Philadelphia Union Academy defender Mark McKenzie has been selected by U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team head coach Omid Namazi’s 23-player roster for the 2017 Slovakia Cup, which will run April 24-28 in Trnava, Slovakia.
McKenzie has appeared in two matches with Bethlehem Steel FC this season, starting at center back against FC Cincinnati in which the club earned a shutout and on the road at in-state rival Harrisburg City Islanders. The Bear, Del., native was recently called up in January by coach Namazi and trained with the team at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
The USA begins its quest for back-to-back Slovakia Cup titles in Group B along with Hungary, Belarus, and Slovakia. The U-18 MNT opens the tournament against Hungary on April 24 at 11 a.m. ET, followed by Belarus on April 25 at 11 a.m. ET, and Slovakia on April 27 at 5 a.m. ET. The U.S. will wrap up the competition on April 28 in either the final or a consolation bracket, pending the team’s finish in Group B.
"The Slovakia Cup has been held for many years now,” Namazi said. “We entered the tournament last year with our U-19 group, Brad Friedel's group, and Brad's group was able to win it. And now this year, with the U-18's, our goal is the same. We are going with a very good group of players. Obviously, we are coming to the end of this (U-18 player pool) cycle, so our aim is to evaluate the players more, but also have some good performances and hopefully win the tournament."
The U.S. travels to Slovakia on Tuesday, April 18, for five days of training before taking on Hungary. The U-18 MNT, which consists of players born Jan. 1, 1999 or later, held a 28-player domestic training camp at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. in January, marking the team’s lone meeting this year.