Commerce City, Colo. (June 9, 2011) - Colorado Rapids Academy midfielder Dillon Serna today was named to the U.S. U-17 roster for the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup which takes place in Mexico later this month.
Dillon Serna, Rapids Academy and U.S. National Team midfielder:
On being identified last July and named to the World Cup team today:
“I never would have thought that I would be here. I didn’t even know what the Residency Program was until I got the call and was invited to go to the tryout. Then I made it and I’ve made every roster so far, so it’s been a great year so far.”
On his adjustment to the U.S. program:
“The first couple of months were pretty tough being away from home and leaving my family. But I’m out here doing what I love to do so I’m going to do whatever I can to keep getting better.”
On how it feels to be named to the World Cup team:
“Last night, the coaches took us out for dinner and it kind of hit me there because we were celebrating. It’s crazy knowing that I can be part of the best 21 players in my age in this country. It’s great to be able to represent my country, and my state, and my club by playing with the U.S. National Team at the World Cup.”
Jeff Plush, Colorado Rapids Managing Director
“We are thrilled for Dillon to have been selected to represent the United States Under-17 team at the upcoming FIFA World Cup. He has a fantastic work ethic and has shown a determination to excel among his peers, not only here with the Rapids Academy, but also in the Residency Program. We are honored to have Dillon representing the Rapids, and wish him and the team the best of luck in Mexico.”
Paul Bravo, Colorado Rapids Technical Director:
"For Dillon, this is a great accomplishment - something that you dream of as a young player, to be able to represent your country. And the fact that we've been able to play a part in that development speaks volumes about where we are and where we're headed."
"To Dillon's credit, this was even made more difficult for him because he was coming in to a cycle that was very close to the qualifying tournament. For him to be able to get recognized, go through a tryout process, get invited into Residency, and then make the qualifying team, he had short period of time. That's a very difficult adjustment, but he's gone in there with a great attitude, is very coachable, and fit in as quickly as possible. He realized in a short period of time that there's a process and he's been able to figure it out and excel."
On Serna's potential future with the Rapids first team:
"It's certainly the plan we've come up with along with Gary (Smith), Brett (Jacobs), and Mitch (Academy Technical Director) - those guys are in constant contact with each other and are really trying to give kids that opportunity to see if they can move forward a little bit quicker."
Brian Crookham, Colorado Rapids Academy Director of Operations:
“It’s definitely a big moment for the club. Anytime you have a player that represents your club go on to represent his country in a World Cup, it embodies what you want in that player. Dillon is a player who worked extremely hard and paid attention to the details in training and took every moment he was on the field seriously to earn this honor.”
On being able to help develop Serna by bringing him to play Reserve Team matches:
“To get that type of experience playing with guys who are playing for their jobs, it allows us to create an environment that is one notch higher than they’ve ever been able to be put in before. But the player has to be able to embrace that environment, and Dillon has done that.”
Mitch Murray, Colorado Rapids Academy Technical Director:
"We're very excited for Dillon, he's worked very hard to earn the selection. He's a very gifted technical player - he has great ability to deliver all types of services, whether it's a cross or a quick combination. He has a deadly left foot so he can score big goals in big moments. And he can handle pressure very well - he likes the big stage, he likes being called on in important games. That's a characteristic that not everyone has. Sometimes very talented players hide when the big games come, and I think Dillon has shown that he can rise to the occassion and put in very strong performances."
On Serna's adjustment to the National Team in a short amount of time:
"He gets all the credit for that. It's quite a bit for a young man at that age, 16 years old, to be taken away from home, thrown into an environment that's very highly competitive, where each day they are under a microscope of whether they're going to continue on or be sent home, and that's not easy. It takes a special talent to be able to handle that type of pressure and intensity, and he stepped in there and now he's going to have a chance to do it on the world stage. We're very proud of him but he deserves the credit for stepping up when he needed to and showing the coaches that he deserves their confidence."
On the role of the Academy in helping Serna develop:
"We can help create an environment for what we hope the talented players take full advantage of. Dillon has done so, so far, just as Davy Armstrong did. The Development Academy League is great as are the special events like the SUM Cup, where Dillon was identified, and where all the MLS youth teams participate in. These are experiences that help prepare these young players to be able to handle the pressure of excelling towards a World Cup. No question the environment helps, but it takes that special player take advantage of it."
Pablo Mastroeni, Colorado Rapids team captain and veteran of the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups:
"I think we have a great number of players who are very talented in the academy program here in Colorado, and it's great to see Dillon make the World Cup team. I think he's a good player with a really bright future. It's always exciting and a great achievement to represent your country in any kind of tournament, and the World Cup being the most special, so a big congratulations to him. It's good to be part of an organization where the future looks bright."
Gary Smith, Colorado Rapids Head Coach:
"It's a fabulous achievement for Dillon, going to a World Cup. What a wonderful experience for him! And I think it's thoroughly deserved. The lad has progressed very nicely and developed well in Bradenton. When he's played for our Reserves - which is a huge jump for him - he's been absolutely wonderful. His attitude has been spot on and his performances have been to a point where you're absolutely delighted, for a 17-year old. It's a big honorable and exciting occassion for Dillon."
Brett Jacobs, Colorado Rapids Reserve Team coach and former Academy coach
"He's done extremely well, and his progression really has surprised me. He's physically not the biggest, but technically he shows that it's not about size necessarily. Sometimes speed of thought and technique is the highest importance. It's been a real short period of time that he's come to us and now playing at the youth world stage, and I think he's shown that he's very capable."
Wilmer Cabrera, U.S. U-17 Men's National Team Head Coach on the roster selection:
“These are the 21 players who earned the right to represent their country in the World Cup. It’s not us, the coaching staff picking them. They make the decision for us by competing every day. They know they have to compete every day, and every day there is someone challenging for their spot. The roster was open until the last day and these players demonstrated that they were the top in the country, but they also showed the commitment, sacrifice and mentality to represent the United States at this important tournament.”