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U.S. U-17 MNT to Face Brazil, Mexico and Portugal on Nike Campus

CHICAGO (5 September, 2006) – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team will compete in the Nike National Team Friendlies along with Brazil, Mexico and Portugal from Sept. 7-10 on the Nike Campus in Beaverton, Ore.

The friendlies are structured in a six-game round-robin format with two games a day on Sept. 7, 8 and 10, but the actual match-ups on those dates will not be decided until the night before the event. On Wednesday, Sept. 6 a draw to determine the match schedule will be held during a reception for all four teams at the Tiger Woods Center.

All six games will be played on the Ronaldo Fields at the Nike Campus. The back-to-back matches on Sept. 7 and 10 will be played in the morning (9 and 11 a.m. PT), while the two matches on Sept. 8 will take place in the afternoon (3 and 5 p.m. PT).

“We are looking forward to playing three of the best international youth teams in the world during the Nike National Team Friendlies,” said U.S. Under-17 head coach John Hackworth. “We’re coming off international tournaments in Japan and England, but this three-game series will no doubt be the most challenging this group of players has encountered. By putting on this event, Nike has provided us with a great stage on our home soil to measure ourselves and continue our preparations for next year as we attempt to qualify for the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup.”

The U.S. Under-17s will be traveling straight to Beaverton from England where they spent the past week competing in the FA Under-17 Friendly International Tournament against England, Turkey and Portugal. The U.S. finished third in the four-team tournament, coming away with draws against Turkey and Portugal, who also traveled to Beaverton after their last match.

Before losing to England in the FA tournament, the U.S. was on a five-game unbeaten streak against international teams. Overall this year, the Under-17s are 5-3-8 in international matches, with victories over Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Jamaica and the Czech Republic.

Hackworth’s roster for the Nike National Team Friendlies will be exactly the same as the 18-player roster he took to England, which includes six new members that joined U.S. Soccer's Under-17 Residency Program this August: Howard Turk, Brendan King, Ryan Garcia, Gregory Garza, Ryan Finley and Zac MacMath.

Three players will be returning to their northwest roots as midfielders Daniel Wenzel and Brandon Zimmerman, and forward Ellis McLoughlin all hail from Washington. Wenzel has been one of the most consistent players for the U-17s during his year in Residency, while Zimmerman has impressed so far as he follows in the footsteps of his older brother, Preston, who was one of the leaders for Hackworth’s squad at the 2005 FIFA Under-17 World Championship. McLoughlin is considered one of the most dangerous strikers for the U.S., as the Seattle native leads the team with seven international goals and two assists.

Leading the way for the U.S. in the back is goalkeeper Josh Lambo who has earned the starting position in the net during his the past year in Residency. Lambo can count on his consistent defenders Brandon Lee, Matthew Uy, Mykell Bates and Sheanon Williams, who has also played forward during his time with the Under-17s and is a still a scoring threat from the back.

Along with Wenzel and Zimmerman, Hackworth can call on midfielders Jared Jeffrey, Daniel Barerra and Axel Levry, who scored the USA’s lone goal in their 1-1 draw with Portugal last week. Up front, Bryan Dominguez has been a regular starter up front with McLoughlin.

All the players on the U.S. roster are eligible for the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup which will take place from Aug. 18 to Sept. 9, in South Korea. The U.S. is the only country that has qualified and competed in all 11 FIFA World Championships at this age group, and will attempt to keep the streak alive next April when they compete in the CONCACAF Under-17 Qualifying Tournament in a location still to be determined.

Brazil and Mexico have won the past two FIFA U-17 World Championships (now called the FIFA U-17 World Cup), with Brazil winning the championship in 2003 and Mexico taking the crown last year. Portugal last competed in the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship finishing in eighth place.