BRADENTON, Fla. – The U.S. U-16 Boys’ National Team finished their 2016 programming in Bradenton, Fla. with a domestic training camp that culminated with their participation in the IMG Cup – Boys Invitational tournament. The simultaneous nature of the camp and tournament gave U-16 head Coach Shaun Tsakiris a unique opportunity for his staff to identify and work on player development with the roster in a nine-day span.
“Nine of our players had never been called up to a U.S. National Team program before, and for six others this was just their second camp,” Tsakiris said. “We accomplished our objective of this camp, which was to identify new talent and make the depth chart bigger. Any time that we get together, we want our players to understand what it means to play for the crest and what it means to represent your country. We made it very clear what the key qualities of a Youth National Team player are. I think the set-up of the week was great, because we really hit that home through training and small group classroom sessions.”
Playing an age up in the U-17 Blue Division, the U.S. U-16 team appeared unfazed by the physical maturity difference of their opponents. During the team’s three games, the U.S. refused to concede a single goal. On the attacking front, the team put up an astonishing 17 goals total, scoring six in the first two matches against Next Gen USA Showcase Select and FC Florida Prep Academy, and then five more goals against Miramar United Elite FC to finish off the three-day round-robin tournament.
Gabe Segal led the team in scoring during the tournament with five goals, recording a hat trick in the team’s finale against Miramar United Elite FC. Segal was followed closely by Indiana Vassilev, who tallied three goals, and Marcelo Palomino who found the back of the net twice. Jonathan Munoz, Taylor Booth, Ben Ortiz, Azriel Gonzalez and Everson Amaya each got on the stat sheet with one goal apiece.
“We had some really good players come in that we were very happy with,” Tsakiris said. “We played a year up and the competition was good, although we almost wish we could have played two years up. It was very clear as to what we were looking for when it came down to matches. Having a week of training and double days leading into the tournament was great because we were really able to show them and hit home what we are looking for, and the key qualities of a YNT player.”
The U16’s will return to action in February, when a group will head to Argentina for a training camp in Buenos Aires.