Zoe Cuneio, from SLSG Missouri U15 ECNL team, recently received the call into the U.S. Soccer U15 National Team Training Camp in Carson, California. This camp was the first of the year for the U15 YNT, and consisted of 34 players, all born in 2005. The camp took place March 2-8 at the U.S. Soccer National Training Center in Carson, California, and was run by Sean Nahas. This age group will be used to form the core group of players who will be competing to qualify for the 2022 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup. When asked about her experience, Cuneio had the following to say: “It was an amazing experience, there was so much to take in. A real honor to have the opportunity to play with the top U15 girls in the country. We worked on all aspects of the game allowing me to see the level of play I’m working towards. I was able to learn what I need to improve on to continue my journey, to be able to compete against the best U15 players in the world.”
Three other players from the ECNL Program were called into the U.S. U14 Girls Central Regional Mini-Camp. The camp was held in Dallas, Texas, March 4-8, and was comprised of 62 players from around the country. Goalkeeper Taylor Gardner, defender Maison Smith, and midfielder Grace Restovich received the call into camp, overseen by U.S. Soccer Talent ID Mangers and designed to discover and introduce a larger base of top talents at the U14 age group into the scouting funnel for the older U15-U20 Youth National Teams. The program starts with the in-market scouting process as players are continually being evaluated and monitored in games, and top talents are selected to attend YNT Identification Centers. These Identification Centers are held in 25 key markets nationwide and will be directed by US Soccer Talent ID Managers and YNT Program Scouts. More than 600 top talents will be gathered each year in the U-14 and U-15 age groups through the Identification Centers.
Each of the players had the following to say about camp and their experiences:
Smith- “It was an honor to be invited to play with amazing athletes and coaches. Soccer isn’t just a game, it’s a lifestyle and the opportunity to experience it at such a high level was incredibly valuable and important for my game.”
Restovich- “The U.S. Soccer mini-camp was an amazing experience. I met some great coaches and players throughout the camp. Through the classroom training and the training on the field, I really feel like I grew as a player and a person. I am so grateful that I had this opportunity! “
Gardner- “Being rostered for the U14 USYNT Central Mini Camp was a dream come true. We set goals for ourselves, we learned a lot, we competed, and we grew as people, players and as teammates. I'm so grateful to US Soccer & SLSG for the opportunity.”
Jordan Gary, from the SLSG IL U16 ECNL team, was invited into the ICC Futures Tournament this past winter for the 2005 age group. Jordan’s performance at ICC won her the Golden Boot award, which played a huge role in her invitation to the ID2 National Selection International Tournament. Due to the current climate surrounding COVID-19, the ID2 UK International Tour has been postponed until later this fall. This will be the first time the girls id2 Program will travel internationally, and the tour will begin with domestic camp in New Jersey, followed by a trip to England where the girls’ team will play friendlies in Manchester and London. While the timing of the Pandemic has put a damper on the trip, Jordan couldn’t be more excited about getting to take this trip in the fall. “I am looking forward to experiencing the game of soccer in a different country, and to meet and play with girls who share the same passion for the game as me. I am beyond blessed and thankful for the opportunity to represent my country. It means a lot to me to get picked for this trip. Soccer has been such a key part of my life, and it’s awesome to see all the time and work put into it pay off. On top of that, it is more motivation to continue that work into the game I am so passionate about.”
SLSG Girls had two other players recognized for their efforts on the field with an invite into id2 Training Camp in Melbourne, Florida, February 27th- March 1st. Caroline Birkel and Tasneem Dizdarevic were both invited into the first id2 camp of the year targeting the 2006 age group. The id2 Program includes three id22 Training Camps per year, and id2 National Selection programming for boys and girls at targeted age group cycles, which are aligned with US Soccer Federation youth national team scouting priorities. Birkel said, “The experience I had at ID2 was amazing. The coaches were truly some of the best in the country, and it was quite obvious because everyone including me progressed so much through the camp. They could easily relate to you, and help you adjust to their style of play. It was also just really cool to see so many different players who all want to be the best from all around the country. And it wasn’t just the coaches who made the camp so amazing, the staff both at the hotel and the fields were so nice and always treated us with a smile. Overall the experience was very unique, and it gave us a great perspective for our future.”
In addition to ID2, Tasneem Dizdarevic just recently returned home from International camp with the U15 team of Bosnia- Herzegovina. The U15 team participated in mini preparations at the Football Federation Training Center in Zenica from January 20th-23rd. Head coach Ilija Lucić says of this team’s campaign: “At this gathering, the girls will do 5 training sessions, and on the last day anthropological testing will be done, as was done at all camps this winter. We are increasingly working to monitor young players. In addition to the gathering of the U-15 team, we also monitor the players through regional gatherings, all of which are very important for the further development of women’s football in our country.”
In an interview with youth selection coach Ilija Lucić Murat Alibašić (director of US Soccer education in the United States) we were informed that the coach Lucić was impressed and happy with Tasneem’s trainings, performances and games, and Tasneem would certainly be invited for the Bosnian National Team.
Tasneem will be invited in May for two national games. The schedule for the matches will be released soon and she will play in Montenegro and Macedonia. After those two games in the fall, she will be invited to the qualifying tournament in Slovenia.
On her experience, Tasneem had to say, “It was definitely something different. Bosnia is all the way on the other side of the world so nothing I expected. It was honestly the best experience of my life, other than when we made it to nationals. I felt great to be included in both the camps because it’s for some of the top players in your state, and it was a big accomplishment I thought I’d never get to. It impacted me in a very good way because my confidence is at a level it’s never been before, and it just motivated me to work harder and never stop until I reach the end. I’ll use this experience to help my current team by basically telling them all of the things, basically all the helpful hints.”
“I’m so proud for our young ladies who were given an amazing opportunity to go into different soccer environments and be tested against some of the best players in the country and oversees,” said Missouri ECNL Director Ralph Richards. "I am very thankful and grateful to U.S. Soccer and U.S. Club Soccer identification staff and coaching staff for recognizing in their talents; and providing these young ladies with memories that will last a lifetime and hopefully motivate the girls to continue to improve.”
SLSG IL Program Director Shawn Hewitt said, "We are extremely proud of the girls’ continued to commitment to their development. It is great to have their hard work and dedication to the sport they love recognized on a national scale. To achieve these opportunities is inspiring to all the athletes both inside and outside of the club. I have had the pleasure of working with Jordan over these past 6 years. Her relentless pursuit and desire to improve is seen every time she steps on the field. I am excited for Jordan and this international opportunity with the US Club ID2 program."
Congratulations to all players for the recognition of the work on and off the field. The club and staff are so proud and look forward to seeing continued growth through the years to come.