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Future USA Soccer Stars On Hand At Youth Tournament In Tulsa

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TULSA, Oklahoma -

If you look at the U.S. women's team World Cup Success and the emergence of the men's team you’ll notice that the future of those squads is in Tulsa this weekend. 

Tournament organizers say that all players born and raised in the U.S. for both the men and women’s team played in this tournament.

"This has been a great environment for players who are even currently on the national team,” says director for the U.S. Youth Nationals Soccer Tournament Jim Martella. “[A] number of players have come through by winning their state cup, by winning their regionals and coming here." 

As the top youth clubs in the nation have descended upon Tulsa for the tournament, scouts of the Nationals team are keeping an eye out for the next stars.

"They are spending a lot of time evaluating all the players here, so it's not just for this coming season. It's actually looking more down the line and saying ‘hey this player has a lot of potential,’" explained the tournament’s director of operations Rob Martella.

It's all part of a competitive environment where they can spot the best of the best. The U.S. has the most registered youth soccer players out of any country in the world, but development differs, it can start young.

"It's starting earlier. We're starting to see coaches scouting kids at 13-14 years old, starting to get them into more competitive situations," says Jim.

Or you can start when you're older, like the USA’s Michael Bradley.

"He really used to sit on the bench at U17, and then really started peaking at U18/U19,” stated Jim.

You could also proceed like many top name international clubs and get invited to a club then forgo regular high school in hopes of making it to a pro team.

"I don't know if it's the right structure yet. I know some of our culture still wants to see you play in front of your peers in high school. I think with our club structure it's getting stronger, so I think we'll see a transition in the next 3-4 years," Rob elaborated.

Tulsa Roughnecks defender Chad Bond says if you don’t go pro by the time you’re 18 where he’s from your chances are limited. “It's a lot different here where you go to college, you turn 22 and then you go pro. I suppose you can look at it both ways. Some people develop late or they get more of a chance over here,” he explained.

Most of the players at Mohawk Park dream of one day representing the USA in the World Cup and they're on the right track.  

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