The United States men’s national soccer team saw its World Cup run come to a heartbreaking end Tuesday but another group of Americans will represent the country on the other football field next week in the International Federation of American Football Under-19 World Championships.
Gonzaga rising senior lineman Jack Carroll will join 44 other amateur football players from across the nation to compete in Kuwait in an eight-team field featuring Austria, France, Germany, Japan, Kuwait, Mexico and defending IFAF U-19 champion Canada.
The experience brings a sense of familiarity for Carroll, as the team will be coached by Aaron Brady, who led Gonzaga for the past four seasons before taking the head coaching job at Malvern Prep (Pa.) in April.
“It’s great because I loved playing for Coach Brady and know that he brings a winning attitude to any team,” said the 6-foot-3, 290-pound Carroll, who has garnered offers from UNC-Charlotte and Bryant entering his senior season. “I was sad to see him go, but I understand why he did for his family. I’m just glad to have one more chance to play under him.”
While the assumption would be that the U.S. holds the upper hand at the game of American football, Carroll knows from his experience with the U-16 team that next week’s event will be plenty competitive.
“When I played with the U-16 team in Austin, we played Sweden the first game and I honestly wasn’t expecting much, but they gave us quite the challenge,” Carroll said. “We’ve been watching film on the teams from Canada and Japan and they look really good, so we’re expecting a real tough competition. But we’ll be ready.”
The U.S. team held two-a-day practices at Shenandoah University’s campus during the past six days before departing Wednesday for the 12-hour flight to Kuwait. Following several more practice sessions during the Independence Day weekend, the U.S. will begin pool play on Monday against Mexico. They will then face Germany on July 10 and Japan on July 13. The winner of the two pools will vie for the gold medal on July 16.