Farfan Twins Go to Peru with the U.S. U-17s (Sept 2005)

9/16/2005

U.S. U-17s: The Peru 20
9/16/2005 1:24:00 AM

Coach John Hackworth picked 20 players to represent the United States at the 2005 Under-17 World Championship in Peru. It marked the 11th straight trip to the world championships at this age level for the United States, the only country to participate every time.

By Paul Kennedy, Managing Editor
Soccer America Magazine


Kevin Alston
(Potomac Cougars)

Took up soccer at 6 in Maryland, where he recalls his first rec team wore orange shirts and white socks. ''I thought that was cool,'' he told the Washington Post in 2003 after being picked to join U-17 program. He's been a fixture in U-17 lineup at right back since first international match of current cycle.

Josmer Altidore
(Boca Juniors)

Dr. Josef Schulz, his coach at Florida's Boca Juniors, says Altidore will have more tools than Freddy Adu when they're both 20. The only 15-year-old selected to go to Peru, he won spot after big showing at a U-16 Japanese tournament in August. He first dreamed of playing for the USA when he was 5.

David Arvizu
(Pateadores)

Like most of his U-17 teammates, Arvizu didn't have much of an opportunity to enjoy high school in his hometown of Santa Ana, Calif. He enrolled in the Bradenton residency program last fall after his freshman year. Won starting job as withdrawn striker not long after joining U-17s.


Nik Besagno
(Real Salt Lake)

It wasn't a great summer for Besagno, selected as the No. 1 pick by Real Salt Lake in the 2005 MLS SuperDraft. He played only one game for RSL and appeared to have lost his U-17 starting job as holding midfielder. RSL coach John Ellinger had FC United (Wash.) product for eight months with U-17s.

Gabriel Farfan
(Nomads)

As U-11s, Gabriel and twin brother Michael left their team in Chula Vista, Calif., near the Mexico border, to join the famous Nomads program in fashionable La Jolla, north of San Diego. They're the first twins to attend U.S. Soccer residency and make the World Championship roster.

Michael Farfan
(Nomads)

Michael and twin Gabriel made the U.S. roster for the U-17 World Championship after failing to make the team that participated in CONCACAF qualifying. Michael was even challenging for a starting job as holding midfielder after a sensational summer. The Farfans will attend Cal State Fullerton.


Omar Gonzalez
(Dallas Texans)

He goes by ''The Big O'' or ''Jolly Green Giant'' - and for reason. At 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, Gonzalez is the biggest attacking player in the U.S. national team program at any level. He also excelled at football, making all-district as a punter last fall at Skyline High School. Moved to Bradenton soon thereafter.

Jeremy Hall
(HC United)

Hall, converted from forward to midfielder, admits the U-17 program isn't easy. ''There are a lot of rules,'' he told the St. Petersburg Times. ''It's very strict. And there aren't many pretty girls around.'' HC United sent three players to Peru '05. A fourth HCU player, Eddie Ababio, played in qualifying.

Amaechi Igwe
(Santa Clara Sporting)

Ameachi, a starting defender, comes from the famous Igwe soccer family in Northern California. Father Tony, now a coach, played for Nigeria before attending the University of San Francisco. Older brother Kelechi plays for Santa Clara. Older sister Chioma played for the U.S. U-19s and attends Cal.

Daniel Kelly
(TNFC)

Kelly, who hails from the Nashville suburb of Hendersonville, had never traveled abroad before an '89 USYSA ODP trip to Argentina in February. A strong showing there caught the attention of the U.S, U-17 staff, who brought the midfielder in for a look after CONCACAF qualifying was finished.

Quavas Kirk
(Los Angeles Galaxy)

Scored 16 goals early in 2005 before breaking a foot on the eve of qualifying. ''It's something you don't want to go through,'' he says, ''but I tried to take it the right way.'' He's one of three Chicago Magic players, along with Ofori Sarkodie and Eric Lichaj (currently sidelined), to take on key roles in current class.

Kyle Nakazawa
(Irvine Strikers)

Beat out several other players to win starting spot at attacking midfielder. One of 10 players to have been part of residency program for entire two-year cycle. At 5-foot-6 and 130 pounds, the smallest player on the U-17 world championship team. His role models? Parents Alan and Chris and Ronaldinho.

Brian Perk
(Pateadores)

Admits he was nervous leaving his family and his life in Santa Margarita, Calif., to enter the residency program in fall 2004. He was an avid surfer until soccer began taking up too much time. He rebounded from being cut from his regional team to later make U-17s. Only '89 on qualifying roster.

Diego Restrepo
(HC United)

Restrepo took up goalkeeping only three years ago, filling in when the goalie on his West Palm Beach, Fla., middle school team was hurt. U.S. Soccer staff coach Juan Carlos Michia spotted Restrepo at the 2004 Disney's Soccer Showcase. He beat out two U-17 residents for third goalie spot.

Bryant Rueckner
(Paris St. Germain)

The Southern California boys soccer hotbed has clubs named Arsenal FC, FC Barcelona and Paris St. Germain FC. The latter produced Rueckner, who entered U-17 residency in September 2003 and won the starting job in goal by his second semester. Will enroll at UCLA when he finishes U-17 program.

Ofori Sarkodie
(Chicago Magic)

Center back was born Kwame Ofori Sarkodie to Ghanaian parents but goes by Ofori because older brother, a college player at Cincinnati, is also named Kwame. (Ashanti tribe names anyone born on Saturday Kwame.) As the second oldest, Ofori, the U-17 captain, is a prince in Ashanti custom.

Ryan Soroka
(FC Delco)

''Roka'' has been one of the U-17s' main men since entering residency in fall 2003 out of Pennsylvania's FC Delco program. Winger entered the final stages of preparations with a team-high 31 caps. Will play for St. John's University next season. Younger brother Kyle has played with U.S. U-14s.

Neven Subotic
(Manatee Magic)

His family moved to Bradenton, so older sister Natalija could attend tennis program at IMG Academy. At 6-foot-4, Neven wasn't hard to miss hanging around Bradenton. He played only game for U-17s in 2004 but made the squad that traveled to Costa Rica for qualifying. Usually plays in the back.

Blake Wagner
(HC United)

Wagner is an example of the value of versatility. He entered the U.S. residency program from the nearby HC United in fall 2003 as a midfielder but only earned a starting job in the back at the end of qualifying. Will return home to Tampa after qualifying and attend South Florida, where brother Brett plays.

Preston Zimmerman
(Crossfire Premier)

Physical required to attend a U-14 national camp in 2002 may have saved his life. The Pasco, Wash., product was diagnosed having a rare and potentially fatal heart condition that required surgery. Zimmerman, who will play for Duke, became the top-rated U-17 forward because of his all-out commitment.

Coach John Hackworth picked 20 players to represent the United States at the 2005 Under-17 World Championship in Peru. It marked the 11th straight trip to the world championships at this age level for the United States, the only country to participate every time.By Paul Kennedy, Managing EditorSoccer America MagazineTook up soccer at 6 in Maryland, where he recalls his first rec team wore orange shirts and white socks. ''I thought that was cool,'' he told the Washington Post in 2003 after being picked to join U-17 program. He's been a fixture in U-17 lineup at right back since first international match of current cycle.Dr. Josef Schulz, his coach at Florida's Boca Juniors, says Altidore will have more tools than Freddy Adu when they're both 20. The only 15-year-old selected to go to Peru, he won spot after big showing at a U-16 Japanese tournament in August. He first dreamed of playing for the USA when he was 5.Like most of his U-17 teammates, Arvizu didn't have much of an opportunity to enjoy high school in his hometown of Santa Ana, Calif. He enrolled in the Bradenton residency program last fall after his freshman year. Won starting job as withdrawn striker not long after joining U-17s.It wasn't a great summer for Besagno, selected as the No. 1 pick by Real Salt Lake in the 2005 MLS SuperDraft. He played only one game for RSL and appeared to have lost his U-17 starting job as holding midfielder. RSL coach John Ellinger had FC United (Wash.) product for eight months with U-17s.He goes by ''The Big O'' or ''Jolly Green Giant'' - and for reason. At 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, Gonzalez is the biggest attacking player in the U.S. national team program at any level. He also excelled at football, making all-district as a punter last fall at Skyline High School. Moved to Bradenton soon thereafter.Hall, converted from forward to midfielder, admits the U-17 program isn't easy. ''There are a lot of rules,'' he told the St. Petersburg Times. ''It's very strict. And there aren't many pretty girls around.'' HC United sent three players to Peru '05. A fourth HCU player, Eddie Ababio, played in qualifying.Ameachi, a starting defender, comes from the famous Igwe soccer family in Northern California. Father Tony, now a coach, played for Nigeria before attending the University of San Francisco. Older brother Kelechi plays for Santa Clara. Older sister Chioma played for the U.S. U-19s and attends Cal.Kelly, who hails from the Nashville suburb of Hendersonville, had never traveled abroad before an '89 USYSA ODP trip to Argentina in February. A strong showing there caught the attention of the U.S, U-17 staff, who brought the midfielder in for a look after CONCACAF qualifying was finished.Scored 16 goals early in 2005 before breaking a foot on the eve of qualifying. ''It's something you don't want to go through,'' he says, ''but I tried to take it the right way.'' He's one of three Chicago Magic players, along with Ofori Sarkodie and Eric Lichaj (currently sidelined), to take on key roles in current class.Beat out several other players to win starting spot at attacking midfielder. One of 10 players to have been part of residency program for entire two-year cycle. At 5-foot-6 and 130 pounds, the smallest player on the U-17 world championship team. His role models? Parents Alan and Chris and Ronaldinho.Admits he was nervous leaving his family and his life in Santa Margarita, Calif., to enter the residency program in fall 2004. He was an avid surfer until soccer began taking up too much time. He rebounded from being cut from his regional team to later make U-17s. Only '89 on qualifying roster.Restrepo took up goalkeeping only three years ago, filling in when the goalie on his West Palm Beach, Fla., middle school team was hurt. U.S. Soccer staff coach Juan Carlos Michia spotted Restrepo at the 2004 Disney's Soccer Showcase. He beat out two U-17 residents for third goalie spot.The Southern California boys soccer hotbed has clubs named Arsenal FC, FC Barcelona and Paris St. Germain FC. The latter produced Rueckner, who entered U-17 residency in September 2003 and won the starting job in goal by his second semester. Will enroll at UCLA when he finishes U-17 program.Center back was born Kwame Ofori Sarkodie to Ghanaian parents but goes by Ofori because older brother, a college player at Cincinnati, is also named Kwame. (Ashanti tribe names anyone born on Saturday Kwame.) As the second oldest, Ofori, the U-17 captain, is a prince in Ashanti custom.''Roka'' has been one of the U-17s' main men since entering residency in fall 2003 out of Pennsylvania's FC Delco program. Winger entered the final stages of preparations with a team-high 31 caps. Will play for St. John's University next season. Younger brother Kyle has played with U.S. U-14s.His family moved to Bradenton, so older sister Natalija could attend tennis program at IMG Academy. At 6-foot-4, Neven wasn't hard to miss hanging around Bradenton. He played only game for U-17s in 2004 but made the squad that traveled to Costa Rica for qualifying. Usually plays in the back.Wagner is an example of the value of versatility. He entered the U.S. residency program from the nearby HC United in fall 2003 as a midfielder but only earned a starting job in the back at the end of qualifying. Will return home to Tampa after qualifying and attend South Florida, where brother Brett plays.Physical required to attend a U-14 national camp in 2002 may have saved his life. The Pasco, Wash., product was diagnosed having a rare and potentially fatal heart condition that required surgery. Zimmerman, who will play for Duke, became the top-rated U-17 forward because of his all-out commitment.

(From the Sept. 26 issue of Soccer America Magazine)