U.S. Soccer

U-20 MNT Defeats Costa Rica 2-0 in 2016 Under-20 Men's NTC Invitational

CARSON, Calif. (June 30, 2016) - The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team blanked Costa Rica 2-0 to lead the four-team tournament after the first day of the 2016 Under-20 NTC Invitational at the U.S. Soccer National Training Center in Carson.

The U.S. got off to an early lead in the ninth minute as Marcello Borges sent a ball across goal to Luca De La Torre who redirected to the far post with a slight touch. U.S. forward Jeremy Ebobisse waited for the ball and fired an easy finish to the back of the net, tallying his third goal of the year. After the early U.S. goal, Costa Rica was unable to counter, leaving the USA to lead the match going into halftime.

In the second half, the U.S. tallied minutes after the opening whistle as Ebobisse controlled a long pass angled away from the goal. He crossed it toward Sebastian Saucedo, who finished into the right side of the net, posting his second goal in 2016.

Earlier in the day, Japan and Panama played to a scoreless draw, earning one point each in the group.

The USA will face Panama on Friday, July 1, kicking off at 7 p.m. PT, after Japan plays Costa Rica at 2:30 p.m. PT.

All matches will be streamed live on U.S. Soccer’s YouTube page.

- U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Under-20 MNT vs. Costa Rica
Date:
June 29, 2016
Competition:
2016 Under-20 Men’s NTC Invitational
Venue:
U.S. Soccer National Training Center, Field 1; Carson, Calif.
Kickoff: 6:05 p.m. PT
Weather:
High 70s, sunny

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

USA – Jeremy Ebobisse (Luca De La Torre)                                  9th minute
USA – Sebastian Saucedo (Jeremey Ebobisse)                             52          

Lineups:
USA:
1-Jonathan Klinsmann; 2-Aaron Herrera (17-Marlon Fossey, 68), 13-Miles Robinson, 5-Auston Trusty, 3-Marcello Borges; 6-Danny Acosta (20-Jackson Yueill, 68), 8-Luca De La Torre (14-Hugo Arellano, 79), 9-Mukwelle Akale (15-Isaiah Young, 79); 18-Jeremy Ebobisse (19-Victor Mansaray, 84), 7-Eryk Williamson, 11-Sebastian Saucedo
Subs not used: 4-Andrew Lombard, 10-Weston McKinnie, 12-JT Marcinkowski, 16-Coy Craft, 21-Brandon Vazquez

Head Coach: Tab Ramos

CRC: 1-Alejandro Barrientos; 4-Pedro Morales, 19-Salinas Phillips (5-Esteban Gonzalez), 3-Airboin Carmona, 2-Kevin Espinoza (13-Dario Alfaro, 75); 11-Barlon Sequeira, 14-Roberto Cordoba (12-Andres Vargas, 83), 20-Eduardo Juarez; 6-Esteban Espinoza (15-Daniel Villegas, 75), 8-Marvin Loria (10-Kevin Masis 66), 9-Jimmy Marin (7-Ariel Zapata, 66)
Subs not used: 18-Ricardo Montenegro
Head Coach: Marcelo Herrera
 

Stats Summary: USA / CRC
Shots: 8 / 4
Shots on Goal: 5 / 3
Saves: 3 / 3
Corner Kicks: 5 / 0
Fouls: 18 / 32
Offside: 2 / 0 

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Eryk Williamson (caution)                    7th minute
CRC – Roberto Cordoba (caution)                  32
CRC – Barlon Sequeira (caution)                    44
USA – Danny Acosta (caution)                        54
USA – Auston Trusty (caution)                        55
CRC – Marvin Loria (caution)                         63
USA – Aaron Herrera (caution)                        67
CRC – Eduardo Juarez (caution)                     75
CRC – Airboin Carmona (caution)                  87
USA – Sebastian Saucedo (caution)                89

Officials:
Referee: Randall Kelley (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Chris Elliot (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Walt Heatherly (USA)
Fourth Official: Tim Ford (USA)

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U-20 MNT Jun 30, 2016

Match: U.S. Under-20 MNT vs. Costa Rica
Date:
June 29, 2016
Competition:
2016 Under-20 Men’s NTC Invitational
Venue:
U.S. Soccer National Training Center, Field 1; Carson, Calif.
Kickoff: 6:05 p.m. PT
Weather:
High 70s, sunny

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

USA – Jeremy Ebobisse (Luca De La Torre)                                  9th minute
USA – Sebastian Saucedo (Jeremey Ebobisse)                             52          

Lineups:
USA:
1-Jonathan Klinsmann; 2-Aaron Herrera (17-Marlon Fossey, 68), 13-Miles Robinson, 5-Auston Trusty, 3-Marcello Borges; 6-Danny Acosta (20-Jackson Yueill, 68), 8-Luca De La Torre (14-Hugo Arellano, 79), 9-Mukwelle Akale (15-Isaiah Young, 79); 18-Jeremy Ebobisse (19-Victor Mansaray, 84), 7-Eryk Williamson, 11-Sebastian Saucedo
Subs not used: 4-Andrew Lombard, 10-Weston McKinnie, 12-JT Marcinkowski, 16-Coy Craft, 21-Brandon Vazquez

Head Coach: Tab Ramos

CRC: 1-Alejandro Barrientos; 4-Pedro Morales, 19-Salinas Phillips (5-Esteban Gonzalez), 3-Airboin Carmona, 2-Kevin Espinoza (13-Dario Alfaro, 75); 11-Barlon Sequeira, 14-Roberto Cordoba (12-Andres Vargas, 83), 20-Eduardo Juarez; 6-Esteban Espinoza (15-Daniel Villegas, 75), 8-Marvin Loria (10-Kevin Masis 66), 9-Jimmy Marin (7-Ariel Zapata, 66)
Subs not used: 18-Ricardo Montenegro
Head Coach: Marcelo Herrera
 

Stats Summary: USA / CRC
Shots: 8 / 4
Shots on Goal: 5 / 3
Saves: 3 / 3
Corner Kicks: 5 / 0
Fouls: 18 / 32
Offside: 2 / 0 

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Eryk Williamson (caution)                    7th minute
CRC – Roberto Cordoba (caution)                  32
CRC – Barlon Sequeira (caution)                    44
USA – Danny Acosta (caution)                        54
USA – Auston Trusty (caution)                        55
CRC – Marvin Loria (caution)                         63
USA – Aaron Herrera (caution)                        67
CRC – Eduardo Juarez (caution)                     75
CRC – Airboin Carmona (caution)                  87
USA – Sebastian Saucedo (caution)                89

Officials:
Referee: Randall Kelley (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Chris Elliot (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Walt Heatherly (USA)
Fourth Official: Tim Ford (USA)

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PREVIEW: WNT Takes on Korea Republic on Sunday in Cary, N.C.| 2pm ET | ESPN

CHICAGO (Oct. 21, 2017) – There are only three games remaining on the U.S. Women’s National Team’s 2017 schedule, with a second friendly against Korea Republic coming up next on Oct. 22 (2 p.m. ET; ESPN) at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina. The USA is 8-0-2 all-time against Korea Republic, which is ranked 15th in the world.

The two teams most recently met on Thursday, Oct. 19 in New Orleans, La. where the USA came out on top with a 3-1 score line with goals courtesy of Julie Ertz, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe. Before this week's game, the two teams had last met in 2015, a 0-0 draw in New Jersey in the final game before the USA traveled to Canada for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. All 10 games between the teams have taken place on U.S. soil even though the USA has played two friendly tournaments in South Korea in its history, but did not meet the hosts at either one.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster by Position (Caps/Goals):
GOALKEEPERS (3): 18-Jane Campbell (Houston Dash;1/0), 24-Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride; 13/0), 1-Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 20/0)
DEFENDERS (6): 7-Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 9/0), 8-Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars: 53/11), 11-Sofia Huerta (Chicago Red Stars; 1/0), 5-Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC; 101/2), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City; 131/0), 7-Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 15/0)
MIDFIELDERS (5): 9-Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC, 39/4), 10-Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash; 242/97); 20-Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC; 31/5), 3-Samantha Mewis (NC Courage; 30/5), 25-McCall Zerboni (North Carolina Courage, 0/0)
FORWARDS (5): 19-Crystal Dunn (Chelsea FC; 55/22), 13-Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride: 130/77); 23-Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars; 92/43), 15-Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign; 125/33), 12-Lynn Williams (NC Courage; 11/3)

Both of the draws between the teams have been 0-0 affairs, the first coming in 2008 during the USA’s post-Olympic tour following the gold medal win in Beijing, and the second was the meeting in 2015 in Harrison, N.J. Besides the game on Thursday, the USA’s most recent win against Korea Republic came in 2013, a 5-0 result at Red Bull Arena. (The teams also played five days before that, a 4-1 U.S. win in Foxborough, Mass.). That match at RBA was a historic night for the USA as forward Abby Wambach became the greatest goal scorer in women’s international soccer as she scored four goals – all in the first half.  It was the third strike in the 29th minute that gave her 159 in her career and moved her past former teammate Mia Hamm to become the all-time leader in international goals. Lauren Cheney scored the fifth and final goal in that match. 

Fans can follow all the action from #USAvKOR on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt and @ussoccer_esp, and follow the team along its journey on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat (ussoccer_wnt).

STORYLINES

One Year to Qualifying: The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup that will be contested from June 7-July 7, 2019, in nine cities in France is still on the distant horizon, as is the CONCACAF Qualifying tournament, which will be held about a year from now. The tournament host and teams have not been solidified, but the USA, Canada and Mexico will earn automatic berths into the final eight-team tournament, while the other five nations will have to go through pre-qualifying in their respective regions. From that eight-team tournament, three teams will qualify directly to France while a fourth will enter a two-leg playoff against the third-place team from South America. With just four games left on the 2017 schedule, the USA is focused squarely on the end-goal of 2018, a place among the 24 teams in France. 

Milestones: On Sept. 15, defender Kelley O’Hara started and captained the USA against New Zealand to earn her 100th cap, becoming the 36th player in U.S. WNT history to play 100 or more times for her country. O’Hara debuted as a forward for the USA in 2010 against Mexico in San Diego and switched to playing primarily defender in 2012 when she played a key role in the USA winning the Olympic gold medal in London. While O’Hara reached her 100th cap last month, there is another player on the roster who is now approaching a milestone of her own and could reach it this upcoming camp. U.S. co-captain Carli Lloyd is the two-time reigning FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year. She is the all-time active caps leader with 243 and is sitting on 97 goals, three away from becoming the sixth player to score 100 or more goals for the USA, and the first since 2009 when Abby Wambach scored her 100th.

Heath, Smith and Pugh Out with Injuries, Sullivan Returns to the Farm: Forward Tobin Heath (ankle) and defender Taylor Smith (shoulder) had to withdraw from training camp prior to its start after suffering injuries in the NWSL Championship match on Saturday, Oct. 14. Forward Mallory Pugh injured her hamstring at the end of the first half of the USA’s 3-1 victory against South Korea on Oct. 19 in New Orleans and did not travel to North Carolina with the team. In addition, midfielder Andi Sullivan, who saw her first WNT action in almost a year when she played the first half against Korea on Oct. 19, has returned to Stanford to play in her college game this weekend.

Zerboni Gets Nod: North Carolina Courage midfielder McCall Zerboni, who plays her club’s home games at Sahlen’s Stadium where the USA will face South Korea on Oct. 22, has been called up to give the USA 19 players on the roster, of which 18 will suit up for the match. This is the first WNT call-up for the 30-year-old Zerboni, who has played for seven different professional clubs in the USA during the WPS and the NWSL. Zerboni has played a crucial role in her club's success over the past two seasons while partnering in the center midfield with Samantha Mewis. Zerboni helped the Western New York Flash to the NWSL league title in 2016 and after the club moved to North Carolina for this season, helped the Courage win the NWSL Shield and earn a place in the championship game. She was named to the 2017 NWSL Best XI. She played her college soccer at UCLA and was a member of the USA's Youth National Teams as a teenager.

Consistent Starters: Only two players this year have started every game the USA has played so far: Samantha Mewis and Becky Sauerbrunn. Mewis has played 980 minutes so far, the most besides Becky Sauerbrunn’s 1,035. Mewis has 30 caps, has started all 13 matches and scored her fifth WNT goal against Brazil on July 30, tying the score at 1-1 with a grass-cutter from outside the penalty area. U.S. co-captain Sauerbrunn had her sixth career assist on Christen Press’s goal against Norway on June 11. With 131 caps, Sauerbrunn has moved ahead of Alex Morgan into 24th place on the all-time caps list (tied with Aly Wagner). She is one of 28 female players to play 125 or more times for the USA.

NWSL Championship: On Saturday, Oct. 14, the Portland Thorns defeated the North Carolina Courage, 1-0, to claim their second NWSL title and first since the league’s inaugural season in 2013. Lindsey Horan scored the game’s lone goal. Horan and Tobin Heath started and played all 90 minutes for the Thorns, while Long entered in stoppage time to help close out the win. On North Carolina’s side, Abby Dahlkemper, Samantha Mewis, Taylor Smith, Lynn Williams and McCall Zerboni all started the match.

Success for Club and Country for Morgan: Alex Morgan comes into the match on Sunday with 78 goals after moving past Cindy Parlow into sole possession of seventh place on the USA’s all-time goal scoring list. She scored three goals during the September matches and this past Thursday, and has now scored in her last four games for the U.S.

Morgan also ended her NWSL season on a scoring streak, scoring nine goals in her last 12 games for the Orlando Pride. In August, she was directly involved in nine of the 13 goals scored by Orlando and scored in all five matches, which earned her the NWSL Player of the Month recognition. She finished the season with nine goals (tied for fifth in the league with Lynn Williams) and four assists in 14 games (including the playoff semifinal) after rejoining the Pride midseason following a successful spell with French club Olympique Lyonnais that saw her win both a league title and the 2017 UEFA Women's Champions League. U.S. WNT’s Alex Morgan Continues Goal Scoring Streak.

South Korea Continues Road to France 2019: South Korea took a huge step towards earning a spot at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup when it won its group at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup Qualifying tournament. At that qualifying tournament, South Korea and North Korea tied 1-1 and both defeated Uzbekistan by 4-0 scores. That meant that winning the group and earning a berth to the final qualifying tournament came down to the goals scored against India and Hong Kong. South Korea beat Hong Kong 6-0 while North Korea beat them 5-0 and South Korea beat India 10-0 while North Korea beat them 8-0, which accounted for the three-goal difference which eventually sent South Korea to the final round of the 2018 Asian Cup, while North Korea, which won both the U-17 and U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cups in 2016, will not be participating in the next World Cup.

Korea Republic will now compete in the final eight-team 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup tournament that will be held in Jordan and will serve as the final World Cup qualifying tournament for France 2019. At that tournament, the top five teams will punch their tickets to the main event. The teams competing will be: Host Jordan, Japan, Australia, China PR, Korea Republic, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. READ: Five Things About Korea Republic.

In New Orleans and Cary: The U.S. WNT last played in New Orleans in the final game of 2015, which was also the farewell game for U.S. legend Abby Wambach, a 1-0 loss to China PR. The USA’s only other match in Louisiana was in New Orleans in July of 2003, a 1-0 victory against Brazil. The U.S. WNT will be playing its seventh game all-time at WakeMed Soccer Park, now named after long-time women’s soccer supporter Joe Sahlen, who owned the Western New York Flash in the NWSL before selling the club as it moved to North Carolina and became the Courage for the 2017 season. The Flash won the NWSL title in 2016. The USA has won all six previous games played at the venue.

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WNT Oct 21, 2017

USA's Strong 2017 U-17 World Cup Ends in 4-1 Quarterfinal Loss to England

GOA, India (Oct. 21, 2017) – The impressive run by U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup came to an end in the Quarterfinal after a 4-1 loss to 2017 UEFA U-17 runners-up England. Josh Sargent’s strike gave the USA hope late in the game and also tied him with Freddy Adu as the USA’s leading all-time scorer in youth World Cups with seven goals.

A quick-fire brace from England’s Rhian Brewster midway through the first half gave the USA a mountain to climb, and the U.S. didn’t shy away from the challenge. Led by Sargent, Tim Weah and Ayo Akinola up top, the USA went about carving out numerous opportunities to get back in the game either through possession or, more often, in transition, where the team’s lightning quick counters gave the England defense all it could handle.

Despite going toe-to-toe with the Three Lions, the U.S. had trouble finding the finishing touch and fell further behind in the 64th minute when Morgan Gibbs-White scored. Eight minutes later, Sargent scored at the back post after good pressure from the USA resulted in Sergiño Dest’s shot being parried across the face of goal by England goalkeeper, Curtis Anderson, who did well to stop numerous U.S. attacks throughout the match.

Dest was unfortunately involved in the game’s final goal in injury time as well, giving away a penalty kick in the 95th minute that Brewster dispatched past Justin Garces, who had kept the U.S. within striking distance throughout the game with a number of fine saves, sealing a trick and providing the final 4-1 margin.

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Goal Scoring Rundown:
ENG – Rhian Brewster, 11th minute: England’s Philip Foden got around his marker and sent a cross into the USA six-yard box. Goalkeeper Justin Garces was on hand to punch the ball away but it went straight to Brewster, who was trailing the play, and he sent a one-time volley into the roof of the net. USA 0, ENG 1

ENG – Rhian Brewster (Philip Foden), 14th minute: England capitalized on a transition opportunity after gaining control of the ball at midfield. Rushing upfield, Foden combined with Brewster again, sliding a pass behind the U.S. defense for the striker to run on to. Garces charged out of the U.S. net, but Brewster arrived just in time to lift the ball over him into the right side netting. USA 0, ENG 2

ENG – Morgan Gibbs-White (Rhian Brewster), 64th minute: Another transition opportunity for England was capped off by Gibbs-White as Brewster turned provider, finding his countryman in stride just above the U.S. box. Garces did well to try and cut down the angle, getting a hand to Gibbs-White’s shot but, it wasn’t enough to keep it out of the lower, left-hand corner. USA 0, ENG 3

USA – Josh Sargent, 72nd minute: A long spell of U.S. pressure eventually saw the ball played into the left side of the England penalty area for speedy U.S. substitute Sergiño Dest to chase. Beating his man to the ball, Dest put a shot on target from a wide angle that England ‘keeper Curtis Anderson could only parry across the face of goal where a crashing Josh Sargent tapped it home at the back right post. USA 1, ENG 3

ENG – Rhian Brewster (penalty kick), 95th minute: With time winding down and the U.S. still fighting to tie the match, Dest committed a foul in his own penalty area, drawing a straight red from the referee and handing England a penalty kick. Brewster stepped to the spot and put it home to finish the match. USA 1, ENG 4 FINAL


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U-17 MNT Oct 21, 2017

Five Things to Know About Julie Ertz

On October 19, 2017, U.S. Women’s National Team defender Julie Ertz scored her 12th career goal, and fourth of 2017, finishing a spectacular diving header against the Korea Republic at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Here are five things to know about the USA’s d-mid from the desert.

Developing in Arizona and California
Julie Ertz (neé) Johnston, known to fans and friends as JJ, was born and raised in Mesa, Arizona. The youngest of two – her sister Melanie also played soccer in college – Ertz always dreamed of becoming a professional player. While many young athletes aspire to play at the top levels, most have other various ideas of what they might want to be when they grow up. For Ertz, that was never the case.

“The most common question I always get is, ‘What would you do if you weren’t a soccer player?’,” said Ertz. “And I make up stuff every single time. I never say the same thing, because honestly I have never thought about not playing.”

From 2004-10, Ertz played for Sereno Soccer Club in Phoenix, where she played on the U-13 through U-19 teams, winning nine state titles and captaining of the team.

Ertz attended Dobson High School in Mesa from 2006-10, where she volunteered as a student athletic trainer all four years. Following her graduation, Ertz went on to play at Santa Clara University, where she majored in Communications and played on all three lines for the Broncos. She was a three-time First Team All-American.

World Champion In 2012
In 2012, Julie Johnston was selected to the roster for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan. She was also named the team’s captain. At that tournament, JJ not only started every game (and played all but 32 minutes of the tournament), but she also marshalled a defense that defeated three extremely talented group winners in the knockout rounds of the tournament -- Korea DPR in the quarterfinal, Nigeria in the semifinal and Germany in the championship -- while allowing just one goal. She also won the Bronze Ball as the third-best player in the tournament, a rare honor for a defender.

New Role, Always Versatile
Ertz, who has always been known for her heavy tackles and overall aggressiveness on the field, has spent most of her professional career as a center back, scoring eight of her first nine U.S. WNT goals from that position. In the latter part of this year she has embraced a new role for the National Team, though for Ertz it’s more of a return to her college roots.

U.S. WNT - Julie Ertz, Alex Morgan

Back during her years at Santa Clara University, she played multiple positions, including many a shift in the center of midfield. This season in the NWSL with the Chicago Red Stars, Ertz played primarily defensive midfielder, and since Aug. 3, that’s where she’s played with the WNT. She’s looked extremely comfortable, in part because she’s played there before, but also in part because the qualities needed to play both positions are quite similar.

“There are definitely a lot of similarities between playing as a center back and as a defensive midfielder,” Ertz said. “They’re both more defensive-minded positions. I’ve learned both and I’ve always appreciated the value of being a versatile player. I think my mindset every year is that I want to get better. Playing different positions is definitely challenging, but it’s also been extremely fun.”

Part of the fun of course, is scoring goals. Since Aug. 3, Ertz has scored three times in four games – including a brace against New Zealand on Sept. 15 and most recently against Korea Republic on Oct. 19.

Set Piece Queen
With 12 career goals, Ertz is the highest scoring active defender in the WNT player pool. The most interesting aspect to her dozen scores? They’ve all come on or originated from set pieces.

While Ertz had always been a threat inside the box during set pieces, her “new” role in the midfield has given her more opportunity to go forward and get into goal scoring positons. So far, it’s proven to be a boost for the U.S. and a problem for opposing defenses.

“She fills that role perfectly,” U.S. co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn said of Ertz following the game against Korea Republic on. Oct. 19. “We want that kind of a pivot player, someone who is going to break up plays and has that physicality.”

Julie Ertz’ Husband
In pro sports, there are many athletic couples, and there are power athletic couples. Julie Ertz and her husband are the latter. Julie Ertz, 2012 U-20 Women’s World Cup Champion, 2015 Women’s World Cup Champion and 2016 Olympian, is married to Zach Ertz, a former Stanford All-American and starting tight end for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles.

Julie has been on the U.S. WNT for almost six years now, while Zach is currently in his fifth season with the Eagles. In 2017, Julie has scored four goals each for both club and country, while Zach has four touchdowns. Each gives credit to the other for helping them navigate the ups and downs of professional sports (they both turned pro around the same time) while pushing each other to be their best physically and mentally. It’s a combination that makes them one of the most competitive, successful and dominant couples in sports.

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WNT Oct 21, 2017

Development Academy Regional Showcases Provided Early Stage for U-17s

A lot has changed for U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team standout forward Josh Sargent in the past four years.

He’s played in not one, but two FIFA World Cups (U-17 and U-20).

He’s traveled the world playing soccer matches.

And he recently committed to a professional contract to play with German club Werder Bremen.

But John Boyer, his U-13 coach at the Development Academy’s St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri, sees one thing that’s stayed the same.

“He scored a lot of goals, even when he was little,” said Boyer. “It hasn't been a huge change for those of us that have seen him from a young age.”

The good thing for U.S. Soccer is Boyer and the other St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri coaches weren’t the only ones that were watching him four years ago.

As a 13-year-old, one of Sargent’s first opportunities to show his scoring prowess came at a Development Academy Regional Showcase, providing the budding talent a stage in front of a slew of U.S. Soccer scouts.

Sargent appeared in 2013’s inaugural round of Regional Showcases. The events provide players a chance to compete against some of the best players in the country and when players like Sargent can demonstrate their abilities, scouts take notice.

“We wanted to cast an earlier and wider net for all of our scouting,” said Tony Lepore, U.S. Soccer Director of Talent Identification. “When we started, it was really clear that these U-13/14 Showcases were valuable talent identification opportunities.”

Sargent became a National Team mainstay from the U-14 level, and four years later he has nearly scored the most career Youth World Cup goals of any U.S. player ever. This past May, he earned the Silver Boot at the U-20 FIFA World Cup with four goals and one assist in five matches and he has scored two goals after just four games at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, currently playing out in India.

And Sargent isn’t the only one.

Eighteen of the 21 players on the U-17 MNT roster competing in India come from Academy clubs and several got their first major exposure to U.S. Soccer at Regional Showcase events. This weekend marks the first of three events for the Development Academy’s three regions: Central, East and West. The current U-17s were the first age group to play in Regional Showcases. 

“It was really the first group where we expanded all the scouting we were doing to a younger age group through the Development Academy,” Lepore said. “It’s no coincidence that we saw them early and they became the first group with a lot of depth in every position. We started scouting them in a consistent environment in the Academy, and it provided numerous identification opportunities for their pathway from their Academy Clubs to the Youth National Teams.” 

Solar Soccer Club’s Greg Oglesby started coaching Blaine Ferri at age eight. It didn’t take long to tell that Blaine was special. As he progressed, the Showcase event provided an opportunity to demonstrate his talents to National Team scouts from across the region.

“From day one, he just had a different feel for the game. He sees the field so well. Most players, you’re thrilled if they’re a pass ahead. He’s two, three passes ahead,” Oglesby said. “I really truly believe he gets just as big a thrill out of an assist or the assist to an assist as he does scoring a goal.”

Ferri’s keen vision on-the-field saw him as the U-17s’ top assist man leading into the World Cup. Unselfish to a fault, Oglesby had to convince him to take charge on the field. He knew that Ferri could dominate a game, he just needed the encouragement to take over individually with his superb technical ability.

The Academy prides itself on play-up opportunities as another chance for individual development. From the very start with Weston FC, George Acosta was training two years above his age group. His former coach at Weston FC, current U.S. Soccer Technical Advisor Marcelo Neveleff, says it made him quicker on the ball and quicker-thinking. It also molded him into a leader with a competitive mindset. He brought that attitude to the inaugural East Region Showcase and the National Team call-ups that followed.

Acosta scored in the U-17s’ final group game against Colombia, a proud moment for Neveleff. After demonstrating his ability in the inaugural Regional Showcases and three years in the Academy, Neveleff says it’s just another step in Acosta’s individual development pathway, as he aspires to become a world-class player.

“Hopefully it’s just the beginning of his international career,” Neveleff said. “His goal is to play for the full National Team. Hopefully, he keeps working hard and he can fulfill his dream.”

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U-17 MNT Oct 21, 2017

Five Things to Know About the U.S. Soccer Development Academy

WHAT IS THE DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY?

Following a comprehensive review of the youth soccer landscape in the United States, U.S. Soccer launched the Development Academy in 2007 to create a more structured player development environment for elite players to develop to their highest potential. The review was based on extensive analysis of international soccer clubs, other sports training environments, education and other disciplines that require dedicated training and practice. From the onset, the program’s mission has been to impact everyday club environments in order to develop world-class players.

The program's philosophy is based on increased training and less total, but more meaningful games using international rules of competition. Individual development of elite players is prioritized over winning trophies and titles. The Academy is the highest level of youth soccer in the U.S. and the program works to ensure elite environments to maximize youth player development nationwide.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The 2017-18 season will feature 197 total clubs and 900 teams across six age groups: U-12, U-13, U-14, U-15, U-16/17 and U-18/19. Teams compete in three conferences: West, Central and East. The conferences are divided into geographic divisions of six to 15 teams. A full list of teams and their age group divisions can be found here, and Club maps can be found here.

The ten-month season goes from September and concludes with the Academy Championships in July. The campaign is highlighted by seasonal showcases, where teams from across the country gather to compete. Every Academy team plays between 25 and 30 total games throughout the season, broken up by a winter break and a futsal period. The teams that advance from the Summer Playoffs will play up to three additional games. Events are a hotbed for scouts, both from the U.S. Soccer National Team program as well as the collegiate and professional ranks (both domestic and abroad). 

PATHWAY TO THE NATIONAL TEAM

A U.S. Soccer player development initiative, the Academy provides a clear pathway for individual players to reach their full potential and ultimately, the National Team programs. Ninety-two percent of Youth National Team players in the 2016-17 cycle came from Academy clubs.

Every game at seasonal Academy showcases are scouted, and over 50% of the season’s games are scouted by U.S. Soccer Technical Advisors. These 11 regional administrators connect Academy directors directly to U.S. Soccer and oversee the region’s talent identification network in order to bring players into the National Team fold.

ACADEMY ASSETS

With fewer total games in favor of more meaningful contests, training is the priority, as clubs are required to train at least four days a week during the season to further individual development.

These training environments are headed by professionalized coaches: all Academy coaches are required to hold a U.S. Soccer “B” coaching license and all Academy Directors must hold an “A” license. Training at Academy clubs also takes advantage of cutting-edge sports performance technology. Clubs use video analysis, performance-based player testing, perceptual-cognitive training and more to give players the best-possible developmental environment.

U.S. Soccer is also making efforts to reduce pay-to-play through the Academy program. Since 2008, the Federation has given over two million dollars in scholarship money to over 1,500 Academy players. This money has allowed more players than ever access to the nation’s highest-level of youth soccer. Twenty-three Academy clubs were fully-funded in 2016-17, meaning players don’t pay at all to train and develop in a world-class environment.

U-17 MNT: BUILT BY THE ACADEMY

The U-17 Men’s National Team competing at this fall’s U-17 World Cup in India is constructed from Academy products. Eighteen of the roster’s 21 players come from Academy clubs, and overall, the squad represents 20 clubs and 55 seasons of Academy experience.

After shining on the Academy stage, several players are now competing at the world’s highest level of youth soccer. Andrew Carleton won last season’s Development Academy U-15/16 Championship with Atlanta United FC. After scoring two goals to clinch the Academy title a few months ago, he has directly contributed to half of the team’s total goals in India. Bryan Reynolds also won an Academy championship with the FC Dallas U-15/16 squad in 2016.

D.C. United’s Chris Durkin and Sporting Kansas City’s Jaylin Lindsey were named to Academy Conference Best XI’s in 2014-15 and 2015-16, respectively, and are now key contributors for the U-17s. A third of the roster’s 18 Academy players – Carleton, Reynolds, Lindsey, Durkin, Chris Goslin and James Sands – have signed professional contracts as M.L.S. Homegrown players. 

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YNT U-17 MNT Oct 20, 2017
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