Fall Classic: 15 Players to Watch in Friday's USA Men's Showcase


Jake Richard in action during the U.S. men's national team's September training camp at USA Lacrosse.

When the U.S. men’s national team assembles under the lights Friday night at Tierney Field, it will mark exactly 250 days until opening ceremonies of the 2023 World Lacrosse Men’s Championship.

San Diego feels so close. Israel feels so far away.

Fifty-one U.S. training team members will compete in the USA Men’s Showcase (7 p.m. ET), the first of three games this weekend that will go a long way toward determining which 23 will represent the defending world champion next summer.

The split squad also faces defending NCAA champion Maryland in a pair of exhibitions Saturday (9:30 a.m. ET and 2:30 p.m. ET).

Head coach John Danowski, offensive coordinator Seth Tierney and defensive coordinator Joe Amplo are back, as are seven players who were on the field at Netanya Stadium when the U.S. celebrated its last-second victory over Canada in the 2018 gold medal game. Among them are Rob Pannell and Tom Schreiber, who connected on that dramatic game-winning goal, as well as reigning world championship MVP Michael Ehrhardt.

But for all the continuity, there’s certainly a sense of newness in this current crop of U.S. hopefuls. The average age is 26, two years younger than the average age of the 2018 team. Six players are still in college. Four others were Premier Lacrosse League rookies this summer.

Eleven players, nearly half of the 2018 team, have retired since hoisting the Turnbull Shield. Opportunities abound. Yet for all the youth and star power on display at the USA Lacrosse Fall Classic, this coaching staff has demonstrated in the past a preference for veteran players who have experienced some form of hardship at this level. They just want it more.

Expect these 15 players to ball out this weekend.

The Last Cuts

Liam Byrnes, D
Connor Kelly, M
Will Manny, A
Joe Nardella, FO
Jake Richard, SSDM

The 2018 Major League Lacrosse All-Star Game was a wakeup call for the U.S. team. The Boston Globe called it “lacrosse’s biggest grudge match,” as the MLL All-Stars stormed back from a six-goal deficit in the fourth quarter and defeated the U.S. 15-14 in overtime.

Attackman Will Manny, one of 13 MLL All-Stars cut loose by the U.S., scored the game-winning goal. He was named the MLL All-Star Game MVP.

All five players listed above were members of the 2018 U.S. training team. Defenseman Liam Byrnes, midfielder Connor Kelly and short-stick defensive midfielder Jake Richard continued all the way through the last training camp. They’ve remained fixtures in the U.S. program, upholding the vision of a team that does not need to start from scratch every four years.

Speaking of game-winners, faceoff specialist Joe Nardella provided one of the most memorable moments in Fall Classic history when he scored off a feed from Manny in transition with 19.8 seconds left to lift the U.S. to a 7-6 win over Canada in 2019.

The First Cuts

Garrett Epple, D
Sergio Perkovic, M
Matt Rambo, A

By the time the U.S. held tryouts in July 2017, a veteran core had already begun to establish itself through a series of preceding events. There were not many spots for rookies like defenseman Garrett Epple, midfielder Sergio Perkovic and attackman Matt Rambo, all of whom earned looks with sensational senior seasons with their respective college teams. Rambo was the Tewaaraton Award winner.

All three players are back for another crack at the roster, this time advancing to the training team.

Another early cut the last go around was Kieran McArdle, who is playing with a different kind of swagger after a banner summer in the Premier Lacrosse League. The perpetually underrated attackman led the Waterdogs to the PLL championship, the first title he has ever won at any level. Part of the training roster, McArdle will not play this weekend, however, due to family obligations.

The Comeback Kid

Jack Kelly, G

Any talk of redemption would be incomplete without mentioning goalie Jack Kelly, who made the 2018 team but suffered a devastating knee injury in a pool-play game against Australia. He was carried off the field in tears.

Following a series of setbacks in his recovery, it took Kelly more than three years to get back on the field. He looked as good as ever between the pipes for the U.S. Sixes team at The World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, over the summer.

The position is up for grabs. Kelly is among five goalies vying for two spots on the 2023 team. Tim Troutner, whom he supplanted as the Redwoods starter this summer, also is in the mix. That’s not to mention 2022 PLL Goalie of the Year Kyle Bernlohr, 2021 PLL MVP and three-time Goalie of the Year Blaze Riorden and two-time PLL All-Star Jack Concannon.

The Late Bloomers

Kyle Bernlohr, G
Jack Concannon, G
Matt Dunn, D
Eddy Glazener, D
Colin Heacock, A
Blaze Riorden, G

Goalie Jack Concannon and defenseman Matt Dunn joined the U.S. team at the 2018 Fall Classic, three months after the world championship. The timing is not always right. Concannon and Dunn have spent four years competing with the red, white and blue. With the 2023 games in sight, they’re not about to let this opportunity pass them by.

Bernlohr and Riorden might not have been on the radar in 2018, but they’ve been the best and most consistent goalies for the PLL’s most successful clubs — the Whipsnakes and Chaos, respectively.

Overshadowed somewhat by Matt Landis and Garrett Epple on defensive units at Notre Dame and with the Redwoods, defenseman Eddy Glazener’s star has been on the rise the last few years. He’s the only player on the 52-man roster who was never named a collegiate All-American.

If You Go

What: USA Lacrosse Fall Classic
When: Oct. 14-16
Where: Sparks, Md.
Tickets: Members | Non-Members

It will be champs versus champs when the nation’s top men’s and women’s lacrosse players come to USA Lacrosse headquarters for the 2022 Fall Classic from Oct. 14-16. The event features the reigning world champion USA men’s and women’s teams, the reigning NCAA champions Maryland (men) and North Carolina (women) along with the USA Select U16 and U18 teams playing international competition from the Haudenosaunee Nation and Ontario in the Brogden Cup.

If You Watch

Live Stream: USALacrosse.com


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