LA Galaxy product Haji Wright is fresh off his five goal Golden Boot performance helping the U.S. Under-17's win the Nike International Friendlies.
Wright, Christian Pulisic, U-17 head coach Richie Williams, and goalkeeper Kevin Silva reacted to the U.S. performance following the Americans' 4-1 victory over Brazil in this video by U.S. Soccer.
Check it out below.
It’s been quite a week for LA Galaxy Academy forward Haji Wright.
The Galaxy Under-16 forward scored two goals during the U.S. 4-1 victory over Brazil to help the Americans win the Nike International Friendlies for a second year in a row. With his two goals against the Brazilians, Wright brought his total to five, taking home the tournament’s Nike Golden Boot.
It’s been quite a run this week for Wright who has started all three games in the tournament against the likes of Portugal, England and Brazil with a brace in each of the final two matches. Wright began the week scoring the lone goal in U.S. 2-1 defeat to Portugal, but then shined in the U.S. victory over England with a pair of second half finishes that helped the Americans win 5-1.
The forward added to his account twice against Brazil as he gave the U.S. the lead in the eighth minute with an unassisted strike off a counter attack. After the South Americans equalized, the U.S. scored twice to take a 3-1 lead before Wright added the final tally with a left-footed finish off a Joe Gallardo cross. While Wright won the Golden Boot, U.S. goalkeeper Kevin Silva won the tournament's Golden Gloves and Christian Pulisic earned the tournament's Most Valuable Player award.
Thoughts on Wright’s performance?
Share them below.
We discussed the recently retired Pablo Mastroeni’s career in part one of my Q&A with the veteran midfielder, but in part two, we look at his life after soccer and what he’ll be planning to do next as he looks to move on from the game that he's played for decades.
Read it below.
LAGI: “Going back to Colorado seems to be a natural move here especially with your family being unable to sell your home.”
“The word destiny is appropriate here. I’ve had my house on the market for the last six months and it sold once, then the people backed out and for whatever reason it didn’t sell. I just kept thinking that there was a reason for all this because at some point, you just have to heed the omens. For me, the kids love it, my wife loves it and I love it as well. I just thought that life would take me to different places, but it hasn’t. As long as it doesn’t sell, it looks like we’ll just stay in Colorado and it’s looking more and more like we’re just going to take the house off the market. That way we can settle in here as I go into the next phase of my career as I look to start a soccer school focusing on youth development without having to worry about results on the weekend. It’ll be a way to give back because I’ve had great coaches throughout my career that inspired me and now I want to put my own spin on [the game] to help develop young players in Colorado."
LAGI: “Have you had any conversations with the Colorado Rapids about working for their club academy?"
PM: "We haven’t had any conversations at the moment. I’d like to work with the Colorado Rapids in some capacity, but that’s the competitive side of soccer that says we’re an academy just like the Galaxy and we want to get results on the weekend. My mindset is that we sometimes put so much of a focus on winning at a young age that we miss some steps along the way. I think that we keep talking about how even though American soccer is growing; it’s not a powerhouse in the world. We have the greatest resources in the world, we have the greatest athletes in the world, and my view is that we only lack true player development where the focus is solely on developing players without the distraction of results. I think that kids do enjoy the competition which is great, but you see these soccer schools in Europe where there are many kids who are eight or nine and already destined for first team football. If you walk around the United States, you find maybe one six-year-old or five-year-old who can do that. Now I’m not saying we should train kids at age three, but just to put more focus on player development and supplement what they’re not getting from the clubs due to the focus on winning.”
LAGI: “What is going to be your philosophy for this soccer school?"
PM: "I don’t want to do what has been going on for the last number of years. I think the U.S. Soccer curriculum that Claudio Reyna put together is exceptional, but I want to take from my own experience and travels in order to figure out what we’re not doing [as a country]. If I just followed what everyone else is doing then we’re probably going to get the same results. I want to take the experiences that I learned and put together a different type of curriculum that focuses 100 percent on development and zero on results which I hope can produce more complete and talented soccer players.
"I believe that anything that you do in life that you’re good at becomes eventually much more fun. If you have complete dominion of the ball and are aware of the game, then the game will be that much more fun which will lead to greater success as the player moves into high school and onward. The other part for me is that it is something that you have to do many repetitions, but still keep it fun for the kids. I have a lot to carve out and think about but I really feel that it could be a nice thing for the youth to experience and get a leg up. I think that teaching the ages of six through 15 would be great.”
LAGI: "You've always been a reflective person so have you ever just thought about what the game of soccer has given you -- helping you meet your wife, allowing you to go to two World Cups. It's certainly been a ride."
PM: “I’ve pondered it quite a bit and it’s been so good to me because it kept me out of trouble in high school. I could have been different but I always went to training and it kept me in line. When you think about all that I’ve seen in my wife and kids. Plus, I hadn’t realized it until a couple years ago but my wife’s family and my family were still getting together for barbeques to watch my games so the game of soccer was a way that my extended family was able to stay together. That’s why I want to start this soccer school because kids would enjoy learning about these experiences that I’ve had while also coming to understand that the game of soccer really mimics the lessons that you learn in life.
LAGI: "Lastly, in just a few weeks your old teammates across the league will be returning to training for preseason while Pablo Mastroeni will be picking up his kids from school. What will that be like?"
PM: “I talked to quite a few guys while I was contemplating my retirement and one of them was [D.C. United head coach and former U.S. National Team player] Ben Olsen. He said ‘the best part of retirement is that you don’t have to go into preseason, you don’t have to train on Tuesday for a game on Saturday. You’re going to love your retirement.’ Now coming from a guy that took it as seriously as he did, it really helped drive it home. I need to find my competitive edge in something else and hopefully starting a soccer school will allow me to educate myself and gets my juices flowing. I know that there won’t be any substitute from being under the lights, at an opposing team’s stadium trying to get a result, and I know that I can’t mimic that. For me, it’ll be tough once the season gets going but for as far as preseason, I won’t miss that one bit.”
LA Galaxy Academy Forward Haji Wright continued his torrid scoring pace with the U.S. Under-17 with two goals in the U.S. Under-17’s 5-1 victory over England at the Nike International Friendlies in Florida.
Wright bagged two goals in the victory, but C.F. Monterrey Academy product Joe Gallardo was the hero with a hat trick against the English. Although Wright was one of the stars of the match, he was stretched off the field in the closing minutes after a hard challenge from an England defender. The U.S. will face Brazil – who tied Portugal 1-1 earlier on Wednesday—in the final match on Dec. 13 at 2 p.m. PT.
Wright wasn't the only success for the LA Galaxy Academy as LA’s Under-18’s defeated New Jersey’s Player Development Academy 2-0 with goals by Jaime Villarreal and Christian Chavez. The U-18's return to action on Dec. 12 against the FC Dallas Academy. Meanwhile, the LA Under-16's begin their participation in the tournament on Dec. 12 with a match against the Carolina RailHawks Academy.
Highlights of the U.S. victory over England are below.
The LA Galaxy Academy lost one of it's coaches on Wednesday as Under-14 head coach Greg Vanney left the position to be the Academy Director and Assistant General Manager with Toronto FC.
Vanney served as LA's U-14 head coach and Technical Director of LA Galaxy Academy partner club LA Galaxy South Bay earlier this year. The 39-year-old had previously served as an assistant coach and Academy technical director with Chivas USA as well as Director of Soccer Operations and Director of Real Salt Lake-Arizona Youth.
Vanney replaces former U.S. youth coach Tomas Rongen who had previously served as TFC's Academy Director.
LA Galaxy Academy forward Haji Wright scored in the U.S. Under-17's 2-1 defeat to Portugal at the Nike International Friendlies on Monday.
Wright scored in the 13th minute to give the U.S. a lead, but the Europeans quickly answered with a goal in the 27th minute to tie the score. Portugal took the lead for good in stoppage time to defeat the Americans.
The U.S. return to action on Wednesday against England who fell 2-1 to Brazil in their first match.
LA Galaxy Academy product Haji Wright has been called up for the U.S. Under-17's roster for the upcoming 2013 Nike International Friendlies.
U.S. U-17 head coach Richie Williams' 20-man group will face Portugal on Monday before matches against England on Dec. 11 and Brazil on Dec. 13 at the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood, Florida. It is Wright's second inclusion in the U.S. U-17 roster in less than a month as he took part in the nation's U-17's friendlies with Canada in November.
The roster includes eight players from California.
The complete roster is below...
GOALKEEPERS (2): William Pulisic (Richmond Strikers; Mechanicsville, Va.), Kevin Silva (PDA; Bethlehem, Pa.)
DEFENDERS (7): Hugo Arellano (Chivas USA Academy; Norwalk, Calif.), Daniel Barbir (Unattached; Allentown, Pa.), George Braima (Crew Soccer Academy; Columbus, Ohio), Edwin Lara (unattached; San Leandro, Calif.), John Nelson (Internationals; Medina, Ohio), Matthew Olosunde (New York Red Bulls Academy; Trenton, N.J.), Alexis Velela (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Eric Calvillo (Real So Cal; Palmdale, Calif.), Luca De La Torre (Fulham; San Diego, Calif.), Thomas McCabe (PDA; South Orange, N.J.), Logan Panchot (St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri; St. Louis, Mo), Brian Zelaya (De Anza Force; San Mateo, Calif.), Alejandro Zendejas (FC Dallas Academy; El Paso, Texas)
FORWARDS (5): Pierre Da Silva (New York Soccer Club; Port Chester, N.Y.), Joe Gallardo (Monterrey FC; San Diego, Calif.), Joshua Perez (unattached; La Habra, Calif.), Christian Pulisic (PA Classics; Hershey, Pa.), Haji Wright (LA Galaxy Academy); Los Angeles, Calif.
The LA Galaxy Academy Under-17/18 team continued their winning ways on Sunday with an impressive 3-0 victory over Nomads SC (La Jolla, Calif.) to extend their record to an impressive 6-1-2 mark after nine matches.
Forward Adonis Amaya tallied twice in victory with Bradford Jameison rounding out the scoring in LA’s victory. Amaya’s two goals brought his season total to 10 which moved him to the top of the U-17/18 Development Academy scoring charts.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy U-16 side is also enjoying plenty of success as they are 6-0-4 this season. The U-16’s played Nomads SC to a 1-1 draw last weekend with a goal from Dmitriy Zhuravlev. The U-16’s and the U-18’s will return to action in December when they travel to Florida for the Development Academy Showcase.
LA’s U-13/14 team are duplicating the success of their older groups with a 9-2-1 record including a 2-0 victory over Nomads SC last weekend off two goals from Jesus Nunez. The Galaxy Academy’s youngest Development Academy side concludes their 2013 slate this weekend when they face off against Albion SC on Dec. 7 and Los Angeles Futbol Academy on Dec. 8.
MLS will crown its champion this weekend while the NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament field will be dwindled to four.
Just eight remain in the tournament after a wild weekend that saw No. 1 ranked UCLA defeated by Connecticut in a thrilling penalty kick shoot out. LA Galaxy Academy products Grady Howe and Nathan Smith went all 110 minutes in the Bruins' surprising defeat. Connecticut will face Virginia with a berth in the College Cup on the line. Meanwhile UC Irvine, who boast Galaxy Academy defender Matt Tilley on their roster, fell 1-0 to Maryland.
Two Galaxy players will see their alma maters face off as the Hector Jimenez's California Golden Bears face off against the Maryland Terrapins -- who produced Galaxy players A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez and Robbie Rogers -- on Dec. 7 at Edwards Stadium in Berkeley.
The remaining matches will see Notre Dame face Michigan State and New Mexico taking on Washington.
PORTLAND, Ore.—While the first team trains in Portland, a pair of LA Galaxy academy members are off to Europe—one for good.
Academy defender Oscar Sorto will join Swedish second division club Hammarby on a two week training stint. The centerback –who was recently named to the US Soccer Developmental Academy West Division Best XI—joins a club coached by former Galaxy centerback Gregg Berhalter. Sorto made 24 appearances for the LA Galaxy U-17/18s as well as two in Reserve League play.
Meanwhile, Sorto heads to Sweden, his U-17/18 teammate, Mario Rodriguez has left the team to join German second division club 1. FC Kaiserslautern. Rodriguez— who was named to the U.S. Under-20 team for the Milk Cup tournament and appeared in the 2011 U-17 World Cup—made 21 appearances for the Galaxy U-17/18 side scoring seven goals. Rodriguez also made two appearances for the Galaxy reserves.
Following the Galaxy’s victory over Portland on Saturday, I caught up with Galaxy Vice President Chris Klein to discuss the moves. Klein, who served as the club’s Senior Director of the Academy before being named Vice President earlier this year also serves on the board of directors for the Swedish club.
Klein’s thoughts are below…
(On Sorto training at Hammarby)
“We just sent him over to Hammarby IF to train with Gregg [Berhalter], he’s one of the more promising players in our academy and with the relationship that we have with Hammarby, we thought it was good to get him over where while they’re on a break. They have a three week break over there and he can train with their first team and we’ll see how he does.”
“He’s going to be there for two weeks. It’s a two week period and after that two week period, we’ll re-evaluate the next stage of his development. College is still an option, signing and possibly a loan agreement is an option as well.”
(On Mario Rodriguez signing in Germany…)
“Mario Rodriguez is a player that we were very high on, but at the end of the day, we can’t sign all these players and that is one of the downsides of our Academy. He got a better offer than we could give him in Germany so we hope he does well. The reality is that we don’t own these players and it’s tough to keep them under your umbrella.”
*INSIDER Note: Klein references college being an option for Sorto; the centerback committed to CSU-Bakersfield in April.