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Young wizard Flores leads USA to special win
by Paul Kennedy, December 4th, 2011 9:56PM

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TAGS:  brazil, u-17 world cup, youth boys

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[NIKE INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLIES] The USA's 3-1 victory over Brazil on Sunday to win the Nike International Friendlies wasn't the first time it had beaten Brazil at the annual U-17 event, but this was a special win orchestrated by a special player. The undisputed star for Wilmer Cabrera's promising U-17s was their young wizard, Junior Flores, whose trickery led to goals by Rubio Rubin and Tyler Turner and who fed Wesley Wade for the third goal just before halftime following a tantalizing run down the left wing -- a run that followed a sequence of 10 passes out of the back.

Perhaps the greatest compliment paid to Flores came in the form of the disappointment of the Mexico under-17 national team coach when he approached the 15-year-old playmaker at a recent tournament in Spain and learned his family was Salvadoran, not Mexican. Indeed, Flores had already trained with the El Salvador national team at the Gold Cup.

Flores had only one goal in Lakewood Ranch, the late winner against Turkey on Friday, but it was his ability to take on opponents going either direction and find open teammates -- like on the play that ended with his goal against Turkey -- that was so special.

To wit ...

-- A minute into the Brazil game, Flores makes a simple cut-back to his right foot and is fouled by Gabriel. Off Flores' ensuring free kick, the ball bounces to Rubio, who side-volleys it into the goal from a close angle.

-- In the 31st minute, Flores this time darts to his left and is taken down by Marcel 25 yards out on the left side. Again, he takes the free kick and again the ball bounces around in the area until Turner controls it and blasts a rocket inside the post.

-- On the third goal shortly before the break, the USA has passed the ball around 10 times before left back John Requejo Jr. feeds Flores down the left wing. Flores freezes his marker, cuts to his left and darts down the left wing before putting a cross with his left foot into the six-yard box, where Wade taps it past the Brazilian keeper Guilherme.

It was Flores' third assist of the tournament and the kind of stuff that have European scouts already tracking him.

Flores grew up in the outlying Washington, D.C., suburb of Manassas Park, Va., a hotbed for Central American talent. He isn't a product of a big club, playing for the Manassas Park Cougars for two seasons and Great Falls Soccer Club through spring 2011 and participating in the Virginia ODP program before moving to McLean Youth Soccer, a member of the U.S. Development Academy.

Flores was by no means the only player who impressed at the Nike International Friendlies:

-- Out of Connecticut's South Central Premier, Turner scored two goals coming forward from his position in the middle of the backline. The U-17 captain showed quick feet and good touch to calmly put away the second goal against Brazil.

-- Wade, one seven players from the New York Red Bulls academy in residency, had won the Golden Boot at the AGS Cup in Spain. He scored two goals in Lakewood Ranch -- the tying goal in stoppage time against France and the insurance goal against Brazil -- but his most impressive moment came late in the Turkey game when a ball popped up to him in the penalty area and he had the presence of mind to flick the ball into Flores' path for the winning goal.

-- Concorde Fire product DeAndre Robinson set the tone with the first of seven U.S. goals in three games with the first goal early in the France match. He demonstrated a soft touch to go along with his considerable speed.

-- The two outside backs, Shaquell Moore (Georgia's Cobb FC) and John Requejo (Real So Cal), were active throughout three games. In the France game, Moore smashed a shot off the crossbar.

-- One of two players brought into residency from Oregon's Westside Metros, Rubin is player the U-17 coaching staff is high on and he showed why on his goal against Brazil.

-- Corey Baird (San Diego Surf) added energy to the U.S. attack in the two games he started and had the key pass to break the Brazil pressure on the sequence that led to the third goal.

Dec. 4 in Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
USA 3 Brazil 1. Goals: Rubin 2, Turner 31, Wade 43; Matheus Queiroz 16.
USA -- Christensen, Moore, Donovan, Turner, Requejo, Rubin, Kabala (Echevarria, 65), Lema, Flores (Kafai, 78), Baird (Politz, 90+1), Wade (Robinson, 65)
Brazil -- Guilherme, Kaue (Derlan, 83), Marcel, Erik, Abner, Walney (Linik, 46), Ze Augusto, Matheus Queiroz, Gabriel (Gabriel Barbosa, 87), Joanderson (Ian, 65), Bruno (Renan Gorne, 83)
Att.: 3,000.

Dec. 2 in Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
USA 2 Turkey 1. Goals: Turner 19, Flores 88; Mustafa 47.
USA -- Louro, Moore, Donovan, Turner, Requejo, Rubin (Wade, 55), Echevarria, Flores (Lema, 90), Calix (Heredia, 54), Baird, Kafai (Robinson, 61).
Turkey -- Mehmet, Anil, Melih, Mehdi, Mahmuthan (Umut, 36), Serdar, Ismail (Aziz, 82), Mert (Cahit, 66), Yusuf, Berk, Mustafa.
Red Card: Turkey -- Selim 40.
Att.: 1,859.



24 comments
  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: December 5, 2011 at 9:15 a.m.
    Its great to see that Hispanics are shining on this team. It should not be a surprise that apparently the most creative are usually Hispanic. It seems we are finally seeing the value in this. Another interesting note is that Flores, the best player, is not an Academy or Big Club product. I hope Soccer America keeps highlighting these facts when speaking of futuure great USA players.

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: December 5, 2011 at 9:27 a.m.
    I couldn't agree more Luis.US Soccer must do more to be sure that small competitive clubs are still allowed a place at the table.From what I have seen, they are still the only clubs producing the "special" players.My hope now is that Junior be picked up by a good European or South American professional club to continue his education as a player.At his age, there is nothing here in the USA for him.

  1. cony konstin
    commented on: December 5, 2011 at 11:15 a.m.
    This is a historic moment for US soccer. Rubio is one of two players from our club that is playing on the U17 mnt. I hope to see Alejandro on the pitch as well. Overall the kids did very well and Wilmer and his staff as well. Don't celebrate until you are world champions. Stay humble and keep your work ethic up. Again thank you for living it on the field.

  1. Jase The Ace
    commented on: December 5, 2011 at 11:26 a.m.
    Flores was definitely the attacking star. Guyllian Kabala also dominated in his holding midfield role, especially the first half.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: December 5, 2011 at 11:28 a.m.
    When are we going to figure out that trying to monopolize youth soccer in these Academies will work against developing talent. Its bad enough that Academies are being sold as a place where you can get noticed as a player. What else are they offering. It seems every top usa player only does a 1-2 year stint in these Academies and they still seem to get the credit. Unless Academies are held accountable or permitted to profit for prooducing top players they will always look to profit from every player directly and putting development second. It is mediocre to keep making excuses for USA soccer. Like its not the #1 sport in USA like in other. Countries, etc. USA has had for a while now the most kids playing organized soccer of any other country. It is the #1 sport as far as numbers in youth sports in USA. If they are losing interest in their teens maybe just maybe its be cause of this failed system. USA is np longer as dominant in 2 of their "top sports" basketball and baseball. But hey theirs always football!! For now.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: December 5, 2011 at 11:34 a.m.
    Stup to the rescue. That's a good idea. I will do that too. How about those top U17 players Stuper? That Flores kid is great. Don't you think?

  1. Marco Villegas
    commented on: December 5, 2011 at 2:20 p.m.
    Do you realize the significance of this (USA v Brazil! We beat Brazil! The USA beat a national team from Brazil! Historically, Brazil has produced top world-class players for decades. Brazilians tell us that their kids are born with a soccer ball, and most follow a rigorous, life-long academy training program that builds on a childhood filled with daily Brazilian street-soccer. Therefore, ANY official Brazilian team is a top-level, world-class team, more so a national squad! This is a historic accomplishment for our kids! Make no mistake: their lives are infinitely better for this, and they may have altered the course of US Soccer for generations to come. Way to go, guys!

  1. Jose Fernandez
    commented on: December 5, 2011 at 3:53 p.m.
    I am hispanic but i am agree with super man, we have to celebrate as one nation, i don't care if is hispanic, black white, chinise, lets go USA, we have a great future, our kids play "joga bonito" agains Brasil,that give them more credit. Junior Flores is great and he have great future. but the team looks great as all

  1. Jose Fernandez
    commented on: December 5, 2011 at 4:15 p.m.
    We need to pick the best players availables, is time to feel proud of our team regarless where you come from, lets talk about our team. And dont take me wrong i am very proud of my raza but i am more proud of been american

  1. R2 Dad
    commented on: December 5, 2011 at 11:14 p.m.
    I don't think Luis' comments were against the team, so there's no reason to give him grief. I think he's correct to support the progress of hispanics, especially given their historic under-representation on the pitch. Hispanic teams dominate at every level in NorCal, proving they've had the chops all along. I hope our new American up-and-comers can avoid the pull from their parent's homeland. Rossi couldn't--imagine how much betters JKs team would be with just that one extra American.

  1. Danny Carvajal
    commented on: December 6, 2011 at 1:08 a.m.
    I hate how every conversation about soccer involving a player with Hispanic background ends up in a racial debate.. First off we live in the USA so that makes us ALL Americans! Not to mention the USMNT is and has been the most ethnically diverse national team(as it should be). Secondly, saying Hispanics have been under represented is just pure bs and bias.... do I really have to go through and name off all the players of Hispanic decent that played for the USMNT? With that said, and coming from Hispanic heritage myself, I couldnt agree more with Super man and Jose. Anyways, great article! Flores looks great, and Im glad he's a part of our squad! I will say the fact that he's trained with El Salvador worries me a bit, but hopefully he continues to play for the US!

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: December 6, 2011 at 8:31 a.m.
    I think Luis was just celebrating the Hispanic influence on the team.Fine with me, we're all Americans. The bigger point I think is that Flores did not come out of the Academy program. Was he overlooked? As I've said before, smaller competitive clubs still need support from US Soccer.I hope their is still a place for the smaller club players to be seen and they remain part of the overall thinking.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: December 6, 2011 at 11:30 a.m.
    Walt, you are correct that was the bigger point I made. Again, there was nothing I said with racial malice in it but Stuper, being the hipocritical racist he is will always try to find something in my comments even of there are not there. It's great that this article specifies where Flores developed and how long he was actually training with the Academy so people know exactly that this Academy should not get the credit of his de elopement. This should encourage smaller clubs to know that if they do things right anything is possible. This should also show the USA scouts that looking at strictly Academy of big club players is a huge mistake.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: December 6, 2011 at 11:36 a.m.
    Stuper, I never said USA was getting any worse at Baseball or Basketball. I was very clear in the fact that other countries are catching up extremely fast. Therefore, USA no longer as dominating in these sports as once were. Logically this means these other countries are evolving at a faster pace in these once USA dominated sports than the USA. This means USA should try and evolve their system if they want to continue to dominate. I hope that was clear enough for you.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: December 6, 2011 at 11:59 a.m.
    Jose, not everyone living in the USA is considered American. There are many illegal immigrants here that are not welcome here. This is easily seen in the way brown people are being profiled by the color of their skin and prosecuted. There is currently an anti Hispanic sentiment in some states in this country. This translates over into the sport we love, soccer. Danny, like Walt said I am simply celebrating the fact that an American of Hispanic decent is shining on this national team. Of course there have been many Hispanic s on the USA national teams if you go far back enough but according to the quantity and quality of Hispanic soccer players in this country the numbers on the USA national teams have not shown a consistent ratio. Did you k ow that Basketball was once a dominantly white sport. By this I mean 100% white. Did you know that black people were held back many years from playing this sport proffessionally even though the talent was crystal clear? After they were first accepted liga still took many years for them to accept a higher ratio In the pros and college. This is to a lesser extent seen against Hispanic s in USA soccer at all levels of play. You should be proud of being American but you should first be proud of being Hispanic or else you Will never be respected as anything. P. S. If you were born in this continent you were already American before coming to USA. America is a continent and not one country.?

  1. Bill Morrison
    commented on: December 7, 2011 at 8:21 p.m.
    Luis, of course illegal immigrants are not welcome here, why? Because they are ILLEGAL. They have broken the law. Get in line, get the paperwork done and come here LEGALLY. No one or no state in this country has a problem with legal immigrants.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: December 7, 2011 at 9:08 p.m.
    Bill, The ones being targeted are Hispanic mainly even though there are plenty of Europeans Illegally here. That's beside the point. There has been a bias against Hispanic s in USA soccer and I am simply stating examples of RAcism and hipocricy in this country.

  1. Danny Carvajal
    commented on: December 8, 2011 at 2:04 a.m.
    Hi Louis, Yes, technically everyone born in the Americas is considered American, but majority of the world refers specifically to people from the US as Americans. So you knew what i meant there. I am a very proud Hispanic but i subscribe to the notion that regardless of race,religion,ethnicity etc that we are one nation and must embrace each other as such. Now, i don't know you personally so i cant say whether this is the case or not, but in a few of your posts it comes off as you falsely pulling the race card. For instance your comment about being underrepresented or not enough of a ratio. Im not sure what exactly a fair ratio to you is. Like ive stated before, the USMNT is and has been the most racially diverse national teams in the world. Personally i agree with a lot of what you have to say against the big academies and big clubs... but to say there's a bias against Hispanics on the national team is just an example of falsely pulling the race card. We've had quite a few Hispanics on the national team, not to mention for the better part of 20 years our captains have been Hispanic. And now your comment about specifically Hispanics being targeted in illegal immigration. Again utter bs, do you know the statistics of illegal immigration? If you did then you'd know the majority of illegal immigrants in the US are Hispanic. So by sheer numbers alone they'll get deported more than illegal immigrants from countries other than Latin America. Now dont get me wrong im well aware racism exits in this country, but falsely pulling the race card is just as bad as racism itself. P.S Did you know that technically "Hispanic" isn't even the correct term to call people of Latin American descent?

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: December 8, 2011 at 8:41 a.m.
    Danny, what I Mean by ratio is quite simple. If you go out to most basketball playgrounds, youth leagues, high schools, etc. you will find many white basketball players but the best players are usually black. This translates in the pros and college with an accurate ratio. This is not the case with Hispanics in USA soccer. You could say there have been many Hispanics on the USA I guess. It depends on what you call many and what you think is enough. I think there should be a majority Hispanic on this team to reflect the talent seen in this country like black's with basketball. Of course the majority of illegal immigrants are Hispanics but this is no excuse for them to be persecuted for the color of their skin. There are many of us that are legal and feel directly the overall racism against Hispanics. Hispanic captains? I was talking about quantity. The majority of Hispanics will be deported logically but should not be targeted by the color of their skin. That us called profiling and should be illegal. Instead of pointing things out that I didn't even say you should be a little more realistic. This country likes to enforce democracy and equality in other countries while having a serious history of the contrary. In many parts of the world where as you say we are all called Americans we are also called hipocrits and white devils. We don't have to go too far back to see how the American Indians and Black's were treated.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: December 8, 2011 at 8:53 a.m.
    Not every country calls people from USA Americans. Estado Unidense is a term I use and have heard a lot. If you are brown and you go to Europe you will not be referred to as American. You will be asked if you are Mexican or south American. So no matter how much you try you will always be Mexican or Latino first. Hispanic is the correct term but if its not I'm sure you knew what I meant. Italains and the Irish were finally respected and forcefully respected and accepted in this country because they were always 100% proud of where they came from or where their ancestors came from. They kept their traditions and showed their pride. They were always critisezed for this but stayed strong and voiced their opinions strongly. I suggest you take a harder look at history in USA and act accordingly if you truly are a proud Hispanic.??

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: December 8, 2011 at 10:10 a.m.
    Children, children! This is a soccer discussion page, as much as I may agree/disagree with the various comments, this isn't really the ideal place for THAT discussion. First, to deny that there isn't an element of racism in the US soccer community is nuts! It exists everywhere, so why not with us? HOWEVER, the lack of Hispanic players on our national teams is (in my opinion) more attributable to our bias towards the English style of play, big, athletic players launching long balls out of the back. Fortunately, that is changing because it is very slowly sinking in to our soccer brains that that style is not the way to entertaining and winning soccer. Prejudice will continue but a player who helps us win will be sought out, no matter what his ethnicity. Second, Bill Morrison: nothing is.ever as clear as you would like it to be! If you wave a juicy drumstick at a starving man and then arrest him for trespassing when he comes to claim it, I think that the issue becomes a bit more complicated!

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: December 8, 2011 at 11:18 a.m.
    James, granted. I hope your right. What do you think about our Academy system and overall scouting methods?

  1. cony konstin
    commented on: December 9, 2011 at 12:09 p.m.
    In 1995 Salinas played Watsonville in the Northern Cal State Finals. Both teams were made up of latinos. That was a historic moment in Cal high Soccer. Because never before was there two all latino high school teams playing in a Cal State High School final. 37 years ago when I started coaching I had an all latino team from the Mission District. I had to show their birth certificates with their playing cards before they could play the game. My former player Francisco Gomez in the U17 world cup in Ecqudor was the first Mex-American player to captain the US U17 national team. He also played in that Historic Northern Cal high school final and was selected as one of the top 11 players in the world cup in Ecqudor. Another former player Rubio Rubin scored the first goal against Brazil U17. Latinos have come along way in the US and still have along way to go. But in the end we are all USONIANS and our colors are red, white and blue. Love it or leave it.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: December 9, 2011 at 4:58 p.m.
    I love how stating there are not enough Hispanics on USA teams turns into a patriotic debate. Maybe its my love for this country that I would like to see succeed that I would like for the better players to be given the opportunities to help it succeed. Hispanics are the obvious choice and have been purposely bipassed. My love for this country does not blind me to the past racism in every USA sport. The only reason racism has ever been overcome is by many voicing their opinions and fighting for what is right. What Cony has stated about the 2 H.S. teams is a perfect example of the dominance in talent in numbers from Hispanic in soccer. In this country we are free and encouraged to voice our opinion. Take it or leave it


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