MLS wins one in tug-of-war for U.S. teen stars

By Mike Woitalla

FC Dallas won the U-17/18 U.S. Soccer Development Academy national championship in July despite missing one of its top players -- Weston McKennie, who left the team after the quarterfinals to tryout with Germany’s Schalke 04.

McKennie eventually signed with the Bundesliga club, to the chagrin of FC Dallas, MLS’s most ambitious club at promoting its own talent to its first team.

Indeed, while MLS clubs are investing millions in youth programs, never have young Americans been so aggressively courted by foreign clubs.

Of the 21 players on the USA’s 2015 U-17 World Cup squad, 10 -- including Christian Pulisic -- are with foreign clubs, and that’s not including Class of 2016 players such as Emmanuel Sabbi (Las Palmas/Spain), McKinze Gaines (Wolfsburg/Germany) and McKennie.

So 16-year-old midfielder Paxton Pomykal opting to sign with FC Dallas takes some of the sting out of the club losing McKennie.

Pomykal is the club's league record 15th homegrown signing. Out of Lewisville, Texas, he played on the FC Dallas team that won the 2016 U-17/18 national championship without McKennie.

Pomykal also scored two goals for the U.S. U-18 national team that last month won the Vaclav Jezek Tournament, including the USA's equalizer in a 4-2 comeback win over host Czech Republic in the final.

Player (curent age) GP
Victor Ulloa (24) 95
Kellyn Acosta (21) 78
Moises Hernandez (24) 33
Jesse Gonzalez (21) 21
Coy Craft (19) 5
Aaron Guillen (23) 1
Paxton Pomykal (16) 0

"The dream was to play pro soccer initially, wherever it may be," Pomykal, who trained with several European teams, told the Dallas Morning News. "But over the past few years I've kind of known it was going to be here and that I wanted it to be here. Dreams evolve. For this to come true is unbelievable.

"I'm from here. This is the pro team here and I've always come to games and supported them. It's unbelievable to be here and have young kids dreaming to be pros watching me now. Hopefully I stay here a while and have a nice career."

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U.S. U-17 girls beat Venezuela twice

Six different players scored eight goals for the U.S. U-17 girls national team in 4-0 and 5-1 wins over Venezuela, with the ninth coming on an own goal. The lone goal conceded by the USA, which is preparing for the 2016 U-17 Women's World Cup in Jordan (Sept. 30-Oct. 21), came on an own goal.

Civana Kuhlmann (Colorado Rush) and Frankie Tagliaferri (PDA, New Jersey) scored in both games. Alexa Spaanstra (Michigan Hawks) scored in the first win in 24th minute after the USA took a 1-0 lead thanks to the own goal.

Jordan Canniff (Richmond United), Adrienne Richardson (Minnesota Thunder) and Sophia Smith (Real Colorado) rounded out the scoring in the second win.

Sept. 2 in Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
USA 5 Venezuela 1. Goals: Kuhlmann (Spaanstra) 5, Tagliaferri (Kuhlmann) 38 own goal 60, Canniff (Tagliaferri) 76, Richardson 90, Smith (Richardson) 91+.
USA -- Ivory; Pickett, Rodriguez, Girma (Smith, 72), Wiesner (Wesley, 72), Pinto, Howell (Smith, 79), Tagliaferi (Zandi, 79), Spaanstra (Canniff, 46), Kuhlmann (Godfrey, 46), Sanchez (Richardson, 72).
Venezuela -- Caceres; Rojas, Vergara, Luzardo, Herrera; Briceno, Gonzalez (Ropero, 82), Garcia, Rodriguez, Castillo; Moreno, Alvarado (Coronel, 46).

August 30 in Tampa, Fla.
USA 4 Venezuela 0. Goals: own goal 1, Spaanstra 24 Kuhlmann (Sanchez) 26, Tagliaferri 38.
USA -- Ivory; Pickett, Rodriguez, Girma, Rodriguez (Wesley, 63); Pinto, Howell (Richardson, 75), Tagliaferri, Spaanstra (Smith, 81); Kuhlmann (Godfrey, 63), Sanchez (Canniff, 75).
Venezuela -- Caceres; Rojas (Ropero, 75), Vergara, Luzardo, Herrera; Briceno, Garcia (Alvarado, 28), Coronel, Castillo; Moreno, Gonzalez.

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Roster: U.S. U-18 women train in Chula Vista

A 26-player U.S. U-18 women’s national team squad is training under Coach April Heinrichs Sept. 3-10 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California.

The roster is comprised of 25 youth club players and one college player -- goalkeeper Gabrielle Kouzelos of Louisville.

Nine of the players were born in 1999, the age cut-off for the 2016 U-17 Women’s World Cup and 16 were born in 1998. (Coach B.J. Snow named USA's 2016 U-17 World Cup roster last week.) The U-18s, whose ultimate aim is to qualify for the 2018 U-20 World Cup in France, will play the WPSL’s Beach FC Women on Friday at Long Beach State.

U.S. U-18 women’s national team
GOALKEEPERS (4): Zoe Clevely (Pateadores; Huntington Beach, Calif.), Gabrielle Kouzelos (Louisville; Wadsworth, Ohio), Ashley Orkus (Concorde Fire; Vestavia Hills, Ala.) Olivia Sekany (Pleasanton Rage; Livermore, Calif.).
DEFENDERS (7): Kerry Abello (Eclipse Select; Batavia, Ill.), Myra Konte (BRYC Elite Academy; Woodbridge, Va.), Brynn Martin (Colorado Rush; Littleton, Colo.), Taylor Mitchell (Real So Cal; Tarzana, Calif.), Mia Palmer (Crossfire; Portland, Ore.), Karlie Paschall (Tennessee SC; Brentwood, Tenn.), Olivia Petit (Internationals SC; Akron, Ohio).
MIDFIELDERS (7): Olivia Athens (PSV Union FC; Atherton, Calif.), Haley Berg (Solar; Celina, Texas), Samantha Coffey (NYSC; Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.), Sydney Dawson (Internationals SC; Akron, Ohio), Arlie Jones (San Diego Surf; Las Vegas, Nev.), Viviana Villacorta (Beach FC; Lawndale, Calif.), Sofia Weiner (Colorado Rush; Evergreen, Colo.).
FORWARDS (8): Amirah Ali (PDA; Voorhees, N.J.), Belle Briede (Tophat SC; Alpharetta, Ga.), Kirsten Davis (St. Louis Gallagher; Chesterfield, Mo.), Mireya Grey (Crossfire; Seattle, Wash.), Lauren Rice (Indy Fire; Noblesville, Ind.), Rheagen Smith (Dallas Texans; Carollton, Texas), Kelsey Turnbow (SC Del Sol; Scottsdale, Ariz.), Courtney Walker (Carolina Rapids; Waxhaw, N.C.).

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Roster: U.S. U-16 boys train in Davis

The U.S. under-16 boys national team is in Davis, California, for a week-long camp that ends Saturday. Shaun Tsakiris called 36 players to the training camp that includes four matches against four area U-18 teams.

All but one player was born in 2001. The exception: Giovanni Reyna, Claudio Reyna's son who was born in 2002.

U.S. U-16 boys national team
GOALKEEPERS (4): Nicolas Defreitas-Hansen (Weston FC; Southwest Ranches, Fla.), Osmar Chavero (Houston Dynamo; Rosharon, Texas); Michael Collodi (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas), Cole McNally (Bethesda Olney; Mount Airy, Md.)
DEFENDERS (10): Edward Berumen (Modesto Ajax; Salida Calif.), Jackson Conway (Atlanta United; Marietta Ga.), Cameron Duke (Sporting KC; Olathe, Kan.), John Hilton (Unattached; Long Beach, Calif.), Julian Hinojosa (FC Dallas; Garland Tex.), Alexsi Morel (NYCFC; Huntington Station, N.Y.), Togo Nakamura (LA Galaxy; Torrance, Calif.), Eben Noverr (Colorado Rapids; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Kevin Peraza (LA Premier; Montebello, Calif.), Leonardo Sepulveda (LA Galaxy; Corona, Calif.) 
MIDFIELDERS (14): Marco Bla (Philadelpia Union; Darby, Pa.) Taylor Booth (RSL-Arizona; Eden Utah), Oscar Cervantes (LA Premier; Indio, Calif.), Azriel Gonzalez (Seattle Sounders, Renton, Wash.); Ulysses Llanez (LA Galaxy; Lynwood, Calif.), Adrian Munoz (FC Dallas; Richardson Tex.), Marcelo Palomino (Houston Dynamo; Houston Tex.), Veljko Petkovic (NYCFC; Ridgewood, N.Y.), Jose Rivas (Weston FC; Weston, Fla.), Thomas Roberts (FC Dallas; Frisco Texas), Nicholas Slonina (Chicago Fire; Addison, Ill.), Heriberto Soto (Houston Dynamo; Houston, Texas), Indiana Vassilev (IMG Academy; Savannah, Ga.)
FORWARDS (8): Jalen Anderson (Oakwood SC; Hamden, Conn.), Jerry Ayon (El Camino Real; Salinas; Calif.), Johan Gomez (FC Dallas; Keller, Texas); Ben Ortiz (La Roca FC; Orem, Utah), Giovanni Reyna (NYCFC; Bedford Corners, N.Y.), Bryan Reynolds (FC Dallas; Little Elm, Tex.), Stefan Stojanovic (Sockers FC; Des Plaines, Ill.)

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