If you’re looking for a pinnacle non-World Cup cycle YNT tournament, you could do a lot worse than picking the Torneo Delle Nazionale. And the U.S. U15 BNT just won the thing.
The Torneo Delle Nazione is a 14-year-old youth tourney originally founded as a boys-only U15 event. Two years ago it expanded to the women’s game as a U16 event, but the boys tournament continues to draw some of the bigger names in the game. The U.S. has made this tournament part of its routine attendance pillars in each U15 cycle by virtue of its highly competitive nature, and for good reason. The 2017 edition featured Portugal, currently considered one of the developmental capitals of the world, England (which is, erm, England), Japan, Italy, Mexico, Croatia, Russia. To put it mildly, this is a Big Tournament in developmental terms.
And on Monday in Slovenia, the U.S. just won the damn thing. Giovanni Reyna, who’d already had two match-winners in this event, added a third with this silver bullet against England to seal a 2-1 win in the championship match.
They’ve done it! The U-15 #USBNT are champions of the Torneo Delle Nazioni!
Here’s the game-winner from Gio Reyna to beat England, 2-1! pic.twitter.com/dVtgiX7jQH
— U.S. Soccer YNT (@ussoccer_ynt) May 1, 2017
This is a big deal primarily because the experience itself is a refiner’s fire. Everyone duly acknowledges youth wins don’t carry over, and so they’re only as beneficial as the banner of soccer they’re won under. The good news is the U.S. is doing well in this sense of late. Last week, the U.S. had one of its best weeks on the USYNT level anyone can remember, and the U15 BNT promptly followed that up with a mighty impressive tourney win. The performances are worthy of the results, is what I’m saying.
Everyone you talk to in American development today is agitating for more meaningful games more regularly. The Development Academy upped the standard, but there’s still too little pressure on top-end players on a weekly and even daily basis. So it’s important to acknowledge that the U.S. U15 BNT just had five matches in the span of a week and a half and won four of them, including a pressure-packed final against England.
Slovenia? Check. Russia? Check. Portugal? Check that one off too. If anything, this only whets the appetite for the 2017-19 U17 cycle. Things certainly seem to be rolling in the right direction.