This, from coach Manny Schellscheidt in the early stages of last week’s U.S. U14 Boys National Team Camp:
“We want to see considerable improvement in all areas from previous camps. It’s a package that moves along, and we want to keep polishing all of the things in the package.”
After polishing off their final set of competition to conclude the camp on Saturday, it felt an awful lot like mission accomplished.
The U.S. U14s defeated U15 Cal South 4-2 before shutting out Albion SC 5-0. And it wasn’t the result as much as the fashion the squad did it in. To put it simply, the group looked improved.
Exhibit A: The U14s jumped ahead 2-0 in the first half against Cal South, on a goal from Coy Craft that was set up nicely by Castellaw, and another by Amirgy Pineda.
But just as quickly, the U.S. team lost its lead after surrendering two very avoidable goals early the first half. A corner kick, and then a redirected cross snuck by goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann just minutes apart on plays that were clearly created by miscommunication between the keeper and his backline.
The young U14s spent all of a couple seconds debating the miscues before deciding to do what all good units would.
They moved on.
Pablo Pelaez and Edward Venta Yepes responded with second-half goals as the squad forcefully snatched back momentum and control of the match.
“I knew we’d get (the goals) back,” Castellaw said. “Fortunately, we have so many great players around us.”
Defender Guillermo Bermudez had a particularly strong effort, as usual, as did Coy who made great connections in the midfield and also showed defensive awareness.
The finale against U15 Albion SC was the culmination of a week’s worth of preaching aggression by Schellscheidt. The score could have easily been 10-0 as the U14s took their shots.
They started with a lineup that featured goalkeeper James Marcinkowski, defenders Max Stiegwardt, David Chavez, and John Antunes, midfielders Orestis Sousonis, Malcolm Jones, Sean Wilson, Cameron Lindley, Mukwelle Akale and strikers Malcolm Dixon and Remington Pimm.
Sousonis, a small and shifty attacker, showed he fit right in with the dangerous lineup early on. The U.S. side played with just three backs for what may have been the first time all week and it only put more pressure on Albion SC.
Akale seemed to toy with defenders at times, and scored the opening goal – after the team missed out on several chances – on a 1v1 sequence that saw him beat at least three players.
Chavez, who may have been the young man of the match, stepped into a bullet strike for the second goal. Chavez was a stabilizer on the backline the entire week, working hard and continually keeping the ball moving forward. His week’s performance earned him the captain’s band for the final match.
“The coach said I deserved it through the week and he wanted me to leave with that honor,” Chavez said. “It feels great when the coach tells you you’ve played well. When I came here last month, it was my first camp and I was nervous. This time, I knew what coaches expected and was more comfortable so I just came here to do what I know how to do.”
Swanson recorded the third score on a left-footed jab in the box and Elias capped a good week with the final two goals.
Game, set, camp.
U.S. U14 Boys National Team Camp Roster
GOALKEEPERS (6): Christian Herrera (Strikers FC; Las Cruces, N.M.), Cameron Keys (Lehigh Valley United FC; Whitehall, Pa.), James Marcinkowski (Mustangs FC; Alamo, Calif.), Jonathan Klinsmann (Irvine Strikers; Newport Beach, Calif.), Parker Siegfried (Newark Area SA; Granville, Ohio), Justin Vom Steeg (Santa Barbara SC; Santa Barbara ,Calif.)
DEFENDERS (9): Billy Abdallah (Fullerton Rangers; Monterey Park, Calif.), Guillermo Bermudez (Albion SC; San Diego, Calif.), Chester Castellaw (Real So Cal; Hidden Hills, 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; Maple Grove, Minn.)
MIDFIELDERS (19): Mukwelle Akale (Minnesota Thunder; Minneapolis, Minn.), John Antunes (NY Red Bulls; Fairfield, N.J.), Coy Craft (Fusion FC; Glade Spring Va.), Daniel Crisostomo (Cosmos Academy West; Chino, Calif.), Collin Fernandez (Chicago Fire; Downer's Grove, Ill.), Jacob Hernandez (Solar; Mesquite, Texas), Cameron Lindley (Carmel United; Carmel, Ind.), Abuchi Obinwa (FC America SA Orlando; Windermere, Fla.), Pablo Pelaez (Albion SC; San Diego, Calif.), Josh Perez (Chivas USA; La Habra, Calif.), Remington Pimm (IMG Academy; Tarpon Springs, Fla.), Martin Salas (FC Dallas; Dallas, Texas), Peter Schropp (Omaha FC; Omaha, Neb.), Orestis Sousonis (NY Red Bulls; Dover, N.J.), Benjamin Swanson (Columbus Crew; Grove City, Ohio), Alejandro Vergara (Cosmos Academy West; Long Beach, Calif.),
David Villegas (Elk Grove Everton; Sacramento, Calif.), Sean Wilson (PDA; Bethlehem, Pa.), Kyle Zajec (NY Red Bulls; Westport, Conn.)
FORWARDS (6): Marc Calderon (South Bay Gunners; Huntington Park, Calif.), Malcolm Dixon (NY Red Bulls; Glenridge, N.J.), Stephen Elias (NY Red Bulls; Rye, N.Y.), Andre Garcia (CV Manchester Academy; Lemon Grove, Calif.), Amirgy Pineda (Fullerton Rangers; Santa Ana, Calif.), Christian Ramirez (FC Dallas; Farmers Branch, Texas)