Roughly 110 of America’s best young soccer talents will converge on Daniel Island Thursday to begin four days of training under the scrutiny of scouts from U.S. Soccer.
It’s the first time that the Lowcountry has hosted a session of the id2 National Identification and Development Program, despite the fact that the sponsoring organization — U.S. Club Soccer — is headquartered in the Charleston historic district.
Don’t feel out-of-the-loop if you didn’t know that. It’s not that U.S. Club Soccer is secretive — it’s just that it’s a busy organization with a small local footprint and a big national mission. The staff here promotes club soccer across the country, a job that includes helping identify and develop the young talent that feeds into the pool from which U.S. Soccer selects its youth national teams.
While there are other programs that offer top-level training and exposure for aspiring young players, the id2 program began in 2004 with the idea of covering as many costs as possible for players and their families. The camps rotate around the country in order to reduce travel costs for players from different regions. U.S. Club Soccer picks up the tab for almost all expenses during the training camp.
The Charleston camp that begins tomorrow is the last in a five-camp series that began last October in Connecticut. This 2012-13 id2 class is focused on girls born in 1999 and boys born in 2000, so the players arriving now are between the ages of 12 and 14 and come from roughly 20 states.
Players receive four days of training by top coaches and perform in front of U.S. Soccer scouts. The talented few may be selected to an id2 National Selection Tour (the 2013 tour recently returned from Spain last month), and a good showing at this week’s id2 Training Camp could be a big step toward selection to the national U14 and U15 programs.
Local players invited to the camp from South Carolina United include Grayson Barber (MF/F), James Cox (MF), John Crawley (D), Liam Hudock (MF), Campbell Shealy (MF), and goalkeeper Cameron Smith for the 2000 boys, and Catherine Austin (F), a 1999 girl.
Notable male alumni of the boys’ id2 program include: Jack McInerney, Philadelphia Union (2004 and 2005 training camps); Jack McBean, LA Galaxy (2007); Omar Salgado, Vancouver Whitecaps (2006); Amobi Okugo, Philadelphia Union (2004 and 2005); Kofi Sarkodie, Houston Dynamo (2004 and 2005); and Greg Garza, Tijuana (2004). Additionally, four alumni are currently participaing in the CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Panama: Mukwelle Akale (2010), Corey Baird (2008, 2009, 2010), Conor Donovan (2009), and Tommy Redding (2010 and 2011). Baird and Redding both took part in an id2 National Selection International Tour.
On the women’s side of the program, alumni include 17-year-old Jane Campbell (2009), who was called into U.S. Women’s Senior National Team camp in January, and Morgan Andrews, captain of the U.S. team at the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup (2008-11).
Adam Augustine, the communications and marketing manager for U.S. Club Soccer, said the program gives young players a good benchmark for the top talent in their age group.
“We’re based out of Charleston, so it’s a great opportunity from our standpoint to bring these players into town and showcase some of the great facilities we have here and some of the great programs,” Augustine said. “Anytime one of these camps rolls into town somewhere, it is an opportunity for the local soccer community to get an idea of what an elite-level 2000 boy or 1999 girl looks like. So it’s an opportunity for the local soccer culture of Charleston to be showcased for a few days, and hopefully that will help (local soccer) … as well.”
Training sessions and 11-on-11 matches will be held from Thursday through Sunday at the Battery complex on Daniel Island Road, plus the College of Charleston Stadium at Patriots Point.
If you’re interested in coming out to watch matches, here’s the game schedule:
Friday: All matches at Blackbaud Stadium. The girls play at 9 a.m. and at 10:30, and the boys play at 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Saturday: The boys play on the Battery Practice Field at 3:30 and 5 p.m. Girls play at the College of Charleston Stadium at 4 and 5:30.
Sunday: Only selected boys play in two matches at Blackbaud Stadium, the first at 8:30 a.m., the second at 10.
THURSDAY UPDATE: Some additional comments from Adam this afternoon via email:
Also, just a couple other odds and ends to give you a better idea of how this camp fits within the context of the entire id2 Program. While this camp is focused primarily on 2000 boys and 1999 girls, those dates shift with each set of camps. For example, the two camps held in the fall of 2012 were heavily focused on 1999 boys and 1998 girls. In general, the program is typically focused on two age groups during each program cycle.
It also might be of note that the id2 Program is an Olympic Development Program as approved by the United States Olympic Committee and U.S. Soccer Federation.
You can follow the organization on Twitter at @usclubsoccer.