CARSON, California - If the hoard of parents waving proudly from the sidelines wasn’t a dead giveaway, then surely the miniature nature of the players on the field was.
The first-timers have arrived. The annual U14 Boys National Team Identification Camp has kicked off at the Home Depot Center in an event that will introduce young players – and proud parents – to the U.S. Soccer program.
Coach Manny Schellscheidt and staff have called in 80 fresh-faced players, born in 1998 or 1999, who will train together twice a day from now through Saturday. The daily training sessions and scrimmages give coaches the opportunity to evaluate players for future call-ups to the national team.
It was quite the scene on Monday when the collection of antsy players spilled onto the field for their first taste of intrasquad scrimmages. Half of the group has been pulled from each region of ODP while the other half has been scouted separately.
In a wrinkle from previous identification camps, the group is scrimmaging in smaller squads than in years past. On Monday, the U14s faced off in 7v7 matches with players subbing in and out of the sessions. The overall camp roster is also smaller by about 40 players, and many of the players were identified through the U.S. Soccer Training Centers held around the country for the past year or so.
Despite the inexperience across the board, many players looked loose and showed good awareness.
Some of the early strong performers included defender Trey Vinson, of the Prince William Soccer Inc. in Virginia. Vinson is further along physically than a lot of his peers, and has good height and athleticism. He can be a big clogging presence on the backline but was also smooth getting the ball forward.
Teaming with Vinson was Andrew Romig, a Richmond Kickers goalkeeper who was quite the presence. Romig was very vocal with his newfound teammates and put himself in good positions for shot-stopping.
Ohio Premier North’s Joseph Schmidt is a small midfielder with some big game. He’s a little reminiscent of current U15 BNT player Benjamin Swanson, in that he is quick with his touches and gets rid of the ball quickly to facilitate possession. Schmidt’s team played aggressively and featured Luka Prpa (North Shore United), Michael Pimlott (Michigan Wolves), Nicholas King (Alliance FC) and John Leisman (Sporting KC Jrs).
Other intriguing performers included Folasanmi Adetola, of DC United Youth Academy. Adetola is a shifty striker who is lighting fast when running downhill. His speed doesn’t seem to be interrupted with the ball at his feet and he’ll be a player worth watching.
New York Soccer Club’s Sean Teixeira is a left-footed forward who positions himself for scoring opportunities. He is solid in front of the net and doesn’t hesitate to put away a shot.
Haji Adbikadir of United FC in Louisville is a small attacker who showed flashes of being dynamic. He is a tough cover 1v1 but sometimes runs into trouble.
Ethan Lotenero of Southern Californian club CZ Elite showed off good shooting range and a powerful leg as he let off a couple of powerful strikes.
TopDrawerSoccer.com will be reporting from the camp all week.
U.S. Boys’ NDP Identification Camp Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (7): Gianfranco Barone (Met Oval; Howard Beach, N.Y.), Andrew Hagan (Javanon; Louisville, Ky.), Ben Hale (Liverpool America FC; Frisco, Texas), Abraham Romero (Cosmos Academy West; Altadena, Calif.), Drew Romig (Richmond Kickers; Midlothian, Va.), Kevin Silva (PDA; Bethlehem, Pa.), Andrew Verdi (FC Bucks; Ivyland, Pa.)
DEFENDERS (16): Folasanmi Adetola (D.C. United; Bowie, Md.), Hugo Arellano (South Bay Gunners; Norwalk, Calif.), Josh Burnett (PDA; Glen Ridge, N.J.), Tanner Dieterich (Brentwood Premier; Nashville, Tenn.), Roberto Dominguez (Cal Odyssey; Fresno, Calif.), James Edwards (PWSI Courage; Woodbridge, Calif.), Kyle Gruno (New York Red Bulls; Upper Saddle River, N.Y.), Seth Hudson (Sporting Kansas City; Parkville, Mo.), Jacob Lyon (Michigan Rush; Holt, Mich.), Tommy McCabe (PDA; South Orange, N.J.), Michael Pimlott (Crew Soccer Academy Wolves; Famington Hills, MIch.), Christian Quintero (La Roca FC; Ogden, Utah), Juan Riley (Weston FC; Weston, Fla.), Cole Spofford (VSA Heat; Broad Run, Va.), Trey Vinson (PWSI Courage; Manassas, Va.), Toshiki Yasuda (Cobras SA; Las Cruces, N.M.)
MIDFIELDERS (37): Haji Abdikadir (United FC; Louisville, Ken.), Tyler Black (Crossfire Premier; Tacoma, Wash.), George Braima (Crew Soccer Academy; Columbus, Ohio), Eric Cavillo (Real So Cal; Palmdale, Calif.), Kevin Coleman (FC Richmond; Warreneton, Va.), Javier Cortez (Fullerton Rangers; La Habra, Calif.), Mason Deeds (PA Classics; Topton, Pa.), Alexander Dexter (CFC Red Star; Upatoi, Ga.), Luca de la Torre (Nomads SC; San Diego, Calif.), Thomas Golden (HBC Titans; Westbury, N.Y.), Whitney Gonsalves (Oklahoma Texans SC; Tulsa, Okla.), Kyle Gurrierie (New York Red Bulls; Totota, N.J.), Tyler Hughes (Crossfire Premier; Bellingham, Wash.), Kohl Hurtado (Westside Metros; Portland, Ore.), Nick King (Alliance FC; Mattawan, Mich.), Ryley Kraft (Placer United; Roseville, Calif.), John Leisman (Sporting Kansas City; Kansas City, Mo.), Orlando Lopez (Pateadores; Santa Ana, Calif.), Terrell Lowe (Portneuf Valley SC; Pocatello, Ind.), Dawson McCartney (NJSA 04; Voorhees, N.J.), Conor McGlynn (Cosmos East; Middle Village, N.Y.), Weston McKennie (FC Dallas; Little Elm, Texas), Antonio Nava (De Anza Force; Redwood City, Calif.), Logan Panchot (St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri; St. Louis, Mo.), Luka Prpa (North Shore United; Wind Lake, Wis.), Rahid Hahiem (FC Elk Grove; Elk Grove, Calif.), Juan Ramirez (Bethesda SC; Bethesda, Md.), Deihnia Sarnor (Crew Soccer Academy; Reynoldsburg, Ohio), Joe Schmidt (Ohio Premier North; Chagrin Falls, Ohio), Jack Shaw (Bavarian SC; Fox Point, Wis.), Clay Silvas (Sacramento United; Orangevale, Calif.), John Skahan (Tennessee Rush; Memphis, Tenn.), Quran Thomas (East Cobb YMCA; Fairburn, Ga.), Mattias Tomasino (Coral Gables Toros; Miami, Fla.), Derek Waldeck (Ellensburg FC; Ellensburg, Wash.), Kees Westra (Snohomish United; Monroe, Wash.), Brandon Williamson (D.C. United; Gainesville, Va.)
FORWARDS (20): Daniel Barbir (PDA; Macungie, Pa.), Giuseppe Barone (Grand Rapids Crew Juniors; Kentwood, Mich.), Nathan de la Hoya (Solar FC; Dallas, Texas), McKinze Gaines (Houston Dynamo; Austin, Texas), Julian Hall (Brandon FC; Tampa, Fla.), Chase Hovious (Clearwater Chargers; Auburndale, Fla.), Keegan Kelly (Baltimore Bays Chelsea; Baltimore, Md.), Lagos Kunga (DDYSC Elite; Roswell, Ga.), David Loera (Central Floride Kraze; Orlando, Fla.), Ethan Lotenero (CZ Elite; Altadena, Calif.), David Mason (Montgomery SC; Bethesda, Md.), Luis Mora (Fullerton Rangers; Anaheim, Calif.), Joshua Perez (Chivas USA; La Habra, Calif.), Christian Pulisic (PA Classics; Hershey, Pa.), Antonio Sanchez (Iowa SC; Iowa City, Iowa), Alex Soto (NJSA 04; Palisades Park, N.J.), Raheem Taylor-Parkes (Brandon SC; Wesley Chapel, Fla.), Sean Teixeira (New York SC; Trumbull, Conn.), Christian Villalobos (Albertson SC; West Hempstead, N.Y.), Haji Wright (Galaxy Alliance; Los Angeles, Calif.)