It’s been a busy year for U.S. Soccer referee Jeremy Kieso.
As a part of MLS All-Star Game festivities, he officiated the MLS Homegrown game that saw some of the league’s top young prospects take on Chivas de Guadalajara’s U-20 squad. Two months ago, he crossed off a long-term goal in refereeing his first MLS game: a late-season showdown between LA Galaxy and Minnesota United FC. Now, he’s officiating his first full-international matches at the 2017 Men’s Nike International Friendlies.
“It’s one of those selections you are always hoping for.” Kieso said. “It’s humbling. The higher you go, the faster the game is the stronger the players are, the smarter the players are. You have to use all aspects of your referee abilities.
While the Friendlies highlight a week of action in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., the Premier Sports Campus’ other 22 fields are hosting 228 games of the Development Academy Winter Showcase, bringing together 76 clubs that make up the nation’s highest level of youth soccer. It’s also a hotbed for some of the nation’s top referees, and it’s the environment that brought Kieso to the level he’s reached today.
“Being part of the Development Academy Showcase events is huge for me,” Kieso said. “It gives you the experience to work with other officials and work higher-level matches with teams from around the country.”
Top U.S. Soccer referees from around the country are gathered in Lakewood Ranch to further their own development. At Academy Showcase events, they are assessed by some of the country’s highest-level referees. U.S. Soccer referee Guido Gonzales is officiating this year’s Nike Friendlies after rising through the referee ranks at Academy events.
“It’s the highest level of youth soccer,” Gonzales said. “These are big tests. These are players that are on the road to professional programs. We have to perform at that level as well. That’s the next step for them, and it’s the next step for us as referees.”
At a past Summer Showcase, Gonzales had the opportunity to get feedback on his game from U.S. Soccer referee Mark Geiger, the first-ever U.S. referee to officiate a knockout match at a World Cup. The lessons learned at Showcases are invaluable.
“When we’re not on the soccer field, we’re in our groups debriefing with national-level educators,” Gonzales said. “We’re taking in as much feedback as we can. These guys are the experienced people out here, breaking down our game in bits and pieces. Not many people see the kind of evaluation we go through. We spend as much time as we can in the classroom.”
While Kieso and Gonzales have used Academy events to rise to their current level, U.S. Soccer referee Alyssa Pennington is now earning her stripes in the Academy, rising through the ranks and soaking in every bit of the experience. This year’s Winter Showcase is her third Academy event, but each one is a special opportunity for her on-field development.
“To come to this event is a great opportunity, you feel like you’ve accomplished something really great when you’re accepted,” Pennington said. “I decided to apply to referee here to learn more, enhance my understanding of the game and get more experience at a higher level.”
In 2018, Pennington wants to earn her grade five referee certification, which would make her eligible for selection as a national referee. Kieso’s goal is to become regular in overseeing Major League Soccer matches and Gonzales strives to continue his improvement. The referee development pathway never truly ends, as officials continue to work to be the best they can be.
“You always want to get into a tougher game,” Gonzales said. “I have a lot of points where I need to improve. Next year’s goal is to hash out the wrinkles that I had this season. It is a competition. I’m up against the best referees in the country, trying to fight through the battles of performing.”
LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. (Nov. 29, 2017) – Goals on both sides of halftime from Giovanni were enough to hand Brazil a 2-1 victory against the Netherlands in the opening match of the 2017 Men’s Nike International Friendlies at Premier Sports Campus.
Netherlands signaled their intent for a physical start in the first minute when defender Melayro Bogarde came through hard and late with a tackle on Brazillian attacker Alejandro at midfield, earning a caution in the opening minute. Referee Ramy Touchan would hand out two more yellow cards to the Dutch before the half was done, but the rough and tumble tactics didn’t deter from Brazil’s attack.
In the 17th minute, Miguel cut in from the left and fought off a Dutch defender before hitting a slow-rolling effort that goalkeeper Tein Troost collected at the left post. The Fluminense winger was active again six minutes later when he got on the end of a cross from Alejandro, but his header at the right post was well held by Troost.
Brazil would find the go-ahead goal just before halftime when Alejandro danced along the end line before cutting back for Giovanni. The Brazil captain took the ball on his right foot and curled an effort inside the upper right corner for a 38th-minute goal.
Netherlands came close to an equalizer in first half stoppage time when Dirk Proper’s free kick from the left picked out Ki-Jana Hoever, whose flick-on header trickled just past the right post.
Brazil picked things up again after the break when right back Gustavo took some space and rocketed a blistering effort from distance that forced Troost to push the ball over the bar in the 48th minute.
Pushing for the second goal, Giovanni broke through the back line on the right and saw his centering pass find Bruno, whose attempt was handled on the line by Netherlands defender Ki-Jana Hoever. The referee immediately went to his back pocket, showing Hoever a straight red card before pointing to the spot.
On the ensuing penalty kick, Giovanni confidently stepped up and drove his second of the match straight down the middle to give Brazil a 2-0 lead with 10 minutes to play.
The advantage was cut in half as the 10-man Dutch side pulled back three minutes later. A looping cross from Anass Salah-Eddine found Bryan Brobbery who headed down towards the right post. Substitute Joel van Kaam pounced on the chance, opportunistically hitting a quick effort that deflected off a Brazil defender and past Bruno Carcaioli in the 73rd minute.
Despite the late goal, Brazil held on 2-1 to take the first match of the 2017 Men’s Nike International Friendlies.
- 2017 Men’s Nike International Friendlies Match Report -
Match: Brazil U-17 Men’s National Team vs. Netherlands U-17 Men’s National Team
Date: Nov. 29, 2017
Competition: 2017 Men’s Nike International Friendlies
Venue: Premier Sports Campus Stadium Field
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET
Weather: 83 degrees, humid
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
BRA 1 1 2
NED 0 1 1
BRA – Giovanni (Alejandro) 38th minute
BRA – Giovanni (penalty kick) 70
NED – Joel van Kaam (Bryan Brobbery) 73
BRA: 1-Bruno Carcaioli; 2-Gustavo, 4-Alysson, 3-Derick (14-Deivid, 79), 6-Maranyao; 5-Sandry (15-Dhouglas, 58), 8-Hiago, 7-Miguel (19-Bruno, 58), 11-Alejandro (20-Wesley, 68); 9-Lazaro (18-Gabriel, 41), 10-Giovanni (capt.) (17-Bruno, 79)
Substitutes not used: 12-Pedro Henrique, 13-Yago, 16-Gabriel Rodrigues da Silva, 18-Gabriel de Souza Borsatto
Head coach: Carlos Guilherme Della Dea
NED: 16-Tein Troost; 2-Ki-Jana Hoever, 3-Melayro Bogarde (12-Neraysho Kasanwirjo, 41), 4-Ian Mahtsen, 5-Anass Salah-Eddine; 6-Dirk Proper (capt.) (14-Mohamed Taabouni, 62), 10-Mohamed-Amine Ihattaren (19-Syb van Ottele, 80), 8-Ryan Gravenberch; 7-Naoufal Bannis (17-Joel van Kaam, 41) 9-Bryan Brobbery, 11-Sontje Hansen (20-Jaymillo Pina, 62)
Substitutes not used: 1-Calvin Raatsie, 13-Kenneth Taylor, 15-Steven van der Sloot, 18-Twan van der Zeeuw
Head coach: Kees van Wonderen
NED – Melayro Bogarde (caution) 1st minute
NED - Ki-Jana Hoover (caution) 20
NED – Anass Salah-Eddine (caution) 31
NED – Ki-Jana Hoever (sent off) 69
NED – Ian Mahtsen (caution) 80+1
Referee: Ramy Touchan (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: John Krill (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Art Arustamyan (USA)
Fourth Official: Malik Badawi (USA)
Note: Match was played in two 40-minute halvesRead more
CHICAGO (Nov. 28, 2017) - U.S. U-17 Men's National Team head coach John Hackworth has named a final 20-player roster for the 2017 Nike International Friendlies, which run from Nov. 29-Dec. 3 at Premier Sports Complex in Lakewood Ranch, Florida.
After a preparatory training camp, Hackworth narrowed his preliminary squad down from 24 players, releasing D.C. United goalkeeper Khamari Culcleasure, Sporting Kansas City defender Mitchell Eise, Shattuck-Saint Mary's goalkeeper JT Harms and Atlanta United FC forward Daniel Mangarov, who will now feature for their respective clubs during the 2017 U.S. Soccer Boys' Development Academy Winter Showcase, which runs concurrently from Nov. 30-Dec. 4 at Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
U.S. U-17 MNT 2017 Nike International Friendlies Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Damian Las (Chicago Fire; Norridge, Ill.), Kashope Oladapo (Portland Timbers; Happy Valley, Ore.)
DEFENDERS (6): Axel Alejandre (FC United Soccer Club; Chicago, Ill.), Sebastian Anderson (Colorado Rapids; Highlands Ranch, Co.), George Bello (Atlanta United FC; Douglasville, Ga.), Mason Judge (Chargers Soccer Club; Tampa, Fla.), Kenneth Nielsen (Pateadores; Irvine, Calif.), Joseph Scally (New York City FC; Lake Grove, N.Y.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Joshua Atencio (Seattle Sounders FC; Bellevue, Wash.), Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City; Greenboro, NC), Adam Saldana (Real So Cal; Panorama City, Calif.), Gilbert Fuentes Perez (San Jose Earthquakes; Tracy, Calif.), Maximillian Goeggel (VFB Stuttgart; San Francisco, Calif.), Peter Stroud (New York Red Bulls; Chester, NJ)
FORWARDS (6): Julian Gaines (Lonestar Soccer Club; Austin, Tex.), Cade Hagan (Sockers FC; Naperville, Ill.), Diego Lopez (FC Golden State; Chino, Calif.), Alfonso Ocampo Chavez (Seattle Sounders FC; Fresno, Calif.), Dante Sealy (FC Dallas; Frisco, Tex.), Ray Serrano (Seattle Sounders FC; Graham, Wash.)