Jordan Morris Heads to Germany; Friedel With U19s
January 05, 2016
THE NEW YEAR has brought a wave of significant news regarding United States youth international teams and players. New coaches have been hired and several key players are now on the verge of making moves. Here is the news from the past 24 hours.
Jordan Morris Story takes a twist
Sonora moves to Europe
One American who is going to move to Germany in 2015 is U.S. U-20 World Cup veteran Joel Sonora. According to Marca reporter Arch Bell, Sonora is moving from the youth system at Boca Juniors to Stuttgart, where he will likely play for the club’s U-23 team.
Boca Juniors and Stuttgart are both big clubs but they represent very different soccer cultures. Sonora is a typical Argentine player but moving to Germany will allow him to see the game from a different approach and philosophy. This move is likely going to enhance his development.
Pulisic travels with first team
The U.S. under-17 team suffered through a very poor performance at the 2015 World Cup this past fall but that did not affect Christian Pulisic—perhaps the most talented American-born teenager since Landon Donovan.
Pulisic, 17, is one of the top prospects at Borussia Dortmund and on Tuesday the powerful German club announced that the Hershey, Pa., native would travel with the first team during its winter break camp in Dubai.
It will be interesting to see how U.S. Soccer handles Pulisic and if it avoids the temptation to rush him through the system too quickly. Either way, this time next year it would hardly be surprising if we are talking about a player who has made a Bundesliga appearance for one of the best teams in the world.
New coaches for youth national teams
The end of 2015 brought about significant changes for many of the U.S. youth national teams. U.S. U-18 coach Javier Perez and U.S. U-17 coach Richie Williams both left their posts for assistant coaching positions in MLS. Over the holiday season, former Philadelphia Union coach John Hackworth took the U-17 job for the second time in his career.
On Monday longtime U.S. youth soccer coach Omid Namazi was hired to coach the U-18 team after most recently serving as an assistant to Tab Ramos for the U-20 team.
Most interesting, former U.S. goalkeeper and Fox Soccer commentator will lead the newly formed U-19 team, which begins play later this month.
“We are thrilled to bring on two guys who have such tremendous experience,” Klinsmann said via press release. “Brad Friedel played at the highest level for almost two decades, and his knowledge will be a huge benefit to our young players. Omid Namazi has not only been a professional player at all levels in the United States, he has worked as a coach both here and overseas which adds important perspective. They have both been assistant coaches in our youth national teams, so this is another important step in connecting the dots between our teams.”
Friedel and Namazi bring unique experiences into the equation but both will run teams that do not compete in major competitions. Instead, they will aim to prepare young players for the U-20 and U-23 teams and keep players involved in the system given the huge gap between the U-17 and U-20 levels.
Winning and losing is secondary at this level. The most important responsibility for Friedel and Namazi will be talent identification which requires a huge effort to comb through the various channels inside the United States and find the players who are ready to move up the ladder.
Brian Sciaretta is an American Soccer Now columnist and an ASN 100 panelist. Follow him on Twitter.