For many of the players in the tournament, those skills have been honed through years of training, often through club or national development programs.
The Olympic Development Program is one of those programs, one in which 14 of the 23 members of the 2014 United State World Cup team are products — including Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Woodland High goalkeeper Kurt Moore has high aspirations for his own soccer career, and is on the right track as he was recently selected as one of two keepers to attend the Olympic Development regional camp in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in July.
“I think Kurt, if he continues like that, is on his way to becoming a professional,” Woodland boys soccer head coach Ed Guse said of Moore. “I think he has all the skills, all the potential. If he just works hard, I think he can do that.”
Moore had roughly 150 saves for the Wildcats in his sophomore season, helping lead his team to a 7-7 record, including four shutouts.
“Woodland is a team that is growing, and with him in the back as a goalie, he needs to work a lot. Everybody relies on him,” Guse said. “He, as a sophomore, got almost 80 percent of the votes from the team to be a captain and we had seven seniors. He’s a leader on the field; he’s kind, nice, happy. He loves the game so much that you think, ‘What’s wrong with the guy?’”
Moore is one of 42 players in the '97 pool of the top soccer players in Georgia and one of only 20 players who were selected to attend the regional camp.
“I don’t train a lot with him because he has training already,” Guse said. “He comes and practices like a regular player, but when I saw his technique and the way that he moves and everything else, I said I don’t need to coach him, just make him practice a lot.”
Moore will certainly get plenty of practice against top competition in the Olympic Development Program. The ODP was created by U.S. Soccer around 25 years ago to identify national team players at the youth level and to provide development opportunities for these potential national team players.
Many players also come to associate ODP with improved opportunities for playing college soccer and getting college scholarships. This is because many college coaches work on ODP staff at the state, regional and national levels and also most college coaches scout players at ODP events.
As a result, Moore’s future in soccer is certainly bright and Guse is happy to have him in the Woodland program for two more years.
“He’s quick, he knows his position, he can read the play, can see where the players are going to kick and anticipate well,” Guse said of Moore’s play on the field. “He’s just really, really good.”