CARSON, California – They were exciting; they were dynamic, there were effective. At their best, with their top personnel in action, the U.S. U15 Boys National Team was a sight to behold during a scrimmage Friday night at the Home Depot Center.
Featuring a core of returning play-makers who continued their promising development alongside a few exciting new additions, the U.S. showed that there might be a lot to look forward to concerning this group.
The night ended with a 5-3 victory over an older LA Galaxy squad followed by a 2-1 defeat to Chivas USA, but the positives certainly outweighed any negatives.
And particularly against the Galaxy, the highs were very, very high.
Gedion Zelalem was certainly one of them. The Arsenal FC midfielder made his Home Depot Center debut to quite a bit of buzz. At 5-foot-9, he’s a slick attacker who splits defenses and makes things look easy.
He’s also a young player who has already been linked to English Club Arsenal F.C. – something he explained.
“I had a 10-day trial over there and I hope to move over there when I’m 16,” said Zelalem, who scored a goal and made plenty happen during Friday night’s play. “It was a great experience, the soccer is much quicker and there are good people there.”
Zelalem didn’t waste any time fitting in with the team’s established stars like: Malcolm Dixon
and Mukwelle Akale all of whom were on the field together during a very entertaining half of soccer.
Dixon, a fast and dangerous striker scored a goal as did showstopper Akale who is always quick and shifty in the midfield.
Other standouts included Amir Bashti, a small but very heady midfielder who made a lot of good plays. Bashti seems to read the game quickly and can get into space.
Marc Calderon has as good a work rate as any player in camp, he plays with intensity and pressures relentlessly.
New York Red Bulls attacker Stephen Elias showed some good flashes with the ball and worked hard.
Defender Peter Schropp
scored a pair of goals with nearly identical headers on corner kicks. Heeding the coaches’ advice from training earlier in the week
, he attacked the box and directed both services nicely into the net.
Tommy Redding was another plus on the backline. Redding is smooth and doesn’t hesitate to take the ball forward into space.
On the defensive side is actually where the squad was most vulnerable. The transition to defense was often slow and the team fell asleep more than once.
Goalkeeper Cameron Keys had an eventful match against Chivas and had a strong sequence where he made three straight saves.
It was goalkeeper Parker Siegfried
who was beaten on a Galaxy penalty kick, then a free kick late in the second half against Chivas – though he didn’t play poorly.
The U15s wrapped their camp on Saturday with a spirited round of intrasquad 7v7 games.
Camp coach Tony Lepore stepped into action and helped lead a victorious squad that also included Malcolm Jones, Orestis Sousonis, Elias, David Villegas and Bashti.
U.S. U15 Boys National Camp Roster
Cameron Keys (Philadelphia Union; Whitehill, Pa.), Jonathan Klinsmann (Strikers FC; Newport Beach, Calif.), James Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes; Alamo, Calif), Parker Siegfried
(Newark Area SA; Granville, Ohio)
Billy Abdallah (Fullerton Rangers; Monterey Park, Calif.), Guillermo Bermudez (Albion SC; San Diego, Calif.), David Chavez (Juventus Forza; Redwood City, Calif.), Yosimar Hernandez (South Bay Gunners; Huntington Park, Calif.), Malcolm Jones (Chivas USA; Chino Hills, Calif.), Jean Orvil Jr. (West Pines United; Miramar, Fla.), Pablo Pelaez
(Albion SC; San Diego, Calif.), Tommy Redding (FC America Premier; Oviedo, Fla.), Peter Schropp
(Omaha FC; Omaha, Neb.), Max Stiegwardt
(Minnesota Thunder Academy; Maple Grove, Minn.)
Amir Bashti (San Jose Earthquakes; Cupertino, Calif.), Ivan Canales (West Coast FC; Santa Ana, Calif.), Chet Castellaw (Real So Cal
; Hidden Hills, Calif.), Cameron Lindley (Indiana United Fire Academy; Carmel, Ind.), Martin Salas
(FC Dallas; Dallas, Texas), Orestis Sousonis (New York Red Bulls; Dover, N.J.), Benny Swanson (Crew Soccer Academy; Grove City, Ohio), David Villegas (Elk Grove Everton; Sacramento, Calif.), Sean Wilson
(PDA; Bethlehem, Pa.), Gedion Zelalem (Olney Rangers; Bethesda, Md.)
Mukwelle Akale (Minnesota Thunder Academy; Minneapolis, Minn.), Marc Calderon (South Bay Gunners; Huntington Park, Calif.), Coy Craft (Fusion FC; Glade Springs, Va.), Malcolm Dixon
(New York Red Bulls; Glenridge, N.J.), Stephen Elias (New York Red Bulls; Rye, N.Y.), Collin Fernandez (Chicago Fire; Downers Gove, Ill.), Jacob Hernandez
(Solar Chelsea SC; Mesquite, Texas), Nicholas Hinds (Plantation FC; Plantation, Fla.), Rey Ortiz (Carlsbad Lightning; San Diego, Calif.), Remington Pimm (IMG Academy; Tarpon Springs, Fla.), Amirgy Pineda
(Fullerton Rangers; Santa Ana, Calif.), Alejandro Vergara (LA Galaxy; Long Beach, Calif.)