Competition has ratcheted up for Peter Schropp this semester at the U.S. national team’s under-17 residency soccer program in Bradenton, Fla.
Already intense, workouts have gotten even more stressful with 31 players fighting for 20 spots on the team for World Cup qualifying in April.
“This semester is actually super competitive,” the former Omaha Creighton Prep student said. “Every single practice you have to be checked in and know what you’re fighting for.”
The CONCACAF under-17 championship will be held in Panama from April 6 to 19, with the World Cup next fall in the United Arab Emirates.
“This is the most important semester we have here,” coach Richie Williams said on the U.S. Soccer website. “They’ve been developing over these past three semesters and now it comes to the most important games, which really mean something in terms of going down to Panama and having to qualify for the World Cup. We think we’ll be ready. We still have three more months. We’re excited, and we’re confident that this group of players will lead us to the World Cup.”
Schropp, who will turn 16 on Monday, got an email Christmas Eve as he was leaving church inviting him to return to Florida for the spring semester. He said six to eight players weren’t asked back.
He’d returned to Omaha on Dec. 19, so he said it was a stressful vacation until he got the news.
“It was pretty cool,” he said.
Schropp, one of 10 defenders in the residency program, had a big moment at the Nike International Friendlies in Florida at the start of December. The U.S. played Brazil, Turkey and Portugal, going 1-1-1 to finish third.
Although the U.S. lost to Portugal 4-3 in the final, Schropp scored his first international goal on a header off a corner kick as the team tried to rally.
“It was pretty sweet. It was crazy,” he said. “The whole crowd started cheering USA.”
Schropp said he’s completely recovered from an ankle sprain that hampered him for about eight weeks in the fall.
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