16 Mar 2014 id2 National Selection boys team: Where are they now?
Editor’s note: US Club Soccer congratulates its id2 alumni, many of whom have turned youth opportunities into promising high-level collegiate and professional careers. This is one of eight articles in an ongoing series looking back at the boys players who have participated in id² National Selection programming, as the 2018 id2 National Selection International Tour approaches. A series featuring girls players will be released prior to the 2018 ECNL/ id2 National Training Camp.
The 2014 id2 National Selection International Tour to Italy held matches against youth academy teams from top Serie A clubs ACF Fiorentia, FC Inter Milan and Juventus FC. As a component of US Club Soccer’s player identification and development programming, success is not necessarily measured by wins and loss on this tour. However, in an impressive display, the 2014 id2 National Selection tour is the only team of its kind to win all of its matches overseas.
The delegation attended two Serie A matches, watching ACF Fiorentina battle Juventus FC and SS Lazio. They also enjoyed a sight-seeing boat ride around Lake Como, and met with Nigel de Jong, former AC Milan and Netherlands National Team midfielder, who currently plays for FSV Mainz 05 in the Bundesliga.
The fifth annual id2 National Selection tour’s roster was comprised of 17 boys born in 2000 and one born in 2001.
Fifteen players from the 2014 id2 National Selection team have played or currently play for U.S. Soccer Development Academy clubs, including four in the LA Galaxy Academy ranks. Seven players have already committed to play Division I collegiate soccer.
- George Acosta (M/F), Hialeah, Fla. – Acosta has come through Weston FC’s Development Academy and spent immense time at U.S. Soccer’s residency 17-U team in Bradenton, Florida. In 2016, the midfielder led the U.S. U-17 boys national team to win the 44th International Montaigu tournament. His six goals were the most in the tournament and included two goals in the final against host nation France.
- Valentino Ambrosio (F/M), Roselle Park, N.J. – After competing for the U-15/16 New York Red Bulls Development Academy Team, Ambrosio began developing in Cedar Stars Academy. After playing midfield for Cedar Stars for two years, the New Jersey native switched to forward for the 2017-18 season and scored 10 goals in 13 games. He’s also developed into a standout kicker on the football field, earning a spot on USA Today’s All-USA state team in New Jersey.
- Zico Bailey (D), Henderson, Nev. – Bailey developed through the LA Galaxy Development Academy and currently plays on LA Galaxy II in the United Soccer League.
- Alex Budnik (GK), Arlington Heights, Ill – In February, Budnik committed to playing collegiate soccer at Dartmouth College. The keeper played his club soccer with Sockers FC and was also a member of U.S. National Team U-17 residency program in 2017.
- Kelee Cornfield-Saunders (D), San Marcos, Calif. – The No. 43 ranked player in the Boys IMG Academy, Cornfield-Saunders has committed to play for the University of Portland. The defender developed through the LA Galaxy Academy and has represented the U.S. U-17 National Team on multiple occasions, including in the 2016 Torneo de Naciones tournament in Mexico City.
- Sebastian Cruz (F/M), Kerman, Calif. – Since playing at the club level for De Anza Force, Cruz now plays in the Sporting Kansas City Academy. In 2017-18, the midfielder scored four goals in 11 starts for the 18/19-U team.
- JJ Foe Nuphaus (M/D), San Jose, Calif. – After training in the San Jose Earthquakes Academy, Nuphaus transferred to Hoffenheim Academy in Germany. In 2017, he returned to San Jose. An article from the MLS website labeled the defender as “arguably the most enticing center back prospect to watch [in the 2017 Generation Adidas Cup]. Nuphaus also is currently in the U.S. U-19 Men’s National Team player pool.
- Nico Garcia-Morillo (F/M), Key Biscayne, Fla. – Morillo has competed for multiple U.S. youth national teams, up to the U-17 level. He trains in Spain in the Atlético Madrid Academy and has committed to play for Harvard University when he graduates this spring.
- Diego Gonzalez (M), Las Vegas, Nev. – Diego Gonzalez was a teammate of Zico Bailey at FC Heat, where he played through the 16-U level.
- Colin Innes (M), Olathe, Kan. – Innes has played on Sporting Kansas City Academy teams since 2015 and most recently played for their U-18/19 team. Last year, the midfielder committed to play at University of Kentucky.
- Curtis Johnson (D), Daniel Island, S.C. – Johnson played his club soccer at South Carolina United Mt. Pleasant, before joining the South Carolina Battery Academy.
- Ricky Mendez (F), San Rafael, Calif – Before joining the San Jose Earthquakes Academy, where he scored two goals in seven starts in 2017-18, the forward played for Juventus Academy in California.
- Jacob Muchnick (M), Newport Beach, Calif. – Muchnik has developed through the LA Galaxy Academy, with fellow 2014 id2 National Selection alumni Zico Bailey and Kelee Cornfield-Saunders. He recently committed to play collegiate soccer at the University of Pennsylvania.
- Ben Ofeimu (D), West Bloomfield, Mich. – Ben Ofeimu has played in the Philadelphia Union Academy since 2015. The center-back has started 26 of his 28 appearances in the last two seasons, including starting all 16 matches for the 18/19-U team in 2017-18.
- Hunter Pinho (GK), Cranford, N.J. – Named the Eastern Conference’s top U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-17/18 goalkeeper for the 2016-17 season, Pinho has thrived between the posts for PDA. In 2017-18, he has started 11 of 12 games and saved 73.3 percent of shots faced.
- Carlo Ritaccio (D), Westbury, N.Y. – Before committing to play collegiate soccer at the University of Akron, Ritaccio played for the U.S. U-17 national team and BW Gottschee at the club level. The defender is a critical component of Akron’s 2018 signing class that is ranked No. 10 in the nation.
- Tristan Weber (D/F), San Clemente, Calif. – Weber spent the spring of 2017 in the U.S. U-17 residency program. Before playing for Strikers FC in 2017-18, the midfielder spent time in the LA Galaxy Academy. He has committed to the University of Portland, as part of the class of 2018 alongside Kelee Cornfield-Saunders.
- Joey Zarra (D), Cheshire, Conn. – Zarra has played with Oakwood SC at the club level for several years. He last appeared on the 18/19-U team in 2017.
Stay tuned for upcoming articles on the id2 National Selection teams from 2012-17. More information on US Club Soccer’s id2 Program can be accessed here.
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