By DAN KARELL
U.S. Under-17 head coach Richie Williams has named a 20-man squad for the annual Nike International Friendlies, where the U.S. will face Portugal, England, and Brazil in their first real tests as part of the current cycle.
Five players in the squad including top prospects Haji Wright (LA Galaxy), George Braima (Columbus Crew and Matthew Olosunde (New York Red Bulls) come from MLS academies, while another two, Luca de la Torre (Fulham FC) and Joe Gallardo (Monterrey) currently ply their trade abroad. Defender Daniel Barbir, who is currently in Manchester and reportedly is soon to join the Manchester City academy, is in the squad as well.
Williams’ squad begin their tournament with a match against Portugal on Monday at 5pm, followed by England on Wednesday at 5pm and then Brazil on Friday at 5pm. All matches will be streamed live on USSoccer.com.
The U.S. U-17s most recently played in two friendly matches against Canada, which saw the USA sweep the proceedings with a 3-0 win on Nov. 16 and a 2-0 win on Nov. 17. Williams and his coaching staff used two different squads for each game.
Former U.S. players in the Nike International Friendlies include current pros Jack McInerney, Juan Agudelo, Kellen Acosta, and Luis Gil, while on the international side, current Brazil stars such as Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, and Turkish international Hakan Calhanoglu have played in the prestigious tournament.
Here’s a closer look at the U-17 squad for the 2013 Nike International Friendlies:
U.S. UNDER-17 MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM SQUAD FOR NIKE FRIENDLIES
GOALKEEPERS (2): William Pulisic (Richmond Strikers; Mechanicsville, Va.), Kevin Silva (PDA; Bethlehem, Pa.)
DEFENDERS (7): Hugo Arellano (Chivas USA Academy; Norwalk, Calif.), Daniel Barbir (Unattached; Allentown, Pa.), George Braima (Crew Soccer Academy; Columbus, Ohio), Edwin Lara (unattached; San Leandro, Calif.), John Nelson (Internationals; Medina, Ohio), Matthew Olosunde (New York Red Bulls Academy; Trenton, N.J.), Alexis Velela (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Eric Calvillo (Real So Cal; Palmdale, Calif.), Luca De La Torre (Fulham; San Diego, Calif.), Thomas McCabe (PDA; South Orange, N.J.), Logan Panchot (St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri; St. Louis, Mo), Brian Zelaya (De Anza Force; San Mateo, Calif.), Alejandro Zendejas (FC Dallas Academy; El Paso, Texas)
FORWARDS (5): Pierre Da Silva (New York Soccer Club; Port Chester, N.Y.), Joe Gallardo (Monterrey FC; San Diego, Calif.), Joshua Perez (unattached; La Habra, Calif.), Christian Pulisic (PA Classics; Hershey, Pa.), Haji Wright (LA Galaxy Academy; Los Angeles, Calif.)
What do you think of this squad? Who are you looking forward to see? Any surprises in this group? Which players do you expect to stand out?
Share your thoughts below.