U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team coach Richie Williams comments on the team’s defenders and goalkeepers for the 2012 Nike International Friendlies.
On defender Conor Donovan: “Conor wasn’t playing as much last semester – he was in more of a reserve role for us because of the emergence of Tommy Redding and Tyler Turner. But Conor hung in there and he worked very hard. He shows up every day and has leadership qualities. Even when things weren’t going great for him in terms of playing all the time, he still showed up and worked hard and was positive. He was rewarded by it and over the last two or three months he’s been one of our top defenders and one of the top center backs on the team. He keeps developing and keeps getting better and we keep working with him. That’s the attitude that we want to have here.”
On goalkeeper Evan Louro: “It’s great to see the Development Academy every year getting better. Credit to the New York Red Bulls for doing a good job in terms of their youth club and to win the championship and Evan being a big part of that in the goal, that’s just another way for him to get better in his development, whether he’s here with us in Residency or back home with the New York Red Bulls. Every opportunity he has to be playing games and training will make him a better player.”
JORDAN CANO, Defender
Birthdate: March 13, 1996
Hometown: Richardson, Texas
2012 Highlights: Cano earned his first call up to the U-17 Men’s National Team for the Copa Saprissa Internacional tournament in Costa Rica in June, earning starts against Chorrillo FC and Universidad Catolica. He later participated in a July training camp with the team. The defender was one of several FC Dallas U-15/16 players to earn All-Central Conference honors following the 2011-12 season. This season, Cano has appeared in six matches, all starts, for the undefeated FC Dallas U-15/16 side.
Previous Years: Cano started and played in 28 games, scoring one goal for FC Dallas U-15/16 during the 2011-12 Development Academy season.
PAUL CHRISTENSEN, Goalkeeper
Birthdate: April 15, 1996
Hometown: Woodinville, Wash.
2012 Highlights: The Washington native has been a consistent presence in the goalkeeping rotation for the U-17 MNT since the 2011 Fall Semester. Christensen started two of the three matches (only missing the second match against Turkey) during the 2011 Nike International Friendlies and has maintained his presence in the rotation during 2012, splitting time in goal with Evan Louro and Jeff Caldwell. Christensen has backstopped the U-17s during a handful of shutouts this year, including twice against the United Arab Emirates (April 3 and Sept. 30). He and Louro also shared a clean sheet against the Houston Dynamo Academy on May 10.
Previous Years: Christensen is a member of the Seattle Sounders FC Academy U-15/16 team and commands the net when he’s not with the U-17 Men’s National Team. This year’s Nike International Friendlies will be the goalkeeper’s second time in the competition.
CONOR DONOVAN, Defender
Birthdate: Jan. 8, 1996
Hometown: Fuquay Varina, N.C.
2012 Highlights: Donovan is one of the most consistent defenders on the U-17 Men’s National Team. The 6-foot-1, 16-year-old has traveled with the team on nearly every international trip during the 2012 calendar year. Donovan has scored twice this year, first against Denmark in a 3-2 win on Jan. 18 at the Aegean Cup in Turkey and again on Oct. 21 in a 3-1 win against Uruguay in an international friendly.
Previous Years: The defender emerged as a starter during the 2011 Nike International Friendlies, playing the full 90 minutes in all three matches as the U.S. won the tournament for the first time. In the past, he has played his club soccer with North Carolina Alliance.
EVAN LOURO, Goalkeeper
Birthdate: Jan. 19, 1996
Hometown: South River, N.J.
2012 Highlights: An imposing figure in the net, Louro has been a key part of the goalkeeping rotation with the U-17 MNT since joining the Residency Program in the 2011 Fall Semester. In addition to participating in the 2012 Aegean Cup in Turkey and the Mondial Minimes in France, Louro featured for the team during the Copa Saprissa Internacional in Costa Rica during late June. The 6-foot-2 ‘keeper helped lead the New York Red Bulls U-15/16 Academy team to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy title in July.
Previous Years: Louro ascended the Youth National Team ladder starting at the U-14 BNT level and advanced to the U-15 BNT before earning a spot with the U-17 MNT. Louro began his stint with the Red Bulls during the 2009-10 season as a developmental player.
ELIJAH MARTIN, Defender
Birthdate: July 4, 1996
Hometown: Fresno, Calif.
2012 Highlights: The California native has worked his way into a consistent role with the U-17 MNT this year, appearing in the Mondial Minimes in France, the Copa Saprissa Internacional in Costa Rica, the AGS Cup in Spain and the Four-Nations Tournament in Argentina. Martin scored his first goal of the year in a 3-0 win against Linafa on June 23 in Costa Rica.
Previous Years: Martin joined the U-17 Residency Program in the 2011 Fall Semester and has solidly worked his way into a featured role for the team. In the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, Martin made four appearances for Cal Odyssey and scored one goal during the 2011-12 season. In the 2010-11 season Martin made 23 appearances and scored three goals for Cal Odyssey’s U-15/16 side. As a development player in 2009-10, Martin made three appearances for the team.
SHAQUELL MOORE, Defender
Birthdate: Nov. 2, 1996
Hometown: Powder Springs, Ga.
2012 Highlights: A no-nonsense defender, Shaquell Moore is the captain of the U-17 MNT and leads through his tireless work ethic and dogged determination. Possessing a calm demeanor on the ball with either foot, Moore first entered the U-17 Residency Program listed as a midfielder for the 2011 Fall Semester, but has cemented himself as one of the best defenders on the team – first as a right back, then as a center back. The 2012 U.S. Soccer Young Male Athlete of the Year Nominee has scored two goals this year, both from the penalty spot.
Previous Years: The son of Trinidadian parents, Moore previously played his club soccer for Cobb FC in Georgia.
JOHN REQUEJO, JR., Defender
Birthdate: May 23, 1996
Hometown: Carpinteria, Calif.
2012 Highlights: Requejo Jr., started at the U-17 Residency Program in the 2011 Fall Semester and has worked his way into being a top option in defense for head coach Richie Williams. Not known as a goal scorer, Requejo Jr. netted his first career U-17 MNT goal on June 25 during a 3-2 win against Costa Rica at the Copa Saprissa Internacional tournament. The California native finished a pass from Shaquell Moore to give the USA a 2-0 lead in the match.
Previous Years: The defender played just once for club team Real So Cal during the 2011-12 U.S. Soccer Development Academy season due to U-17 MNT duties. During the last two years, Requejo Jr., has been a standout on the U-14 and U-15 BNT levels.
PETER SCHROPP, Defender
Birthdate: Jan. 20, 1997
Hometown: Omaha, Neb.
2012 Highlights: The only representative from Nebraska in the U-17 Residency Program, Schropp is one of the younger players on the team and comes to the squad with considerable experience with the U-14 and U-15 BNT. Schropp was part of the U-15 BNT team that went to the Netherlands at the end of May and quickly earned a call into a July training camp with the U-17s. Schropp has made just one appearance for the U-17 MNT so far, playing 90 minutes against the Crew Soccer Academy on Sept. 10 in Columbus, Ohio.
Previous Years: Schropp has been a fixture for the U-14 and U-15 BNT prior to joining the U-17 MNT and he previously played his club soccer with Omaha FC in Nebraska.