CHICAGO (November 24, 2003) — U.S. Director of Youth Development and U-17 Men’s National Team head coach John Ellinger has finalized a 90-game, four-day schedule for U.S. Soccer’s third annual Nike Friendlies from December 5-8, 2003. Highlighting the schedule will be a trio of matches televised by Fox Sports World featuring the U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team, Brazil’s U-17 Men’s National Team and a Nike Friendlies All-Star Team.
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"Having these matches on national TV offers great exposure not only for our team and players, but for our entire residency program," said Ellinger. "We have had some great young players come through our program over the years, and this class of players is no different."
As they did last year, the U.S. will field two teams in the tournament from their 40-member residency program divided by age level. The U.S. Under-17 1987s will play the first two televised matches, while the U-17 1988s will play one. The U-17 1987s will face the Brazil U-17 MNT on Dec. 5 at 2 p.m. ET and that match will be aired at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, Dec. 11 on Fox Sports World. The second televised game for the ‘87s will be against a Nike Friendlies All-Star Team on Dec. 6 at 2 p.m. ET (delayed at 8 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 12). The ‘88s will also face Brazil on Dec. 7 at 1 p.m. ET (delayed at 11 p.m. ET on Dec. 12).
In their last meeting with the U.S., Brazil eliminated the U.S. in the quarterfinals of the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championship in Turku, Finland, and this rematch is the beginning of the road for both teams to the 2005 FIFA Under-17 World Championship in Peru.
The overall competition begins when the first six matches kick off at 10 a.m. ET on Friday, December 5 at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Games will be played throughout the weekend, with the last matches starting at noon on Monday, December 8.
The Nike Friendlies are an annual youth soccer event presented by Nike and U.S. Soccer that invites elite soccer clubs from around the United States and Youth National Teams to the IMG Academy at Bradenton, Fla. Most teams will play four games (one per day) and no standings are kept so that the emphasis is put on quality soccer and player development as opposed to wins and losses.
In three years, the event has become a highly anticipated event by clubs and college coaches because of the emphasis on quality soccer. This year a total of 47 teams are scheduled to compete in three age groups (Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18), representing 15 different states. More than 90 matches will be scheduled and seven fields will be used.
As part of the four-year-old residency program, the U.S. players attend classes at the nearby Edison Academy and then return to the IMG Academy campus in Bradenton, Fla. to train daily under the guidance of U.S. Under-17 head coach Ellinger and his staff.
Started in 1999, the U.S. Soccer full-time residency program has become an important piece of the overall player development picture. Alumni to the program include Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Bobby Convey and most recently Eddie Gaven and Jonathan Spector, who joined the MetroStars and Manchester United, respectively, in 2003.
2003 Nike Friendlies TV Schedule
Teams Date / Time Fox Sports World Air Date / Time
U.S. Under-17 MNT ('87s) v. Brazil Under-17 MNT Friday, Dec. 5 / 2 p.m. Dec. 11 / 8 p.m.
U.S. Under-17 MNT ('87s) v. Nike Friendlies All-Stars Saturday, Dec. 6 / 2 p.m. Dec. 12 / 8 p.m.
U.S. Under-17 MNT ('88s) v. Brazil Under-17 NMT Sunday, Dec. 7 / 1 p.m. Dec. 12 / 11 p.m.
Click Here for a Full Schedule