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    Steve Millar is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.
    Copyright © 2018, Daily Southtown

    Put Brooklyn Raines on a soccer field with the best youth players in the country, and the 13-year-old from Oak Lawn still manages to stand out. That much is evident when considering the odds Raines beat to make the U.S. Club Soccer id2 National Selection International Tour team.

    After 240 of the best 13- and 14-year-old club soccer players in the country were chosen and sent in groups of 60 to four regional camps, only 18 were picked for the team. Raines was one of them.

    “I was really excited,” Raines said. “There were a lot of great players and it was an honor to be picked for the team.”

    Raines, who attends Ridge Academy in Beverly and is a midfielder for Inter FC Chicago, traveled to Spain last month to represent the United States in the Mediterranean International Cup.

    “Spain is a really fun country to visit and getting to play there and represent my country was a great experience,” Raines said.

    The National Selection team trained and played in Barcelona, Girona and Platja d’Aro and finished 4-1 in tournament play.

    After going 3-0 in pool play, Raines scored a goal in a 3-0 win over CE Europa in the first round of the knockout stage.

    “That was the highlight for me,” Raines said. “I scored the first goal of the game, and that got the whole team going. It was really exciting.”

    The U.S. team was eliminated in the quarterfinals by the eventual champion, RCD Espanyol Infantil from Spain.

    Raines finished the tournament with a goal and four assists. He got the opportunity to measure himself against players from around the world.

    “It was really great playing against players from other countries,” he said. “They play different styles and I learned from watching them. I made new friends with my teammates from all over the country, so that was fun, too.”

    Gerry McKeown, the id2 program director who coached the team in Spain, said Raines brought a great attitude to the team along with his technical abilities.

    “Brooklyn is all that’s good about the game of soccer,” McKeown said. “He brings passion and an energy that just rubs off on everyone around him. He works so hard and he’s fearless.”

    When the field of top club players was whittled down to 18, McKeown said his staff looked for a particular breed of player, and Raines fit the mold.

    “There are a lot of players out there with technical ability, but you have to have the right mentality and personality,” McKeown said. “These players only got to play together for three or four days in our camp in New Jersey before we went to compete in Spain. It takes a special type of person to do that.

    “You’ve got to be able to adapt to the circumstances and be a flexible player open to what we want to do as coaches.”

    Off the field, the players got the chance to sightsee throughout Spain. Raines’ favorite part of the travels was an easy choice.

    “I loved going to the beach,” he said. “I had a lot of fun there.”

    Raines hopes to represent the United States many more times in the future. He has other big goals, as well.

    “I want to play pro soccer, for sure,” he said. “I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work and a positive attitude.”

    Steve Millar is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

    Copyright © 2018, Daily Southtown

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    Roster/schedule |

    The 2018 id2 National Selection International Tour officially begins Thursday, March 22, as 18 players from all over the country gather in New Jersey for the start of a brief domestic camp. Saturday night, the delegation will take an overnight flight to Spain, where the squad will explore the scrimmage Girona FC’s youth academy team and explore the historic city. After that, the id2 National Selection travels to Costa Brava for the Mediterranean International Cup (MIC). The final two days in Spain will be spent in Barcelona.

    This trip represents the culminating event of the id2 age group cycle targeting 2004 boys. It is highlighted by participation in the MIC, which the id2 National Selection has drawn the top slot in its group among opponents from Trinidad & Tobago, Spain and the Canary Islands. Last year was the first time the id2 National Selection participated in the MIC, and the squad advanced to the quarterfinals – ultimately falling in PKs to Inter.

    The 2018 id2 National Selection International Tour is made possible through strong support from Nike. The trip, including travel, lodging, meals, gear, etc., is all provided at no cost to players. LaLiga and Premier International Tours are also assisting.


    SOMERSET, N.J. | Among this 18-player roster, 16 clubs and 11 states are represented. On Thursday, that geographical diversity is obvious, as most players will fly into Newark Liberty International Airport at various times throughout the day.

    After players have arrived, the first training session will be held at PDA Soccer Complex in Somerset. id2 Boys Program Director Gerry McKeown is tasked with developing this team in just a couple days before Spain.

    More updates to come. Follow @USClubSoccer on Twitter and Instagram, and stay tuned for a Facebook photo gallery.


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    National Cup XVII Regionals begin in three months
    Six Regionals, qualifying state cups lead to National Cup XVII Finals

    CHARLESTON, S.C. (March 22, 2018) – Early-application rates are available for a limited time to all six National Cup XVII Regionals. The National Cup is US Club Soccer's cup-based championship series, and this summer marks its 17th anniversary.

    The National Cup also includes various state cups in the spring, before progressing to the National Cup XVII Regionals – held in six locations throughout the country. Ultimately, qualifying teams then compete for titles at the National Cup XVII Finals, to be held July 20-24 at Aurora Sports Park in Aurora, Colo.

    National Cup XVII Regionals are open to 12-U through 18/19-U boys and girls age groups (2006s through 1999/2000s) in the Mid-Atlantic and West Regionals, while the other Regionals – Midwest, Northwest, South Central and Southeast – feature 13-U through 18/19-U divisions (2005s through 1999/2000s).

    Winning 13-U through 18/19-U boys and girls teams from Regionals and qualifying state cups advance to the National Cup XVII Finals.

    Applications for each Regional – including the deadlines to secure early-application rates – are available on and via each Regional's respective web page. Two divisions are available per age group: Super Group (most competitive) and Premier Group.

    Participating teams should be well-versed in official National Cup XVII rules. New in 2018 are:

    • A Code of Conduct (to be released soon) for coaches, staff, players and parents
    • Head injuries: passcards will be pulled for players being treated for suspected, serious head injuries. Prior to returning to play, written clearance must be obtained by a doctor/certified athletic trainer.
    • Substitutions: this is no longer unlimited for 13-U through 18/19-U age groups. Seven substitutions are allowed per half, and once a player is subbed out in any given half, he/she may not return to play.

    Rosters: the 18-player game day roster will be strictly enforced.

    National Cup XVII Regionals - 2018:

    South Central Regional
    June 15-18 | Tulsa, Okla.: Mohawk Sports Complex
    Web page

    West Regional
    June 16-19 | Davis, Calif.: Davis Legacy Soccer Complex
    Web page

    Midwest Regional
    June 22-25 | Chicago, Ill.: Waukegan Sports Park / Libertyville Township Soccer Complex
    Web page

    Southeast Regional
    June 23-26 | Winston-Salem, N.C.: BB&T Sports Park
    Web page

    Northwest Regional
    June 29 - July 2 | Boise, Idaho: Simplot Sports Complex
    Web page

    Mid-Atlantic Regional
    June 30 - July 3 | Somerset, N.J.: PDA Soccer Complex / Morningside Farm
    Web page 


    National Cup XVII Finals - 2018:

    July 20-24 | Aurora, Colo.: Aurora Sports Park
    Web page

    South Central Regional
    This is the first time US Club Soccer will host a South Central Regional – spurred by recent, large membership growth in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas. Mohawk Sports Complex boasts 17 fields, including 10 with lights.

    "We are so thrilled to welcome US Club Soccer's National Cup XVII South Central Regional to Mohawk Sports Complex in Tulsa next summer," said Vince Trinidad, Executive Director of Tulsa Sports Commission. "Hosting this event provides us with a great opportunity to showcase Tulsa as a preferred destination for youth sports, and our staff and volunteers are committed to working diligently to ensure US Club Soccer's athletes, coaches and fans have the best sports experience here in Tulsa."

    West Regional
    Many hosting venues in 2018 have a long National Cup history, and Davis Legacy Soccer Complex is no exception. Next summer marks the sixth consecutive year hosting the West Regional. This past year was the first time the West Regional was held on one weekend instead of being held on separate, consecutive weekends for boys and girls team. But, the recent expansion of Davis Legacy Soccer Complex allowed the Regional to be held on the same weekend – and that trend continues in 2018.

    Midwest Regional
    The Midwest Regional is the longest running host of a Regional, as Libertyville Township Soccer Complex and Waukegan Sports Park enter their seventh consecutive year. Last year’s National Cup XVI Midwest Regional included about 250 teams.

    Southeast Regional
    The BB&T Sports Park hosted the Southeast Regional in June 2017, and before that, the complex – now consisting of 13 full-size fields and a stadium field – hosted a Regional from 2008-10.

    Northwest Regional
    The Northwest Regional moves to a new location in 2018. The Simplot Sports Complex in Boise, Idaho consists of 161 acres, including 20 grass soccer fields.

    Mid-Atlantic Regional
    The Mid-Atlantic Regional in Somerset, N.J. concludes the Regional slate. PDA Soccer Complex and Morningside Farm enter their fifth consecutive year hosting the event.

    National Cup XVII Finals
    This is the first time the National Cup Finals will be a five-day event, as it has previously been a four-day event. The added day is a result of growth and the need for an appropriate game-to-rest ratio. In bigger age brackets in the past, sometimes teams were faced with playing elimination games in the morning and afternoon of the same day.

    The National Cup XVII Finals returns to Aurora Sports Park in Aurora, Colo., for the second time in three years and third time in the 17-year history of the cup-based tournament. A week before the National Cup XVII Finals, Aurora Sports Park also plays host to the 2018 Girls NPL Finals.      

    Join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #NationalCupXVII.

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    Three Northern Illinois Soccer League Players Selected for US Club id2 National Selection Team!

    Members of the 2018 id2 National Selection International Tour will travel to Spain, March 22-April 3. This marks the fifth trip to Spain in id2 history and the second consecutive year the team will participate in the prestigious Mediterranean International Cup (MIC).

    This id2 National Selection International Tour is the final programming element of the id2 Program cycle targeting boys born in 2004. This trip is organized through strong support from Nike, as well as LaLiga and Premier International Tours.

    Number Name Position Hometown Club Birth Year
    18 Alejandro Alcalá F Stockton, Calif. Stockton TLJ FC 2005
    17 Anders Bordoy D New Kensington, Pa. Pittsburgh Riverhounds Academy 2004
    6 Logan Calpito M Ewa Beach, Hawaii Rush Hawaii (former) 2004
    10 Tatenda Chigede M Tulsa, Okla. TSC Hurricane 2004
    11 Ivan Contreras D Joliet, Ill. Daredevils SC 2004
    2 Niall Dunn D Phoenix, Ariz. Scottsdale Soccer Blackhawks 2004
    7 Andrew Dutra F Hanford, Calif. California Odyssey SC 2004
    16 Dominic Gambone F North Canton, Ohio Canton United SC 2004
    5 Juan Gonzalez M Paterson, N.J. NASA United FC 2004
    1 Nylmar Gonzalez GK San Rafael, Calif. Marin FC Alliance 2003
    15 Alan Gutierrez M Fresno, Calif. Red Star Soccer/Central Valley Liberty 2004
    4 Cristóbal León D Honolulu, Hawaii Rush Hawaii 2004
    00 Nicholas McCune GK San Ramon, Calif. San Ramon FC 2004
    9 Kevin Mearse F Glendale, Ariz. Scottsdale Soccer Blackhawks 2004
    3 Oliver Nii D Broomfield, Colo. B-Elite Academy Denver/WOW FC 2004
    14 Brooklyn Raines M Oak Lawn, Ill. Inter FC 2005
    8 Allan Rodriguez Lopez M Elkhart, Ind. San Antonio FC 2004
    12 Owen Van Marter D Hilton Head Island, S.C. Tormenta FC 2004



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    Aspiring Coaches Can Take the Two-Hour 4v4 Online Course via
    U.S. Soccer's Digital Coaching Center

    CHICAGO (Feb. 28, 2018) – Beginning today, coaches across the country will have the opportunity to undergo U.S. Soccer’s 4v4 Online Grassroots License Course through the Digital Coaching Center. The course marks the first of four Online Grassroots Courses to launch within U.S. Soccer’s Coaching Education pathway. Three more Online Grassroots Courses (7v7, 9v9, 11v11) are set to roll out in the coming months as part of the U.S. Soccer Coaching Education Department’s concentrated effort to provide accessible education to all coaches.

    “We are very excited to roll out the Grassroots 4v4 Online Course,” U.S. Soccer Director of Coaching Administration Frank Tschan said. “The Grassroots initiative is a product of the research, development and collaboration with our members. This 4v4 course, as well as the forthcoming three online courses, will provide every coach across the United States the ability to access educational content, Play-Practice-Play training sessions and U.S. Soccer's Planning Tool. These are learning resources we believe will provide all coaches the necessary support in creating the ideal environment for their players.”

    The 4v4 Online Grassroots License Course builds on the foundation of the cost-free Introduction to Grassroots Coaching Module that was introduced in January. Coaches looking to begin their development pathway will start with the introductory module before progressing to any of the eight new grassroots level coaching courses that consist of Online and In-Person courses that focus on the four Grassroots game models (4v4, 7v7, 9v9, and 11v11). The game models are outlined in U.S. Soccer’s recently launched Player Development Initiatives .

    The two-hour, 4v4 Online Grassroots License Course is offered by U.S. Soccer through the DCC, while the four In-Person courses are organized and run by U.S. Soccer member organizations [find your local Member here]. The In-Person courses take place over four hours with two hours dedicated to classroom learning and two hours dedicated to coaching on the field. Coaches can contact their local member organization to inquire about scheduling and pricing for the In-Person courses. This easy access, low barrier approach to the foundation of the coaching education pathway allows coaches to seek out education related to the environment in which they coach.

    Copyright © 2018 Northern Illinois Soccer League All Rights Reserved.