COMMUNITY NEWS

Lakewood Ranch to Host 2016 Nike International Friendlies

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Lakewood Ranch

Sarasota, Florida

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Lakewood Ranch, FL (November 22, 2016) - The 2016 Nike International Friendlies and Development Academy Winter Showcase will be held from Nov. 30 to Dec. 5 at the Premier Sports Campus (PSC) in Lakewood Ranch.

Throughout this 14th edition of the Nike Friendlies, the U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team will take on their counterparts from Brazil, Portugal and Turkey. The U-17 MNT and its opponents will consist of players born in the year 2000 or after whose goal is to represent their countries at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India.

The format of the tournament includes three doubleheaders, with the USA match played in the evening of each match day. The U.S. will face Portugal on Nov. 30, Turkey on Dec. 2, and will close out the competition against Brazil on Dec. 4.

All matches will be streamed on ussoccer.com and U.S. Soccer’s YouTube page. The early game of the first two match days will kick off at 3:30 p.m., with the USA game following at 7 p.m. The third match day will feature a 1:30 kickoff for the first game, followed by the USA match at 5 p.m.

“The US Soccer’s Winter Showcase and the Nike International Friendlies is one of our key events and one of our main objectives has always been to provide the players and the fans with the best experience possible,” said Antonio Saviano, director of sports for the PSC.  “The addition of our new facilities, including the 3,500-seat stadium, will provide the players and fans alike with a more enjoyable experience. We wanted to build a stadium that allows team to feel at home when they play, and we believe we have accomplished our goal.

“The atmosphere in our stadium will be electrifying come November 30!”
The Development Academy Winter Showcase will once again take place alongside the Nike Friendlies at the PSC and will include 74 Under-15/16 and 72 Under-17/18 Academy clubs. There will be featured Academy games streamed live in addition to the Nike Friendlies, with the Dec. 1, 3, and 5 showcase matchups to be announced sometime in November on ussoccerda.com.

The USA won the Nike Friendlies in 2013 and was the runner-up in 2014, while England took home the championship most recently in 2015. Turkey and Portugal last attended the Nike Friendlies in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Brazil has attended the tournament every year since 2006, in addition to a 2003 appearance.

The Friendlies have featured a number of players throughout the years who went on to play for the senior MNT, including current stars Christian Pulisic, Jozy Altidore, and Michael Bradley. International players such as Brazil's Neymar and Marcelo, the Netherlands' Memphis Depay, and many others have also played in the well-regarded international tournament.

The current U.S. U-17 MNT Residency Roster, which trains in nearby Bradenton at IMG Academy, includes 32 players, 30 of whom have played for Development Academy Clubs. The finalized U.S. roster for the Nike Friendlies will be released at a later date.

The Nike Friendlies began in 2001 to provide top-level competition for Men's Youth National Teams, and has become a premier annual event for youth soccer. In 2008, U.S. Soccer's Development Academy Winter Showcase joined forces with the Nike Friendlies, and the combined event highlights the cohesion between the Development Academy Member Clubs and the Youth National Teams. In the 2015-‘16 cycle, 89% of all Youth National Team players were products of Development Academy clubs. The U.S. Scouting Network will include YNT staff, technical advisors and U.S. Soccer scouts who will cover each of the 219 Academy games to evaluate players from across the country at both combined age levels.

“We appreciate and value our relationship with US Soccer, which continues to provide great competition and an unbelievable exposure to our Lakewood Ranch community,” said Saviano. “The event is free and open to the public; we encourage everyone to come out and watch some great soccer.”

The 2016 Nike International Friendlies viewing schedule are as follows (kickoff times listed ET): Nov. 30 – Brazil vs. Turkey, 3:30 p.m.; USA vs. Portugal, 7 p.m. Dec. 2 – Portugal vs. Brazil, 3:30 p.m.; USA vs. Turkey, 7 p.m. Dec. 4 – Turkey vs. Portugal, 1:30 p.m.; USA vs. Brazil, 5 p.m.

The Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch is a multi-purpose facility that is home to 22 full-sized, mixed-use fields for soccer, lacrosse and other amateur sports, and features Celebration grass and underground irrigation. The complex is used for amateur and professional top-flight and world-class sporting tournaments, events, camps and clinics and is located in Lakewood Ranch – the 31,000-acre, award-winning master-planned community in Sarasota and Manatee counties on the West Coast of Florida.

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