Commerce City, Colo. – The Rapids Youth Academy had another big announcement this week, with the news that 16-year-old Dillon Serna became the club's first Academy player to be selected to join the U.S. Soccer U-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida.
Serna, a wide midfielder / forward who joined the Rapids Academy from adidas Alliance club Colorado Storm, was identified by U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team Head Coach Wilmar Cabrera while with the Rapids youth team at the 2010 SUM U-17 Cup in Houston in July. He spent a week at tryouts in Bradenton before being selected to join the full-time residency program last month.
“This is a great honor for Dillon and for the club,” said Brian Crookham, Rapids Youth Academy Director of Operations. “Dillon is a player who was not on the national radar a year ago, but has excelled and really earned the opportunity through his daily work habits. Placing players in National Team pools is a reflection of the effort and quality that our staff exhibits in everyday. MLS clubs are doing a good job of creating an environment that challenges and showcases players like Dillon.”
The U.S. U-17’s are currently in Madrid, Spain, where they will train for 12 days at the Spanish FA’s Cuidad de Futbol. The team will have friendlies against youth teams from Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano, as well as two matches against Spain’s U-17 MNT.
During the trip, the U-17s will gain valuable international experience as it moves toward the 2011 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, which will be held in Jamaica from Feb. 12-28.
Started in 1999, the U-17 Residency Program has become a symbol of U.S. Soccer’s dedication to increasing the development opportunities for players and the success of the Youth National Teams.
The U.S. players live on campus at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and train in the morning under the guidance of Cabrera and his staff. In the afternoon, the players attend classes at St. Stephens Episcopal School.
While in the full-time residency program, the U.S. not only trains daily under Cabrera, but also has access to the IMG Academy’s spacious facilities. The team regularly uses IMG’s state-of-the-art strength-training facilities, as well as some of the nation’s best sports psychologists that work at the Academy. The IMG Academy includes top-of-the-line soccer equipment, three Bermuda grass fields, an indoor dome with artificial turf, two swimming pools, newly renovated student housing and dining facilities.
Since its inception, over 300 players have been through the full-time Residency Program, and more than 100 of those players have moved on to Major League Soccer or professional leagues in Europe, including many that have appeared for the U.S. Men's National Team such as Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Oguchi Onyewu, Jozy Altidore, Jonathan Spector, Heath Pearce, Kyle Beckerman, and Freddy Adu.