January 27, 2003-Dallas, Texas
The DALLAS CUP-U.S.A. NATIONAL TEAM-WORLD CUP FINALS. A progression that the following young American soccer players, Landon Donovan, Joe-Max Moore, John O Brien, Brian McBride, Claudio Reyna, DaMarcus Beasleyhave all made in their young soccer careers. For many of them, the Dallas Cup was their first opportunity to play against European, Central and South American teams and to experience the different styles of soccer from around the World, experience that has assisted them in their development to International soccer at its highest level.
In 1999, John Ellinger, U.S. Under-17 Mens National team coach, made the decision to bring his young team to Dallas Cup XX in preparation for the FIFA U17 World Championships that were to be held in New Zealand later that year. With teams from Brazil, Mexico, England, Germany, The Netherlands, and Colombia competing---this would give the players a series of games against top class International teams and more importantly expose them to the various styles of play that they would encounter in New Zealand.
As is now known, the team beat New Zealand, drew with Poland, beat Uruguay, and then beat Mexico in the quarterfinals to advance to the semifinals, where they lost to Australia in a penalty kick shootout. This was the top finish for the U.S. Under-17 Mens National team in the FIFA Under-17 World Championship. Added bonuses to this accomplishment were the awards to Landon Donovan of The Golden Ball Award, and to DaMarcus Beasley, The Silver Ball Award, both for outstanding play throughout the tournament. Both players are now stars in Major League Soccer and members of the successful U.S. World Cup team in Japan 2002.
With the 2003 FIFA U17 World Championships due to be played in Finland in August, Coach Ellinger has again decided to bring his team to Dallas Cup XXIV to play in the Super Group Tournament. With SL BENFICA (Portugal), RIO GRANDE do Sul (Brazil), NEWCASTLE UTD (England), DEPORTIVO SAPRISSA (Costa Rica) and other top international teams as potential opponents, they will gain valuable experience for the ultimate test in Finland. Ten members of Coach Ellingers squad have already played for their club teams in previous Dallas Cup Tournaments, and now come together as part of the top thirty U17 players in the nation, which is an honor for each of these young men.
The players on the U.S. Under- 17 Mens National team that have played in previous Dallas Cup Tournaments with their club teams are as follows: Michael Bradley, Brandon Owens, Chase Wileman, Jamie Watson, Drew Harrison, Steve Curfman, Christian Jimenez, Chris Germani, Adrian Chevannes, and Kyle Helton.
Will it be their first step on the road to senior international selection and to World Cup Finals in the future? Will they follow the path of Claudio Reyna, Landon Donovan and Brian McBride from the Dallas Cup to the ultimate Soccer Championships, the World Cup Finals? Only time will tell, but on April 13, 2003, the members of the U.S. U17 team will take the first step on that path to success when they compete in Dallas Cup XXIV. We wish each of them success and enjoyment in soccer in the years ahead.
Gordon Jago, Executive Director