Whitecaps FC Academy goalkeeper Chituru Odunze has been called up to the United States U-17 men's national team for the upcoming Nike International Friendlies. The 6-foot-7 goalkeeper will join the squad for the matches held at the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch, Florida from November 28 to December 2.
The event is held annually in conjunction with the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase, which brings together every Academy club from across the country for a series of highly-competitive matches. Whitecaps FC U-19 and U-17 teams will be participating in the Winter Showcase.
The four-team Nike International Friendlies tournament will feature the USA, Brazil, Portugal and Turkey. The USA kicks things off against Portugal on Wednesday, Nov. 28 (3:30 p.m. PT), takes on Turkey on Friday, Nov. 30 (3:30 p.m. PT) and wraps up versus Brazil on Sunday, Dec. 2 (2:30 p.m. PT). All tournament matches will be streamed live on ussoccer.com, Facebook and YouTube.
This year’s Nike International Friendlies will feature players born on or after Jan. 1, 2002, the age cut-off date for the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup, to be held in Peru in Oct. 2019. It will serve as important preparation as all four nations attempt to qualify for the World Cup next spring.
2018 Nike International Friendlies Roster by Position (Club or College; Hometown; Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Trace Alphin (North Carolina FC; Raleigh, N.C.; 0/0), Damian Las (Chicago Fire; Norridge, Ill.; 11/0), Chituru Odunze (Vancouver Whitecaps FC/CAN; Calgary, Alberta; 3/0)
DEFENDERS (8): Axel Alejandre (FC United; Chicago, Ill.; 12/0), Adam Armour (North Carolina FC; Cary, N.C.; 8/0), Sebastian Falsone (Virginia Development Academy; Warrenton, Va.; 0/0), Jonathan Gomez (FC Dallas; Keller, Texas; 0/0), Tayvon Gray (New York City FC; Bronx, N.Y.; 7/0), Kobe Hernandez (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.; 11/1), Mason Judge (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER; Tampa, Fla.; 10/0), Joe Scally (New York City FC; Lake Grove, N.Y.; 11/1)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Masango Akale (Minnesota Thunder Academy; Minneapolis, Minn.; 0/0), Andre Luiz Costa (Rayo Vallecano/ESP; Madrid, Spain; 0/0), William Reilly (Atlanta United FC; Decatur, Ga.; 2/0), Giovanni Reyna (Unattached; Bedford, N.Y.; 5/1), Adam Saldana (LA Galaxy; Panorama City, Calif.; 14/1), Peter Stroud (West Ham United/ENG; Chester, N.J.; 12/0)
FORWARDS (7): Cameron Dunbar (LA Galaxy;Chula Vista, Calif.; 0/0), Ruben Hernandez (Club Leon/MEX; Manteca, Calif.; 0/0), Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (Seattle Sounders FC; Kent, Wash.; 12/5), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; McKinney, Texas; 3/0), Daniel Robles (Seattle Sounders FC; White Center, Wash.; 5/0), Alex Villanueva (Seattle Sounders FC; Maple Valley, Wash.; 0/0), Griffin Yow (D.C. United; Clifton, Va.; 3/2)
2018 Nike International Friendlies Schedule
Started in 2001, and adopting their current format in 2008, the Nike International Friendlies were founded to provided top-level competition for the U-17 MNT and stand as one of the premier annual events on the youth soccer calendar. Seven players on the latest senior Men’s National Team roster competed at the Nike International Friendlies: Kellyn Acosta, Tyler Adams, Shaq Moore, Christian Pulisic, Josh Sargent, Luca de la Torre and Tim Weah, while the event has also seen international talent like Brazil’s Phillipe Coutinho, Neymar and Marcelo pass through the Premier Sports Campus.
The event is held annually in conjunction with the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase, which brings together every Academy club from across the country for a series of highly-competitive matches.
Eighteen players called to the U-17 MNT roster are currently competing in the 2018-19 Academy season, while 22 of 24 have spent time playing in the Academy. The USA will seek its first Nike Friendlies title since 2016, when the USA, featuring current MNT players Sargent and Weah, topped the same three teams that will feature in this year’s competition by a combined score of 15-2. The U.S. finished last year’s tournament 0-2-1 as it kicked off the cycle against England, Netherlands and Brazil, capping off the tournament with a spirited 1-1 draw versus the South Americans. Acting U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach Sean Tsakiris has called in a mix of experienced players and newcomers for the tournament. Sixteen of the 24 players that will represent the USA in Florida have been capped at this level, while eight are participating in their first training camp/event with the U-17s.
All three of the USA’s opponents are frequent foe sat the competition. Brazil has appeared at every edition of the tournament since it assumed its current format in 2008, and also sent teams in 2006 and 2007. Portugal and Turkey have appeared at the competition four of ten times since 2008, tied with England for second-most all-time.