Five Baltimore-area youth soccer players will get a taste of international competition when they travel to Italy next week with the other members of the U.S.A. Thunderbolts.
The Thunderbolts, a 13-year-old boys soccer team comprised mostly of regional-level Olympic Development Program players from Maryland, Washington and Virginia, will compete against some of Italy's top youth teams in a series of exhibition games.
In Italy, the team will stay as guests of A.C. Milan, the 1995-96 Italian national champions, at the Collegio San Francesco, a 14th-century monastery used as a school and sports center for Italy's premier youth soccer teams.
In addition to the game against A.C. Milan, the Thunderbolts will play teams from Bologna, Piacenza, Atalanta, Juventus, Sampdoria, Brescia and Parma.
"I was an international player at a young age and I know how important it is to play at the highest level," Thunderbolts coach Sona Walla said. "This trip is the kind of investment in youth soccer we need to make in the United States to produce world-class soccer teams."
Area players on the team are Kevin Mezzadra of Fallston, Santino Quaranta of Baltimore, Matthew Boras of Glenwood, Kaiser Chowdry of Columbia and Michael Dello-Russo of Ellicott City.
Dello-Russo, a midfielder, has two years of ODP experience and is a member of the Columbia Strikers club team that captured seven consecutive National Capital Soccer League Division I titles. He and Chowdry are both in San Diego this week with the under-14 national pool.
Quaranta and Mezzadra are both members of the Soccer Club of Baltimore Bays, which has won four state championships in a row and two straight region crowns. Quaranta, who at 12 is one of the youngest players on the squad, has never been to Italy but remembers losing to an Italian squad, twice, at the Dallas Cup in Texas.
"The Italians play a whole different style of soccer," Quaranta said. "Plus, they're quick, have great ball control and every player has great skill. Playing over there will only make us better when we come back."
Pub Date: 8/14/97