BRIAN SCIARETTA - Tuesday, July 27, 2010
With the US U20 team assembled in Northern Ireland this week for the 2010 Milk Cup, goalkeeper Samir Badr has arrived on a high note after a strong preseason with Portuguese power FC Porto.
After training within the team's organization during part of last season, Badr has signed a contract with FC Porto this summer and traveled with the team to Germany for the club's preseason tour.
On that trip, Badr joined the club's top keepers such as Brazilian international Helton and Portuguese international Beto along with other key players who feature with the first team.
"My expectations going into preseason were to make a name for myself and be accepted by those already on the team and of course accepted by the coaches," Badr told YA. "My goal, like any player, is to help the club get results and feature in matches. "
Badr is expected to play an important role with the U-19 and reserve teams from the onset of the season.
Despite being only 18 and playing at one of the top clubs in Europe, Badr is ambitious for the upcoming season and for his future with the US U20 national team.
"I have set three goals for this season," Badr said of his plans for the coming year. "The first is to be selected to as many matches with FC Porto as possible. The second is to perform well with the US national team and to establish myself as the number one goalkeeper throughout the U-20 World Cup Qualifying campaign as well as participate in any Olympic camps. The third is to be playing consistently at a high level winning every reserve match I play in."
"My goal is to emerge as the number one goalkeeper for the reserve team," Badr continued. "I just want to play and gain experience and be ready when called upon for my club and country."
Badr has been a regular participant with US youth national teams and his play for the U17 national team is what first got him noticed with FC Porto, which, after beginning to work with his agents to focus on professional opportunities, paved the way for an extended look with the 24 time Portuguese champions.
Badr's last appearance with the U20 team was in May when he traveled to Holland to play in the Cor Groenewegen Tournament. He came away impressed with the potential of the team as it moves forward in the cycle and builds towards the U20 World Cup in Colombia next summer.
"I was very pleased with how everything went in Holland," the Fairfax, Virginia native recalled. "I really enjoyed working with the Coach Mulqueen and Coach Rongen and the rest of the staff. I thought I did well and performed the best I could, but I was most happy with how our team performed and developed, especially since it was one of our first times as a group playing together."
Badr said that as the cycle progresses, the team has the ability to come together nicely and should be able to compete among the best in the world at that age level.
"As a team we still need to grow and bring our talent together to prepare ourselves as a unit," Badr assessed. "I think that will result in us winning games and competitions, which I believe will come with time and hard work."
The first such opportunity Badr and the US team will have to compete will be this week's Milk Cup. While this US team in Northern Ireland lacks some of its star power with Sebastian Lletget, Amobi Okugo, Jack McInerney, and Alexander Zahavi all being unable to participate, more key players are there than were in Holland.
"I am excited to be with the team again for the Milk Cup and continue to build on the team's performance and my individual performance," Badr said of the tournament. "There will be some players who I have yet to play with, and I am really looking forward to see how we gel together in one of the top youth tournaments in the world."
Badr and the US return to tournament action on Wednesday versus Denmark. They will then play a single play-off game to determine their final place in the tournament.