CHICAGO (Dec. 14, 2016) – U.S. Under-16 Boys’ National Team head coach Shaun Tsakiris has named a 23-player roster for the IMG Cup: Boys Invitational, taking place Dec. 17 – Dec. 19 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The tournament will coincide with a domestic training camp, the fourth in 2016 under Tsakiris, for the cycle of players born in 2001 or later.
In preparation for the tournament, the USA will play a friendly against Clearwater Chargers U-17/18 of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy on Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. The U-16 BNT will begin IMG Cup competition as part of the U-17 Blue division (birth year 2000 or later). Next Gen USA Showcase Select will be the first group opponent for the U.S., with kickoff slated for 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 17. FC Florida Prep Academy will be the USA’s second opponent on Dec. 18 at 11:30 a.m., followed by Miramar United Elite FC on Dec. 19 at 9:45 a.m. Featuring a round-robin style format, the IMG Cup U-17 Blue division champion will be determined based on point accumulation in group play.
The IMG Cup marks the first competitive tournament for the U-16 BNT since October’s Val de Marne Tournament, when the U.S. faced England, France and Russia in Val de Marne, France.
“As a staff, we are giving these players another opportunity to be recognized and seen,” Tsakiris said. “Whether you are a 2001 or not, anytime you get together as a National Team, it is a great chance for you to display your talent and prove to us as a staff that you deserve to be here. In terms of objectives, we want to continue to monitor and recognize young players and continue to push them and get them on the path for our older National Teams. This tournament and week gives another opportunity for those players to do that.”
Out of the 23 players, nine are making their National Team roster debut and five have been called up to the U-16 team for only the second time. A total of 21 of the players have been scouted out of U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy, four of whom have four years of training in an Academy program: Nico Benalcazar, Sebastian Berhalter, Justin Haak and Marcelo Palomino.
Five players on the roster are currently in fall semester Residency with the U-17 MNT: Taylor Booth, Nicolas Defreitas-Hansen, Bryan Reynolds, Indiana Vassilev and Palomino.
U.S. U-16 BNT Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Nicolas Defreitas-Hansen (Weston FC; Southwest Ranches, Fla.), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake AZ; Casa Grande, Ariz.)
DEFENDERS (6): Julian Araujo (Santa Barbara Soccer Club; Lompoc, Calif.), George Bello (Atlanta United FC; Douglasville, Ga.), Nico Benalcazar (NYCFC; Wilton, Conn.), Edward Berumen (Sacramento Republic FC; Salida, Calif.), John Hilton (LA Galaxy; Long Beach, Calif.), Leonardo Sepulveda (LA Galaxy; Corona, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Sebastian Berhalter (Crew SC Academy; Westerville, Ohio), Taylor Booth (Real Salt Lake AZ; Eden, Utah), Oscar Cervantes (LA Premier FC; Indio, Calif.), Justin Haak (NYCFC, Brooklyn, N.Y.), Nelson Martinez (DC United; Woodbridge, Va.), Jonathan Munoz (Sporting Kansas City; Olathe, Kan.), Marcelo Palomino (Houston Dynamo; Houston, Texas), Indiana Vassilev (IMG Academy; Savannah, Ga.)
FORWARDS (7): Everson Amaya (D.C. United; Alexandria, Va.), Azriel Gonzalez (Seattle Sounders FC; Renton, Wash.), Cameron Harper (Pateadores; Newport Beach, Calif.), Ben Ortiz (La Roca; Orem, Utah), Axel Picazo (Philadelphia Union; Round Rock, Texas), Bryan Reynolds (FC Dallas; Little Elm, Texas), Gabe Segal (Bethesda SC; Bethesda, Md.)