U.S. Soccer’s under-17 residency program reopened this week with 19 first-semester players in the 40-player fall class at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Preparations begin in earnest this fall for qualifying for the 2007 Under-17 World Championship next summer in South Korea. The fall class is dominated by '90 players who will form the nucleus of the 2007 U-17 national team: 26 players were born in 1990 and 13 in 1991. Only one '90 player, Kyle Davies, remains in residency to finish up his high school studies this semester.
Starting this semester, there is one notable schedule change in the program as the players will now train at IMG Academy in the morning and attend classes at Edison Academy in the afternoon. Many players in recent years had taken accelerated academic programs that often allowed them to finish high school in three years. In addition to games and tournaments, this year's program is expected to include an extended stay in South America.
The U-17 staff brought in dozens of prospects in the last year for evaluations.
"In the past, finding the best players has always been a little tough because you’re basing your decisions on watching players with their club teams,” said U-17 coach John Hackworth. “It is much different when you have them with you in the national team camp, have them in training and when you put them in game situations and they put on a national team jersey. Getting a chance to see these kids perform as part of the U-17s has been invaluable in terms of picking out the best players for the Residency Program.”
Of the 19 new players, two are younger brothers of residency graduates: Kofi Sarkodie's brother, Ofori, captained the '05 U-17s; Zarek Valentin's brother, Julian, was a standout on the '03 U-17 team. Two new residents in the program have been stars in the age group for several years: Nigerian-bornChristian Ibeaghaof the Edmond (Okla.) Soccer Club and Sierra Leone-born Israel Sesay of the Potomac (Md.) Soccer Club. Newcomer Evan Raynr was a star at the 2006 U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships for Real So Cal.
Twelve former U-17 residency players have also registered at least one cap with the full U.S. national team, and five have played in the World Cup: DaMarcus Beasley, Bobby Convey, Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson and Oguchi Onyewu.
U.S. U-17 RESIDENCY ROSTER (new players in bold):
GOALKEEPERS: Josh Lambo (Middleton, Wis.), Zac MacMath (St. Petersburg, Fla.), David Meves (Arlington Heights, Ill.), Larry Jackson (East Palo Alto, Calif.)
DEFENDERS:Brandon Lee (Tenafly, N.J.), Howard Turk (Fairfax, Va.), TJ Nelson (Garland, Texas), Mykell Bates (Roseville, Calif.), Christian Ibeagha (Edmond, Okla.), Alonzo Carter (Fairfax, Va.), Zarek Valentin (Lancaster, Pa.), Aubrey Perry (Oconee, Fla.), Kofi Sarkodie (Huber Heights, Ohio), Nick Millington (Raleigh, N.C.), Kyle Davies (Pleasanton, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS:Matthew Uy (New Hyde Park, N.Y.), Daniel Wenzel (Federal Way, Wash.), Axel Levry (Fort Washington, Md.), Jared Jeffrey (Dallas, Texas), Dane Shea (College Station, Texas), Kirk Urso (Lombard, Ill.), Alex Dixon (Humble, Texas), Jesse Paredes (Los Angeles, Calif.), Brandon Zimmerman (Pasco, Wash.), Greg Garza (Grapevine, Texas), Brendan King (Naperville, Ill.), Evan Raynr (Calabasas, Calif.), Ryan Gracia(Rockville, Md.), Amobi Okugo (Sacramento, Calif.), Scott Caldwell (Braintree, Mass.)
FORWARDS:Sheanon Williams (Boston, Mass.), Ellis McLoughlin (Seattle, Wash.), Bryan Dominguez (Atlanta, Ga.), Abdus Ibrahim (Richfield, Minn.), Israel Sesay (Gaithersburg, Md.), Danny Barerra (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Eduardo Gonzalez (Atlanta, Ga.), Jose Altimorano (San Diego, Calif.), Dersu Abolfathi (Irvine, Calif.), Ryan Finley (Lumberton, N.J.)