Kevin Alston grew up in Silver Spring, but because of his blossoming soccer skills, he hasn't spent much time there lately. For the last two years, Alston, 17, has been enrolled in the U.S. soccer residency program in Bradenton, Fla. -- the same system that produced, among others, D.C. United's Freddy Adu.

Now, Alston is off on his biggest adventure: representing the United States at the FIFA under-17 world championship in Peru. In the first round of the 16-team tournament, the Americans will play North Korea (Saturday), Italy (Tuesday) and Ivory Coast (Sept. 23).

"I think we have a good chance to win this," Alston, a 5-foot-7, 140-pound outside defender, said from Peru this week. "We've worked hard and come a long way. We're playing well right now and we've got a lot of confidence against these teams."

Alston played at Good Counsel High School for one year before heading to Bradenton for intensive training and private schooling. He has been a member of the famed Potomac Cougars club program for several years and, at various times, has played alongside both Adus: Freddy and younger brother Fro, a junior at Georgetown Prep. Alston was also a member of United's youth program that won a prestigious title in Paris several years ago.

Alston's uncle, Mitchell Johnson, is a former NFL offensive lineman who played for several teams, including the Redskins, in the late 1960s and early '70s before becoming a successful venture capitalist. His mother, Jeanne, worked at The Washington Post for 14 years before joining the Newspaper Association of America.

Kevin Alston has committed to play at NCAA power Indiana next year. First, however, he has his sights set on a world championship.

"American soccer is getting better every year," he said, "and we want to show the rest of the world what we can do. It should be a good experience."

-- Steven Goff