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Wright, Pulisic, Silva headline US U-17 roster for Nike International Friendlies


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The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team will be an experienced squad when they kick off the 2014 Nike International Friendlies on Friday evening.

Head coach Richie Williams has selected a 20-man roster to take part in the annual tournament taking place from Friday through Tuesday at the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. The team features 16 players from the 2013 squad that took home the tournament title.

Headlining the strong roster is last year’s Golden Boot winner Haji Wright, MVP Christian Pulisic, and Golden Glove award winner Kevin Silva.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Williams told SBI in a phone interview. “The Nike Friendlies are always really good competitive international matches. Again we’ll play England and Brazil again and throw in Australia, they’ve been improving quite a bit from the senior tema down into their youth teams.

“We have our work cut out for us but we’re up for the challenge and we want to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke and all the winning we’ve been doing and also playing really well, we want to continue to do that throughout the friendlies. It’s just another opportunity for our players to get some quality international minutes to gain more experience, for us to see different guys in different situations and it’s just another preparation for us for qualifying in February.”

Williams made one switch from the squad that played in the Copa Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins in Chile last week, bringing in defender Matthew Olosunde for forward Kai Koreniuk.

The U.S. kicks off the tournament against England on Friday at 6 p.m. The USA next plays Australia on Sunday before wrapping up against Brazil on Tuesday.

Here’s a look at the U.S. U-17 MNT roster for the Nike International Friendlies:

GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Kevin Silva (Players Development Academy), 12-William Pulisic

DEFENDERS (8): 2-Matthew Olosunde (New York Red Bulls Academy), 3-John Nelson (Internationals), 4-Alexis Velela (San Diego Surf), 5-Hugo Arellano (LA Galaxy Academy), 13-Logan Panchot (St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri), 14-Daniel Barbir (West Bromwich Albion), 15-Tanner Dieterich (Real Salt Lake AZ), 19-Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls Academy)

MIDFIELDERS (6): 6-Eric Calvillo (Real So Cal), 8-Luca De La Torre (Fulham), 9-Alejandro Zendejas (FC Dallas), 10-Christian Pulisic (Unattached), 16-Thomas McCabe (Players Development Academy), 20-Keegan Kelly (Baltimore Celtic)

FORWARDS (4): 7-Haji Wright (Unattached), 11-Josh Perez (Unattached), 17-McKinze Gaines (Lonestar SC), 18-Pierre Da Silva (New York Soccer Club)


What do you think of this roster? Do you like the USA’s chances of repeating? Excited for this year’s Nike Friendlies?

Share your thoughts below.


    • European teams normally cannot sign non-EU players to a professional contract until they are 18. A non-EU citizen can sign a professional contract with a European club, but only if he makes it effective when he reaches 18 (e.g., Jr. Flores did it with Dortmund). Such player would be listed as “unattached” until he is 18. Alternatively, a player may elect to remain unattached while trying out for European teams. That’s why MLS brass is getting mad, because an increasing number of young players (like Haji Wright) refuse to sign professional contracts with MLS, which makes them more marketable to European clubs as there is no transfer fee involved with unattached players. In many, South American and European countries, the youth soccer business model differs from our pay to play system. A talented youth player would either pay nothing or a nominal fee to the academy where he trains, but if he moves between the clubs, a club that developed him receives a transfer fee. Thus, the incentive is to develop players. In our system, a player could move from his local clubs to an MLS academy or directly to Europe with no transfer fee paid. Here, the clubs are primarily financed by fees collected from parents so the clubs are guaranteed to be paid even if they put zero effort in player development. Even some MLS academies (e.g., DCU) charge players’ parents significant fees for the right to train.


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