Hamisi Amani-Dove of Columbia will take one more step up the long ladder to the U.S. Olympic soccer team next week when he plays on the Olympic Development Program's national soccer team in Canada.
The 17-year-old resident, who caught the eye at ODP coaches at a recent regional tryout, will travel to Vancouver, British Columbia, to play onthe program's under-20 national soccer team July 1-8 against teams from Canada and Mexico.
If the coaches like what they see, Amani-Dove could become a permanent member of the national squad.
ODP teams represent state, regional, national and Olympic levels of competition. In Maryland, for example, the 25 best players are selected for teams in six age groups following open tryouts.
The program provides expert coaching aimedat developing Olympic-caliber athletes. Teams play against competitors from other states and countries.
Amani-Dove, a striker who willbe a senior next fall at Wilde Lake High School, has played one yearfor the program's regional under-17 1/2 team. Since 1988, he also has played for the state ODP team.
Although he is one of the Columbia Diplomats' youngest players, Amani-Dove led the club this spring with 26 goals. The Dips is an under-19 team that includes college freshmen.
"Few American players can play with their backs to the goal, and Hamisi is one of those that can," Dips coach Steve Brunett said.
"He's also an unselfish player, which adds to his overall game. Hecan pass off as well as score," he added.
Amani-Dove, who lives in Clary's Forest, is 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds and has played soccer competitively since he was 8.
In late May, he participated in a tryout for the Eastern Regional Olympic Festival team.
"I got a good look there. And then last Saturday I got a call saying I had been recommended and chosen to go to Vancouver," he said.
A player who possesses incredible speed and acceleration, Amani-Dove is often either double-teamed or defended by the opposing team's top marker.
He scored 12 goals and had eight assists for his high school team at WildeLake last fall. He has started at striker for the Wildecats since his sophomore year.
His trip next week won't be Amani-Dove's first soccer contest outside the United States. He went with the ODP state team to England and Wales a year ago during Easter break.
One ingredient to Amani-Dove's success, both at the club and high school levels, has been teammate Matt Nesbitt, who has fed him on many goals.
"They work better together than any two players I've ever seen," Brunett said.
Amani-Dove no doubt will have college scouts giving him a close look this fall when he and Nesbitt team up again.
After graduation, Amani-Dove hopes to play for a team in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the hotbed for college soccer. He prefers North Carolina or Duke.
"He's going to be an excellent college player," Brunett predicts.
He joins a growing list of other male county soccer players who have played for national teams.
That list includes Clint Peay (Oakland Mills), Steve Sietsema (Howard), Todd Haskins (Howard), Matt Nesbitt (Wilde Lake), Brian Bailey (Hammond), Desmond Armstrong (Howard) and Dante Washington (Oakland Mills).