Nike’s “The Chance” global soccer competition means exactly what the name states: a chance for some of the top youth soccer players to get noticed by the best scouts and coaches in the world for the opportunity to advance to the professional ranks.
The Chance launched in 2010 with 40 countries involved. In 2012, the USA is a part of the scene for the first time and the search has included approximately 55 countries.
The competition has reached the Global Finals in Barcelona, where four U.S. players were invited among the final 100. Two U.S. Soccer Development Academy players made the first cut that reduced the field to 52 – Brian Iloski of the San Diego Surf and Bryan Windsor of the Colorado Rapids. Iloski then made the next cut as the field was whittled down to 26, and he assisted a goal during his team's 3-2 victory in the final match.
Here is a quick rundown about the competition:
Sweet 16: The Global Finals conclude on Saturday, Aug. 25, as 16 players will be selected to participate in an international tour at the Nike Academy Residency program for a six-week stretch that includes academy competition against the likes of Manchester United and Juventus.
Nike Academy Residency: One winner will be selected among the final 16 to the UK-based Nike Academy Residency program, which has a partnership with the English Premier League. The paid contract would include multiple fixtures against Premier League reserve teams and other professional clubs, with the opportunity to be seen by a number of coaches.
Getting Recognized: A big part of the initial recognition among interested participants was “Get Noticed Events” where clubs had the ability to create a team Facebook page where friends and teammates could generate social chatter and create enough noise to entice Nike to send a scout to come watch the team train. This element was also a part of the 2010 Chance, but has grown significantly for the 2012 competition. More than 100,000 players registered worldwide to take part in the social aspect of The Chance campaign this year.
U.S. Journey: Through open call events in five metropolitan areas in the U.S. (Dallas; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; New York/New Jersey; Chicago), scouts and U.S. Soccer Technical Advisors narrowed down a 48-player group to its National Finals, where then four USA players advanced to the Global Finals in Barcelona.
Global Mix: Through these final stages, participants are mixed among players from at least 10 countries when they break into 16-player training sessions, helping players grow and experience various styles of play.
Professional Boost: In 2010, the majority of The Chance participants who went into the Nike Academy have signed first division professional contracts.
- The Chance U.S. Finalists: Global Finals in Barcelona: Brian Iloski
- The Chance U.S. Finalists: Global Finals in Barcelona: Bryan Windsor
- The Chance U.S. Finals: Pro Training
- The Chance: Open Call Rewind
- Inside The Chance U.S. Finals
- The Chance Global Finals 2012: The Final 100 Arrive
- The Chance Global Finals 2012: Setting the Standard
For more about The Chance, visit nike.com, and continue to follow ussoccer.com for future updates on Development Academy players Brian Iloski and Bryan Windsor.