Wednesday, November 29, 2017
The ascension of former Spokane Shadow player Ray Serrano took another significant step this week when the standout midfielder/striker was called into a U17 Men's National Team Camp and subsequently named to the 20-player roster for the 2017 Nike International Friendlies, which kick off today in Lakewood Ranch, FL. He is the first male player ever from the area to ever be selected to a youth or senior national team.
A recent leader in the table, Serrano is currently tied for second in the national scoring charts for the US Soccer Development Academy U16/U17 league with 12 goals in 11 games as a member of affiliate partner Sounders FC Academy.
The USA will face England, Netherlands and Brazil in a round-robin format for the Nike Friendlies on November 29, December 1 and December 3 this year. In recent years, this annual event has served as a showcase for the brightest prospects for the USA, featuring breakout performances from the likes of Christian Pulisic and Josh Sargent in recent editions. The tournament has also offered soccer fans a first glimpse of future stars of the international game, with players such as Neymar and Philippe Coutinho participating in years past. The event debuted in 2008 and has been won by the USA and Brazil three times each. England, Portugal and Turkey have won once each.
The event will kick-start the next two-year cycle for the squad, culminating in the 2019 U-17 World Cup. Serrano is one of three players from the Sounders FC Academy, the official player development partner for Spokane Shadow and Spokane Sounders. The Sounders FC Academy has the highest representation of any club.
"We are ecstatic to see Ray continue his progression in his soccer. Ray deserves the credit for the dedication, time and effort he always and continues to put forth. From when he first joined our club to now, he has been amazing," said Spokane Shadow Technical Director Abbas Faridnia. "Further, the affiliation with the Sounders continues to show the benefits our players in our area will continue to have."
Serrano, who spent his U12-14 seasons with the club before advancing to the Sounders FC Academy, previously this year made history when he became the first alum of the club to be called in to the US Soccer Boys' National Team Futures Camp in May. In pursuit of improving U.S. Soccer’s longer term objectives for talent identification and individual development of young players, U.S. Soccer called in a group of 64 players for that four-day camp, focusing on identifying the most talented players in the 2002 and 2003 birth years who appear to be on a later physical development path and/or are born in the second half of the year. He was called in as a midfielder for the 2002 birth year.
Serrano has quickly proven himself in Seattle at the Sounders FC Academy. As a member of the Sounders FC Academy U14 squad, Serrano excelled and also earned time with the U16 team. From SoundersFC.com: Serrano, born in 2002, signed the Sounders Academy U-14s from youth-club partner Spokane Sounders. After impressing in his own age group, the attacking midfielder was promoted to the U-15s and subsequently the U-16s. While playing for the U-16s in Generation Adidas Cup, he tallied a brace against San Jose Earthquakes and scored the Rave Green’s lone goal against Liga MX-side Chivas de Guadalajara.
Though he has been with the Sounders for a couple years now, Serrano is still close with his former teammates. In following their progress he reached out from the NT Camp this weekend to wish them well as they prepared for the quarterfinals and semifinals at the Nomads Thanksgiving Tournament.
Roster Announcement [+] About Nike Friendlies [+]
All six games from the Nike Friendlies will be broadcast live on YouTube, Facebook and USsoccer.com. The schedule is:
11/29 - Brazil v Netherlands - 12:30 PT
11/29 - USA v England - 4:00 PT
12/01 - England v Brazil 12:30
12/01 - USA v Netherlands 4:00
12/03 - Netherlands v England 10:30
12/03 - USA v Brazil 2:00