[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.