Commentary

Hugo Arellano is latest player from 2015 U.S. U-17 squad to make first division debut

By Mike Woitalla & Paul Kennedy

Hugo Arellano, the USA's captain at the 2015 U-17 World Cup who signed a Homegrown contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy in January of 2017 via the LA Galaxy II, made his MLS debut last weekend. The 19-year-old played the full 90 while filling in for suspended central defender Jelle Van Damme.

“I’ve debuted a lot of players in this league, a lot of young players over the years,” Galaxy coach Curt Onalfo told MLSSoccer.com. “I’ve seen players that look like deer in the headlights, and it’s overwhelming for them, and you need to give them a couple games before they can actually do it. He was not nervous about it. I’m sure he had nerves, but he didn’t show any nerves, and he just stepped in and did a real solid job.”


Hugo Arellano

Arellano's debut means that six of the 18 field players on the USA's 2015 U-17 World Cup team have seen first-team action in a league play for a first division pro club.

2015 U.S. U-17s: First Division Appearances:
GP/G PLAYER (TEAM)
29/3 Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/Bundesliga)
9/0 Tyler Adams (NY Red Bulls/MLS)
5/1 Brandon Vazquez (Atlanta United/MLS)
2/0 Alejandro Zendejas (Chivas Guadalajara/MEX)
1/0 Hugo Arellano (LA Galaxy/MLS)
1/0 Josh Perez (Fiorentina/Serie A)
Note: Zendejas has been loaned out by Chivas to Mexican second division club Zacatepec.

From the current U.S. U-17 team that qualified for the 2017 U-17 World Cup by finishing runner-up at Concacaf U-17 Championship last month, Andrew Carleton made his MLS debut for Atlanta United with a four-minute appearance in a 4-1 win Houston.

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MLS Homegrown Watch: NYCFC signs James Sands

James Sands became the seventh member of the current U.S. under-17 national team to turn pro when New York City FC made the central defender its first Homegrown signing. Sands, 16, will join the team on July 1 and divide his time with NYCFC and the U-17s as well as attend summer school.

U.S. U-17s in the pros:
Carlos Joaquim Dos Santos (Benfica/POR)
James Sands (New York City FC)
Christopher Durkin (D.C. United)
Christopher Goslin (Atlanta United)
Andrew Carleton (Atlanta United)
Bryan Reynolds (FC Dallas)
Timothy Weah (Paris SG/FRA)

Sands spent the MLS preseason with NYCFC before returning to the U-17s in residency in Bradenton, Florida. He started for the U-17s at the Concacaf Under-17 Championship, where they lost to Mexico in a shootout in the final.


James Sands, flanked by director Claudio Reyna and Coach Patrick Vieira. (Photo courtesy NYCFC)

Sands played at New York Soccer Club from the age of 10 with his twin brother, Will, until he joined the NYCFC U16 academy in 2015. Both twins then entered the U-17 residency program.

“I’m really glad for James because he came with us on preseason and he did really well, showing us how good he is," said NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira. "He fully deserves this contract, he’s a young talent and now we have to help him to develop that talent."


Atlanta United signs three youngsters

Atlanta United signed Lagos Kunga, who represented the USA at the 2017 Under-20 World Cup, Patrick Okonkwo, another forward on its U-18 team, and 15-year George Bello to Homegrown contracts effective Jan. 1, 2018.

Atlanta United has one of the deepest player pools of any MLS club. It signed U.S. U-17 starters Carleton and Goslin in 2016.

Lagos was a last-minute addition to the U.S. U-20 team. He was born in Angola, and his family migrated to Russia before moving to Atlanta. He scored 10 goals in 21 appearances for the Atlanta United U-18s this season.
 
Okonkwo led the Atlanta United U-18s with 26 goals in 29 appearances, the third-highest production in all of USSDA for the U-18 age group.

Bello, a defender from Douglasville, Ga., plays for Atlanta United's U-16s. He is considered one of the top defenders in the youth national team program. In April, Bello started four games for the U.S. U-15s, who won the Torneo Delle Nazioni.


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Southern Californian Kennedy Wesley is national girls player of the year

Kennedy Wesley, who played for the USA at the 2016 U-17 World Cup and is eligible for the 2018 U-17 World Cup, is the 2017 Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year.


World champion Abby Wambach (right) presented Kennedy Wesley the 2017
Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year trophy.

Wesley, as a sophomore this past season at Valley Christian High School, scored 22 goals and made nine assists. She plays ECNL ball the So Cal Blues. The 16-year-old has committed to attend Stanford in fall of 2019.

Previous Gatorade National Players of the Year include 2015 Women’s World Cup winners Amy Rodriguez, Ashlyn Harris, Heather O'Reilly, Lauren (née Cheney) Holiday and Morgan Brian.

Last year’s winner, Ella Stevens, made 23 appearances for Duke during her freshman season for 2016. The 2015 winner Mallory Pugh, who played for the USA at the 2016 Olympics, left UCLA last month to sign with the NWSL’s Washington Spirit.

Gatorade National Girls Player of the Year:
2016-17 Kennedy Wesley
2015-16 Ella Stevens
2014-15 Mallory Pugh
2013-14 Katie Cousins
2012-13 Morgan Andrews
2011-12 Morgan Andrews
2010-11 Morgan Brian
2009-10 Mollie Pathman
2008-09 Rachel Quon
2007-08 Teresa Noyola
2006-07 Melissa Henderson
2005-06 Lauren Cheney
2004-05 Amy Rodriguez
2003-04 Ashlyn Harris
2002-03 Heather O'Reilly
2001-02 Jill Oakes
2000-01 Mary McDowell
1999-00 Aleisha Cramer-Rose
1998-99 Christie Welsh
1997-98 Aly Wagner

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U.S. U-18 girls head to Australia

Coach Jaime Frias  has named a 20-player roster for the U.S. U-18 women national team's training camp in Canberra, Australia (June 28-July 13). The USA will play Canada’s U-20s (July 6) and Australia’s U-20s (July 10 and 12) in Canberra.

The roster is comprised of 12 players born in 2000, seven 1999s and one 1998 (Natalie Winters, the only collegian on the roster).

U.S. U-18 women’s national team:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Claudia Dickey (Charlotte Soccer Academy; Charlotte, N.C.), Hensley Hancuff (Oklahoma FC; Edmond, Okla.).
DEFENDERS (6): Kerry Abello (Eclipse Select; Batavia, Ill.), Maycee Bell (Sporting Blue Valley; Wichita, Kansas), Sydney Dawson (Internationals SC; Akron, Ohio), Madelyn Desiano (So Cal Blues; San Clemente, Calif.), Shea Holmes (Real Colorado; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Brianna Martinez (New Mexico Rush, Albuquerque, N.M.).
MIDFIELDERS (6): Tess Boade (Real Colorado; Golden, Colo.), Coriana Dyke (Colorado Rush; Littleton, Colo.), Jenna Nighswonger (Slammers FC; Huntington Beach, Calif.), Taryn Torres (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas), Natalie Winters (Iowa; Plymouth, Mich.), Sydney Zandi (Penn Fusion, West Chester, Pa.).
FORWARDS (6): Jordan Brewster (Internationals SC; North Canton, Ohio), Emina Ekic (Javanon FC; Fairdale, Ky.), Aleigh Gambone (McLean FC; Clifton, Va.), Rachel Jones (Tophat SC; Lawrenceville, Ga.), Alexa Spaanstra (Michigan Hawks; Brighton, Mich.), Summer Yates (Pacific NW; Pasco, Wash.).

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