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28 Teams to Take Part in 2nd Annual U.S. Soccer / Nike Friendlies


CHICAGO (Thursday, December 5, 2002) — The second-annual U.S. Soccer / Nike Friendlies kick off tomorrow (Friday, Dec. 6) at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.  After a successful tournament in 2001, the number of teams in the 2002 invitational swelled from 19 teams in two age groups last year to 28 teams in three age groups this year.

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team will split into two teams – an older team made up primarily of players born in 1986 and a younger team made up primarily of players born in 1987 – with the older team competing in the Under-18 age group and the younger team in the Under-17 bracket.  The older U.S. team opens against the Under-18 Colorado Rush squad at 11 a.m., and the younger team follows at 1 p.m. with a match against the 2002 National Champion Atlanta Fire.

In all, the 28 teams are scheduled to play a total of 50 games over the four-day event.  However, inclement weather delayed at least one team’s travel plans on Thursday and may disrupt Friday’s game schedule.

“This event will showcase some of the best young players in the United States,” said U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach John Ellinger.  “Nike and U.S. Soccer have worked hard to put together a tournament that will benefit all of the teams involved, as well as the coaches who come in for the symposium.  We had a very successful event here last year, but I look forward to putting together four days of soccer that will improve on last year’s event.”

U.S. head coach and Director of Youth Development John Ellinger will host a three-day coaching symposium in conjunction with the Friendlies.  The symposium will run from Dec. 6-8, and in addition to Ellinger and members of the U.S. National Team coaching staff, two coaches from Finland’s technical staff will also present at the symposium.
 
The teams in the 2002 U.S. Soccer / Nike Friendlies represent some of the finest youth clubs in the U.S., and the participating clubs combined to send 11 teams to the 2002 U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship.

Under-18 Clubs
IMG Academy
U.S. Under-17 MNT
Bethesda Allliance
Richmond Strikers
Colorado Rush
Houston Texans
Blackwatch SC (Fla.)
Syracuse Blitz
Finland Under-17 MNT
Temple Terrace
FC Delco
Gotshalks Nike NE Select (Gotshalks Nike NE Select is an all-star team made up of players from five different clubs.)
Sockers FC

Under-17 Clubs
U.S. Under-17 MNT
IMG Academy
Bethesda Cannons
Richmond Strikers
Colorado Rush
Houston Texans
Blackwatch SC (NY)
Dallas Texans
Atlanta Fire  Blackwatch SC (Fla.)
FC Delco

Under-16 Clubs
IMG Academy
FC Delco
Temple Terrace
Blackwatch SC (Fla.)

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