A pair of brothers from Meridian will represent the United States as its men’s soccer deaf national team plays in the 2022 Deaflympics in Brazil in the coming days.
Braden Anderson, 20, and Dawson Anderson, 17, both left for Brazil on Wednesday ahead of the U.S. team’s Saturday opener against Iraq.
The trip marks the second international competition for Braden, a 2020 graduate of Centennial High. He made three appearances to help lead the U.S. to a gold medal at the Deaf Pan-American Games in Chile in 2019 — the first international tournament the U.S. deaf team had ever won.
Braden figures to start in the midfield and play a key role for the Americans. But the tournament gives Dawson, a junior midfielder and kicker at Rocky Mountain High, his first chance to represent his country.
He’s the youngest player on the roster.
“It means everything to me,” Dawson Anderson said in a text message to the Idaho Statesman. “Wearing the uniform is a dream come true.”
The Deaflympics, also known as the International Silent Games, date back to 1924, and predate and exist separately from the Paralympic. Athletes must have hearing loss of at least 55 decibels in their better ear and cannot use any implants or hearing aids during competition.
As one of 20 teams at the Deaflympics, the United States will compete in Group C against defending champ Turkey, Germany, Iraq and Mali. The top two teams in each group advance to the quarterfinals starting May 10, followed by the gold medal match May 15.
Braden and Dawson were both born deaf and use cochlear implants outside of games with the U.S. team. Braden first caught the eyes of the national team when its captain and president spotted him while working out with the Portland Timbers Academy in 2017.
Dawson then found a spot with the national team after tagging along with Braden to a practice. Their father, Eric Anderson, said the team initially asked him to train with its youth players before watching him warm up and inviting him to the senior squad for the day.
Dawson officially made the senior team last summer after a camp in Louisville, Kentucky.
“It chokes you up,” Eric Anderson said. “To see the excitement that it brings to them, and to do it together as brothers making history, that is really, really cool. The two have been real tight growing up.”
The Andersons continue Idaho’s recent run of homegrown players on national teams. Boise native Grayson Carter joined the U-15 men’s national team, the country’s youngest, at the Torneo delle Nazioni in Italy, Austria and Slovenia.
Boise High sophomore Sammy Smith was an alternate for the U-17 women’s national team for the Concacaf Championships, which began last week in the Dominican Republic.