Junior Flores ready to make a splash in US Soccer
NEW YORK, NY – The U-17 US Men’s National Team competed in the 2011 Nike International Friendlies tournament in early December and came away champions beating Brazil 3-1 in the final behind the superb skill of midfielder Junior Flores. Turkey and France were the other teams in the tournament and the US tied France and beat Turkey on the road to claiming the crown for the first time in the tournament’s history.
There were many impressive performances from the young US players most notably from Tyler Turner and John Requejo Jr. However, the US was in large part competitive due to their strong midfield play, specifically from Junior Flores pulling the strings and dominating at times in the center of the park.
Flores’ strong performances in each of the matches gave the team more and more confidence as they fought hard against some of the world’s best youth talent.
In the end, Junior Flores was voted “Man of the Match” for his play during the finals against Brazil notching an assist on Turner’s goal (three assists overall in the tournament) and scoring a dramatic game-winner in the 88th minute against Turkey, the game prior to the final.
It’s no surprise, that his industry in the middle of the park earned him some well deserved attention from home and abroad. The MLS is currently negotiating to sign the young US international and there also has even been interest from Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund.
Born in Los Angeles and raised in Menassas, VA to Salvadoran parents, Flores has already been courted by the El Salvador Football Federation (FESFUT). During the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the Salvadoran National Team was in the Washington area and invited young Flores to participate in training with them.
Having to negotiate your national and ethnic representation at such a young age has served to build character for the young man. Already representing the US at the U-15 level, it looks very certain Herber Mejia-Flores is set to represent the country of his birth for many years to come, the United States of America.
Although it is not certain Flores will sign with MLS or explore his options in Europe, and his final decision still may be to stay in the residency program, it’s safe to say we are witnessing an exciting talent emerge from the US youth ranks.
Flores isn’t just talented, his work-rate is impeccable, and he was consistently chasing loose balls down and running at defenders from within deep lying midfield positions throughout the tournament. During the final against Brazil, he was causing havoc on the back four and much of the US attack originated from the ball at his feet.
With MLS possibly moving away from Generation Adidas contracts and attempting to sign young talent directly from the youth and academy system, there may be a shift toward MLS directly competing with the rest of the world to sign elite youth and academy players.
Should the MLS succeed in signing Flores, would this be considered the first signs of the academy system as the preferred method of developing talent over drafting college players?
Let us know what you think in the comments section below.