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Development Academy Winter Showcase Continues As Day Two Wraps Up

  • Kellen Gulley’s 75th Minute Goal Leads U-17 MNT to 1-1 Draw Against Brazil
  • Team Training Education Highlights Day Two

PHOENIX (Dec. 6, 2009) – Day two of the 2009 Development Academy Winter Showcase came to an end yesterday at the Reach 11 Sports Complex in Phoenix with thousands of athletes and coaches having incorporated countless hours of team training into the overall Academy theme of Everyday Environment.

Each of the 154 Academy teams has at least one game under its belt, and four U-17 Men’s National Teams played two more exciting matches on Saturday evening.

The U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team overcame a halftime deficit to draw with Brazil 1-1 in the second match of the 2009 Nike International Friendlies in Phoenix. A counter attack led to the game’s first goal as Brazil scored just seconds before the halftime whistles, but the determined U.S. squad leveled the score in the 75th minute on a Kellen Gulley goal.

In other international action, the Netherlands came from behind against Portugal to score two second-half goals and come away with a 2-1 victory. All four games in the Nike International Friendlies have been decided by one goal or fewer.

Time spent with teammates and coaches, along with individual training and off-field habits encompass the Everyday Environment theme, the Development Academy’s biggest initiative for the 2009-10 season. The creation of a constructive training environment for the team has proven key in technical and tactical components coming together on the field. Throughout the season, technical advisors and national staff coaches travel across the country to observe and guide training sessions at each club, providing feedback and ensuring individual players and the team as a whole are getting the best possible training.

“Coaches can have a great influence on the everyday environment, and it starts with the training environment,” said Development Academy technical advisor Tony Lepore. “Coaches need to create three meaningful training sessions a week players look forward to but also feel challenged, have good attendance from the whole team, and foster a competitive, enjoyable environment where the fun you get is from pushing yourself and competing.”

Academy technical advisor Louis Mateus explains how the connection between clubs and national team coaches can help a club and its teams develop good training habits.

“It’s easy to bring [players] somewhere else sometimes, but in their own environment is when you’ll really learn something about them,” he said. “We’ll look at the clubs in the beginning of the year, a couple of times in the middle and again at the end. Our job is to look at what they’re doing on a day to day basis in their own environment, and where they need to go from there.”

While observing training, coaches are assessed in a few key areas, including attendance, the way the session is flowing and how competitive the training is.

Hugo Perez, a 1994 FIFA World Cup veteran, recognizes the importance of good team training to any team. His goal is to incorporate the methods of the national teams even more into the Academy club setting to provide a more clear direction.

“Academy coaches are learning what youth national team coaches are looking for, what their goal is and how to produce the type of players that the coaches are looking for,” said Perez. “It also helps them to be in contact with the national team staff, and they can learn how to become even better coaches.”

The third annual Winter Showcase continues in Phoenix through Tuesday, Dec. 8, with a highly anticipated Select Team match slated for Sunday evening and the Nike International Friendlies coming to a close with two games on Monday.

More from Phoenix:

  • A full recap of the Nike International Friendlies is available, including a game report and highlights of the USA’s impressive draw against Brazil on Saturday night and the Netherlands win against Portugal.
  • Development Academy Select Teams kicked off yesterday as a team of players born in 1994 took on FC Dallas early Saturday afternoon. Later in the day, a team of players born in 1993 battled the New York Red Bulls.
  • On Sunday, U-18 MNT head coach Mike Matkovich will lead a Select Team against another team coached by U-20 MNT head coach Thomas Rongen. The two teams will play under the lights on the same field used by the Nike International Friendlies.
  • The YNT Blog is the top place to find all the information about this weekend’s Development Academy Winter Showcase. There you’ll find exclusive photos, videos, interviews and happenings in Phoenix.
  • Day Three of the Development Academy Winter Showcase continues on Sunday from the Reach 11 Sports Complex with 46 games across 16 fields. For a full schedule and results from Phoenix, keep up with