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Another U.S. coaching change: Cabrera out as U.S. U-17 boss
by Mike Woitalla, January 3rd, 2012 3:22PM

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TAGS:  u-17 world cup, youth boys

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[U.S. SOCCER] Wilmer Cabrera, the U.S. U-17 boys national team coach since 2007, and the U.S. Soccer Federation mutually agreed to part ways, the USSF announced. The move means that every U.S. national team on the male side has had a head coach change within the last year.

The departure of Cabrera, whose contract expired in December 2011, comes just one month after his new cycle of U-17s’ impressive performance at the Nike International Friendlies, at which they beat Brazil (3-1) and Turkey (2-1) and tied France (2-2).

Cabrera, a veteran of the Colombian national team who moved to the USA in 2003, replaced John Hackworth at the helm of U-17s and the Bradenton Residency Program after the 2007 U-17 World Cup. Under Cabrera, the USA continued its streak as the only country to qualify for every U-17 World Cup.

Cabrera guided the USA to the round of 16 in both the 2009 and 2011 U-17 World Cups. Its 4-0 loss to Germany at the tournament in Mexico last June marked the fifth straight time it failed to clear the first hurdle of the knockout stage. (Only in 1999, when Coach John Ellinger’s team, with Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley and Oguchi Onyewu, finished fourth have the U-17s posted a second-round win in their 14 world championship appearances.)

Among the players who played for Cabrera at the U-17 World Cups were Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Perry Kitchen (D.C. United) and Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union), in 2009, and, in 2011, Jack McBean (Los Angeles Galaxy) and Marc Pelosi, who signed with Liverpool in November.

Both of Cabrera’s predecessors moved into MLS coaching positions. John Ellinger left the U-17s to become head coach of Real Salt Lake and is currently assistant coach at FC Dallas. Hackworth stepped into an assistant coaching position with the Philadelphia Union.

"After several discussions with Wilmer, we agreed that parting ways at this time was the best way forward," said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. "We appreciate Wilmer's contributions to U.S. Soccer during the past four years with the under-17 men's national team. We wish him all the best in the future."

Cabrera will coach the team through January, including a trip to Turkey.

"I've enjoyed my time with the U-17s, but my journey with U.S. Soccer will be coming to an end," said Cabrera. "I am looking forward to the next stage of my coaching career."

Cabrera's exit follows appointments of new coaches for each male U.S. national team within the last year. Jurgen Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley as full national team coach. Caleb Porter was named U-23/Olympic team coach. Tab Ramos replaced Thomas Rongen at the U-20s' helm.

At the U-18 level, Richie Williams replaced Mike Matkovich. The U.S. Soccer Development Academy’s director of scouting, Tony Lepore, will coach the U-15s, of whom Princeton coach Jim Barlow had been in charge. Manny Schellscheidt was removed as head of the U-14 national identification program, which will now be handled by the U.S. Soccer Development Academy's technical advisers.



10 comments
  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: January 3, 2012 at 3:51 p.m.
    Why? Did he disagree with Klinsmann? Gulati? Did something happen?
  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: January 3, 2012 at 8:59 p.m.
    Wilmer Cabrera to Jorge Ramos, ESPN Deportes: "I only met Klinsmann one time. He didn't have time nor the need to meet me." Doesn't explain much, but it's a start.
  1. Robert Lanza
    commented on: January 4, 2012 at 10:05 a.m.
    Evidently not enough Germans in the squad.
  1. David Huff
    commented on: January 4, 2012 at 11:58 a.m.
    Don't hang this on Klinsi, this is purely a USSF decision.
  1. Eric in DC
    commented on: January 4, 2012 at 1:27 p.m.
    Ric & Dave: Considering that Klinsmann was brought in to revamp the entire structure, I can't believe Sunil would've made this move without Klinsmann agreeing. In any event, most soccer clubs-except those with the deepest pockets-do well to change coaches every now and again. Wilmer will go on to bigger and better things since the U17s did really well with him.
  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: January 4, 2012 at 4:04 p.m.
    Ric, you can listen to the full interview here: http://cdn16.castfire.com/audio/303/2121/13315/832065/ENTREVISTAS_2012-01-03-184805-3953-0-0-0.32.mp3?cdn_id=33&uuid=5d53987033abfc30b82eaf122cbc6dc5&referer=http%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2Fltf0s3hT
  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: January 4, 2012 at 4:11 p.m.
    I agree that coaching changes are part of the business, but I thought Cabrera was one of the good guys. Seemed like his teams were playing the type of soccer the USSF and Klinsmann are trying to implement. I don't understand this decision at all. Cabrera, from everything I have seen and read, is a good coach and exactly what the USSF needs in its youth ranks. I am sad to see him go.
  1. Ronnie j Salvador
    commented on: January 4, 2012 at 9:54 p.m.
    My son has played for Cabrera, and we really like him a lot. I would guess it had nothing to do with his ability to coach on the field. Rather, perhaps a demand from USSF to devote more time to the national team [ie. give up his IMG responsibilities], or, a divide on how players are selected/prepared for the residency program.
  1. Raveen Rama
    commented on: January 5, 2012 at 1:36 a.m.
    I have heard only good things about Coach Cabrera, and his record shows that the US U-17 qualified for every U-17 World Cup. But only once did they advance past the first round. This would suggest to me that the team was getting stagnant under his leadership, and needed new inspiration. Sometimes even under a great coach a team does not perform as well as expected. Therefore, I think a change was warrented. I am sure Coach Cabrera will do even better leading another team, and the U-17 will flourish under new leadership. All the best to both.
  1. David Huff
    commented on: January 5, 2012 at 12:39 p.m.
    @ Ric, a big mahalo to you to start off 2012 right. : ) For Eric and & Gak, my personal opinion is that Cabrera was doing an overall good job, to the extent Klinsi was consulted on this change it was conducted as more of a courtesy rather than a meaningful exchange on whether to keep/change Cabrera. Rest assured that this was a USSF decision, for better or worse.

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