In a shakeup of the U.S. under-17 national team residency program, Coach Wilmer Cabrera and his staff have brought in 17 new players for the 2008 fall semester of the 40-player program in Bradenton, Fla.
All of the players are eligible to compete in the 2009 FIFA Under-17 World Cup. Of the 17 players who left Bradenton, eight were '91s who are not eligible for the next world championship.
While the U-17s have had success in the last year -- they beat Brazil, 2-0, late last fall -- Cabrera has worked hard to find new talent. The advent of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy program coincided with Cabrera's appointment as U-17 coach, giving the U-17 staff a more organized forum to evaluate more players.
"For us, it was important to find players from all over the country," Cabrera said. "Whether they come from affiliated leagues or small clubs, we wanted to make sure to reach more cities and more players than before. We made every effort to bring in players this semester that we think can make the roster for qualifying next spring."
Five new players - Michael Ambrose, Sean Davis, Victor Pineda, Dominick Sarle and Eriq Zavaleta -- secured their place in Bradenton during the team's two-week tour of Central America in early August, where they faced a number of Concacaf opponents.
Four first-semester players -- John Agudelo, Jonathan Kempin, Alex Molano and Pineda - come from youth clubs associated with Major League Soccer teams. Two -- Victor Garza and Joel Nash -- played at Brad Friedel's new Premier Socer Academies.
Of the 23 returning players, seven are beginning their second semester in Bradenton, including the youngest on the roster in 14-year-old Alfred Koroma, while 15 are in their third semester. The U-17s will also welcome back midfielders Donovan Henry and fourth-semester resident Charles Renken and defender Jared Watts, who all missed significant time during the spring semester with knee injuries.
The players will be competing for a place on the U.S. team that will attempt to qualify for its 14th consecutive FIFA Under-17 World Cup in April or May, when the qualifying tournament will be held in Mexico.
The U.S. players live on campus at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and train in the morning under the guidance of Cabrera and assistant coaches Paul Caffrey, Paul Grafer and Keith Fulk, who was rehired before the start of the semester as the team's third assistant. (Oscar Pareja returned to FC Dallas afater a brief stint in Bradenton.) In the afternoon, the players attend classes at nearby Bradenton Preparatory Academy.
UNDER-17 RESIDENCY ROSTER
'92 Samir Badr (Bethesda Roadrunners, Md.) ***
'92 Earl Edwards (Nomads, Calif.) ***
'93 Jonathan Kempin (K.C. Wizards Juniors) *
'92 Spencer Richey (Crossfire Premier, Wash.) **
'93 Michael Ambrose (Texas Fire) *
'92 Julio Arjona (D.C. United Academy) **
'92 Zachary Herold (Schulz Academy, Fla.) ***
'92 Perry Kitchen (Chicago Magic, Ill.) ***
'93 Jordan McCrary (Concorde Fire, Ga.) *
'93 Boyd Okwuonu (Tulsa Thunder, Okla.) *
'92 Emilio Orozco (Rampage FC, Calif.) ***
'92 Shaquille Phillips (D.C. United Academy) **
'92 Tyler Polak (Capital Soccer Academy, Neb.) ***
'92 Alberto Rosas (Real So Cal, Calif.) **
'93 Alex Shinsky (SuperNova FC, Pa.) ***
'92 Jared Watts (North Meck, N.C.) ***
'92 Eriq Zavaleta (FC Pride, Ind.) **
'92 Jonathan Canales (West Coast FC, Calif.) *
'92 Dustin Corea (East Side United FC, Ore.) *
'92 Andrew Craven (First Coast Kicks, Ga.) ***
'93 Sean Davis (Matchfit Academy, Ohio) *
'92 Bryan Duran (Latino Americana, Texas) ***
'92 Victor Garza (Premier Soccer Academies) *
'93 Luis Gil (Pateadores, Calif.) **
'92 Joseph Gyau (FC Delco, Pa.) ***
'92 Donovan Henry (Schulz Academy, Fla.) ***
'92 George Malki (FC Del Sol, Ariz.) *
'92 Carlos Martinez (Downtown Las Vegas SC, Nev.) ***
'92 Alex Molano (FC Dallas Juniors) *
'92 Joel Nash (Premier Soccer Academies) *
'93 Victor Pineda (Chicago Fire Academy) *
'93 Charles Renken (Scott Gallagher, Mo.) ****
'92 Dominic Sarle (BW Gottschee, N.Y.) *
'92 Erik Stephenson (Surf, Calif.) **
'92 John Agudelo (N.Y. Red Bulls Academy) *
'92 Jonathan Brown (Central Jackson SO, Miss) *
'92 Jaime Gutierrez (West Coast FC, Calif.) ***
'92 Stefan Jerome (Schulz Academy, Fla.) ***
'94 Alfred Koroma (Solar Red) **
'92 Jack McInerney (Cobb SC, Ga.) ***