U.S U-17 Josh Perez (#11) Avoids A Tackle By Brazil's Gustavo Xavier (#3) In USA's 4-1 Win In 2013 Nike Friendlies

The U.S. Under-17s won the 2013 Nike International Friendlies in December. It was the second time in three years.

This time was different as it ended with the U.S. team beating Brazil 4-1 in a game the Brazilians only needed to draw to win the title.

It also ended with Brazil’s players standing at the middle of the field, making no effort to play the final five or so minutes on the clock.

By that time two of Brazil’s players had been ejected for reckless tackles. They had had enough. Some say they quit, but that might be a bit harsh.

Actually, Brazil lost its composure in a 1-1 draw with England, and finished that game with 10 players after an ejection.

Nevertheless, it was an unusual ending to a superb U.S. three-game effort that began with a 2-1 loss to Portugal with the game-winner coming in extra time. The Americans rebounded with a resounding 5-1 win over England. Later, the U.S. got some help from England, which edged Portugal 4-3.

So what did we learn? We learned the U.S. U17s are pretty good, and that Brazil can be beaten…..all at least at the Under-17 level.

When Brazil refused to play out the final minutes as the U.S. knocked the ball around in the back, U.S. coach Richie Williams told his players to hold the ball. That is what they did, standing on the ball while time expired.

“I thought it was two 100 percent red cards,” Williams said after the game. “Obviously they weren’t happy. I’ve never seen anything like that. I don’t quite understand why they did that.”

We learned that Joe Gallardo and Haji Wright can score goals Wright earned the golden boot for scoring five tournament goals.

Christian Pulisic was named tournament MVP and goalkeeper Kevin Silva was the golden gloves recipient. It was a sweep of tournament awards!

While any U.S. win against Brazil is significant, it is a long journey from U17 to senior national team results. But it is a starting point.

The Nike Friendlies brought the Fall Semester of the U.S. U-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla., to an end. Williams has announced a new 28 player class for the Spring Semester, which returns 21 players from the fall, and adds McKenzie Gaines (Austin, TX), Eric Matzelevich (Washington, DC), AJ Plazzolo (O’Fallon, Mo.), Raheem Taylor-Parkes (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) and Jarel Townsend (Highland Parks, Colo.), as well as U-15 Boys National Team midfielder Jose Carranza (Manassas, Va.) and GK Eric Lopez (Westminster, Calif.).

Fifteen of the returning 21 players were part of the U-17 MNT that won the Nike International Friendlies.

This new group will be training for the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, which serves as the qualifying tournament for the 2015 FIFA World Cup for the CONCACAF region.

The U.S. has never reached the championship game at a FIFA U-17 World Cup.

“We are very excited about the group of players that we brought in this semester,” said Williams. “We feel very confident in this group that will provide us with 20 players to go on to World Cup qualifying and hopefully through a successful World Cup qualifying campaign to lead us to next year’s World Cup.”

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