Since 2010, the U.S. Club Soccer-run id2 program’s been directing an international offshoot called the National Selection International Tour. The point is to cull the best young U14 players from a series of four previous id2 camps. The coaching staff pulls together a selection of the best players and pushes them abroad to face some of the best youth academies in the world. During the 2014 tour in Italy, the team faced youth sides from Juventus, Inter Milan, Siena and Fiorentina. The id2 side didn’t lose a game and finished with a 3-0-1 record.
The ostensible point of the id2 tour is to identify. During the most recent 2014 tour through Italy – the most successful ever – former USMNT keeper Tony Meola accompanied the team as a liaison to pass back recommendations to the U.S. BNT staff. These tours are a unique practice, because they offer the cohesiveness of a U14 BNT camp paired with the challenge of an international friendly. There isn’t really anything like it in the system.
In that sense, the id2 selection tours operate in their own world, devoid of the trappings and difficulties inherent in national team camps. And the beauty is that it’s now old enough to dissect. The program’s first class in 2010 was primarily comprised of ’96s (there were only two ’97s, and one, as you’ll see, is already an MLS Homegrown), meaning at the very least they’re U18 eligible. And U20, in some cases.
Remember, development isn’t like rounding up sheep and pushing a bunch through the fence. It’s a winnowing process, a numbers game. Especially at the U14 level, you hope one or two of these kids turn into future full national team contributors on a consistent level. It’s all gravy if you get more. Paradoxically, a five percent rate of return off one U14 roster isn’t terrible. Of course you want as many as possible, but that’s generally not how elite development works.
So anyway, with the 2015 tour through Argentina freshly announced, let’s walk through each id2 roster since 2010 and see what we find. How is it doing? We’ll grade each class by what we know of these players and how they project as pro prospects. Preview: the program’s already doing pretty well for itself. Nothing’s perfect, but as we’ll see, it’s off to a fast start.