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CONCACAF Announces Jamaica as Host of U-20 Championships in January

MIAMI (July 23, 2014) – CONCACAF has announced that Jamaica will host the upcoming U-20 CONCACAF Championships in January of 2015, a tournament that will yield four qualifiers for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.

The National Stadium in Kingston as well as the Montego Bay Sports Complex in Montego Bay will host group matches as the tournament switches to a new format. The final round will also be played at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.

The new format will feature 12 teams divided into groups of six that will play a round-robin format kicking off on January 9, with the top finisher in each group receiving an automatic bid to the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup and a spot in the championship match on January 24.

The second and third-place finishers in each of the two groups will then be re-seeded into a four-team table. The top seed will play the fourth seed and the second and third seeds will face off on January 24. The winners of each of those matches will also qualify for the 2015 World Cup.

In total, the tournament will have a record 33 matches over 11 match days with a triple-header on each match day. The new tournament structure is to enhance competition for the championship and increase development with more matches.

Of the 12 teams, five will come from the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), four from the Central American Football Football Union (UNCAF) and three from North America. Mexico is the two-time defending U-20 CONCACAF champion, winning the title in Mexico in 2013 and in Guatemala in 2011.

CONCACAF U-20 Championships Jamaica 2015
 
Dates: January 9 – January 24, 2015
 
Location: Kingston and Montego Bay, Jamaica
 
Stadiums: National Stadium (Kingston) and Montego Bay Sports Complex
 
Participating Teams: 12
               
Caribbean Football Union: 5 Teams
North America: 3 Teams
Central American Football Union: 4 Teams
 
Number of teams qualifying to the FIFA World Cup: 4
 
Format: The twelve (12) teams shall be divided into a group stage consisting of two (2) groups (A, B) of six (6) teams each. The group winners qualify automatically for the FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015. The second- and third-place teams from each group are re-seeded by group stage results, with the top team of the four facing the fourth-best team, and the second-best finisher facing the third-best. The winner of each of those two matches also advances to the FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015.

U.S. U-20 MNT Wins NTC Invitational with Scoreless Draw Against Australia

CARSON, California (July 18, 2014) – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team concluded the inaugural National Training Center Invitational with a draw against Australia at StubHub Center, resulting in the U.S. earning the championship trophy.

Both Australia and the U.S. finished with seven points atop the standings, but the goal differential of plus-5 achieved by the U.S. was greater than Australia’s (plus-4) and awarded the USA the title. Australia finished as the runner-up.

Both teams had multiple opportunities to score, much to the delight of the American Outlaws who attended the game and were vocal throughout. The U.S. hit the upright or crossbar four times, coming within inches of scoring on various occasions. Lynden Gooch alone hit the frame three times.

Australia tested U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen early when Brandon Borello found a seam and got behind the defense, forcing Steffen off his line to corral the ball at Borello’s feet.

The U.S. had a near goal in the sixth minute when Tommy Thompson dribbled down the right side and lifted a cross into the box, bringing Australia goalkeeper Jordan Thurtell off his line. The ball fell to U.S. midfielder Fernando Arce, who lofted a shot from the edge of the box that was headed over the goal by an Australia defender.

U.S. midfielder Romain Gall had a free kick from five yards outside the box in the 21st minute and he fired a shot over the wall that hit the upper left corner of the goal and bounced over.

Australia’s Daniel De Silva took a shot from the right side outside the box in the 31st minute, forcing Steffen to make a leaping save to his right.

Gooch gave the U.S. another great chance in the 37th minute when he fired a left-footed, running shot from well outside the box that crossed past Thurtell and hit the right upright before bouncing away.

The U.S. forced Thurtell into action again just two minutes later with a beautiful combination that saw midfielder Paul Arriola dribble toward the end line to the left of goal before finding Arce alone in the center of the box. Arce struck the ball with full force, but his shot was just above Thurtell’s head and he was able to reach up just in time to deflect it away.

In the 46th minute, Gooch’s shot hit the upright again. Gooch took a shot from the edge of the box that was just out of Thurtell’s reach, but proved to be just off target as the ball caromed off the right post.

Thompson dribbled through a sea of Australia defenders in the 77th minute and freed himself for a shot to the right of the penalty area. His shot was deflected wide. Gooch hit the crossbar again in the 79th minute with a shot from the middle of the field outside the 18-yard box that Thurtell tipped, grazing the crossbar and continuing over the goal and out of bounds.

The U.S. U-20 MNT now begins preparations for 2015 U-20 World Cup Qualifying, which begins in January. The team will come together for several foreign-based training camps before the end of the year.

-U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team Match Report-

Match: U.S. U-20 MNT vs. Australia
Date: July 18, 2014
Competition: 2014 Men’s National Training Center Invitational
Venue: StubHub Center; Carson, California
Kickoff: 7 p.m. PT
Attendance: 700
Weather: Clear, 77 degrees

Scoring Summary:           1      2      F
USA                                       0      0      0
Australia                              0      0      0 

Lineups:
USA: 1-Zack Steffen; 13-Chris Odoi-Atsem, 4-Conor Donovan, 5-Michael Amick, 2-John Requejo; 16-Fernando Arce, 6-Russell Canouse (capt.); 7-Paul Arriola; 24-Tommy Thompson, 8-Lynden Gooch (9-Benji Lopez, 89) , 11-Zach Pfeffer (10-Romain Gall, 8)
Subs Not Used: 12-Santiago Castano, 14-Jacori Hayes, 17-Jesus Vasquez, 19-Andrija Novakovich, 20-Caleb Smith
Head Coach: Tab Ramos

AUS: 1-Jordan Thurtell; 5-Riley Woodcock (15-Scott Galloway, 62), 3-Daniel Alessi, 4-Ben Warland, 16-Ben Garuccio; 7-Shannon Brady (11-Jaushua Sotorio, 28), 6-Hagi Gligor (capt.) (20-Jordan Brown, 83), 10-Stefan Sotorio; 23-Daniel De Silva (14-Devante Clut, 73), 9-Brandon Borrello, 8-Awer Mabil (24-Marc Marino, 72)
Subs Not Used: 2-Shayne D’Cunha, 18-Paul Izzo, 21-Chris Naumoff, 22-Liam Rose,

Stats Summary: USA / AUS
Shots: 15 / 9
Shots on Goal: 5 / 2
Saves: 2 / 4
Corner Kicks: 4 / 5
Fouls: 11 / 15
Offside: 2 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
AUS – Jaushua Sotorio (caution)               76th minute
USA – Russell Canouse (caution)               86

Officials:
Referee: Victor Rivas (USA)
Assistant Referee: Andrew Bigelow (USA)
Assistant Referee: Eduardo Mariscal (USA)
Fourth Official: Nima Saghafi (USA)


Chile Downs Bermuda for Third Place at 2014 NTC Invitational

CARSON, California (July 18, 2014) – The Under-20 Chile National Team defeated Bermuda 2-0 in the first match of the final day of games at U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center Invitational at StubHub Center. With the victory, Chile earned third place in the three-game tournament.

After dominating possession and outshooting Bermuda for a majority of the game, Chile finally broke the scoreless tie in the 72nd minute on a streaking counterattack following a giveaway by Bermuda. Camilo Rodriguez found Ignacio Jeraldino in the middle of the field, and he carried the ball into the box before finding a trailing Rodriguez by himself near the penalty area. Rodriguez shot to his right, and the ball bounced in after Bermuda goalkeeper Detre Bell got a hand on it.

Chile tacked on some insurance, as Jeraldino scored a goal of his own in the 86th minute to push the advantage to a 2-0. Juan Fuentes dribbled from midfield to the edge of the box before a deflection led to a loose ball that fell to Jeraldino in the middle of the box. He finished with ease to give Chile some breathing room.

Chile finished with 28 shots to Bermuda’s eight. Six of Chile’s shots were on goal compared to just one for Bermuda.

From the onset, Chile pressured the Bermuda defense early and often, keeping the ball on Bermuda’s half and dominating possession. Chilean forward Camilo Vargas got an open look from just inside the box on the left side, forcing a diving stop from Bermuda keeper Detre Bell. Chile got another dangerous chance in the 15th minute when Brayan Cortes’ cross found Ivan Pardo right in front of the goal, but Bell got a hand on his point-blank chance to deflect it out of bounds.

Bermuda had a few dangerous moments in the first half, typically looking for a streaking forward over the top. Chile stifled those chances and Bermuda failed to get a shot off until the 40th minute when forward Rai Simons took a pass from Jaz Ratteray Smith in the middle of the box, dribbled to his left and took a shot that forced Chile goalkeeper Miquel Vargas into a lunging save.

In the 31st minute, it was initially ruled that Matias Bizama of Chile was fouled inside the box and a penalty kick was awarded. However, the linesman and referee conversed and the call was overruled, resulting in a kick for Bermuda.

Chile almost got on the score sheet just before halftime, as Cristian Cuevas’ leaping header from the middle of the box hit the crossbar before bouncing over the goal. In the first minute of stoppage time, Chile had another dangerous shot when Pardo received a cross on the right side of the goal and his line-drive header was deflected out of bounds by Bell, ending the first half in a scoreless tie.

Chile came out swinging to start the second half, pressuring the Bermuda defense and forcing a leaping save from Bell to keep the game scoreless in the 47th minute. In the 56th minute, Chile’s Jeraldino headed a corner kick on frame but right at Bell. Ganzolo Reyes got loose down the left side in the 65th minute and forced a save from Bell, followed just 30 seconds later by a shot from Bryan Carvallo that Bell handled.

Bermuda had a good look in the 68th minute when forward Willie Clemens found defender William White near the top of the box. White attempted a one-timer, but his shot sailed over the goal.

Chile just missed another chance in the 81st minute when Rodriguez headed a cross toward the goal, just missing a diving attempt by Bernardo Cerezo who was sprinting in.

The win was Chile’s first of the invitational, finishing 1-2-0 in three games. Chile held a lead in each of its two losses, eventually losing to the U.S. 2-1 and to Australia 5-4.  Bermuda lost all three of its matches.

-2014 Men’s National Training Center Invitational Match Report-

Match: Chile vs. Australia
Date: July 18, 2014
Competition: 2014 Men’s National Training Center Invitational
Venue: StubHub Center; Carson, California
Kickoff: 4 p.m. PT
Attendance: --
Weather: 82 degrees, sunny

Scoring Summary:           1      2      F
Chile                                      0      2      2
Bermuda                             0      0      0

CHI – Camilo Rodriguez (Ignacio Jeraldino)           72nd minute
CHI – Ignacio Jeraldino                                                   86

Lineups:

CHI: 1-Miguel Vargas; 5-Benjamin Kuscevic, 8-Bernardo Cerezo, 4-Raul Osorio (20-Rodrigo Echeverria, 46), 2-Camilo Rodriguez; 6-Kevin Medel (18-Juan Fuentes, 67), 14-Bryan Carvallo, 16-Joaquin Montecinos (9-Ignacio Jeraldino, 24), 10-Cristian Cuevas (19-Diaz Sebastian, 87); 7-Ivan Pardo (15-Christopher Dias, 46), 13-Matias Bizama (12-Brayan Cortes, 62)
Subs Not Used: 3-Sebeastian Vegas, 17-Gonzalo Reyes
Not Available: 11-Luis Pavez

BER: 12-Detre Bell; 20-Mauriq Hill (18-Lejaun Simmons, 64), 21-Neildante Smith, 14-William White, 3-Terrance Webb; 17-Willie Clemens (6-Dakai Grant, 88), 5-Alanzo Parson (15-Zeiko Lewis, 31), 9-Zaire Burchall (8-Jibri Lawrence Salaam, 64); 7-Jaz Ratteray Smith, 10-Rai Simons, 2-Oliver Harvey (11-Chae Brangman, 84)
Subs Not Used: 1-Jahquil Hill, 15-Zeiko Lewis, 16-Jaylon Bather, 19-Jair Minors

Stats Summary: AUS / CHI
Shots: 28 / 6
Shots on Goal: 8 / 1
Saves: 1 / 6
Corner Kicks: 9 / 4
Fouls: 10 / 11
Offside: 5 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
BER – Mauriq Hill (caution)                           43rd minute
BER – Jaz Ratteray Smith (caution)           61
CHI – Cristian Cuevas                                      84

Officials:
Referee: Nima Saghafi (USA)
Assistant Referee: Brandon Rinkenberger (USA)
Assistant Referee: Eduardo Mariscal (USA)
Fourth Official: Jon Freemon (USA)

Defender Caleb Smith Making Most of U.S. U-20 MNT Opportunity

Still a relative newcomer to the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team, defender Caleb Smith of Solar Chelsea is finding his place on the squad and doing his best to stand out among a talented group. In just his second camp with the U.S. Men’s National Team at any age level, Smith has gone from unknown to being in the mix for a roster spot as the U-20s in the coming months will have their eyes on the qualification process for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

“I guess I was never really on the radar,” Smith said. “I played in the Development Academy Showcase two years ago and got called in for a mini-camp. I did well there in my first opportunity with the National Team and I made the Residency squad. The first shot I got, I made the team, so I knew I had the potential to do some great things.”

Smith spent time with the U.S. U-17 Residency Program in Florida last year, marking his first connection to the Youth National team.

“It was hard at first,” Smith said. “That was my first time ever living away from home. It’s always hard living away from home. You focus on the soccer aspect and the school aspect. Make sure you focus, get the grades you need, and playing soccer all day every day is actually a dream.”

The Residency Program was not his first exposure to soccer at a high level. As a starting defender for Solar Chelsea during the 2012-13 Development Academy season, Smith was part of a squad that finished as the runner-up to Real Salt Lake AZ in the U-15/16 division in the Development Academy Championships. That Solar Chelsea squad started the season off slowly but caught fire in the Academy Playoffs and Finals Week.

“It was an up-and-down season. We started off pretty shaky but we used our persistence and we never gave up,” Smith said. “We always fought to the end. We always had belief in each other. The coach had belief in the whole squad.”

Playing for a national title left an impact on Smith and taught him to value and find joy in each game he plays.

“Don’t look ahead – always look at the present,” Smith said. “Enjoy soccer. Soccer is just a game. Play hard every time you get the opportunity to.”

Smith’s development as a player with Solar Chelsea has played a big role in his inclusion with the U-20 player pool. He attributes some of his greatest strengths to the skills he honed with Solar Chelsea, especially as a defender.

“Seeing the field as the left back is really important,” Smith said. “As well as defending, left backs usually get forward. Our coach (Tab Ramos) always emphasizes that outside backs get involved in the attack. But the first job of a defender is to defend, and they have helped develop my defensive skills.”

In his first camp with the U-20s, Smith has come to the team ready to contribute and learn from those with more experience.

“Obviously I was nervous when I first came in. Coach Tab called me in for a reason and he thinks I have potential to hopefully make the team or contribute in any kind of way. I’m just going with my eyes open. It’s definitely a challenge playing with the best players in the country. It’s always a challenge playing with the National Team. It has really pushed me to become a better player.”

Among those helping Smith are the likes of Conor Donovan, Shaq Moore and John Requejo, all with extensive Youth National Team experience and regulars on the current U-20 squad. Having veteran leaders has helped Smith feel comfortable with his new teammates. 

“They’re a good group of guys, always helping me out,” Smith said. “Me being the new guy on the team, they take me under their wing and show me the positions I need to be in and what the National Team style of play is like so I can adapt pretty quickly. They are good guys and I look up to them as leaders.”

Smith said his inclusion with the U-20s has been an honor and is an experience he hopes to make the most of going forward in his career.

“It means a lot,” Smith said. “Representing your country, your family, your coaches; it’s a big honor. Wearing the crest is definitely a big honor, so I take pride in that. Potentially making the U-20 squad is one of my goals, so I’m working really hard to get there.” 

USA and Australia Meet in Decisive Final Match of 2014 NTC Invitational on Friday

CARSON, California (July 17, 2014) – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team and Australia sit tied atop the standings with six points heading into the final day of the 2014 Men’s National Training Center Invitational. The two teams will go head-to-head at 7 p.m. PT at StubHub Center, preceded by Chile and Bermuda playing at 4 p.m. PT at the same location. Both games will be live on ussoccer.com.

The USA and Australia are even in points, but with a point differential of plus five, the U.S. holds first place. Both Chile and Bermuda have zero points after two games.

Australia’s Awer Mabil leads all scorers with four goals through two games. Teammates Marc Marino and Steffan Mauk have each scored twice as Australia has scored a total of nine goals through two games.

Andrija Novakovich and Zach Pfeffer have scored two goals apiece to pace the U.S. attack and Cristian Cuevas has scored a pair to lead Chile. No other player has more than one goal.

2014 NTC Invitational Standings

Team

GP

W

L

T

GF

GA

GD

Pts

USA

2

2

0

0

6

1

+5

6

Australia

2

2

0

0

9

5

+4

6

Chile

2

0

2

0

5

7

-2

0

Bermuda

2

0

2

0

1

8

-7

0

Monday, July 14
Australia 4, Bermuda 1
USA 2, Chile 1

Wednesday, July 16
Australia 5, Chile 4
USA 4, Bermuda 0

Friday, July 18
Chile vs. Bermuda
USA vs. Australia

Goal Scoring Leaders:
AUS-Awer Mabil - 4 goals
AUS-Marc Marino - 2 goals
AUS-Stefan Mauk - 2 goals
CHI-Cristian Cuevas - 2 goals
USA-Andrija Novakovich - 2 goals
USA-Zach Pfeffer - 2 goals
AUS- Devante Clut- 1 goal
AUS-Daniel De Silva- 1 goal
CHI-Bryan Carvallo- 1 goal
CHI- Christopher Dias- 1 goal
CHI-Ivan Pardo- 1 goal
USA- Tommy Thompson- 1 goal

Saves Leaders:
BER-Jahquil Hill - 13 saves
CHI-Brayan Cortes - 8 saves
AUS- Paul Izzo- 7 saves
USA- Zach Steffen- 2 saves
AUS-Jordan Thurtell - 1 save
USA-Santiago Castano - 1 save

U.S. U-20 MNT Cruises to 4-0 Victory Over Bermuda in Second Match at NTC Invitational

CARSON, California (July 16, 2014) – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team won its second game in the 2014 Men’s National Training Center Invitational early Wednesday evening, defeating Bermuda 4-0 on the strength of three first-half goals and a stout defensive performance.

With the win, the U.S. is tied with Australia with six points atop the standings, but holds the top spot on goal differential. The U.S. and Australia square off on Friday at 7 p.m. PT at StubHub Center (live on ussoccer.com) in what has become the deciding game of the NTC Invitational. With the goal differential situation, the USA can win the event with a draw or victory against Australia on Friday.

On Wednesday, the U.S. started off quickly against Bermuda, pressuring from the start and dominating possession for most of the first half. Forwards Andrija Novakovich and Zach Pfeffer were dangerous for the U.S., creating chances early on multiple occasions.

The U.S. broke a scoreless tie in the 27th minute when defender Caleb Smith made his way down the left sideline and fed across the face of the goal, where he found Novakovich alone in front of the goal for the tap in. It was Novakovich’s second goal of the tournament.

Pfeffer converted a penalty kick in the 39th minute to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead after Novakovich was fouled in the box by Bermuda defender Jaylon Bather. Novakovich had the advantage on the defense and was readying himself to shoot as he was taken down, leading to the penalty kick. Pfeffer converted as he placed the ball into the left corner, out of Bermuda goalkeeper Jahquil Hill’s reach.

The U.S. extended the lead to 3-0 in the 45th minute when forward Tommy Thompson, a late addition to the U.S. U-20 MNT roster for this event, took a cross in the middle of the box, dribbled once to his right and fired a shot past Hill and into the right corner of the net.

The second half was comparatively dominant as the U.S. allowed few scoring chances and continued to lead the possession battle. The U-20 MNT picked up its fourth goal in the 85th minute, an own goal, off of a corner kick that ricocheted off the right upright then hit a Bermuda defender and ended up in the back of the net.

The U.S. outshot Bermuda 26-2, including 12 shots on goal, and took 13 corners compared to just three for Bermuda.

Bermuda had its first shot on goal in the 74th minute when Zaire Burchall got behind the U.S. defense and forced U.S. keeper Zack Steffen to come off his line to deflect the shot, which the U.S. defense then booted out of bounds for a Bermuda corner kick.

The NTC Invitational comes to close on Friday, July 18. Bermuda faces Chile at 4 p.m. PT at StubHub Center and the USA takes on Australia at 7 p.m. Both games will be streamed live on ussoccer.com.

-U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team Match Report-

Match: U.S. U-20 MNT vs. Bermuda
Date: July 16, 2014
Competition: 2014 Men’s National Training Center Invitational
Venue: U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center, “Mooch” Myernick Field; Carson, California
Kickoff: 4 p.m. PT
Attendance: 150
Weather: Clear, 80 degrees

Scoring Summary:           1      2      F
USA                                   3      1      4
Bermuda                             0      0      0

USA – Andrija Novakovich (Caleb Smith)               27th minute
USA – Zach Pfeffer (penalty)                                   39
USA – Tommy Thompson                                        45
USA – Own goal                                                      85 

Lineups:
USA: 1-Zach Steffen; 13-Chris Odoi-Atsem, 4-Conor Donovan (5-Michael Amick, 46), 17-Jesus Vasquez, 20-Caleb Smith; 24-Tommy Thompson (9-Benji Lopez, 64), 14-Jacori Hayes, 15-Marco Delgado (capt.) (6-Russell Canouse, 64), 11-Zach Pfeffer (2-John Requejo Jr., 73); 10-Romain Gall (16-Fernando Arce, 64), 19-Andrija Novakovich (8-Lynden Gooch, 79)
Subs Not Used: 3-Shaquell Moore, 7-Paul Arriola, 12-Santiago Castano
Head Coach: Tab Ramos

BER: 1-Jahquil Hill; 6-Dakai Grant, 16-Jaylon Bather (10-Rai Simons, 52), 3-Terrance Webb, 20-Mauriq Hill (2-Oliver Harvey, 61); 19-Jair Minors (7-Jaz Ratteray Smith, 52; 11-Chae Brangman, 81), 4-William White, 17-Willie Clemens, 18-Lejuan Simmons (capt.) (8-Jibri Lawrence Salaam, 52); 9-Zaire Burchall, 15-Zeiko Lewis (5-Alanzo Parson, 81)
Subs Not Used: 12-Detre Bell, 14-Shakeem Albouy, 21-Neildante Smith

Stats Summary: USA / BER
Shots: 26 / 2
Shots on Goal: 12 / 2
Saves: 2 / 9
Corner Kicks: 13 / 3
Fouls: 13 / 12
Offside: 2 / 2

Misconduct Summary:
BER – Lejuan Simmons (caution)               42nd minute

Officials:
Referee: Victor Rivas (USA)
Assistant Referee: Ramon Bermudez (USA)
Assistant Referee: Eduardo Mariscal (USA)
Fourth Official: Nima Saghafi (USA)

U.S. U-20 MNT’s Zach Pfeffer Benefits from ‘Unorthodox Path’ Abroad

U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team forward Zach Pfeffer has quite the resume at a young age. From signing with Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union at age 15 to spending a year with Hoffenheim in Germany, the 19-year-old Pfeffer has already had a busy professional career.

Pfeffer, like many other athletes, played multiple sports as a youth. But since he was 3 years old, he naturally gravitated toward soccer and has dedicated his time to following the dream of playing the sport at the highest level.

“For whatever reason – I don’t know the exact reason – but soccer was my favorite sport to play,” said Pfeffer, who recently scored the game-winning goal for the U.S. U-20 MNT during a 2-1 victory against Chile at the 2014 National Training Center Invitational. “It was my passion. I took that, ran with it, trained as much as possible, watched and studied the game as much as possible, and just tried to be the best player that I could be. I’ve always had that goal, that mindset to be a professional player since I was very young. I’ve tried to focus in on that goal and work hard for it.”

The goal to become a professional player came to fruition just before his 16th birthday when he signed a professional contract with the Union. Pfeffer has played with the first team on numerous occasions, appearing in eight MLS games to date and multiple friendlies.

“I’ve been in that professional environment now for about four years,” said Pfeffer, who also has ties to the Development Academy’s FC DELCO. “It’s a little bit unorthodox of a path for a typical American player. I’ve been able to grow and mature and be a part of the Union for the last four years and I think that’s helped me to grow and progress as a player.”

Pfeffer was away from the Union organization for one year as he was loaned to German club Hoffenheim, where he played mostly with the U-19s. He also made appearances with the U-23s (the reserve team) and took part in multiple training sessions with the first team. U.S. U-20 MNT teammate Russell Canouse was is part of the Hoffenheim club, providing Pfeffer with some familiarity.

It was a valuable time for Pfeffer as both a player and a person.

“It was a great experience,” Pfeffer said. “I was by myself in a foreign country for the first time for an extended period of time; it wasn’t just a few weeks, it was for a whole year. I was forced to learn the language as well. All of those things really make you grow up and make you learn more about yourself. You have to become independent and really mature quickly.”

Being exposed to the German style has contributed to his improvement as a player. It has helped to round out his game and apply it as he plays for the U.S. U-20 MNT and in MLS.

“I think as a soccer player it’s always good to be exposed to different styles of play and different cultures,” Pfeffer said. “You want to be as well-rounded of a player as you can be. I’m just trying to mix everything that I’ve learned from the German style of play with what I’ve learned growing up here in the U.S. and what I’m learning now playing in MLS.”

Playing in the Youth National Team system since his early teenage years, Pfeffer sees familiar faces every time he comes to camp with the U-20s. He has played with or against keeper Zack Steffen and Canouse since he was 13 in a club setting or within the U.S. National Team system.

With his long history with the U.S. MNT and impressive club and professional career thus far, Pfeffer is hoping to add the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup to his list.

“I’m very excited,” Pfeffer said. “I’ve been representing the National Team since U-14. This is just the next step and the next part of the progression through the National Team system . It’s obviously very exciting to be able to represent your country. Hopefully I’ll be able to be a part of that and qualify for the World Cup.”

2014 Men’s National Training Center Invitational Continues Wednesday

CARSON, California (July 15, 2014) – The Australia U-20 Men’s National Team will take on Chile to kick off Wednesday’s action at 1 p.m. PT, followed by the U.S. U-20 MNT facing Bermuda at 4 p.m. as play resumes at the 2014 Men’s National Training Center Invitational.

The USA and Australia are even in points with three, but Australia holds first place on goal differential. Both Chile and Bermuda have zero points after one game. Australia’s Awer Mabil is the only player in the invitational thus far to have scored multiple goals as he leads the tournament with two.

The third day of games takes place on Friday, July 18, and will feature Chile against Bermuda at 1 p.m. PT, followed by the U.S. and Australia going head-to-head. Both games will be live on ussoccer.com.

2014 NTC Invitational Standings

Team

GP

W

L

T

GF

GA

GD

Pts

Australia

1

1

0

0

4

1

+3

3

USA

1

1

0

0

2

1

+1

3

Chile

1

0

1

0

1

2

-1

0

Bermuda

1

0

1

0

1

4

-3

0

Monday, July 14
Australia 4, Bermuda 1
USA 2, Chile 1

Wednesday, July 16
Chile vs. Australia
USA vs. Bermuda

Friday, July 18
Chile vs. Bermuda
USA vs. Australia

Goal Scoring Leaders:
AUS-Awer Mabil - 2 goals
AUS-Marc Marino - 1 goal
AUS-Stefan Mauk - 1 goal
CHI-Cristian Cuevas - 1 goal
USA-Andrija Novakovich - 1 goal
USA-Zach Pfeffer - 1 goal

Saves Leaders:
CHI-Brayan Cortes - 5 saves
BER-Jahquil Hill - 4 saves
AUS-Jordan Thurtell - 1 save
USA-Santiago Castano - 1 save

Tommy Thompson Called Into U-20 MNT for NTC Invitational

CHICAGO (July 15, 2014) – U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Tab Ramos has called in San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Tommy Thompson for the remainder of the 2014 Men’s National Training Center Invitational.

The Youth National Team invite is the first for Thompson since attending a U-14 Identification camp in 2008. Since then, he played one season at Indiana University where he scored five goals in 16 games and earned Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year honors before signing as the San Jose Earthquakes’ first homegrown player this past winter. Thompson, currently on loan with San Jose’s USL PRO affiliate Sacramento Republic FC, has started two of the four games he has appeared in for Sacramento, playing a total of 198 minutes.

He joined the U-20 MNT on Monday night as the U.S. earned a 2-1 comeback victory against Chile in its opening NTC Invitational match. The U-20s play Bermuda in their next match on July 16 at 4 p.m. PT before concluding the NTC Invitational against Australia at 7 p.m. on July 18 – a match that can be seen live on ussoccer.com.

Additionally, forward Bradford Jamieson IV has returned to club duty with LA Galaxy II.

U.S. U-20 MNT Bench Sparks Comeback Victory Against Chile at NTC Invitational

CARSON, California (July 14, 2014) – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team overcame a 1-0 first-half deficit to beat Chile 2-1 in each team’s first game of the 2014 National Training Center Invitational. Andrija Novakovich and Zach Pfeffer, both second-half subs, contributed the equalizer and game winning goals, respectively. Pfeffer also assisted Novakovich’s game-tying goal.

Novakovich and Pfeffer combined to tie the score at 1-1 in 65th minute, just two minutes after subbing on together. Pfeffer lofted a free kick from the left side toward the far right post, and Novakovich jumped among a pack and headed the ball past Chile goalkeeper Brayan Cortes and into the right corner of the net.

The U.S. took the 2-1 lead in the 73rd minute when Pfeffer finished a cross by Paul Arriola from the right side into the lower left corner of the goal. Holding onto the lead, the USA staved off an aggressive Chile squad in the last portion of the game as it tried to net an equalizer of its own.

Chile opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when U.S. keeper Santiago Castano came out past the edge of the box to try and clear a ball played over the top by Chile. Castano did not get a clean clearance and the ball got by him. Chile’s Cristian Cuevas got behind the defense and found the back of the net for a 1-0 Chile lead.

The first half was full of opportunities for both teams, and the USA had a couple early chances off of set piece chances in the third and 11th minutes. Romain Gall took the free-kick chances following fouls just outside the box, but Chile’s Cortes was on top of each attempt for the saves.

Gall tested Cortes again in the 33rd minute, receiving a pass from the left side and putting a shot on frame from just inside the 18-yard box, which Cortes handled for the save. Then, in the 43rd minute, Fernando Arce curled in a free kick in the 43rd minute that went just wide of the right corner as the USA entered halftime down a goal.

Following the Novakovich and Pfeffer goals in the second half, one of the USA’s other strong scoring chances down the stretch came from a Lynden Gooch header in the 77th minute that sailed just over the crossbar. Gooch was set up by a cross from the right side by Marco Delgado, who entered the match just three minutes earlier.

The U-20 MNT continues play in the 2014 NTC Invitational on Wednesday, July 16, against Bermuda at 4 p.m. PT at U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center. Chile takes on Australia at 1 p.m. in the first match of the day.

-U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team Match Report-

Match: U.S. U-20 MNT vs. Chile
Date: July 14, 2014
Competition: 2014 Men’s National Training Center Invitational
Venue: U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center, “Mooch” Myernick Field; Carson, California
Kickoff: 6 p.m. PT
Attendance: 125
Weather: Clear, 78 degrees

Scoring Summary:                1      2      F
USA                                       0      2      2
Chile                                      1      0      1

CHI – Cristian Cuevas                                                      22nd minute
USA – Andrija Novakovich (Zach Pfeffer)                       65
USA – Zach Pfeffer (Paul Arriola)                                    73

Lineups:

USA: 12-Santiago Castano; 2-John Requejo Jr., 5-Michael Amick, 4-Conor Donovan, 3-Shaquell Moore; 10-Romain Gall (11-Zach Pfeffer, 63), 6-Russell Canouse, 16-Fernando Arce, 7-Paul Arriola (capt.) (15-Marco Delgado, 74); 8-Lynden Gooch (14-Jacori Hayes, 83), 9-Benji Lopez (19-Andrija Novakovich, 63)
Subs Not Used: 1-Zach Steffen, 13-Chris Odoi-Atsem, 17-Jesus Vasquez, 20-Caleb Smith
Head Coach: Tab Ramos

CHI: 12-Brayan Cortes; 2-Camilo Rodriguez, 3-Sebeastian Vegas (capt.), 5-Benjamin Kuscevic (20-Rodrigo Echeverria, 46), 9-Ignacio Jeraldino, 10-Cristian Cuevas (17-Gonzalo Reyes, 79), 11-Luis Pavez, 14-Bryan Carvallo (6-Kevin Medel, 63), 15-Christopher Dias (7-Ivan Pardo, 63), 18-Juan Fuentes (8-Bernardo Cerezo, 79), 19-Diaz Sebastian
Subs Not Used: 1-Miguel Vargas, 4-Raul Osorio, 13-Matias Bizama, 16-Joaquin Montecinos

Stats Summary: USA / CHI
Shots: 14 / 14
Shots on Goal: 7 / 2
Saves: 1 / 5
Corner Kicks: 2 / 3
Fouls: 12 / 23
Offside: 1 / 2

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Conor Donovan (caution)                30th minute
CHI – Ivan Pardo (caution)                           68
USA – Zach Pfeffer (caution)                      75

Officials:
Referee: Nima Saghafi (USA)
Assistant Referee: Eduardo Marisca (USA)
Assistant Referee: Andrew Bigelow (USA)
Fourth Official: Victor Rivas (USA)

Results

Date Matchup Result Venue Attendance Goal Scorers
July 21, 2012 U-20 MNT vs Denmark Under-20 Men 0-1 L Scroggy Road; Limavady, Northern Ireland 400 --
July 23, 2012 U-20 MNT vs Turkey Under-20 Men 1-0 W Ballymena Showgrounds; Northern Ireland 600 Pineda
July 26, 2012 U-20 MNT vs Chile Under-20 Men 3-4 L Riada Stadium; Ballymena, Northern Ireland 200 Zimmerman, Joya, Pineda
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