Commentary

Schalke's U.S. teens eye first-team promotion

By Mike Woitalla
@MikeWoitalla

Missing from the U.S. team that reached the quarterfinals of the 2017 U-20 World Cup were three American teens who were playing for Schalke 04 in its run to the U-19 Bundesliga semifinals: 19-year-old Haji Wright, and Weston McKennie, who turns 19 in August, and Nick Taitague, who turned 18 last February.


Weston McKennie

Wright and McKennie were called up for Schalke’s final Bundesliga game of the season, a 1-1 tie against Inglostadt in which McKennie made his competitive first-team debut as a 77th minute sub.

Schalke’s U-19 coach coach Norbert Elgert gave his assessment of Wright and McKennie’s chances of being on the first team next season to Der Westen.

“I keep describing Haji as our surprise package,” said Elgert. “He still doesn’t have enough consistency in his game. He has great speed with and without the ball. He’s two-footed, is a good dribbler and a goalscorer. But he needs to be more physical and learn to impose himself.

“If he makes the most of his opportunity, he can be a surprise. He has many traits of a very good striker. It’s up to him to prove himself worthy of becoming a pro. If he keeps working hard, strengthens his strengths and reduces his weaknesses, he can become a very interesting player. He has lots of potential.”

Of the midfielder McKennie, Elgert said:

“Wes is a player who can help any team. … He’s the kind of player who can inspire when the pressure’s on. He’s an exciting player for whom I predict an interesting future in pro soccer. But it’s difficult to say how quickly it will happen. And I don’t want to put him under pressure. He’ll get his chance to break in with the pros and in the next year or two. He’s an incredible force and is amazingly good in the air offensively and defensively.”

Before moving to Germany, McKennie played for FC Dallas' Development Academy. Wright arrived at Schalke from the Los Angeles Galaxy academy via the New York Cosmos.

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U.S. U-16 Boys: Ulysses Llanez returns from Mexico

L.A. Galaxy academy forward Ulysses Llanez is back with the U.S. U-16 boys national team after having attending Mexico’s U-16 training camps in the winter. He’s part of Coach Shaun Tsakiris'  20-player roster for 2017 U-16 International Dream Cup.

Llanez started in the USA's Dream Cup opener, a 2-1 loss to Guinea in which Azriel Gonzalez of the Seattle Sounders scored the USA's lone goal in stoppage time. Tsakiris' team faces host Japan on Friday and the Netherlands on Sunday.

Llanez, who has scored 11 goals in 17 games for the Galaxy’s U-16 Development Academy team in 2016-17, joined the Mexican U-16s after scoring two goals in the U.S. U-16s’ 2-1 win over England at the Val-de-Marne Tournament in France last October.

All of the players are born on 2001 except for 2002-born Giovanni Reyna, the son of Claudio Reyna who starred for the U.S. U-15s in their Torneo Delle Nazioni title win Italy in May.

U-16 boys national team
GOALKEEPERS (2): Michael Collodi (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas), Nicolas Defreitas-Hansen (Weston FC; SW Ranches, Fla.).
DEFENDERS (5): Julian Araujo (Santa Barbara SC; Lompoc, Calif.), Nico Benalcazar (NYCFC; Wilton, Conn.), Luke Hansen (Colorado Rush; Littleton, Colo.), John Hilton (LA Galaxy; Long Beach, Calif.), Leonardo Sepulveda (LA Galaxy; Corona, Calif.).
MIDFIELDERS (7): Mario Anaya (San Jose Earthquakes; Livermore, Calif.), Taylor Booth (Real Salt Lake; Eden, Utah), Azriel Gonzalez (Seattle Sounders; Renton, Wash.), Nelson Martinez (DC United; Woodbridge, Va.), Aidan Morris (Weston FC; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Adrian Munoz (FC Dallas; Richardson, Texas), Thomas Roberts (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas).
FORWARDS (6): Ulysses Llanez (LA Galaxy; Lynwood, Calif.), Dillon Keane (San Jose Earthquakes; Foster City, Calif.), Giovanni Reyna (NYCFC; Bedford, N.Y.), Bryan Reynolds (FC Dallas; Little Elm, Texas), Jose Rivas (Weston FC; Weston, Fla.), Stefan Stojanovic (Sockers FC; Des Plaines, Ill.).

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U.S. U-18 boys open Portugal tourney with loss to Japan

The U.S. U-18 boys national team opened the 23rd Lisbon International U-18 Tournament with a 2-0 loss to Japan. Coach Omid Namazi’s team faces Norway (June 16) and host Portugal (June 18).

Eleven players in the USA’s 20-player roster took part in the U-18s runner-up finish at the Slovakia Cup in April. All players were born in 1999. Six are making their 2017 U-18 player pool debuts: defenders Gideon Davis, Matthew Real, Christian Takaki and Carson Vom Steeg, midfielder Raul Aguilera and goalkeeper Gabe Rosario.

U-18 men’s national team
GOALKEEPERS (2): Trey Muse (Seattle Sounders; Tukwila, Wash.) Gabe Rosario (Reading FC; Charlotte, N.C.).
DEFENDERS (7): Gideon Davis (CE Europa; Barcelona, Spain.) Jack Maher (Scott Gallagher; Caseyville, Ill.), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union; Bear, Del.), Matthew Real (Philadelphia Union; Drexel Hill, Pa.), Aedan Stanley (St. Louis Scott Gallagher SC; Columbia, Ill.), Christian Takaki (PA Classics; Dover, Pa.), Carson Vom Steeg (Real So Cal; Santa Barbara, Calif.).
MIDFIELDERS (7): Faris Abdi (IMG; Bradenton, Fla.), Raul Aguilera (Orlando City SC; Sanford, Fla.), Christian Cappis (Texans SC Houston; West Chicago, Ill.), Koby Carr (Texas Rush; San Antonio, Texas), Jose Carranza (North Carolina FC; Manassas, Va.) Andrew Paoli (San Jose Earthquakes; San Jose, Calif.) Brandon Servania (FC Dallas; Birmingham, Ala.).
FORWARDS (4): Lucas Del Rosario (CASL; Durham, N.C.), Griffin Dorsey (Colorado Rush; Evergreen, Colo.) Emanuel Perez (CASL; Garner, N.C.), Justin Rennicks (New England Revolution Academy; Hamilton, Mass.).

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Nordic Tournament: Jaelin Howell, age 17, shines for U.S. U-23s

Jaelin Howell
, the 17-year-old daughter of a Super Bowl champ, scored twice as the USA beat host Sweden (2-1), tied England (0-0) and beat Norway (3-0) while finishing second on goal difference to England at the four-team U-23 Nordic Tournament.


Jaelin Howell

Real Colorado’s Howell, whose father John Howell played safety on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2003 Super Bowl championship team, started for the USA at the 2016 U-17 World Cup. She opened the scoring against Norway in the 71st minute and scored what turned out to be the deciding goal against Sweden in the 39th minute.

Former U-17 head coach B.J. Snow coached the USA at the Nordic Tournament, where the his roster included six NWSL players. Among them, North Carolina Courage forward Ashley Hatch, who scored the first goal against the Swedes.

England beat Sweden, 4-0, and downed Norway, 2-0. The Swedes edged Norway, 1-0.

June 12 in Sunne
Sweden 1, USA 2
Goals: Anvegard  52; Hatch 19, Howell (McGrady) 39.
Sweden -- Holmgren; Andersson (Karlsson, 79), Lofqvist, Angeldal, De Jongh, Kaneyd (Blomqvist, 65), Nilsson, Wannerdahl (Okvist, 46), Lilja (Oskarsson, 43), Janogy (Anvegard, 46), Kullashi (Stahl, 79).
USA -- Campbell; Gibbons, Riehl, McNabb, McGrady (Goralski, 79); Howell, McCaskill (Jacobs, 89), Weatherholt (Yu, 79); Xiao (Smith, 65), Purce, Hatch.

June 9 in Sunne
USA 0 England 0.
USA -- Campbell; Gibbons, Riehl, McNabb, McGrady; Howell ( Goralski, 88), McCaskill, Pinto (Weatherholt, 46); Smith (Yu, 64), Purce (Xiao, 77), Hatch.
England -- Baggaley; Blundell, Carter, Williamson, Mannion, George, Walsh, Walker (Mead, 61), England (Brett, 80), Lawley (Bartrip, 86), Turner.

June 6, 2017 in Karlstad
USA 3 Norway 0.
Goals: Howell (McGrady) 71, Smith 73, Riehl (Pinto) 82.
USA -- Murphy; Jean, Riehl, Jacobs, McGrady; Weatherholt (Yu, 65), McCaskill (DiBiasi, 85), Pinto; Goralski (Xiao, 75), Pelayo ( Howell, 46), Smith (Mace, 85).
Norway -- Mikalsen; Kvsmme, Stenevik, Reinas, Naalsund, Eikeland, Jensen, Nautnes (Dahl, 77), Lund, Engen (Jorgensen, 77), Pedersen (Lie, 70).

U.S. U-23 women’s national team roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash; Kennesaw, Ga.), Casey Murphy (Rutgers; Bridgewater, N.J.).
DEFENDERS (8): Christina Gibbons (FC Kansas City; Raleigh, N.C.), Zoey Goralski (UCLA; Naperville, Ill.), Ellie Jean (Penn State; Coventry, Conn.), Hailie Mace (UCLA; Ventura, Calif.), Tegan McGrady (Stanford; San Jose, Calif.), Kristen McNabb (Seattle Reign; Montville, N.J.), Kaleigh Riehl (Penn State, Fairfax Station, Va.), Erica Skroski (Sky Blue FC; New Brunswick, N.J.).
MIDFIELDERS (8): Jordan DiBiasi (Stanford; Littleton, Colo.), Jaelin Howell (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.), Mayra Pelayo (Florida; West Palm Beach, Fla.), Brianna Pinto (CASL; Durham, N.C.), Margaret Purce (Boston Breakers; Silver Spring, Md.), Danielle Weatherholt (Orlando Pride; San Clemente, Calif.), Michelle Xiao (Stanford; Omaha, Neb.), Sandra Yu (Notre Dame, Strongsville, Ohio).
FORWARDS (4): Mallory Eubanks (Mississippi State; Lexington, Ky.), Ashley Hatch (NC Courage; Gilbert, Ariz.), Savannah McCaskill (South Carolina; Chapin, S.C.), Sophia Smith (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.).

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U.S. U-19 women fall twice to Czech Republic

The U.S. U-19 women’s national team, coached by Keri Sarver, during a Prague training camp, fell 5-2 to the Czech Republic’s full national team and lost, 2-1, to the Czech U-19 national team.

June 13 in Prague
Czech Republic 5 U.S. U-19s 2.
Goals: Dubcová 27, own goal (Kornieck) 42, Krejciriková 55, Svitková (pen.) 69, Svitková 72; Villacorta 51, Richardson 79.
Czech Republic — Votiková; Sedlackova (Janku, 58), Bertholdová, Bartonová, Sedlácková, Svitková, Krejciríková (Nepokojová, 58), Dubcová (Janíková, 58), Vystejnová, Matouskova, Chlastáková.
USA — McGlynn; Dawson (Rodriguez, 60), Winters (DeMelo, 77), Kim (Brewster, 77), Ekic (Cecilia, 60), Briede (Richardson, 46), Paschall, Abello (Serafin, 77), Villacorta, Doyle (Pickett, 60), Kornieck.

June 10 in Prague
Czech Republic U19s 2 USA U19s 1.
Goals: Staskova (Dubcova) 8, Krejcirova 38; own goal (Lipkova) 40.
USA — Bollinger; Serafin (Paschall, 46), Dawson, Rodriguez (Villacorta, 46), Pickett, Richardson (Winters, 64), DeMelo (Abello, 46) Zandi (Kornieck, 64), Ekic (Kim, 61), Brewster, Gee Briede, 61).
Czech Republic — Lipkova (Zuchová, 46); Krejcirova (Ciperova, 46), Valaskova, Slajsova (Vojtková, 46), Staskova, Dubcova (Kristofová, 46), Bohatova (Dudová, 46), Dubcova, Hrtankova (Kodadová, 46), Kavalová, Siváková (Kejcová, 46)

U.S. U-19 women’s national team
GOALKEEPERS (2): Brooke Bollinger (Orlando City; Melbourne, Fla.), Amanda McGlynn (Virginia Tech; Jacksonville, Fla.).
DEFENDERS (7): Kerry Abello (Eclipse Select; Batavia, Ill.), Sydney Dawson (Internationals SC; Akron, Ohio), Julie Doyle (San Diego Surf; Laguna Nigel, Calif.), Karlie Paschall (Tennessee SC; Brentwood, Tenn.), Kiara Pickett (Eagles SC; Santa Barbara, Calif.), Karina Rodriguez (UCLA; Torrance, Calif.), Sophia Serafin (West Coast FC; Glendora, Calif.).
MIDFIELDERS (5): Savannah DeMelo (USC; Bellflower, Calif.), Taylor Kornieck (Colorado; Henderson, Nev.), Viviana Villacorta (Beach FC; Lawndale, Calif.), Natalie Winters (Iowa; Plymouth, Mich.), Sydney Zandi (Penn Fusion; West Chester, Penn.).
FORWARDS (6): Jordan Brewster (Internationals SC; North Canton, Ohio), Isabella Briede (Tophat SC; Alpharetta, Ga.), Emina Ekic (Javanon FC; Fairdale, Ky.), Cecilia Gee (Stanford; Orinda, Calif.), Abigail Kim (California; Vashon, Wash.), Civana Kuhlmann (Colorado Rush; Littleton, Colo.).

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Development Academy Playoffs: 23 clubs qualify in both age groups

The U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-15/16 and U-17/18 playoffs take place June 22-26 at Grand Park in Westfield, Indiana. In each age group, 32 of 74 DA clubs qualified. Twenty-three clubs qualified teams in both age groups.

The clubs that reached the playoffs in both age groups are:

Atlanta United**, Bethesda SC, Baltimore Armour, Capital Area RailHawks-CASL*, Chicago Fire*, Colorado Rapids, Crew SC Academy Wolves*, Crossfire Premier, FC Dallas*, LA Galaxy*, Montreal Impact*,
New York Red Bulls*, Pateadores*, Philadelphia Union*, Players Development Academy, Real Salt Lake AZ*, Real So Cal, Sacramento Republic FC*, Seattle Sounders*, Sockers FC*, Sporting Kansas City*, Vancouver Whitecaps*, Weston FC.

* = also qualified at both age groups in 2015-16 season.
** = Atlanta United merged with Georgia United, which qualified for both age groups last season.

Playoff qualifiers are the top three finishers in seven divisions plus 11 wild-card teams.

The group winners qualify for the July 6-7 quarterfinals, hosted by the higher seeded teams. The quarterfinal winners advance to the July 14 semifinals at U.S. Soccer National Training Center in Carson, California, where the finals take place July 16.

2017 U-15/16 Academy Playoffs
Group A Atlanta United, Players Development Academy, Chicago Fire, Montreal Impact
Group B FC Golden State, Crossfire Premier, Colorado Rapids, Cedar Stars Academy-Monmouth
Group C Vancouver Whitecaps, LA Galaxy, Philadelphia Union, Houston Dynamo
Group D Capital Area Railhawks-CASL, Bethesda SC, Real So Cal, Oakwood SC
Group E Sporting Kansas City, Weston FC, Pateadores, Everton FC Westchester
Group F FC Dallas, Crew SC Academy Wolves, New York City FC, Baltimore Armour
Group G Vardar, Real Salt Lake AZ, Sacramento Republic, Real Colorado
Group H Sockers FC, BW Gottschee Academy, Seattle Sounders, New York Red Bulls

2017 U-17/18 Academy Playoffs
Group A  New England Revolution, Weston FC, Bethesda SC, Crossfire Premier
Group B Atlanta United, Sporting Kansas City, Boston Bolts, LA Galaxy
Group C FC Dallas, New York Red Bulls, Seattle Sounders, Beachside SC
Group D Sockers FC, Montreal Impact, Texans Houston, Sacramento Republic
Group E Philadelphia Union, Crew SC Academy Wolves, Lonestar SC Academy, Real So Cal
Group F Baltimore Armour, Capital Area Railhawks-CASL, Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids
Group G Orlando City, Indiana Fire, Players Development Academy, Pateadores
Group H Real Salt Lake AZ, Vancouver Whitecaps, Crew SC Academy Wolves, Dallas Texans

One hundred U-14 Academy clubs and the remaining 42 U-15/16 teams, which did not crack the top 32 playoff spots, will each play three Summer Showcase games each in conjunction with the playoffs.

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