Sciaretta's Scouting Report

Brazilian-American Luis Felipe Dreams of U-20 Cup

Born on Long Island but raised in Brazil, the 17-year-old midfielder made a strong impression with Tab Ramos's U-20 side during January's training camp. Brian Sciaretta spoke with the young talent.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
February 12, 2014
1:46 PM
OVER THE PAST DECADE, U.S. Soccer has stepped up its scouting across the globe in an effort to uncover eligible players who have developed outside of traditional American youth soccer programs.

The push has been successful at the youth national team levels too. The U.S. U-20 team in 2009 introduced Norwegian-born Mix Diskerud into the program and in 2010 it called up Berlin-born John Anthony Brooks for his first taste of international soccer. Both players have said that the fact the U.S approached them first weighed in their decisions to commit to the Stars and Stripes.

This approach may pay dividends again with Luis Felipe, a 17-year-old midfielder who currently plays for the U-20 team of famed Brazilian club Cruzeiro. Called in for the January U.S. U-20 camp in January, Felipe made a positive impression with head coach Tab Ramos and could prove to be the sort of player who makes an impact for the U.S.—now and in the future.

“I was so happy” to be invited to join the team, Felipe told American Soccer Now. “I didn’t expect to be called. It was very good too. They have very good players. It surprised me. I think I played well. Tab talked to me about the next callup and I want to go.”

Ramos informed Felipe that he wants to have the teenager involved for the Dallas Cup in April, although it is unclear if club commitments with Cruzeiro will allow Felipe to take part.

Born to Brazilian parents in Mineola, New York, Felipe moved to Brazil just before his third birthday. While he still visits his extended family in the United States, he has lived entirely in Brazil for the last 14 years.

Felipe first caught the attention of U.S. Soccer in 2011 when he scored a goal while playing for Cruzeiro in a tournament in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. In December 2013, Cruzeiro was set to play in at the IMG Cup and Ramos sent U.S. U-17 head coach Richie Williams to watch Felipe play.

“Richie watched him play and liked what he saw," Ramos said, adding that the decision to scout Felipe has paid off. "After watching him for 2-3 games we decided to bring him in. To be honest, we’ve been pleasantly surprised. We think he’s a good player.”

When Felipe arrived in Florida for the U-20 camp, there were several obstacles in his way. First, he had never met any of his teammates and was not familiar with the U.S. style of play. Also, his English is limited, and there wasn’t a player or coach at the camp who spoke fluent Portuguese. Adding to all of that, he was also one of the youngest players there.

As many other dual-nationals have said in the past, the various U.S. national teams tend to have a welcoming environment that makes it easy for new players to adapt. Felipe concurs.

“It was the first time I met the players,” Felipe recalled. “I didn’t know anybody but my roommate, Matt Miazga from the Red Bulls. He was a great guy. I made a lot of friends.”

Ramos is confident that Felipe can help the team this World Cup cycle, and he was particularly impressed with how quickly the teenager integrated himself into the team.

“Obviously because we don’t know him and don’t see all the time, it was nice to see that he came in and fit right in,” Ramos explained. “Especially as a 1996 making him a year younger, you’re always a little skeptical whether they’re going to be physically ready. I think he can help the team. I think that’s been a surprise at least to start the camp. He’s got very good feet and can go forward well, although he’s more of a defensive player.”

With his international career now started following a successful camp, Felipe is excited for the future. Despite growing up in Brazil, he always held out hope that he would grab the attention of U.S. Soccer—and now he has. Two months ago, it was a inconceivable to him, but now he has his sights set firmly on his next goal: the 2015 U-20 World Cup.

“I never thought about the national team of Brazil or the national team of the United States,” Felipe said. “I grew up in Brazil and I never thought I’d be playing for the national team of the United States. It was just a dream and now it’s coming true.”

“I’ve thought about the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand all the time. I would be so happy to go.”

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