The U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team capped off the 2014 campaign with a two-game split and an even aggregate score against a strong Germany side in Marbella, Spain. Head coach Javier Perez thought the players’ performance was a fitting end to the year, showing that many of them are ready for the next level in the Youth National Team system and beyond.
The U-18s program has brought in 83 players during this cycle, so Perez and the YNT coaches have had an opportunity to survey an extensive talent pool.
“This camp was great to see new players respond against a big nation like Germany,” Perez said. “Five players were with us for the first time in this cycle, including two with their first national team ever. We had about nine players out with commitments who were a big part of the team this year, and the new players were ready for the challenge.”
The USA opened with a 2-1 victory on Dec. 17 and dropped a 3-2 decision in the rematch against Germany on Dec. 19. Though the U-18s fell in the second game, the USA fought back from a 2-0 first-half deficit and had multiple moments in the second half to cash in with a late equalizer.
“The second half, we were focused mentally, and scoring in the first two minutes of the second half really pushed us,” Perez said. “Germany was asking for the final whistle at the end, and we created some chances. Overall, it was positive because it’s always difficult competing against big nations. They were not fazed and showed they can compete at any level. It was a good benchmark for us and a good reference point.”
Perez was impressed with the performances of wide array of players among this particular trip, from the back with the likes of goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann to the front line and Brooks Lennon, who scored the winning goal in the opener against Germany.
“Jonathan Klinsmann was really strong in goal in the first game and made a couple key saves in the first half. He has a good frame and is very talented,” Perez said. “Our outside backs did very well. Pablo Pelaez was consistent, and Kyle Duncan made his international debut and his second camp and we’re intrigued with how he will do. It’s also important to highlight Brooks Lennon because he has matured so much as a player. He had not been with the national team for a while, but he came back and showed the type of player we need up front.”