Davies (Pleasanton, Calif.)

MIDFIELDERS (15): Matthew Uy (New Hyde Park, N.Y.), Daniel Wenzel (Federal Way, Wash.), Axel Levry (Fort Washington, Md.), Jared Jeffrey (Dallas, Texas), Dane Shea (College Station, Texas), Kirk Urso (Lombard, Ill.), Alex Dixon (Humble, Texas), Jesse Paredes (Los Angeles, Calif.), Brandon Zimmerman (Pasco, Wash.), Greg Garza* (Grapevine, Texas), Brendan King* (Naperville, Ill.), Evan Raynr* (Calabasas, Calif.), Ryan Gracia* (Rockville, Md.), Amobi Okugo* (Sacramento, Calif.), Scott Caldwell* (Braintree, Mass.)

FORWARDS (10): Sheanon Williams (Boston, Mass.), Ellis McLoughlin (Seattle, Wash.), Bryan Dominguez (Atlanta, Ga.), Abdus Ibrahim (Richfield, Minn.), Israel Sesay* (Gaithersburg, Md.), Danny Barerra (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Eduardo Gonzalez* (Atlanta, Ga.), Jose Altimorano* (San Diego, Calif.), Dersu Abolfathi (Irvine, Calif.), Ryan Finley (Lumberton, N.J.)