CARSON, California – January’s weeklong trip to Mexico was an important building block in the maturation of the U.S. U14 Boys National Team.
This week’s national camp at the Home Depot Center is yet another.
A group of 38 players – the same group that journeyed to Mexico with the exception of seven new additions – has gathered at its West Coast home base in order to progress the development of a few promising young players.
Well, this certainly qualifies. The team will undergo two-a-day trainings for the majority of the week and be tested in exhibition matches against clubs like Chivas, Arsenal, LA Galaxy, Cosmos West, Pateadores and the Irvine Strikers.
On an 80-degree day at the Home Depot Center on Monday, the group went through some basic drills and was paired off into mini 3v3 and 6v6 matches.
The national camp environment is still a new one for most of these players, particularly the seven who did not make the trip to Mexico: Marc Calderon, David Chavez, Andre Garcia, Holden Hmiel, Christian Pulisic, Christian Ramirez and Martin Salas.
Midfielder Peter Schropp, who was a part of the traveling group, feels that much more comfortable at this camp and can sense the change in his teammates as well.
“We all function as a team much better,” he said. “This is my second trip (to national camp). The first time I wanted to show myself but now I want to let it come to me. I’m hoping in the end I can raise my play.”
Benjamin Swanson, a small and shifty midfielder, has an even more tangible goal: he wants to play well enough to earn a spot for the next U14 camp in June. Playing with the Columbus Crew, Swanson relishes these weeks as they give him an opportunity to see the game through the lens of other regions across the country.
“(Soccer is played) differently on the West Coast then it is on the East Coast so I get to see things that players on the West do,” Swanson said. “You get to see how you compare with players. It’s also nice to see friends that you only see a couple of times a year.”
According to Schellscheidt, the focus this week will be on-the-ball training. Recognizing his pupils are young and have absorbent minds, he’d like to see them develop a freedom in their play and establish instincts that won’t inhibit their potential.
“Right now at their age their bodies and the ball don’t allow them to express their great ideas,” he said. “In time we hope to get them to the point where they can. Great players lead with the mind and the body responds. You see too much soccer where the body and the ball get in the way.”
U.S. U14 BNT Camp Roster
GOALKEEPERS (4): Cameron Keys (Lehigh Valley United; Whitehall, Pa.), James Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes Academy; Alamo, Calif.), Parker Siegfried (Newark Area SA; Granville, Ohio), Justin Vom Steeg (Santa Barbara SC; Santa Barbara, Calif.)
DEFENDERS (8): Billy Abdallas (Cosmos Academy West; Monterrey Park, Calif.), Guillermo Bermudez (Albion SC; San Diego, Calif.), David Chavez (Juventus Forza; Redwood City, Calif.), Malcolm Jones (Cosmos Academy West; Chino Hills, Calif.), Jean Orvil, Jr. (West Pines United; Miramar, Fla.), Erik Pritschau (PFC; Perry, Ohio), Tommy Redding (FC America Premier; Oviedo, Fla.), Max Stiegwardt (Minnesota Thunder Academy; Maple Grove, Minn.),
MIDFIELDERS (16): Mukwelle Akale (Minnesota Thunder Academy; Minneapolis, Minn.), Chester Castellaw (Real So Cal; Hidden Hills, Calif.), Jeremy Colvin (LAFC Houstonians; Houston, Texas), Coy Craft (Fusion FC (Glade Springs, Va.), Collin Fernandez (Chicago Fire Juniors; Downer’s Grove, Ill.), Cameron Lindley (Indiana United Academy; Carmel United), Konstandin Moni (Crew Soccer Academy; Grand Rapids, Mich.), Caleb Moore (South Carolina United; Rock Hill, S.C.), Pablo Pelaez (Albion SC; San Diego, Calif.), Martin Salas (FC Dallas Juniors; Dallas, Texas), Peter Schropp (Omaha FC; Omaha, Neb.), Shannon Seymour (Chicago Fire Juniors; Bourbonnais, Ill.), Benjamin Swanson (Crew Soccer Academy; Grove City, Ohio), Alejandro Vergara (Cosmos Academy West; Long Beach, Calif.), David Villegas (Elk Grove Everton; Sacramento, Calif.), Sean Wilson (PDA; Bethlehem, Pa.)
FORWARDS (10): Marc Calderon (South Bat Gunners; Hunt Park, Calif.), Malcolm Dixon (New York Red Bulls Academy; Glenridge, N.J.), Stephen Elias (New York Red Bulls Academy; Rye, N.Y.), Andre Garcia (CV Manchester Academy; Lemon Grove, Calif.), Holden Hmiel (Piedmont Triad; High Point, N.C.), Alexander Knox (Indiana United Academy; Carmel, Ind.), Christian Lucatero (LAFC Houstonian; Pasadena, Texas), Amirgy Pineda (Fullerton Rangers; Santa Ana, Calif.), Christian Pulisic (PA Classics; Hershey, Pa.), Christian Ramirez (FC Dallas Juniors; Farmer’s Branch, Texas)