The US Club Soccer id2 process might be the single most underrated and under-covered event in the American youth game. For a glaring reason why, let’s go back in time, to the ye olde days of 2012.
For some background, the id2 tour is the culmination of an identification process encompassing some of the best U14 players in the country at that time. US Club Soccer, in conjunction with U.S. Soccer itself, conducts a battery of invitational scouting events for some of the country’s top identified youngsters, and from that pool coach Gerry McKeown and his staff pull a team to take abroad for a high-level string of matches. They’ve been to places like the Netherlands, Argentina and Italy, and the 2017 team trekked to Spain.
As for that 2012 team, allow me to drop the roster on you. You might recognize a few of these names.
Christian Pulisic was obviously a somewhat known quantity already, considering his inclusion here, but at the U14 level (before the DA had a competitive U14 level) this was really his first breakout internationally. The 2012 team, which also featured current pros Danny Barbir (West Brom) and Matt Olosunde (Manchester United) as well as highly rated DI stars Kevin Silva (UCLA) and Elijah Rice (Washington), played a handful of highly competitive games in Spain, and Pulisic’s star, as well as that of a few other players, was on its way.
Since then, the id2 team’s international tour has been of the utmost interest to those who know about its value. And the 2017 team just made a bit of id2 history in Spain.
Usually, these tours consist of a grouping of friendlies against local professional academies: Boca Juniors, PSV, Juventus, etc. Given that this isn’t an actual team, but a number of players cobbled from a variety of teams for the purposes of the tour, results are always uncertain. And for the first time in 2017, the id2 squad participated in a bonafide international tournament, called the Mediterranean International Cup against, you guessed it, mostly Med-based teams.
After opening with a 6-0 win over local side Girona’s academy in a scrimmage, the U.S. id2 team shut out third-division Tegueste 3-0, blasted Chinese club Shangwen-Nama 7-0 and then Israeli developer Hapoel Ramat Gen 4-0 to finish the group stage perfect. That pushed an American team into the knockouts, where they kept the steamroller pushing. A 4-0 pasting of UD Perfeccionamiento Global was followed by a snare drum-tight 1-0 win over Gimnastic de Manresa to push the Americans into the quarterfinals.
That was as far as the journey went. The id2 side ran up against Inter Milan in the quarters, and after a scoreless draw Inter managed a 4-2 result in penalties. But that also meant that in six games, the id2′s managed 19 goals in the tournament and surrendered… zero. That was a first in the tour’s history.
For reference in 4-5 years, here’s the roster that went to Spain. In addition to the entirety of the lockdown defense (Kevin Silva’s name in particular seemed to crop up a lot), keep an eye trained on Californians Dominic Vegaalban and Mwinso Denkabe, both of whom did the majority of the scoring in Spain.
The id2 tour quickly established itself as an enormously important part of the development landscape in the U.S., and importantly it’s also free of cost to the players. Between the exposure to high level soccer and the experience of playing in some extremely competitive and positively disorienting environments abroad, you’ll almost certainly be hearing from at least one or two of these players down the road in a big way.