Where are they now: Bradenton, Spring 2003

Following my last post on Bradenton, doing the relatively easy online research to figure out where the class of 1999 had gone, I asked if  I should turn my attention to another class. A voice emerged from the crowd: “Play Salieri.”

Or, in reality: “Do Memo Gonzalez’s class.”

By the time the future Galaxy roster member played in Bradenton, the program was bigger. Some players were spending multiple years. So the list below is broken down by graduation date and the number of semesters they spent in residency. It also includes many players who didn’t play in a U17 World Cup.

That 2003 U17 World Cup, held in Finland, was the one in which 14-year-old Freddy Adu shredded South Korea. The USA also beat Sierra Leone before falling 2-0 to Spain, which got a goal from someone named Cesc Fabregas. He turned out pretty well. That led to a quarterfinal appearance against Brazil and a forgettable finish. Nineteen of the 20 players on that team were in Bradenton; goalkeeper Quentin Westberg was based in France. The players on that team are marked with *

And wouldn’t you know it — someone from ESPN/Soccernet looked at this team as well back in 2009. It’s worth a read for the recollection of the South Korea game alone.

So I’ll be updating and expanding. Here goes …

Graduated in Spring 2003 after two semesters in Bradenton:

Adrian Chevannes*: Went to Clemson but transferred to SMU, sat out the 2005 season and finished up in 2007. Drafted in 2008 by Colorado, but he told Soccernet he had suffered a few injuries in college that made a pro career unlikely. Said something in that piece about grad school. Beyond that, I found nothing. Anyone?

Steve Curfman*:Went to Wake Forest. Drafted by Real Salt Lake but wound up back in North Carolina, first with the Carolina Railhawks, then the Wilmington Hammerheads, then the PDL’s CASL Elite. Listed as a coach at Carolina Soccer Club.

Chris Germani*: Several injuries at North Carolina and Penn State, and he finally sat out his senior year. Now an investment operations manager with Northwestern Mutual.

Brian Mascarenhas: Coincidentally, India has a player by the same name. The American Brian Mascarenhas went to Vanderbilt, only to see the program disband. Then he went to Georgetown for a year. Then Penn. Along the way, he interned for U.S. senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) but embarked on an apolitical career, working for Cox Media Group and coaching at his old Atlanta youth club, Concorde Fire.

Brandon Oot: Transferred from St. John’s to LeMoyne. Then I’ll give a classic “What I know / what I don’t”: There is a Brandon Oot and Associates listed in Newburgh, N.Y., there’s a Brandon Oot “business owner / professional training and coaching” listing for Newburgh, there’s a Brandon Oot listing with a Syracuse hometown and current location of Newburgh, and the soccer player named Brandon Oot is from Lafayette, N.Y., just outside Syracuse. What that proves other than my love of run-on sentences, I’m not sure.

Jacob Peterson*: This one’s a little easier — went to Indiana and won a couple of NCAA titles, then bounced around MLS: Colorado, Toronto, San Jose, Kansas City. Tied his career high for goals in 2012 with four.

Eric Vogl: Started his college career at Furman, transferred to Charlotte (formerly UNC Charlotte) and then stopped playing. Has a really impressive business resume, though.

Jamie Watson*: Played a couple of years at North Carolina before going pro through Generation Adidas. Couldn’t get regular time at Real Salt Lake and took a journey through the lower divisions. Spend 2012 on loan to Minnesota but plans to return to Orlando in 2013.

After three semesters:

Jose “Trini” Gomez: Started at UCLA but transferred to Loyola Marymount, where his GPA was impressive. Beyond that, he’s hard to find. Not exactly a unique name, even among U.S. soccer players — another Jose Gomez is projected as an early pick in the 2013 MLS draft. He also goes by “Trini,” short for his middle name “Trinidad,” but that also doesn’t help.

Drew Harrison: Went to Virginia. Then it gets interesting. To summarize his colorful bio: He went into stock trading, watched the markets crash, went to Central America, then came back to Charleston (S.C.) to promote sustainable urban agriculture. He was named one of Charleston’s “40 Under 40” and said his goals were to expand his Green Heart Project and see the U.S. win a World Cup. (Men, we’re guessing, since they haven’t won one yet, though it’s been a while for the women as well.) And yes, he coaches a bit.

Kyle Helton*: The Soccernet roundup tracked him from Duke to New England to Sweden to Atlanta to Austin. He’s in Norway now with Mjøndalen, which has narrowly missed out on promotion to the top division.

Jonathan Spector*: Maybe other players were more heralded, but he’s the one who signed with Manchester United straight out of Bradenton. He made a couple of appearances for the EPL giants but went on loan to Charlton, then transferred to West Ham, where he had a few productive years. He has since moved on to Birmingham City. He has been in and out of the U.S. team, but he was “in” for the glorious 2009 Confederations Cup.

Chase Wileman: Played at SMU, then stayed in Texas with FC Dallas, where his current bio says he was reserve team MVP in 2008. He has since gone into coaching, first locally in Texas and now at Dartmouth.

After four semesters:

Corey Ashe*: From North Carolina to the Houston Dynamo, the left-sided player has been a strong cog on a lot of winning teams.

John DiRaimondo*: Went to St. Louis, then played mostly in Colorado’s reserves. Passed through D.C. United, Harrisburg City and Richmond in 2009. He returned to St. Louis to get an MBA and work with the soccer team, then joined Ernst and Young.

Eddie Gaven*: Overhyped! Underrated! Overhyped! Underrated! Three seasons with the MetroStars, seven seasons with Columbus, and people still don’t know what to make of him. He’s pretty good. Really.

Guillermo “Memo” Gonzalez*: A can’t-miss prospect who missed. Maybe Dan Loney or someone else from the Galaxy fan base can explain how things went down in Los Angeles. But the bottom line is that he played a total of 12 games in MLS, all with the Galaxy, and no one picked him up. He has been an assistant women’s coach at Cerritos College, among other coaching gigs, for several years.

Brian Grazier*: Like DiRaimondo, Grazier went to St. Louis, then to Colorado, then back to St. Louis to do graduate work and help out with the soccer team. Now on the coaching staff at Rutgers.

Michael Harrington*: Went to North Carolina and was picked early in the draft, then spent six good seasons with Kansas City. Traded earlier this month to Portland.

Phil Marfuggi*: Goalkeeper played at Clemson, was picked in the MLS Supplemental Draft, wound up with the USL’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds and went on to a successful football career. Oh, not that football. Or that one. He moved to the Arena Football League as a placekicker. Funny thing — he has more tackles than field goals.

Tomiwa Ogunsola: Played at Clemson and James Madison, starting 21 games in four years. Popped up at German lower-division club VfR Horst, then Cleveland City Stars. Turned up at a pro combine in 2011, getting good marks for speed and strength. Then he turned up on a list of coaches at Northern Virginia Soccer Club … hey, did I coach against him at All-Stars?

Brandon Owens*: Brandon is his middle name, so you may see him listed as Dwight Owens. Played at UCLA, taking a redshirt season to recuperate from a knee injury. The Soccernet roundup in 2009 saw him passing up one of the old-school (or old-CBA) $13K developmental contracts with D.C. United. Instead, he went into coaching and banking, with a few stops in the PDL (Thunder Bay, Orange County) along the way.

Continued on in the program (with one exception, players had been in Bradenton for two semesters and
continued for another two):

Freddy Adu*: This was the third of his five semesters in Bradenton. Has had an enigmatic and erratic career since then, starring at every level of age-group soccer (U17, U20, Olympic) but struggling to find a long-term pro home.

Michael Bradley: Didn’t play in a U17 World Cup but seemed to do pretty well for himself. He was a bit of a mystery when he signed with MLS at age 16 and had to wait until the fourth round — unusual for a teen signee — until his father’s team, the MetroStars picked him up.  His father, Bob, also coached him on the national team. It’s taken a few years and a few stints with five European teams, but the “nepotism” charges should be officially dead now. American Soccer Now’s panel of experts ranks him as the No. 1 U.S. player at the moment.

Christian Jimenez: Six minutes. That’s the MLS playing career of Christian Jimenez, who left South Florida after one season and was drafted 14th overall by Chivas USA in 2005. He never played for the Rojiblancos and moved to Real Salt Lake in 2006. At RSL, he played in one game — for six minutes. He moved into coaching.

Marcus Rein: Goalkeeper transferred from Wake Forest to Central Florida, then dropped off the roster just in time for a young freshman named Sean Johnson to come in. Then he moved to California and started a fitness company.

Steve Sandbo*: Played at SMU and declined an invitation to the MLS combine to go into investment banking. Still doing financial stuff.

Danny Szetela*: Once upon a time, he wasn’t far behind Adu in the pantheon of youth stars. He went into the MLS lottery and played a couple of underwhelming seasons with Columbus, but he was still enough of a star (and a success at the U20 World Cup in 2007) to sign with Racing Santander in La Liga. Then he was loaned to Brescia in Italy’s Serie B. Came back to MLS and was a little less successful than Adu, playing a handful of games for D.C. United and getting the axe. Arrested in a 2011 bar brawl. After that, the trail goes a little cold. He is certainly not the “Daniel Szetela” on LinkedIn. I don’t see him on Facebook, either.

Julian Valentin*: Had a good run at Wake Forest but spent most of his MLS career on loan from Los Angeles to somewhere else — Hollywood United Hitmen, Cleveland City Stars, etc. Moved on to Tampa Bay in Division 2 and was named team captain in 2010. Then he retired to be an assistant editor with the Colorado Rockies. Maintains a fun Twitter feed:


Tim Ward: Last but not least, the defender went to St. Louis and left early to join MLS, playing with the MetroStars, Columbus, Colorado (reserves only), Chicago and San Jose. Unclaimed in recent re-entry draft, so he’s now a free agent.

So overall … a lot of murky careers, a lot of injuries (playing too much?), a lot of college transfers, a lot of guys landing on their feet.


Published by

Beau Dure

The guy who wrote a bunch of soccer books and now runs a Gen X-themed podcast while substitute teaching and continuing to write freelance stuff.

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