"I brought Patrick (Baker) back to the U-17 national team because he has a very good grasp of this age group, he has a great eye for talent and his is very popular with the players," said U-17 head coach David Smith. "We will be facing the U-19 Mexican National Team and two USASA squads and Patrick will be assisting in all aspects of our preparations."
The women's U-17 National Team opens the festival Monday, July 28 at 8:00 p.m. versus the U-19 team from Mexico. They then continue play Wednesday, July 30 versus USASA West and close out the tournament two days later versus the USASA South squad. The festival will take place on the campus of the University of Houston.
"I am very excited to get another opportunity to work with one of our national teams," said Baker. "Having been in three of the last four events with the U-17's I am starting to pick up some continuity and chemistry with Smitty (head coach David Smith) and that particular age group. The team has done very well and we are excited about the opportunity to face the amateur teams as well as the Mexican U-19 National Team."
This is Baker's third stint with the U-17 National Team but his involvement with the United State's National Team program dates back to 1997. On top of formerly serving as the head coach of the Region III girl's Olympic Development Program (ODP), he has assisted with the U-21, U-19, U-17 and U-16 National Teams working with Smith, Tracey Leone and Lauren Gregg. Baker also has 15 years of experience in the ODP.
With a focus on developing players for the U-19s, U.S. Soccer added the U-17 Women's National Team to the stable of five Women's National Team programs. The U-17 team is in its first season of full competition and the philosophy for the U-17s is to accelerate the development of the USA's best young players and to better prepare them for the game's highest levels.
Baker's Seminoles arrive for pre-season August 11 and will begin three-a-day workouts August 13. The team plays its only pre-season contest at home August 23 at 7:00 p.m. versus Georgia's Norcross Magic and then opens the 2003 campaign at home versus two top 25 teams. The Tribe opens the season Friday, August 29 at 7:00 p.m. against Southern Cal who finished the 2002 season ranked 22nd. Florida State then takes on perennial national title contender and 2002 College Cup participant Penn State Sunday, August 31 at 1:00 p.m.