Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Youth: Salkicic named to U.S. Residency Program

Strictly Soccer’s Tarik Salkicic of St. Petersburg has been selected to join the U.S. Soccer Under-17 residency program in Bradenton, joining Fusion Futbol Club’s Atsouh Ayah of Tampa.

Salkicic was called up to the under-17 national team for the Nike Friendlies in early December in Arizona, and he received word from U.S. Soccer this week that the program wanted him to join full time. Salkicic will play for Strictly Soccer at the Disney Soccer Showcase next week before heading to Bradenton on Jan. 4.

“It means a lot,” Salkicic said. “I’m happy that they called me, and I hope to represent my club well.”

Born in Croatia, Salkicic’s family moved to Germany for a short time when he was young before moving to the U.S. when he was five. Salkicic said his family’s love of the sport had been a major influence on him.

“My grandfather used to play soccer as a semi-pro, and I talked to him every day about it,” Salkicic said. “My family is in love with soccer in general, so I think that’s where it comes from.”

Salkicic also said Strictly Soccer coach Hans Burt had been instrumental in helping him develop. Burt said he was very proud to see Salkicic called up after having spent the past eight seasons with Strictly Soccer. While not the most polished player, Burt said he thought Salkicic’s energy and desire to improve would allow him to develop greatly while in the program.

“There’s a lot of good players who can’t take that constant workout and that constant flow,” Burt said. “This kid is going to love it.

“He will only get better in the national program. He is a guy who exponentially will improve, and it’ll be a shock if anyone improves more than him over the next year-and-a-half, because he will run with it, he won’t get tired. His concern is when they have a week or two off of practice can he come up and train with us.”

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