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Academy Products Star for USMNT U18s in Lisbon International Tournament

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 01:  Klinsmann hopes some of the USMNT U18s come good. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Bongarts/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 01: Klinsmann hopes some of the USMNT U18s come good. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Bongarts/Getty Images

Some good news on the youth front this week. The U.S. Men's National Team Under 18 squad is currently playing in the Lisbon International Tournament in Portugal, and Chivas USA Academy players, both past and present, have been involved. On Wednesday, the U.S. tied Poland 1-1 off a goal from Academy forward Ben Spencer. In their second match, the Americans played to a scoreless draw with Slovakia. Spencer again started in this match, and Chivas homegrown signing Marky Delgado also played the whole game for the Americans. Meanwhile, former Academy member Stevie Rodriguez, who bolted Chivas' youth system in favor of a professional contract with Club Tijuana, played the first half of the match.

The U18s don't have any major tournaments to play in, but the age level is used as seasoning ahead of the U20 bracket, which is a competitive youth level. For all the players, tournaments like the one in Lisbon are used to give players experience and familiarity with a national team system. For Spencer, who will most likely be headed off to college as he's committed to play at UC Santa Barbara, he gets some exposure on a wider stage that could pay off with a professional contract, sooner or later. For Delgado, it gives him a chance to stay in game shape as he's not yet eligible to play with Chivas' first team, and it also gives him useful experience. A similar point could be said about Rodriguez, who may not be with Chivas any longer but who is still a product of the Academy.

The Americans will take on Portugal Saturday. The hosts are 2-0-0 so far in group play, so it should be a big test for the U.S. Best of luck to the whole team, but particularly the baby Goats!

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