The 2014 Nike International Friendlies kick off on Friday with Australia taking on Brazil followed by the U.S. against England. The Friendlies for the U17 national team serve as the opener prior to the Development Academy Showcase event at the same Premier Sports Complex in Bradenton, Florida, which begins on Saturday and ends on Wednesday.
The Academy Showcase brings in all of the U16 and U18 Development Academy teams for three games against competition from outside of their conference. There are plenty of noteworthy games on the schedule from the upcoming week.
Check back with TopDrawerSoccer throughout the week for exclusive recaps and interviews from the Showcase and Nike International Friendlies.
Vancouver Whitecaps face a challenging schedule in Florida with games against Montreal Impact, New York Red Bulls, and Players Development Academy. The Whitecaps are 11-0 on the season and the only team with a perfect record. Red Bulls and Impact sit in second and third respectively in the playoffs standings. PDA is the defending national champions and been a bit slow out of the gates with a 6-2-4 record.
Real Salt Lake AZ also faces a difficult set of opponents in Florida with games against FC Dallas, Philadelphia Union, and Capital Area Railhawks Academy – CASL. RSL is 8-1-3 on the season and leads the Southwest Division in goals scored with 37.
Texas Rush puts its three-game winning streak on the line this week with games against Shattuck-Saint Mary’s, FC Wisconsin Nationals, and PA Classics. Rush leads the Frontier Division in goals scored with 28. Forward Brandon Guhl tops the charts with 11 goals this season.
Orlando City takes on Chicago Fire, FC Dallas, and Dallas Texans during its stint at the Premier Sports Complex. Orlando City is 8-1-1 on the season and top of the Southeast Division. Nathaniel Adamolekun leads Orlando City in scoring with eight goals in nine games played.
Colorado Rush is trying to keep its hot start to the season alive with games against Vancouver Whitecaps, Bethesda-Olney, and Crew Soccer Academy Wolves on the schedule for the Florida trip. Colorado Rush is 5-1 on the season and has only given up three goals.
Arsenal FC boosts the top defense in the Southwest Division up to this point in the season with the fewest goals conceded. Goalkeepers Antonio Lozano-Banuelos and Christopher Gomez have only let in 11 goals in 13 games. Arsenal’s defense will be tested in Florida with games against BW Gottschee, Capital Area Railhawks Academy – CASL, and PA Classics.
Nike International Friendlies
With Australia, England, and Brazil in town, the Nike International Friendlies will once again be the focal point of the week in Florida. The U.S. U17 Men’s National Team is in the final stages of preparation before the 2015 CONCACAF U17 Championship in late February in Honduras. England and Brazil are at a similar stage in the qualifying process with continental events still to come. Australia has already qualified for the 2015 U17 World Cup after finishing as a semifinalist at the 2014 AFC U16 Championship.