The 2017 Men's Nike International Friendlies kick off on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., as a new crop of U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team players begins its cycle building towards the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Here are five things you should know about one of the U-17 MNT’s premier annual events:
History of the EventThe Nike International Friendlies were established in 2001 to provide top-level competition for the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team, and evolved into one of the premier annual events on the youth soccer calendar.
Originally, the U-17 MNT would face mainly U.S.-based club teams with an international opponent sprinkled in. That changed in 2008 when the competition reached its current four-team, round robin international format.
The 2017 tournament will see the USA pitted against a strong field featuring England, Netherlands and Brazil. While all three opponents are quite familiar with the Nike International Friendlies, having attended multiple editions of the competition in the past, previous tournaments have also included appearances from Australia, France, Portugal and Turkey.
In 2008, the competition joined forces with the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase, which features the top club teams in the U-15/16 and U-17/18 age groups from around the United States. The Nike International Friendlies act as the event’s centerpiece and the combined event highlights the cohesion between the Development Academy member clubs and the U.S. Youth National Teams.