Keeping up with the 2016 id2 National Selection International Tour

After FCB vs Sevilla game - website

Keeping up with the 2016 id2 National Selection International Tour

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The 2016 id2 National Selection International Tour to Spain officially began with a brief domestic camp, Feb. 20-21, in New Jersey. Members of the id2 National Selection team then traveled to Valencia and Barcelona for 10 days to play against top LaLiga academies, watch a professional game and train in some of Spain’s best facilities.

The team is made up of 16 boys born in 2002 and two boys born in 2003 from 18 different clubs around the country. The international tour is supported by Nike, and new to 2016, LaLiga is offering its resources to enhance the experience.

Wednesday, March 2:

The trip officially concludes today, as the delegation traveled to the Barcelona airport early this morning. We’ll all travel back to Newark International Airport and then go to our respective hometowns.

Stay tuned for the release of the final two video journals, and join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #id2Spain.

Tuesday, March 1:

Today is the final game day of the 2016 id2 National Selection International Tour. We face FC Barcelona Infantil A (2002s) in a daunting test. The day was spent mostly resting, although a few players and coaches elected to go for one last walk to La Sagrada Familia.

At night, the team rose to the challenge against arguably the best academy in the world. FC Barcelona struck first, but the id2 National Selection team tallied two goals by Max Goeggel (Ballistic United SC) to take a brief lead. But, FC Barcelona quickly tied the game and then grabbed a 3-2 advantage in the second half that proved to be the final score.

It was another admirable performance – especially considering the group has only played together for eight days – by the id2 National Selection team, despite being handed a loss.

Monday, Feb. 29:

This morning, the team played soccer tennis in Parc del Clot after breakfast. For nearly two hours, the boys played spirited games where communication, concentration and quality first touches determined the winning teams.

After pre-game meal at 3 p.m. local time, we traveled to Unificación de Llefia for our third game of the trip. In the 5th minute, forward Cameron Dunbar (Albion SC) scored on a breakaway assisted by Kawika Kelii (Maui United SC). Then, Espanyol scored three unanswered goals to take a 3-1 lead late into the second half.

But, the id2 National Selection team showed resolve when Alfredo Moran Loera (Surf SC) scored with a shot underneath the diving Espanyol goalkeeper around the midway point of the second half. Eric Centeno (East Valley FC), Max Goeggel (Ballistic United SC) and Andrew Tong (GPS Massachusetts) all had shots after intermission, but the 3-2 score held up as final.

Despite the narrow defeat, the team was rightfully upbeat about the result. In about a week, the team came together for its best showing of the trip. Tomorrow, we will be ready to face FC Barcelona Infantil A (2002s).

Sunday, Feb. 28:

A post-breakfast walk to La Sagrada Familia gave the boys their first cultural immersion into Barcelona. Then, the team trained in the city, where more progress was made in terms of unity, ball possession and quality first touches. After lunch at our headquarters hotel, the focus shifted to academics with a two-hour long study hall session. That night, we were treated to the Sevilla at FC Barcelona game at Camp Nou, courtesy of LaLiga – a long-term technical partner of US Club Soccer.

The first video journal was released earlier today. You can view it here:

Saturday, Feb. 27:

We left Valencia in the morning and traveled to Barcelona, where we’ll be based for the remainder of the trip. While en route to Barcelona, the boys stopped to train at Futbol Salou – about 45 minutes from our destination.

It was a lively and productive practice, where the team was able to gain some confidence possessing the ball. Then, upon arrival, the team settled down for a quiet evening. Tomorrow brings a training session and watching the FC Barcelona vs. Sevilla professional game.

Friday, Feb. 26:

The day started with an early morning meeting among the id2 National Selection coaching staff – Gerry McKeown, Jim Barlow, Matt Bernard, Tim Lesiak and Todd Saldana – and members of the Valencia C.F. methodology department. “The most important thing on the field is the relationship between the player and ball,” Toni Hernandez, director of methodology for the club, said.

Then, after breakfast, the team traveled to the beach for a recovery session by the Mediterranean Sea. The boys played soccer volleyball in the sand and took a quick dip in the water.

Later today, we had a lively training session at Paterna Training Ground to regroup and get ready for our final two opponents: Espanyol and FC Barcelona. It was likely the best training session of the trip so far.

Finally, we concluded the day by eating dinner in the heart of Valencia and exploring a local mall. Tomorrow morning, we travel to Barcelona for the remainder of the international tour.

Thursday, Feb. 25:

It’s our second game day of the journey, and today we face a tough Villarreal CF Infantil A (2002s) squad at Villarreal Sports City.

After breakfast, the boys had study hall for a couple hours with a “halftime” walking break around the hotel to stretch their legs. Before the game, the focus turns to resting and preparation for Villarreal CF.

Kickoff was at 7 p.m. local time (1 p.m. ET), and like the first game, the id2 National Selection team dug itself an early deficit en route to a 4-0 loss. In the second half, the boys again regrouped and created some opportunities. Luis Toledo (FC Boulder) hit the post on a shot just before the final whistle, and about 10 minutes prior, a penalty kick went wide right.

Wednesday, Feb. 24:

Wednesday will be largely a recovery day after Tuesday night’s game. It started off with a pool session led by athletic trainer Chris Young at our hotel’s rooftop pool.

Then, the group took a trip to Parque de Cabecera to experience the incredible architecture of Valencia firsthand. A train ride around the park showed dedicated green space, artwork, science exhibits, welcoming Valencians and more.

A light training session was held at Paterna Training Ground. Just before bed time, coach McKeown gathered the boys for a pep talk in preparation for tomorrow’s game against Villarreal CF Infantil A (2002s). “Envision yourself in our colors having positive moments on the pitch,” McKeown said.

Head over to our Instagram page for photos throughout the trip.

Tuesday, Feb. 23:

Tuesday is the first of four game days, and the morning started with breakfast and a short walk around the hotel. Then, the boys settled in for a two-hour study hall session.

Shortly thereafter, we had lunch and a team meeting before walking to the nearby Paterna Training Ground for our game against Valencia C.F. Infantil A (2002s).

Valencia got on the scoreboard early with a goal in the 3rd minute and then tacked on another in the 33rd. In the second half, the id2 National Selection team played with confidence and controlled the tempo for much of the remainder of the game. Alfredo Moran Loera (Surf SC) finished a cross from Max Goeggel (Ballistic United SC) in the 53rd minute to narrow Valencia’s advantage.

Kawika Kelii (Maui United SC), Moran Loera and Max Goeggel created additional opportunities for a tie in the final 15 minutes, but ultimately, that 2-1 score proved final.

Monday, Feb. 22:

The delegation arrived in Barcelona at 9 a.m. local time (six hours ahead of EST) and immediately took a bus to Valencia, where the group will be based for five and a half days.

A light training session at Valencia CF’s Paterna Training Ground greeted the boys shortly after arrival in Valencia, and then the team returned to its hotel for dinner and recovery from the long flight. Tuesday brings a 6:45 p.m. local time game against Valencia Infantil A (2002s).

After dinner, McKeown led a team meeting to discuss the trip in general, as well as Tuesday’s itinerary. “You gotta believe in yourself,” he told them. “Overall, we have a good group. Unity is going to be so important.

“You’re going to have to trust each other and work hard.”

Sunday, Feb. 21:

After breakfast, the day begins with training at Soccer Centers in Somerset, N.J. at 10:30 a.m. McKeown has the challenging task of preparing the players in just two domestic training sessions for a rigorous international schedule against the likes of Valencia (Feb. 23), Villarreal CF (Feb. 25), Espanyol (Feb. 29) and FC Barcelona (March 1).

At night, the team travels on an overnight flight to Barcelona, eventually landing Monday morning.

Saturday, Feb. 20:

The players arrived at the Newark airport throughout the day and were shuttled back to the headquarter hotel in Piscataway, N.J. for baseline testing with athletic trainer Chris Young. The testing/screening provides valuable information about each player in his resting state, so Young can compare it later if an injury is suspected at any point during the trip.

At 6:15 p.m., the team trained at PDA Soccer Complex under the direction of head coach Gerry McKeown (id2 Boys Program Director) and assistants Jim Barlow (Princeton University) and Matt Bernard (US Club Soccer staff & Sacramento Republic FC). NPL General Manager Leo Garcia is also in attendance to oversee the trip.