UCLA Men's Soccer Signs U-17 Stars Owens, Gomez

Feb. 19, 2003

UCLA men's soccer head coach Tom Fitzgerald completed his 2003 recruiting class with the signing of U.S. Under-17 National Team stars Brandon Owens and Jose 'Trini' Gomez in the fall.

Both Owens and Gomez are graduating from high school a year early to join the Bruins. The U-17 standouts have been attending school at the Edison Learning Center at the U.S. residency training camp in Florida and will begin CONCACAF qualifying for the World Youth Championships next month.

Owens is a 5-11 defender from Murietta, CA and the U-17 team co-captain. He is tied for second on the U.S. squad with 49 appearances in 2002 and has already earned 23 international caps with the U-17s. Owens, one of just three players to appear in all 23 internationals last season, was a key member of a U.S. defense that posted 25 shutouts in 2002. He also scored three goals with one assist.

Fitzgerald is hoping for a smooth transition for Owens into the vacated spot in the backline by graduated U-23 team member Scot Thompson. 'Brandon's experience should allow him to slot into our back three,' Fitzgerald said. 'He has very good speed and should become one of the fastest players on the team.'

Gomez, a 5-8 midfielder from Inglewood, CA, has six international caps with the U-17s and played in 27 games overall in 2002, when he scored three goals and three assists. Gomez has been with the National Team program since 2000 and has played with the U-14 and U-16s in addition to the U-17s.

'Trini is a midfield player with excellent vision and passing ability,' stated Fitzgerald. 'He is one of the best midfield passers of anyone who has ever come through the Under-17 program.'

The duo will join U-18 National Team players Patrick Ianni, Chad Barrett and Taylor Canel, as well as Kiel McClung and Damon James in the incoming freshman class.

'With the addition of these two incoming freshman to the five we signed earlier, this could be one of the best recruiting classes in recent years for UCLA,' said Fitzgerald. 'Their exceptional abilities, along with their versatility, should allow us to again challenge for the NCAA title.'

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