USA Youth Players Take on France
The excitement of representing one’s country fills a player with pride and wide-eyed dreams of success — especially when the players are teenagers. Young footballers, as the U.S. Under-16 Boys’ National Team head coach Shaun Tsakiris likes to refer to his dedicated players, live and breath the game of soccer. Now 20 elite players have flown off to France to compete.Shaun Tsakiris, the U.S. Under-16 Boys’ National Team (U16 BNT) head coach named his 20-player roster for the 18th International Val-de-Marne Tournament in France. With the youth soccer event kicking off on Oct. 25 in Val de Marne, France, the players have been preparing for this competition for weeks — many feel they have spent their whole lives preparing to represent the USA on foreign soil.
These elite 20 players have all shown dedication and passion for the beautiful game. According to U.S. Soccer, “Of the 20 players on the U.S. roster, 17 currently play with U.S. Soccer Development Academy Clubs, two play abroad, and only one remains unattached. In addition, every player on the roster was born in 2001.”
Where are the players from? The team represents players from all across the United States with a heavy emphasis on the West Coast.
5 players are from California, 3 players are from Texas, 2 are from Georgia, 2 are from Florida, and one player is from Germany, Spain, Washington, New York, Kansas, Colorado, Illinois and Connecticut.
Preparing for an international tournament on the other side of the Atlantic takes time. Allowing for adjusting to the change in time zone and recovering from the long flight — as well as training for the match, the U16 BNT arrived in Val de Marne on Wednesday, October 19. The first match of the VAL-DE-MARNE TOURNAMENT is on October 25 when the team takes on England. The US U16 BNT then plays Russia two days later and the final match is on October 29 when they play their host France.
U.S. U-16 BNT Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Michael Collodi (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas), Nicolas Defreitas-Hansen (Weston FC; Southwest Ranches, Fla.)
DEFENDERS (9): Nico Benalcazar (NYCFC; Wilton, Conn.), Eduardo Blancas (Real Salt Lake; Napa, Calif.), Cameron Duke (Sporting KC; Olathe, Kan.), John Hilton (Unattached; Long Beach, Calif.), Julian Hinojosa (FC Dallas; Garland, Texas), Ian Hoffmann (Karlsruher SC; Germany), Alexsi Morel (New York City FC; Huntington Station, N.Y.), Eben Noverr (Colorado Rapids; Highland Park, Colo.), Leonardo Sepulveda (LA Galaxy; Corona, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Luis Arriaga (Real Salt Lake; Santa Rosa, Calif.), Azriel Gonzalez (Seattle Sounders FC; Renton, Wash.), Ulysses Llanez (LA Galaxy; Lynwood, Calif.), Marcelo Palomino (Houston Dynamo; Houston, Texas), Jose Rivas (Weston FC; Weston, Fla.), Indiana Vassilev (IMG Academy; Savannah, Ga.)
FORWARDS (3): Jackson Conway (Atlanta United FC; Marietta, Ga.), Konrad De la Fuente (FC Barcelona; Barcelona, Spain), Stefan Stojanovic (Sockers FC; Des Plaines, Ill.)