Published: November 22, 2011
It sounds simple, but when it comes to U.S. National youth camps it’s anything but. Getting young players, particularly inexperienced ones, to come out of their shell on a national stage isn’t always easy but it has to be done if a coach is to accurately evaluate his talent.
That will be one of the many challenges coach Damon Nahas will confront this week as his U.S. U15 Girls National Team camp continues to unfold at the Home Depot Center.
“Sometimes they get here and they shut down,” Nahas said. “Sometimes players are nervous and aren’t sure what to expect. We’re trying to help them bring out what they would in their normal club environment.”
Coach Damon Nahas
In other words, there’s a reason we selected you: now show us.
The 24 players in camp this week range in experience, from 2013 graduate Natalie Calhoun to 2016s Peyton Perea and Jennifer Westendorf
There are more than a few new faces but also some who attending the last U15 camp in August – like Betsy Brandon, and Dominique Romero, for instance.
All players are age eligible for the 2012 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup, which has an age cut-off of players born on or after Jan. 1, 1995.
Nahas will be looking toward the future with this group and keeping a tab on a few who would be eligible to attend Albertin Montoya’s next U17 camp.
Of course, he’ll have to get the best out of them first. And he plans to put them at ease by encouraging them to be aggressive on both sides of the ball and getting them in a natural flow.
At Monday’s training, the group – excluding goalkeepers Emily Boyd and Alexis Bryant who both worked separately - worked on touch drills for much of the day with Nahas pushing them to be decisive and move full steam ahead.
“Every time we bring in players a big emphasis is to evaluate where they are technically,” Nahas said. “The speed of play is a strong focus. We want them to be ultra aggressive this week and really press them to attack from the back and the midfield. We’re trying to be entertaining in what we’re doing.”
Nahas is joined by a big staff that includes members who also work with the older age groups. We’ve seen more joint camps that combine two different age groups in recent days, but the U15s have the Home Depot Center all to themselves on this occasion.
They’ll take to the field tonight for an intrascrimmage and their first real opportunity to display the reasons they were invited to the camp to begin with.
“That’ll be good for us; we only have a couple games that we’re really able to watch them,” Nahas said. “In training, some players will stand out and some will struggle and that might reverse in a scrimmage so it’s fun to watch how that develops.”
U.S. U15 GNT Camp Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Caroline Brockmeier
(Eclipse Select; Tallahassee, Fla.), Alexis Bryant (Bethesda SC; Kensington, Md.)
DEFENDERS (6): Natalie Calhoun (Sting; Sachse, Tex.), Hannah Davison (Eclipse Select; Geneva, Ill.), Ellie Jean (Oakwood SC; Coventry, Conn.), Genevieve McGowan (Eclipse Select; Lake Forest, Ill.), Kate Morris (Michigan Hawks; Plymouth, Mich.), Jamie Van Horn (Mustang Fury; Danville, Calif.)
Betsy Brandon (Colorado Rush; Littleton, Colo.), Megan Buckingham (Michigan Hawks; Novi, Mich.), Marley Canales
(San Diego SC; San Diego, Calif.), Katie Cousins (Richmond Kickers; Forest, Va.), Meggie Dougherty-Howard (Tampa Bay United; Largo, Fla.), Mikaela Harvey (Lonestar SC; Liberty Hill, Texas), Peyton Perea (Legends; Riverside, Calif.), Taylor Racioppi
(PDA Clash; Neptune, N.J.), Dominique Romero (Club Heat; Las Vegas, Nev.)
Jorian Baucom (Sereno SC; Scottsdale, Ariz.), Imani Dorsey (Freestate United; Elkridge, Md.), Eva Gordon (Empire United; Syracuse, N.Y.); Haley Pounds (Challenge SC; Spring, Texas), Maggie Purce (Freestate Soccer; Olney, Md.), Amber Stearns (Classics Elite; San Antonio, Texas), Jennifer Westendorf
(GSA; Montgomery, Ala.)