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Williams selects Under-17 squad for Japan tournament

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Though they won’t be participating in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup this fall, the United States Men’s Under-17 team will be playing in one last tournament in Niigata, Japan.

U.S. U-17 head coach Richie Williams has named an 18-player squad for the tournament, which includes 12 players who were part of the USSF residency program in Bradenton, Florida. Notable members of the squad include the captain Shaquell Moore, Corey Baird, Christopher Lima, and Rubio Rubin.

The squad will play three games in Japan from July 13-15, facing the Croatia and Japan U-17 squads on the first two days before finishing with the Niigata All-Stars team on the 15th. This tournament marks the final time the current squad plays as U-17s, graduating to the next age group starting this fall.

Here’s a closer look at the Under-17 roster:

U.S. Under-17 Roster for Niigata, Japan tournament:

GOALKEEPERS: Jeff Caldwell (NC Fusion; Todd, N.C.), JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes Academy; Alamo, Calif.)

DEFENDERS: Conor Donovan (NC Alliance; Fuquay Varina, N.C.), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake Academy; Tucson, Ariz.), David Godinez-Chavez (De Anza Force; Redwood City, Calif.), Shaquell Moore (Unattached; Powder Springs, Ga.), Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting Kansas City Academy; Lee’s Summitt, Mo.), Tommy Redding (FC America Premier; Oviedo, Fla.), John Requejo Jr. (Real So Cal; Carpinteria, Calif.)

MIDFIELDERS: Corey Baird (San Diego Surf; Escondido, Calif.), Christopher Lema (New York Red Bulls Academy; Ridgefield, N.J.), Amirgy Pineda (Fullerton Rangers; Santa Ana, Calif.), Christian Pulisic (PA Classics; Hershey, Pa.), Tyler Turner (South Central Premier; West Haven, Conn.)

FORWARDS: Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake Academy; Paradise Valley, Ariz.), Andrija Novakovich (Chicago Magic PSG; Muskego, Wis.), Rubio Rubin (unattached; Beaverton, Ore.), Ahinga Selemani (CSA Wolves; Ann Arbor, Mich.)


What do you think of this roster?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Richie Williams should have lost his job given how bad he handled the previous set of U-17s.

    How about some accountability in US Soccer?

  2. The development clubs are important as there are only sixteen MLS sides dotted across the country. Whole sections of the US have kids that play soccer that are no where near a MLS team. The only difference is that the parents pay instead of the MLS.

  3. One thing I find interesting is there’s are many more club players (11) than academy products (5). So the claimed academy takeover is not there yet. You could even argue that with 2/3 of the roster (12) from Bradenton it’s as important a developer as any of the other routes.

    • Typical American fan response, expecting change in an instant. The academy program is still very young and on pure statistics alone, club teams should still be producing high numbers of top level players. Check back in about 10 years from now.

      • I’m not expecting change in an instant, I’m pointing out the wholesale shift has not yet occurred. Some people on here suggest it’s already happened.

        The issue I see is they don’t develop them from U10 up, like Ajax or most big programs, they come in at HS age and try to pick off people or stake claims. Nor do the academies dominate the tournaments or the leagues where self-interest demands a shift. So a lot of kids start out playing for a traditional club, and only after already committing that way weigh whether to commit to a MLS team via homegrown or preserve their options for college and the draft. Every ROY except Najar is actually from the draft, which I think reflects issues in the U18-U23 bridge…..

      • No matter what not all the best players will be on academy teams. Some will want to play for theri HS which academy forbids, some will live too far to take part in an academy program, some will be multiple sports athletes who have yet to choose which sport, some will be late bloomers who don’t get accepted onto academy teams. It is a big country with lots of choices, that is not a bad thing, but it certainly makes 100% dominance by any particular program very unlikely.

      • They don’t have Ajax level coaches at MLS academies. Most, but not all, academies have no clue how to play Ajax style game – 95% of the time they will select the best athletes and try to overwhelm opposition with speed and power. It works well at MLS level and to a certain degree internatially, but eventially these athletic kids run into a more athletic team (e.g., Ghana) or a team that really knows how to play the game after years of real professional traning and develpment (e.g., Spain, Brazil, etc). By the time, the MLS academy players graduate from youth level, they are generally MLS level players or out of professional soccer entirely.

    • Actually, 6 academy products and 10 club. CSA Wolves is part of Crew Soccer Academy. Regardless, the MLS Academy was not intended to “take over” or monopolize high-level club soccer, but rather add a professional dimension to it, a la top European leagues. The sphere of MLS Academies’ influence continues, and will continue, to grow.

      • Actually, I routinely see the argument they have taken over or at least should. In terms of whether it should, when I played Dallas Cup the teams coming over from abroad were usually affiliates, eg, West Ham, Monterrey. Half the problem with the US at the higher youth levels right now is that by that age 99% of the team is committed and we depend on the academies and reserves to develop the talent up in a way we used to cede to Bradenton and colleges who had a more direct interest in their recruits as their first team (as opposed to reserve fodder now). If the academies and reserves are now de facto in charge of producing our U20s — and college kids like Cameron are only coming back into the system at the senior level to fill holes — then it kind of matters whether they are stepping up or merely plodding alongside the traditional clubs. My two cents.

        I’d buy the professionalism argument more if the first team coach was training the youth players routinely, but the academies are usually coached by someone else….as in Europe. Those coaches may or may not be brilliant soccer people of their own accord. Look at the staff of your local academy and it’s not likely Eric Wynalda is coaching it, much less Bruce Arena.

        They’re not being trained by Arena or Kinnear or the like until they sign homegrown. They might guest play with the reserves or get signed homegrown but that’s based on development under the academy coach. It’s only at that point that they get regular direct coaching from the senior staff.

    • A couple of the “Clubs” mentioned actually have some affiliation with MLS Academy’s, if I’m not mistaken. I’m almost positive that the Chicago Magic & Wolves have ties to the Fire & Crew respectivly. Both clubs were class back in my club playing days…and both have produced some very good players over the years.

    • Yeah, but they’re what, 16 academies and maybe 200 clubs? There are huge swaths of this country not in realistic travel time to a mls academy. Since they aren’t residential, unless you happen to live near an mls team, you probably aren’t signing up. You gonna drive 2.5 hours each way four days a week to train?

      • Dempsey drove from Longview to Dallas to play in their premier league; Shea drove from College Station to play in Houston’s league. You’d think the pro deal/homegrown aspect would be an incentive to do so.

        Point taken, it’s not Europe where you can hop a train/bus/subway sequence and attend an academy at a little distance with only so much difficulty. But there are solutions like Vancouver’s residency (like Bradenton) for that, and I think serious players will already do some traveling for a serious situation, although that’s probably easier for people with money.

      • yeah, families would have to move in order for their son to be in an academy. the commitment is so big that it would not be feasible to commute. training schedules are intense in these academies and it takes major sacrifices to be in one, let alone commute a couple hours each way…

      • the best bet is for other clubs and private trainers to adopt the same academy training principles. i am positive that is happening, but it is still at the very beginning of developing the deep roots of our nation-wide development model.

    • 2/3 of the roster is from Bradenton because it’s sole purpose is to develop players for these youth teams. Our dependency on it, still, reflects our poor scouting v. Bradenton’s dominance at the youth level.

      I knew someone who went. Even he admitted it wasn’t any better than the team he was already on.

      Academies are the future because local scouting is what we need to make sure the best players are getting seen. Not just the ones who can afford to play at higher levels.

      • Particularly with our national size I don’t see why a national Clairefontaine (Bradenton) for the unaffiliated alongside academies for the affiliated, can’t exist. Doesn’t need to be either/or.

        I think if you’re going to create this dibs system — a European academician is not committed to his team until he signs the pro deal like Hyndman extended today, but a MLS team will slap a homegrown label on you — and then sign U18s, then you need to be able to develop. And if a chunk of your annual recruitment class is homegrown, then you need to either be scouting or making your own quite well. I mean, the premise on the academies is that the players are not just people you scouted and labeled but people you actually trained hence should have rights on.

        To the extent we’re not dependent on it yet, it reflects some reticence of club/college players to commit to the system, which I’d say is the flip side of my arguments. We have mostly club U17s because the confidence in the system is not there yet. If it was, people would select their own self interest.

    • You’re also assuming that Williams picked only the best players, which is demonstrably not true. They’re could be myriad reasons why more Academy players weren’t selected.


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