CARSON, Calif. – The U17 Men’s National Team is in Southern California this week for the final training camp before head coach Richie Williams names the roster for the fall semester of the Residency program.
As part of the ongoing process of improving the group overall, Williams called in a few new players, a few non-residency players who have been a part of previous camps, and plenty of kids from last semester’s Residency roster for this camp.
While the dynamic of new plus old has not slowed the coaches down from trying to bring this group forward collectively, the players did admit it takes some time to get into the flow of things with the national team program.
“The first [camp] was a total foreign experience,” Zach Jackson told TopDrawerSoccer.com. “The difference is everything has to be perfect here. It has to be precise.”
Jackson is in his third camp with the U17s this week. His first camp came earlier this year after he showed well during the Academy Select game at the USSF Development Academy Winter Showcase.
“That select game was my window into the national team. Now, I have to fight my way into Residency.”
The Texans SC Houston midfielder added that he has grown more comfortable with the group since the first camp.
For veterans like Tyler Turner, who has been with Residency for a year now, the intensity is amplified with the new faces, but he has not lost track of why he is there.
“We all welcome the new players on the first day with the ‘hellos’, ‘how’s it going’, and all the nice stuff, but by the end of the week, we are all fighting for a spot on the team,” Turner told TopDrawerSoccer.com. “When we are on the field, it is all business. Off the field, we are all friends.”
The center back from Connecticut thinks the new faces in this camp have helped in bringing the level up in the first few practices.
“The players they have brought in have added a really high intensity,” Turner said. “I know it is just the start of the week, but I feel like it is only going to pick up from here.”
While some players have struggled with the two-a-day sessions, the defender said following the training program set up by the staff at Residency kept him in shape while at home.
When asked if some of the new faces may be struggling early in camp with fitness due to not be used to the level, Turner was not sure.
“Maybe, but by the end of the week, they will get there.”
Tuesday’s morning session had the group focusing on shooting with much of the 90-minute practice devoted to situations in front of the goal. The training session concluded with two 15-minute 11v11 games. The 36 players, who are fit, were split into three teams for the exercise.
Marius Heislitz (Georgia United/ Cumming, Ga.); Adonis Amaya (Chivas USA/ Westminster, Calif.), Peter Schropp (Omaha FC/ Omaha, Neb.), Tyler Turner (South Central Premier/ West Haven, Conn.) Gonzalo Rolon (Central California Blues/ Bakersfield, Calif.); Omar Castro (Plant City FC/ Plant City, Fla.), Zach Jackson (Texans SC Houston/ Cypress, Tex.), Angel Heredia (San Jose Earthquakes/ San Jose, Calif.); Mukwlle Akale (Minnesota Thunder/ Minneapolis, Minn.), Dalton Pando (California Development Academy/ Shingle Springs, Calif.), Rubio Rubin (Westside Metros/ Beaverton, Ore.)
The Blue team defeated the Red team 2-0 in the first game on Tuesday. Jackson and Akale scored the goals, which turned out to be the only goals on the day during the scrimmages.
“I needed to find a way into the game, so I made a run,” Jackson said about his goal. “I think Adonis [Amaya] made the pass. I dribbled around the keeper and then it is second nature from that point.”
Akale’s goal came thanks to some good fortune. The last defender slipped on the ball and the Minnesota-native pounced on the opportunity. Akale slotted the ball around the keeper for the second goal in the quick game.
The defensive partnership between Peter Schropp and Tyler Turner is a work in progress. Both are quality defenders, but they both have a similar style of play as well. Schropp played center midfield with his high school in the spring and still has a tendency to drift forward at times instead of dropping for support.
Abraham Romero played in goal for the Blue team during the second game.
Jefferson Caldwell (NC Fusion/ Todd, N.C.); John Requejo Jr. (Real So Cal/ Carpinteria, Calif.), Bryce Cregan (PA Classics/ Dallastown, Penn.), Jordan Cano (FC Dallas/ Richardson, Tex.), Elijah Martin (Cal Odyssey/ Freson, Calif.); Rece Buckmaster (Indiana Fire Academy/ Auburn, Ind.), Benjamin Swanson (Columbus Crew/ Grove City, Ohio), Aaron Meyer (FC Dallas/ Carrolton, Tex.); Bradford Jamieson (Chivas USA, Los Angeles, Calif.), Brian Pacheco (Pateadores/ Anaheim, Calif.), Alan Winn (Solar Chelsea SC/ Garland, Tex.)
Benjamin Swanson and Rece Buckmaster were more involved in the play on Tuesday than they showed on Monday. Swanson, despite being the youngest field player, was not afraid to get stuck in on a challenge in the middle of the field. The Crew Academy midfielder won plenty of those challenges against bigger opposition.
Both Elijah Martin and John Requejo were hitting on all cylinders during the shooting drills, but neither had much to say offensively in the game. Assistant coach Jim Rooney encouraged Martin on a number of occasions to join the attack.
The potential with Bradford Jamieson is evident. The change of pace, the crisp strike on the ball, the ease to navigate in tight spaces, it is all there. However, it is rarely there when Jamieson has the chance to take control of a game or situation. If Williams and his staff can harvest that potential to show during game situations, Jamieson could be one of the true stars from this class.
James Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes/ Alamo, Calif.); Malcolm Jones (Chivas USA/ Chino Hills, Calif.), Jorge Miranda (Real So Cal/ Van Nuys, Calif.), Guyllain Kabala (New England Revolution/ Manchester, N.H.), Shaquell Moore (Cobb FC/ Powder Springs, Ga.); Rolando Munoz (LA Galaxy/ Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), Jake Rozhansky (OBGC/ Tahoma Park, Md.), Junior Flores (McLean Youth Soccer/ Manassas, Va.); Malcom Dixon (New York Red Bulls/ Glenridge, N.J.), Ahinga Selemani (CSA Wolves/ Ann Arbor, Mich.), Corey Baird (San Diego Surf/ Escondido, Calif.)
Guyllain Kabala was impressive during the shooting drills. The teenage from the New England Revolution Academy strikes the ball well on the run. However, the U17 MNT coaching staff placed him at CB on Monday and Tuesday, so it is difficult to know if he could transition that into the game. His defensive skills are adequate, but he would seem like a better fit in a more attacking role.
Rolando Munoz and Junior Flores were solid but unspectacular in their midfield partnership on Tuesday. Flores was actively involved all over the field, but never had that highlight moment on the day.
Tommy Redding (FC America Premier/Oviedo, Fla.) joined Cameron Lindley (Indiana United/ Carmel, Ind.) on the sideline on Tuesday. Both players are dealing with minor injuries. Their status for Wednesday’s scrimmages is unknown.
The coaching staff used Tuesday’s afternoon session to run through some tactical elements of the game in preparation for Wednesday’s game. The afternoon training was expected to be light so the players could catch the LA Galaxy – Tottenham Hotspurs friendly at the Home Depot Center Stadium.
There were still two players missing from the camp on Tuesday. Wesley Wade (New York Red Bulls/ South Orange, N.J.) and Chris Lema (New York Red Bulls/ Ridgefield, N.J.) played on Monday night in Houston in the USSF Development Academy U16 National Championship. The Red Bulls won 1-0 over St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri.