The U.S. Soccer Under-17 Residency Program recently named 40 players selected to participate in the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The 40 players represent some of the nation's finest, and in addition to their skills, determination and motivation to succeed, also share affiliation with US Youth Soccer, the nation's largest youth sports organization and home to elite programs such as the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series, US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (US Youth Soccer ODP) and US Youth Soccer National League.
Of the 40 players named, 19 return from last year's residency program, 17 of which had been members of US Youth Soccer ODP. Just as those who entered the program last fall, the majority of this year's new additions, 12 of 21, also have the common thread of player development through US Youth Soccer ODP. Three of the 21 newcomers include Luis Martir, who was at Chivas de Guadalajara in Mexico, Mobi Fehr, who was at J-League club Tokyo Verdy and Danny Zaid, who has been playing at Futeca Camp Elite, a Guatemalan soccer academy.
The residency players live on campus at the IMG Academy and train daily under the guidance of Wilmer Cabrera and assistant coaches Paul Caffrey, Gerson Echeverry, Paul Grafer and Erik Imler. Cabrera and Caffrey were former US Youth Soccer ODP coaches for Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association, Echeverry is a former US Youth Soccer ODP Region I coach and Imler was a member of the North Carolina US Youth Soccer ODP staff.
"The majority of the players coming through to the national teams have experience playing at high levels around the country. Players in programs such as US Youth Soccer ODP are familiar with the standards required to compete at the highest level and when they come through to the national team they have an idea about what it will take for them and for our national teams to be successful," said U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team head coach Wilmer Cabrera when asked what makes US Youth Soccer ODP a valuable program for players seeking advancement through the youth levels, specifically those seeking to be a part of the national team.
US Youth Soccer ODP is offered in every state, thus casting a wide net to find players capable of playing at the next level.
Cabrera added, "Competing on a national level is essential for players looking to reach the next level. Players who can test themselves against opposition on a state-wide or region-wide basis give themselves the best opportunity to improve and gain exposure, whether they ultimately go on to play college soccer, professional or with the national teams somewhere down the road."
All players were born in 1994 or 1995 and are eligible for 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico.
"Our organization is known for the best youth soccer in the country and our member clubs and coaches are to be commended for their efforts in developing the future of American soccer," said John Sutter, president of US Youth Soccer. "Our elite-level programs, such as US Youth Soccer ODP, US Youth Soccer National Championship Series and US Youth Soccer National League, continue to provide the highest level of development and visibility to our players across the country and assist to better prepare our national teams for competition."
The US Youth Soccer ODP was formed in 1977 to identify a pool of players in each age group from which a national team will be selected for international competition; to provide high-level training to benefit and enhance the development of players at all levels; and, through the use of carefully selected and licensed coaches, develop a mechanism for the exchange of ideas and curriculum to improve all levels of coaching.
US Youth Soccer ODP is the original Olympic development program. US Youth Soccer ODP is the only elite player development program that can claim members of Major League Soccer and Women's Professional Soccer, as well as a majority of current and past national and youth team members, as alumni. US Youth Soccer ODP exists in every State Association and offers collegiate and national team staff coaches the opportunity to see the nation's elite players in the most competitive of environments. In addition to training and tactics, US Youth Soccer ODP also offers competitions such as regional and national championships as well as participation in international tournaments. US Youth Soccer ODP continues to lead the way for elite player identification and development in the United States.