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Youth Articles

Chivas USA 'very close' to signing HG

Top Drawer Soccer - Mon, 03/26/2012 - 2:00am

U.S. U18 Men's National Team midfielder Marco Delgado is on the verge of signing a Home Grown contract with Chivas USA, according to two individuals close to the MLS club's youth academy.

Delgado, who prefers the nickname Marky, has been training with the first team since preseason started. Unlike other teenagers, Delgado enjoys a flexible class schedule as he is enrolled in an online university.  

The 16-year-old has featured at defensive midfield for the reserve team, and right midfield for the U18 Academy team. In previous interviews with TopDrawerSoccer.com, he said he preferred a more central role, which is where he also plays with the national team.  

With his combination of sharp passing and diligent work ethic, Delgado has emerged as a top prospect for the MLS club following its merger with Cosmos Academy West in July. Delgado played with Cosmos Academy West (which was previously called LAFC, as well) in the Development Academy from 2009-2011.

Chivas USA has signed two Home Grown players in the past, Bryan de la Fuente and Cesar Zamora, but both are no longer with the team.

"Hopefully, it is wrapped up tomorrow," one source added when the contract would be finalized.  

J.R. Eskilson is a staff reporter at TopDrawerSoccer.com. Follow him on or send him an ' ); document.write( addy_text71209 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //-->\n ' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ' ); //-->
Categories: Youth Articles

Big 12 soccer spring preview

Top Drawer Soccer - Mon, 03/26/2012 - 2:00am

Out with the old, in with the new.

The Big 12 is in the midst of shuffling the deck with two new additions to the women's soccer side of things for the 2012 season. West Virginia and TCU join the league, while Texas A&M and Missouri head to the SEC.

The Mountaineers won the Big East tournament last season, but ended the year abruptly with a first round exit to Virginia Tech in the NCAA tournament. Despite the quick end, West Virginia is still poised to be one of the top teams in the Big 12 in the fall with three of its top four goalscorers last season back.

Mountaineers head coach Nikko Izzo-Brown is taking the squad to Spain for spring training with three games planned over a nine-day stretch.

Fellow new addition TCU is looking to improve in the spring after finishing tied for last in the Mountain West last season. The Horned Frogs hired a new head coach, Eric Bell, in December.

Bell is the former associate head coach with Florida State. He was responsible for recruiting many of the stars to Tallahassee, so it is perhaps no surprise that he brought in 10 new players to the TCU program with his first recruiting class.

Brooke KvizThe recruits will join standout returnees Brooke Kviz and Alicen Wright in the program's first Big 12 season. Kviz notched five goals and two assists last year in her sophomore campaign. She is expected to help fill the void left by leading scorer Jordan Calhoun who is graduating this semester.

Wright started 16 games at keeper as a freshman last season, which included a ten-save performance against nationally ranked and new conference foe Oklahoma State.

The Horned Frogs have a five-game schedule planned for spring with games against Tulsa, SMU, Texas Tech, and Texas State still to come after already facing Rice in early March.

With Texas A&M and Missouri exiting the conference, Oklahoma State enters spring ball as clearly the team to beat, which is a far cry from where this program started sixteen years ago.  

Head coach Colin Carmichael has been the one in charge since the program's inception in 1996. He preserved through the first six Big 12 seasons with only 11 wins combined, and now claims back-to-back regular season conference titles. The Cowgirls have either won the Big 12 Conference regular season or tournament in each of the last four years.

Oklahoma State's top returner is goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, who was an All-American last year. The junior keeper was second in the nation in goals-against average with 0.348, and tied for first in shutouts.

"It is great to have AD [Franch] back," Carmichael told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "She has been very vocal, it gives the new players a lot of confidence."

The Cowgirls started spring games earlier in March with a doubleheader against Tulsa and Oral Roberts. The game against Tulsa ended in a draw. Sophomore Kristen Kelley and junior Megan Marchesano scored in the 2-0 win over Oral Roberts.

"We have a young team," Carmichael said. "Seven seniors graduated, and now we are looking for players to step up. Practices are gradually getting better."

Carmichael's group squares off against Big 12 rival Baylor on April 1 for the next spring game.

The Baylor Bears finished third in the Big 12 last season and made it to the NCAA postseason for the first time in 11 years. The Bears were led offensively by the stellar play of junior forward Dana Larsen and junior supersub Lisa Sliwinski.

Baylor returns the majority of scorers from last year's team, so head coach Marci Jobson has challenged them this spring season with a daunting list of opponents.

"We are bringing back a large part of the 2011 team, so this type of competition will be good heading into the fall," Jobson said in a release.

Beyond the Oklahoma State game, Jobson's team also faces former conference foe Texas A&M and Stephen F. Austin in the spring.

New arrival TCU is not the only program shifting head coaches this spring. After finishing tied for last in the conference last year, Oklahoma also decided to change coaches in December.

The Sooners hired Washington State head coach Matt Potter. The Englishman led the Cougars to the NCAA tournament three times in eight seasons, and will be looking to accomplish the same type of reversal of fortune with Oklahoma.

Former Tennessee head coach Angela Kelly takes the reins at Texas, replacing Chris Petrucelli.

Big 12 Players to Watch:

AD Franch, Junior, Oklahoma State, Goalkeeper - The junior keeper collected All-American honors in her third season in Stillwater. With her leadership, the Cowgirls led the nation in goals-against average and shutouts in the fall. Big 12 offenses will be happy to learn she will be a senior next year.

Ingrid Vidal, Freshman, Kansas, Forward - Before even putting on her Kansas jersey, Vidal had already played in a FIFA Women's World Cup. Last summer, she appeared in two games for Colombia in group play, but the team did not advance past the first stage.

Vidal used that experience to propel her through her first collegiate season. She scored 11 goals and contributed six assists, as the Jayhawks finished 11-9-1 on the year.

Jessica Fuston, Sophomore, Texas Tech, Forward - The 2010 Big 12 Freshman of the Year only slowed down a little bit in her sophomore campaign. After scoring 11 goals in her first season, Fuston added eight goals to the lead the Red Raiders in 2011. She now ranks fifth all time in goals scored for Texas Tech.

 

J.R. Eskilson is a staff reporter at TopDrawerSoccer.com. Follow him on or send him an ' ); document.write( addy_text221 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //-->\n ' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ' ); //-->
Categories: Youth Articles

Atlantic 10 looks to keep trending up in spring

Top Drawer Soccer - Mon, 03/26/2012 - 2:00am

The Atlantic 10 is a conference on the rise.

There's no better way to recognize its ascension than last year's national tournament, where UNC Charlotte made a run to the title game.

"It is very competitive," Fordham head coach Jim McElderry told TopDrawerSoccer.com of the A-10. "I think some of the top end teams have established themselves in their region whatever region their in, to be successful. Whether it's beating local teams that are good teams or being able to play out of region."

Added Xavier head coach Andy Fleming: "I think it's a little under the radar and I think our top three or four teams are as good as anybody's."

That theory will be put to the test in 2012, as a couple of the recently successful programs deal with significant change at the top. Charlotte saw its head coach Jeremy Gunn take the top job at Stanford, with Associate head coach Kevin Langan named in his stead.

Nat BekoeMeanwhile, George Washington, which won the regular season Atlantic 10 title, saw longtime coach George Lidster retire after 24 years in charge. Craig Jones, who had been the team's top assistant for the last three years, was named as Lidster's replacement and will look to return the Colonials to the top of the standings.

Most other teams, like Fordham, aren't dealing with a coaching change, but are working hard in the spring to replace a strong departing senior class. Head coaches recognize that departing players impact a team off the field almost as much as some do on the field.

At Fordham, this is a particular issue being addressed.

"I think one of the biggest areas [we're working on] is the leadership of our group," McElderry said. "When you have such a big group of seniors and we had a great group of guys graduate and as I said not all of those were major contributors on the field. But off the field and the culture of our team that group of seniors is very important."

While Fordham has to cope with the loss of eleven seniors, including its starting goalkeeper in Ryan Meara, a program like Xavier - which won the conference tournament in 2011 - is looking to build on a successful year and push the team to a new plateau.

"We're trying to maintain it a little bit here and try to go to another level, push past that first round and even compete for an at-large bid down the road," Fleming said. "But we have a veteran group and we're trying to maintain things rather than re-inventing ourselves."

With that in mind, Fleming has set up an extremely demanding spring schedule, including games against Akron and Notre Dame to ensure the team doesn't get complacent during this time of year.

But the bulk of the attention next fall in the conference is certain to fall on the shoulders of UNC Charlotte. Despite the coaching change, and the loss of talent like Charles Rodriguez and Evan James, the 49ers bring back leading scorer Giuseppe Gentille and new head coach Kevin Langan probably won't suffer too significant of a drop-off.

And then there's the perennial power St. Louis, aiming to return to contention with a strong recruiting class, which opened its spring schedule last weekend with a 3-2 loss against Indiana, not to mention like other rising programs such as Temple or La Salle.

Regardless of what takes place this spring, there's little question that the somewhat unheralded Atlantic 10 is only going to continue to get better.

"I think the top teams in our conference have shown very well," McElderry said. "Some of the schools are putting more resources into soccer which eventually is what you need to compete."

Atlantic 10 Players to Watch

Nat Bekoe,
Fordham: As his squad bids farewell to an influential senior class, players like Bekoe are going to have to step up not just on, but also off the field. He's already played more than 30 games in two seasons at Fordham, and in order for his side to continue recent success, he'll need to find ways to dictate the game.

Giuseppe Gentille, UNC Charlotte: The freshman defied the odds to knock in double-digit goals as the 49ers made their run to the NCAA Final. Like all teams, Charlotte faces a significant talent drain, and what Gentille is capable of for an encore is going to factor in how 2012 plays out.

Nick Hagglund, Xavier: An outstanding center back for the burgeoning program in Ohio, Hagglund picked up a First Team All-Conference award and must improve on that if the Musketeers can take that next step forward.
 

Travis Clark is a staff reporter at TopDrawerSoccer.com. Follow him on or send him an ' ); document.write( addy_text73772 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //-->\n ' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ' ); //-->
Categories: Youth Articles

Chivas USA 'very close' to signing Home Grown

Top Drawer Soccer - Mon, 03/26/2012 - 2:00am

U.S. U18 Men's National Team midfielder Marco Delgado is on the verge of signing a Home Grown contract with Chivas USA, according to two individuals close to the MLS club's youth academy.

Delgado, who prefers the nickname Marky, has been training with the first team since preseason started. Unlike other teenagers, Delgado enjoys a flexible class schedule as he is enrolled in an online university.  

The 16-year-old has featured at defensive midfield for the reserve team, and right midfield for the U18 Academy team. In previous interviews with TopDrawerSoccer.com, he said he preferred a more central role, which is where he also plays with the national team.  

With his combination of sharp passing and diligent work ethic, Delgado has emerged as a top prospect for the MLS club following its merger with Cosmos Academy West in July. Delgado played with Cosmos Academy West (which was previously called LAFC, as well) in the Development Academy from 2009-2011.

Chivas USA has signed two Home Grown players in the past, Bryan de la Fuente and Cesar Zamora, but both are no longer with the team.

"Hopefully, it is wrapped up tomorrow," one source added when the contract would be finalized.  

J.R. Eskilson is a staff reporter at TopDrawerSoccer.com. Follow him on or send him an ' ); document.write( addy_text65483 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //-->\n ' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ' ); //-->
Categories: Youth Articles

U17 MNT Training Session Examined: Part 1

Top Drawer Soccer - Mon, 03/26/2012 - 2:00am
(TopDrawerSoccer.com Managing Editor Robert Ziegler recently spent part of a week in Bradenton, Florida with the U17 Men's National Team residency program. Following is one of a series of articles about what he saw and heard there).

BRADENTON, FLORIDA - As the vans bringing the 31 players of the U17 Men's National Team to their beautiful training facility arrive, you get the immediate impression that things are all business.

The players are transported from their impressive living quarters at the IMG campus here early enough so that when the clock strikes 9 a.m. (and not a minute later), the training session begins.

On this day, things begin with calisthenics. Other days during the week the athletic trainers put the team through a rigorous strength and agility training session right at the beginning.

Following the stretching exercises, the teams break into four groups of 5v2 keep-away exercises, the staple of training at clubs the world over. At times coaches Richie Williams, Anthony Latronica and Jim Rooney call a brief halt to the passing and chasing, instructing the players to do some more static stretching. The squares set aside for the groups, which include goalkeepers at this point, are very small, making the margin for error on passing and receiving the ball very small indeed.

Next, each of the four groups is put into a larger area, essentially dividing up close to half of one field into quarters. Then a complex passing scheme is worked on, with players passing a moving around a central hub, often with more than one ball in play at a time. The emphasis here is clearly on precision and pace of the passes themselves.

"The first pass can't be bad," Williams scolds as one group's move breaks down. "That sets the rhythm for the whole thing. You have to be focused right from the beginning."

Later, the quality picks up and the players here from the former MLS and U.S. Men's National Team midfielder again "THAT'S how you pass a ball," he said. "continuing a very vocal oversight of the group as they continue the drill.

After this drill, the team's four goalkeepers move to an adjacent field to begin working with coach Anthony Latronica. Their session on this day focuses on dealing with short-range crosses and shot-stopping. Particular attention seems to be paid to each goalkeeper's initial positioning prior to executing a catch or save.

On the first field, players are conducting 7v7 passing drills (2 groups), with coaches focusing on players without the ball providing support. At one point Williams calls the group in to talk about mental attitude. He implores the group to not think of a teammate's mistakes as a cause for feeling beleaguered, but to see it as a chance to do something that helps the team out of a jam. He continues stressing this, suggesting that it can be one of the main determiners of a player's continued involvement with national teams, both at this age group and older.

The goalkeepers are grafted back in as four teams of 8 are created and a mini competition is played with each team facing the rest, and a championship game ensuing. Instruction from the continues throughout, and predictably the intensity rises for the final game. When that contest is tied at the end of the short time period, Williams orders sudden death kicks from the spot, which go on for a few rounds under Seattle Sounders' goalkeeper Paul Christenson makes a save to give his team the win.

The team then closes the 2 ½ hours with a grueling fitness session in the hot Florida sun (the team trains Monday through Friday but not always for this long).

After a brief water fight which serves to remind these are 15 and 16-year olds after all, the team loads into the vans to return for showers, a change of clothes and then a trip to a nearby school for the day's academic work, which lasts until close to 5 p.m.

Tomorrow: Training Day 2
Categories: Youth Articles

Top prospects update on college recruiting

Top Drawer Soccer - Mon, 03/26/2012 - 2:00am

Many of the top juniors in the country have already made their commitments to major Division-I programs, but a few still remain without a verbal to any school. TopDrawerSoccer.com tracked down a handful of blue-chip prospects for an update on the college recruiting process.

Paul Arriola, Forward, Arsenal FC USA
Graduation year: 2013
Top 100 rank: #4
Potential Schools: UCLA, Cal, Maryland, Akron, Louisville, and Wake Forest
 
Paul Arriola is No. 4 in our top 100 for 2013, but the three players above him are all already professionals. So Arriola finds himself with the title as the top ranked junior prospect eligible for college soccer, but he is not letting that title force him into making a commitment.

"Yes, I do feel a little bit of pressure [to commit] because it is possibly the next step in my life." Arriola told TopDrawerSoccer.com over email. "I'm really taking my time and seeing all my options in order to make the right decision."

Arriola leads Arsenal FC Academy U16 in scoring with 12 goals in 11 games this season, as his combination of speed and technique have proven too difficult for many defenses to contain in the U.S. Soccer Federation Development Academy.

Paul ArriolaThe swift striker revealed that there are six schools currently in his list of potential destinations.

"Cal, UCLA, and Maryland are some of my top schools," Arriola said. "But I am also in contact with Akron, Louisville, and Wake Forest and anything is possible right now."

Out of the list, Arriola has only visited UCLA.

"I loved UCLA," Arriola said. "It's a beautiful campus, wonderful area, and the coaches and players are all amazing and were very welcoming on my visit.

"I am yet to visit Maryland and Cal, but I have only heard positive things from others who go to those colleges as well as my teammates who have visited them."

Arriola's teammates have helped him on this decision, as many of his Residency Program friends have already made their college decisions and advised the star recruit.

"Many of my teammates from residency are attending UCLA, Maryland, Akron and many other Division I schools," Arriola said. "I'd love to be able to have the privilege to play with many of them again, and it does help a lot to hear from my old teammates encouraging me to attend that specific university."

The forward who has appeared recently with the U18 Men's National Team explained the two major components he is looking from his college experience.

"The main factor for me is the campus and the coaching staff," Arriola said. "I want to go to a college where I really fit in and one that fits my personality."

Arriola is also aware that his family has a preference, but he is not letting it affect his decision.  

"Of course my family would love for me to stay close to San Diego in order to visit, but at the end of the day I have to do what feels right for myself and which college will make me better, not only as a soccer player, but as a person as well."

Even though there are colleges fighting for his commitment, there is still a possibility that Arriola bypasses that route altogether.

"I do have aspirations to become a pro," Arriola added. "Hopefully I will be going on trials down in Mexico soon, possibly with Club Tijuana, America, and Tigres.

"It would be a dream come true to become a professional at a young age but college is definitely a high option and can't wait to commit to whichever college may fit me the best."

Javier ClavijoJavier Clavijo, Defender, Weston FC
Graduation year: 2013
Top 100 rank: #17
Potential schools: Clemson, UCF, Georgetown, Cornell, Wake Forest, Princeton and Richmond

A versatile right-footed player with experience as a center back and defensive midfielder, Clavijo is a standout for Weston FC. He's also attracting attention from a number of top programs as he makes his decision on where to play college soccer.

"I have received interest from schools all over the country, and from all three divisions," Clavijo told TopDrawerSoccer.com.

Having already made a pair of visits to Wake Forest and Clemson, Clavijo is also planning on stopping in on nearby Central Florida in the near future. He said that academics, athletics and chemistry are three of the more important factors he's considering as he continues on the path of deciding where to head next.

Jason Romero, Forward, De Anza Force
Graduation year: 2013
Top 100 rank: #58
Potential schools: UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Wake Forest, University of Cincinnati, Chico State, San Jose State, and St. Mary's.

With 11 goals to his name, Jason Romero is the leading scorer for the De Anza Force U16 Academy while only starting nine games this season. Due to injuries, Romero has been slowed in his first season in the Development Academy, but still managed to catch the eye of some of the top schools across the nation.

"As of right now my top 3 schools are UC Santa Barbara, Cincinnati and Wake Forest," Romero told TopDrawerSoccer.com "Those are the schools I've been contacting the most."
 
The talented forward added that he wants to join a program with a winning record that is on the cusp of winning the title.

"The most important factors for me are the type of environment at the school, a program that loves to win, and one that is looking to make a run for a national championship," Romero said. "Also, I want to have a coach that can have me playing at the highest level of soccer."

View all 2013 commitments

J.R. Eskilson is a staff reporter at TopDrawerSoccer.com. Follow him on or send him an ' ); document.write( addy_text96609 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //-->\n ' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ' ); //-->

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Categories: Youth Articles

Big 12 soccer spring preivew

Top Drawer Soccer - Sun, 03/25/2012 - 8:41pm

Out with the old, in with the new.

The Big 12 is in the midst of shuffling the deck with two new additions to the women's soccer side of things for the 2012 season. West Virginia and TCU join the league, while Texas A&M and Missouri head to the SEC.

The Mountaineers won the Big East tournament last season, but ended the year abruptly with a first round exit to Virginia Tech in the NCAA tournament. Despite the quick end, West Virginia is still poised to be one of the top teams in the Big 12 in the fall with three of its top four goalscorers last season back.

Mountaineers head coach Nikko Izzo-Brown is taking the squad to Spain for spring training with three games planned over a nine-day stretch.

Fellow new addition TCU is looking to improve in the spring after finishing tied for last in the Mountain West last season. The Horned Frogs hired a new head coach, Eric Bell, in December.

Bell is the former associate head coach with Florida State. He was responsible for recruiting many of the stars to Tallahassee, so it is perhaps no surprise that he brought in 10 new players to the TCU program with his first recruiting class.

Brooke KvizThe recruits will join standout returnees Brooke Kviz and Alicen Wright in the program's first Big 12 season. Kviz notched five goals and two assists last year in her sophomore campaign. She is expected to help fill the void left by leading scorer Jordan Calhoun who is graduating this semester.

Wright started 16 games at keeper as a freshman last season, which included a ten-save performance against nationally ranked and new conference foe Oklahoma State.

The Horned Frogs have a five-game schedule planned for spring with games against Tulsa, SMU, Texas Tech, and Texas State still to come after already facing Rice in early March.

With Texas A&M and Missouri exiting the conference, Oklahoma State enters spring ball as clearly the team to beat, which is a far cry from where this program started sixteen years ago.  

Head coach Colin Carmichael has been the one in charge since the program's inception in 1996. He preserved through the first six Big 12 seasons with only 11 wins combined, and now claims back-to-back regular season conference titles. The Cowgirls have either won the Big 12 Conference regular season or tournament in each of the last four years.

Oklahoma State's top returner is goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, who was an All-American last year. The junior keeper was second in the nation in goals-against average with 0.348, and tied for first in shutouts.

"It is great to have AD [Franch] back," Carmichael told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "She has been very vocal, it gives the new players a lot of confidence."

The Cowgirls started spring games earlier in March with a doubleheader against Tulsa and Oral Roberts. The game against Tulsa ended in a draw. Sophomore Kristen Kelley and junior Megan Marchesano scored in the 2-0 win over Oral Roberts.

"We have a young team," Carmichael said. "Seven seniors graduated, and now we are looking for players to step up. Practices are gradually getting better."

Carmichael's group squares off against Big 12 rival Baylor on April 1 for the next spring game.

The Baylor Bears finished third in the Big 12 last season and made it to the NCAA postseason for the first time in 11 years. The Bears were led offensively by the stellar play of junior forward Dana Larsen and junior supersub Lisa Sliwinski.

Baylor returns the majority of scorers from last year's team, so head coach Marci Jobson has challenged them this spring season with a daunting list of opponents.

"We are bringing back a large part of the 2011 team, so this type of competition will be good heading into the fall," Jobson said in a release.

Beyond the Oklahoma State game, Jobson's team also faces former conference foe Texas A&M and Stephen F. Austin in the spring.

New arrival TCU is not the only program shifting head coaches this spring. After finishing tied for last in the conference last year, Oklahoma also decided to change coaches in December.

The Sooners hired Washington State head coach Matt Potter. The Englishman led the Cougars to the NCAA tournament three times in eight seasons, and will be looking to accomplish the same type of reversal of fortune with Oklahoma.

Former Tennessee head coach Angela Kelly takes the reins at Texas, replacing Chris Petrucelli.

Big 12 Players to Watch:

AD Franch, Junior, Oklahoma State, Goalkeeper - The junior keeper collected All-American honors in her third season in Stillwater. With her leadership, the Cowgirls led the nation in goals-against average and shutouts in the fall. Big 12 offenses will be happy to learn she will be a senior next year.

Ingrid Vidal, Freshman, Kansas, Forward - Before even putting on her Kansas jersey, Vidal had already played in a FIFA Women's World Cup. Last summer, she appeared in two games for Colombia in group play, but the team did not advance past the first stage.

Vidal used that experience to propel her through her first collegiate season. She scored 11 goals and contributed six assists, as the Jayhawks finished 11-9-1 on the year.

Jessica Fuston, Sophomore, Texas Tech, Forward - The 2010 Big 12 Freshman of the Year only slowed down a little bit in her sophomore campaign. After scoring 11 goals in her first season, Fuston added eight goals to the lead the Red Raiders in 2011. She now ranks fifth all time in goals scored for Texas Tech.

 

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Categories: Youth Articles

U.S. U23 Player Ratings vs. Canada

Top Drawer Soccer - Sun, 03/25/2012 - 4:07am
Two set piece goals from Canada spelt the doom for the U.S. U23 Men's National Team in the second day of Group B play at CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying. Doneil Henry scored off a corner kick by Philippe Davies early in the second half, and Lucas Cavallini added the insurance goal late in a 2-0 win for Canada.

With the defeat, U.S. drops to third in the table, which means Caleb Porter's team will likely need a victory in the final group play game on Monday night against El Salvador to advance.

U.S. Player ratings:


Bill Hamid, 3 -- Didn't have much to do on the night, but came up short on Canada's two goals. He didn't even challenge Doneil Henry for the first, waiting for the ball to come to him as opposed to charging for it. And for the second, he didn't command his box well enough, allowing Cavallini to head it home through a sea of four white U.S. jerseys.

Zarek Valentin, 4 -- Switched from left back to right back for this game, Valentin didn't really bring much else to the table from a distribution perspective and failed to make an impact going forward. Wasn't tested as much defensively as some of the others.

Ike Opara, 3
-- Opara lost his mark on both goals. On top of that, he nearly scored an own goal in the first half on a terrible clearance. It was a nightmarish performance for the Earthquakes center back.

Perry Kitchen, 4 -- Unlike a couple of his back line counterparts, Kitchen made no grievous errors, but deserves his share of the blame for the lackluster and unorganized effort at the back.

Jorge Villafana, 5 -- No one on the back line deserves high marks, and while Villafana didn't do terribly, he was solid enough as he needed to be. He did do well to get forward and create a chance for Adu in the second half.

Mix Diskerud, 5 -- Credit to Canada, but Diskerud had no space and no time on the ball to pull the strings in midfield. Didn't have many opportunities to press forward and pick out teammates.

Jared Jeffrey, 5 -- Jeffrey, along with the rest of the U.S. midfielders, was outworked all night by Canada. The lack of a strong presence in the center of the field showed, as Canada found success on the counterattack.

Joe Corona, 5 -- Canada's formation focused on limiting the chances through the middle of the field, which left Corona invisible for much of his 45-minute outing. The Club Tijuana man struggled to operate, as defenders continuously swarmed him.

Freddy Adu, 4 -- Adu delivered two great set pieces, but both were neglected by the offside flag. When the ball was in play, Adu was a nomad when the U.S. needed an anchor. The lack of imagination in the attacking third was a stark contrast from the daring captain the U.S. displayed on Thursday.

Teal Bunbury, 5 -- The most meaningful contribution from Bunbury came when he pressured the keeper into a shaky clearance - probably not what you want from your starting striker.

Brek Shea, 4
-- Shea's performance wasn't all on him, as he spent long stretches of the game wide open on the flanks with no one able to get him the ball. Showed flashes at times, but wasn't the impact player this game needed.

Substitutes

Joe Gyau, 5 -- Coming off the bench limited Gyau to an extent, as he wasn't able to have any influence on the game playing mostly on the left flank. That said, he didn't do much to stamp his authority on the game when he had the chance.

Terrence Boyd, 5 -- The opportunity was there for Boyd to grab the starting spot from Bunbury, and he did nothing to prove he should be in the top 11. Quiet, reserved, and unwilling to assert his authority on the game, Boyd had a similar outing to the man he replaced.

Amobi Okugo, 4 -- Okugo was another one that failed to take advantage of an opportunity. Inserted with the U.S. trailing, Okugo was tasked with stopping the counterattacks, but the speedy Canadian forwards and wingers skated past him.
Categories: Youth Articles

U.S. U18 MNT to Meet for Training Camp

Top Drawer Soccer - Fri, 03/23/2012 - 7:59pm
The U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team will convene for a domestic training camp from March 25-April 1 in Carson, Calif.

Head coach Javier Perez has named 35 players to the roster for his first camp at the helm of this team. All but three players have Development Academy ties. Real Salt Lake Arizona, Baltimore Bays Chelsea, CD Chivas USA, LA Galaxy, New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union each contributed two players to the squad.

Five players are currently plying their trade outside of the U.S., with Ethan Horvath and Kristian Scott both members of Stoke City in England. Matt Dunn and Mobi Fehr play in Europe, while Esteban Rodriguez is part of the squad at Club Tijuana in Mexico.

Each player is age eligible for the 2012 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, with nine players born in 1994 and the rest born in 1995.

Roster by Position:

GOALKEEPERS (4): Santiago Castano (New York Red Bulls; Union City, N.J.), Ethan Horvath (Stoke City, Eng; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Zackary Steffen (Philadelphia Union; Downington, Pa.), Jacole Turner (Sporting KC; Lee's Summit, Mo.)

DEFENDERS (11): Miguel Alves (PDA; Newark, N.J.), Robert Amick (De Anza Force; Sunnyvale, Calif.), Suliaman Dainkeh (DC United; Reston, Va.), Mobi Fehr (Basel FC, Switzerland; Tokyo, Japan), Dylan Greenberg (Albertson SC; Dix Hills, N.Y.), Trevor Haberkorn (Solar Chelsea SC; Roanoke, Texas), Matthew Habrowski (Derby County Wolves; Berkley, Mich.), Malcolm Harris (Baltimore Bays Chelsea, MD; Damascus, Md.), Jalen Markey (Seattle Sounders FC; Renton, Wash.), Jose Ocampo (CrossFire Premier; Bothell, Wash.), Miguel Polley (Albertson SC; Woodridge, Il.)

MIDFIELDERS (11): Marco Delgado (CD Chivas USA; Glendora, Calif.), Matt Dunn (OFK Belgrade, Serbia; Dallas, Texas), Alejandro Guido (Unattached; Chula Vista, Calif.), Romilio Hernandez (Baltimore Bays Chelsea, MD; Lanham, Md.), Koty Millard (S.C. United Battery; Hopkins, S.C.), Antonio Murillo (Downtown Las Vegas Rapids; Las Vegas, Nev.), Adam Najem (New York Red Bulls; Clifton, N.J.), William Raygoza (LA Galaxy; South Elmonte, Calif.), Kristian Scott (Stoke City, ENG; Winterbourne, U.K.), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids; Brighton, Colo.), Stefanos Stemoulacatos (Empire; Camillus, N.Y.)

FORWARDS (9): Jordan Allen (RSL Arizona; Rochester, N.Y.), Paul Arriola (Arsenal FC; Chula Vista, Calif.), Cristian Cruz (San Jose Earthquakes; Hercules, Calif.), Benjamin Lopez (RSL Arizona; San Diego, Calif.), Andrew Oliver (Chicago Fire; Indianapolis, Ind.), Zach Pfeffer (Philadelphia Union; Dresher, Pa.), Esteban Rodriguez (Tijuana, MX; Palmdale, Calif.), Ben Spencer, JR. (CD Chivas USA; Albuquerque, N.M.), Jamie Villarreal (LA Galaxy; Inglewood, Calif.)

Categories: Youth Articles

U23 MNT player ratings in 6-0 win over Cuba

Top Drawer Soccer - Fri, 03/23/2012 - 5:13am

The U.S. U23 Men's National Team dismantled Cuba 6-0 on the opening day of CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying on Thursday. Joe Corona recorded a hat trick on top of a very impressive showing in the attacking midfielder role. Juan Agudelo, Freddy Adu, and an own goal made up the rest of the score. 
In the earlier game, Canada and El Salvador played to a 0-0 draw. The U.S. will face Canada on Saturday with the potential of securing a berth into the semifinal round with a win. 
Player ratings:
Bill Hamid, 6 - Not very much to do for the U.S. goalkeeper. Made all of one save during the 90 minutes, a simple catch off a deflected shot.
Kofi Sarkodie, 5 - The right back might have spent more time in Cuba's half than his own. Didn't look particularly sharp and had a couple of sloppy moments. Could open the door for Williams to play on the right in the group stage.
Joe CoronaIke Opara, 6 - From a defensive perspective, there wasn't much for Opara to do. While there were a couple wobbles during the night, Opara was solid and steady at the back.
Perry Kitchen, 6 - There were moments when Kitchen was caught on the wrong shoulder of his mark, but those moments were few and far between. Cuba rarely had the ball in the attacking half. 
Zarek Valentin, 6 - He has less to do in the first half than Hamid. In the second half, he was more involved in the attack but he was not that effective with the ball on his feet. 
Jared Jeffrey, 6 - In a game that was basically out of hand after the first 20 minutes, Jeffrey had little to do in the middle of the field especially defensively. 
Mix Diskerud, 6 - Diskerud's biggest fault was the services he had on corner kicks. With six chances in the first half, Diskerud failed to supply one adequate service, but he did well in the run of play. 
Joe Corona, 8 - The Club Tijuana man was the obvious choice as man of the match. With his nifty touches and well-placed shots, Corona sliced through a terrible Cuba defense and notched the hat trick. It was easy to see why head coach Caleb Porter gave Corona the #10 jersey. 
Freddy Adu, 7 - Starting on the right flank, Adu put in an energetic and effective performance. He grabbed an impressive goal from distance as well, continuing his effectiveness in youth tournaments.
Juan Agudelo, 7 - Agudelo drew a red card, scored on a beautiful cross, and hounded the Cuba defense all night. It was a good 45-minute outing from the New York Red Bulls striker in the #9 role. 
Brek Shea, 7 - The left winger provided a great assist on Agudelo's goal and had the cross that led to the own goal, but he was a bit too selfless in the final third. There were times with the FC Dallas star should have been aggressive in front of the net. 
Substitutes:
Teal Bunbury, 5 - There were moments when Bunbury appeared lost on the field. He definitely didn't show that he deserves a starting spot in his 45 minutes of play.
Joe Gyau, 6 - Entering for Shea with around 30 minutes left in the game, Gyau showed flashes of his quickness and speed on the flank. One of his mazy runs created a goal scoring chance, but for Gyau it was mostly a quiet evening.
Amobi Okugo, 6 - There was not a lot for Okugo to do, but he did show some toughness on the tackle when called upon in limited chances.
Categories: Youth Articles

U23 MNT player ratings in 6-0 over Cuba

Top Drawer Soccer - Fri, 03/23/2012 - 5:13am

The U.S. U23 Men's National Team dismantled Cuba 6-0 on the opening day of CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying on Thursday. Joe Corona recorded a hat trick on top of a very impressive showing in the attacking midfielder role. Juan Agudelo, Freddy Adu, and an own goal made up the rest of the score. 
In the earlier game, Canada and El Salvador played to a 0-0 draw. The U.S. will face Canada on Saturday with the potential of securing a berth into the semifinal round with a win. 
Player ratings:
Bill Hamid, 6 - Not very much to do for the U.S. goalkeeper. Made all of one save during the 90 minutes, a simple catch off a deflected shot.
Kofi Sarkodie, 5 - The right back might have spent more time in Cuba's half than his own. Didn't look particularly sharp and had a couple of sloppy moments. Could open the door for Williams to play on the right in the group stage.
Joe CoronaIke Opara, 6 - From a defensive perspective, there wasn't much for Opara to do. While there were a couple wobbles during the night, Opara was solid and steady at the back.
Perry Kitchen, 6 - There were moments when Kitchen was caught on the wrong shoulder of his mark, but those moments were few and far between. Cuba rarely had the ball in the attacking half. 
Zarek Valentin, 6 - He has less to do in the first half than Hamid. In the second half, he was more involved in the attack but he was not that effective with the ball on his feet. 
Jared Jeffrey, 6 - In a game that was basically out of hand after the first 20 minutes, Jeffrey had little to do in the middle of the field especially defensively. 
Mix Diskerud, 6 - Diskerud's biggest fault was the services he had on corner kicks. With six chances in the first half, Diskerud failed to supply one adequate service, but he did well in the run of play. 
Joe Corona, 8 - The Club Tijuana man was the obvious choice as man of the match. With his nifty touches and well-placed shots, Corona sliced through a terrible Cuba defense and notched the hat trick. It was easy to see why head coach Caleb Porter gave Corona the #10 jersey. 
Freddy Adu, 7 - Starting on the right flank, Adu put in an energetic and effective performance. He grabbed an impressive goal from distance as well, continuing his effectiveness in youth tournaments.
Juan Agudelo, 7 - Agudelo drew a red card, scored on a beautiful cross, and hounded the Cuba defense all night. It was a good 45-minute outing from the New York Red Bulls striker in the #9 role. 
Brek Shea, 7 - The left winger provided a great assist on Agudelo's goal and had the cross that led to the own goal, but he was a bit too selfless in the final third. There were times with the FC Dallas star should have been aggressive in front of the net. 
Substitutes:
Teal Bunbury, 5 - There were moments when Bunbury appeared lost on the field. He definitely did show that he deserves a starting spot in his 45 minutes of play.
Joe Gyau, 6 - Entering for Shea with around 30 minutes left in the game, Gyau showed flashes of his quickness and speed on the flank. One of his mazy runs created a goal scoring chance, but for Gyau it was mostly a quiet evening.
Amobi Okugo, 6 - There was not a lot for Okugo to do, but he did show some toughness on the tackle when called upon in limited chances.
Categories: Youth Articles

ECNL weekend preview: March 24-25

Top Drawer Soccer - Fri, 03/23/2012 - 4:39am

There are rivalries, and then there are rivalries with a bit of history.  For FC Stars of Massachusetts and PDA U18, the latter is applicable. The two teams have met the previous two years in the ECNL national playoffs at the semifinal round.  PDA has come out on top in both contests by the same score, 2-1. But has been defeated in the final by California clubs in both finals . . . probably to the delight of FC Stars of Massachusetts.  Morgan AndrewsOn Sunday, FC Stars will get a shot of their own for a bit of payback with the first meeting of the season between the perennial title-contenders.  There will be plenty of stars on display come Sunday as well. FC Stars of Massachusetts boost the no. 1, Morgan Andrews, and no. 19, Hayley Dowd, for the class of 2013 top 100.  This weekend also marks the last ECNL games for Andrews, PDA's Carolina Chagares, Slammers' Maddie Bauer, and many others before they depart for the final training camp with the U17 Women's National Team in preparation for World Cup qualifiers.  U14 FC Dallas hosts TSC Hurricane and Dallas Texans over the weekend in the great Lone Star state. FC Dallas is currently first in the conference standings with a 10-2-2 record, but Texans are not far behind with a 7-2-2 record.  In Minnesota, the Thunder Academy and FC Milwaukee return to play after a lengthy layoff. FC Milwaukee has been on break since the end of October. Before going in hibernation, the club from Wisconsin had a good start to the season with a 4-1-2 record. Dani Rhodes leads the team in goals with three.  U15 Mustang SC hosts Crossfire Premier and Washington Premier in one of many matchups between the clubs across the various ages. Mustang is currently 3-1-3 on the season in the National Standings at the U15 age, and barely trails Crossfire, which is 3-2-1. 
U16  Slammers SC have a chance to move up the standings both in the conference and on the national stage with two games over the weekend. Slammers start on Friday with a game against Surf, which struggled prior to the break for high school with three consecutive losses.  Surf star forward Pilar Torres will be counted on to right the ship for the San Diego club, as it looks to climb from 20th in the Flight A standings back into playoff contention.  Slammers round out the two-game weekend on Saturday with a game against Arsenal FC. Slammers will be counting on the high-flying attacking trio of Mackenzie Cerda, Lauren Guerra, and Kayla Mills to power past the Temecula club.  On the other coast, FC Stars of Massachusetts meet PDA in an important Flight A clash. PDA is currently 12th in the national standings. FC Stars is on the outside of the playoff bubble in the 17th spot.  U17 National Flight A leaders Scorpions SC finally return to action this weekend. Scott Caldwell's team takes on PDA and World Class FC in Northeast Conference play. Scorpions started the season undefeated thanks to the tandem of Madison Meehan and McKenzie Meehan who have combined for five goals and three assists in four games. Andrea O'Brien is also off to a hot start for Scorpions SC with two goals and an assist.  Northwest Conference leaders Mustang SC host Washington Premier and Crossfire Premier over the weekend. Mustang is undefeated in conference play this year with a 7-1-0 record. Defender and Stanford commit Stephanie Amack leads the way for the Northern California club in the quest to better last year's 13th place finish.  U18 In the U18 bracket, Mustang SC is looking to bypass Crossfire Premier in the standings on Sunday. The Washington club currently holds the top spot in the Northwest Conference thanks to a 2-0-0 record to start the season, ECNL standings are determined by points per game.  However, Mustang SC is absolutely crushing the opposition this year. With nine games played, Mustang has only conceded one goal in conference play on the way to a 8-1-0 record. For the team that finished seventh in the nation last year, this is business as usual. 
Categories: Youth Articles

Academy Weekend Preview: March 24-25

Top Drawer Soccer - Fri, 03/23/2012 - 2:00am

At times in the center of the country, it's hard to establish and foster rivalries at the Development Academy level.
Distance plays a large role in hampering that, but this weekend, Sporting KC and St. Louis Scott Gallagher (Missouri) go against the grain when they play on Saturday.
"They're obviously a big rival, it's always a usually very good game," Sporting KC Academy Director Jon Parry told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "The teams are always organized and I think their 16s are off to a pretty good start."
Not only is it a rivalry game, but it's also a Frontier Division game with massive implications, as Sporting KC's U18 and U16 teams looking to build on opening weekend wins against Scott Gallagher's Metro side.
Steven EnnaIt's not going to be an easy task for Sporting KC, however.
"With the 16s I think it'll be a very competitive game, and I think the 18s they have a pretty good record as well," Parry said.
Both sides are stocked with talent - Sporting KC entering with Erik Palmer-Brown, Steven Enna and Cole Stevenson providing a formidable foundation, while Scott Gallagher has a high-scoring pair of Mark Segbers and Austin Panchot.
At the U18 age level, St. Louis' Louis Berra is a threat KC will have to handle, while at the same time counting on the offense of Eduardo Moreno to make it a successful trip to St. Louis for the away side, and win this chapter in the rivalry.
"There's always been a rivalry between the two cities in all the sports," Parry said. "And with soccer, for sure - St. Louis has developed hundreds of great players, they've kind of been the soccer center for the Midwest."
West Conference
This weekend, a pair of Pacific Northwest teams make the trip to California, as both the Seattle Sounders and Crossfire Premier are jumping on a plane to take on Strikers FC and Pateadores.
Points are especially crucial for Crossfire's U18s, who are at the moment outside the points per game total needed for a Wild Card, while Seattle's U18s have a strong grip on second place in the Northwest.
Elsewhere out west, both Cal Odyssey and San Jose Earthquakes are badly in need of all three points to have any chance of competing in either the Northwest Division or the Wild Card when they square off Saturday.
Central Conference
It's the battle of two Colorado clubs as the Rapids take on Real Colorado this weekend. Dillon Serna and the U18 Rapids have yet to lose a game this season with a 4-0-3 record so far and will look to open up its Frontier Division slate with a positive result.
The Chicago Fire U18s have a chance to extend its winning streak on the weekend. Currently winners of five straight, the Fire travel to play Vardar and Crew Soccer Academy Wolves. Andrew Oliver, Andrew Conner and Kellen Gulley will all look to feature prominently for Chicago.
Down in Texas, FC Dallas U18s can increase its Divisional lead going up against Lonestar SC. FCD's nearest rivals Texans SC Houston don't play this weekend, while Solar Chelsea SC takes on Texas Rush and the Dallas Texans go up against bottom of the division Classics Elite.
East Conference
One of the prominent battles in the Northeast pits Albertson SC and FC Delco against each other. While not a division match, it's a big test nonetheless as both programs get to see how they stack up against each other.
"They have such a good coaching staff and they always have good players," Albertson Technical Director Adrian Gaitan told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "It's going to be a good test for us at the 16 level to see where we're at and with the 18s I think both teams are two of the better teams up and down the East Coast."
At the U16 level, Albertson is going to have to slow down Delco's high-scoring George Tsirukis, who's bagged 10 goals in nine games so far. Albertson defender Mark Romanowski will need to step up and help slow down Delco's attack.
Division play in the East has yet to get started, but competition isn't diminished as the Northeast hits its stride. Baltimore Bays Chelsea hosts FC Greater Boston, who also plays Potomac on the weekend. D.C. United travels to the New York area to play both the Cosmos and Met Oval, while the New York Red Bulls host nearby Match Fit Chelsea and NJSA 04.
South Conference
The battle for Florida continues this weekend, as all four Florida-based Development Academy sides play this weekend. Kendall SC travels to face Clearwater Chargers and IMG Soccer Academy, with Weston FC, led by leading scorer Danny Jensen, also tackling that pair of Florida sides.
IMG head coach Scott Dean knows facing Kendall and Weston this weekend is going to be a big challenge.
"They'll both be technical, both be very good," he told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "They always produce really quality players down there and the level of competition will be very, very good. It's always a really strong battle between us and them."
Also joining the fray are clubs in the Atlantic Division. It's an all-North Carolina affair, as Charlotte Soccer Academy plays North Meck, and CASL Chelsea takes on the North Carolina Fusion.
Categories: Youth Articles

U17 MNT coaches on player development

Top Drawer Soccer - Fri, 03/23/2012 - 2:00am

(TopDrawerSoccer.com Managing Editor Robert Ziegler recently spent part of a week in Bradenton, Florida with the U17 Men's National Team residency program. Following is one of a series of articles about what he saw and heard there). BRADENTON, FLORIDA - In our ongoing conversation with the U17 MNT residency coaches, head coach Richie Williams brought in assistants Jim Rooney and Anthony Latronica as we continued the discussion. Click here for Part 1 of the interview. Click here for  a report on the match I watched last Saturday. Jim RooneyRooney, like Williams, played a number of years in Major League Soccer, but for the New England Revolution. Latronica, like Williams, was a USSF Technical advisor, handling the training centers and scouting for a section of the country (in Latronica's case, Texas). Before that he coached in college soccer, including at Oregon State and Air Force. A third assistant coach will be hired to the program in the coming weeks.
Q: What is your personal philosophy of building up and developing players?
AL: These kids are still young. Most of them were freshmen in high school and now they are living away from home, in a new environment, training every day. So we have to be all about player development. Our goal is making them better every day. In their own environment they are not training as frequently, so one thing we're focusing on is their day-to-day habits. They need to develop good training habits and maintain a high concentration level. You want to make sure you don't get too far ahead of yourself.   JR:  Basically we're reinforcing ideas we come across about simple things. We've seen where they are the better players in their club teams, but now they don't have the luxury of taking breaks and taking time off in training. We're trying to raise that intensity to last for a whole training session. My personal sense is I want to maximize every training session the best we can, it's not going to be on all of the time, but at the end of the day, you still have to put out a full effort on both sides of the ball. Some guys tend to play only when the team is attacking, because they've been able to get away with that at their club. But at this level they can't do that. We're constantly reinforcing that. Q: Are the players here receiving that instruction well? JR:  Mostly. Sometimes, for instance, In the 5v2 grids, we still have to remind them. We recognize it is a process. They talk about being a professional player and we remind them it won't happen if their attitude about improving isn't right. We try to give them the right habits to help them reach those goals. We talk about which foot to receive a pass on when they want to do certain things, little things like that can make such a difference. We are getting them to think more about these kinds of things and yes, I think most of them are picking it up as they go. Q: Do you have to adapt your communication style or approach player to player? JR: Definitely. Different kids have different personalities. Some people are better to pull aside and talk with while others you can talk to in front of the group.   RW: That is huge, knowing how to man manage, especially remembering we have 15 and 16-year old kids. For me, I'll get on a guy, but in a positive way. I'll let them know if they are not doing something right, but I'll also be very positive with them when they do things in the right way, and again, remember which ones can you say more things to and which ones should you say less to. There are different ways to feel them out and look at and observe them. We think communicating and interacting with the kids as much as possible is the best, so they know where we are coming from. We reiterate to them that it's a huge opportunity and we see everything they are doing. We are here to help but when you get on the field, every touch, every pass, every play matters. You can't be coming on the field for an hour and only showing up for 30 of it. It doesn't mean you won't make mistakes, but as long as you try to go about it the right way, we're not going to have a problem with it, it's just when you don't put the work in that we'll get upset with you and to be honest, you're not going to be here long-term. It's not a threat, it's just reality at any high level of soccer. There are thousands of kids in this age group who would die to be here, and we want the ones who will do things right on and off the field.
Q:  Is finding the players who will do these things integrated into the scouting mission for the USSF Technical Advisors and the USSF Development Academy? AL: When we evaluate them in their own environment, they are able to get away with more in the competition, but in this environment they can't. Their weaknesses start to show. If we can identify their technical weaknesses in games and then pull those weakness out and start correcting them, and insert them into games and see a difference, now we're starting to get somewhere. You have to remember, they come from a lot of different environments. They have different backgrounds, styles of play, coaches, a lot of things. We're almost starting from scratch here with a new head coach and staff who may want different things. Once we establish what we want, then we can hold the kids accountable to that.
Q: Are you able to send communication out to coaches at club level about what it is you are looking for? RW:  If it continues to happen where a coach who keeps recommending players that don't belong, it will reflect on him, so I guess you could have a conversation with him. This is part of where we are going with trying to get better coaching. The guys who are spot on about a player, you're more likely to go back to. We've talked about if we should talk to a club team coach about something they're doing that we see that isn't really the best approach. You might get a recommendation on a player, but every time you see the team the goalkeeper or the backs are kicking the ball down the field so you never get to see the player play.  We might have to say 'You're not helping the kids develop, the way you're playing and we can't see anything with this player because of how you play so it's not helping us either.'
Next Week: We look in detail at U17 MNT training sessions.
Categories: Youth Articles

A sibling's inspiration leads commit to UNC

Top Drawer Soccer - Fri, 03/23/2012 - 2:00am

Jessica Holmes recently made a college commitment for two: for herself, of course, and for her brother, Jimmy.


Little brother has always been the fuel behind Jessica's drive. When she flies down the field, as only she can, she never forgets that Jimmy cannot - he's confined to a wheelchair.



When she feels minor aches and pains, she's reminded of Jimmy's list of disabilities.



"He's the real secret to my drive," Jessica said. "I play for both of us."

And so Jessica proudly gave her 2013 verbal to North Carolina, no doubt making it a satisfying day for the Holmes team.

An Albertson SC striker, Jessica is known for her speed up front which also allows her to track back on defense with the best of them.



She was invited to the U.S. National Training Center last year as her ECNL reputation continues to grow. 

North Carolina's rep speaks for itself. And it was the allure of the Tar Heel blue that swayed her in the end. Even as she weighed other options like Miami and Pittsburgh - programs that may have rendered more playing time earlier in her career.



"I have always dreamed of being a Tar Heel, but you can never really be fully prepared for what it means to put on that light blue uniform until you visit," she said. "The campus is beautiful and the educational opportunities are amazing, and then there's the soccer program. It's no accident that UNC is the best. I came home feeling like I have a lot of work to do!"

There's always much to do, when you're working for two.

We've got a big group of girls' in today's update:

Betsy Middleton (CASL) has verbally committed to Miami (FL) for the 2013 season. This exciting prospect was invited to the U.S. Soccer Training Center in Greensboro last year.

Kaleigh Kurtz (CESA), a multiple time All ECNL Event Teamer, has verbally committed to Richmond for the 2013 season.

Sarah Robinson (Mtn. View Los Altos SC) has verbally committed to Stanford for the 2014 season. Robinson has enjoyed stints in the U17, U14 and U15 U.S. National Team programs.

Ashton Miller (Michigan Hawks) has verbally committed to Duke for 2014. Miller was a U14 National ID camp attendee.



Corey Levels (Eclipse Select) has verbally committed SIU-Edwardsville for the 2013 season.

Kaitlin Moore (Blast FC) has verbally committed to Central Michigan for the 2013 season.

Alex Schlobohm (PDA) has verbally committed to Boston University for the 2013 season.

Mimi Borkan has verbally committed to New Hampshire for the 2013 season.

Marchelle Davis (Dallas Texans) has verbally committed to Texas for the 2013 season.

Miranda Haraughty (NY Rush Patriots) has verbally committed to St. John's for the 2013 season.

Mia Schmolze (Lonestar SC) has verbally committed to Rice for the 2013 season.

Tyane Ramos (Lonestar SC) has verbally committed to UT San Antonio for the 2013 season.

Sarah Blakely (South Carolina United FC) has verbally committed to College of Charleston for the 2013 season.

Michael Naudin (D'Feeters) has verbally committed to Central Arkansas for the 2013 season.

Gracyn Bryant (Freestate United) has verbally committed to East Carolina for the 2013 season.

Paige Brown (St. Louis Scott Gallagher) has verbally committed to Louisville for the 2013 season.

Alexandria Stradford (CASL) has committed to UNC Asheville for the 2012 season.

Max Foster (Lake Norman Soccer Club) has verbally committed to UNC Greensboro for the 2014 season.

Kasey Cooke (Pitt Greenville SA Stars) has verbally committed to Western Carolina for the 2013 season.

Sophie Cobb (South Carolina United) has signed to Presbyterian for the 2012 season. 


Elaine Byerley (FC Delco) has verbally committed to Temple for the 2013 season.

McKenna Tollack (San Diego Surf) has verbally committed to San Diego for the 2013 season.

Ellie Taylor (Richmond Strikers) has verbally committed to Coastal Carolina for the 2013 season.

Jessica Weaver (FC United Soccer Club) has verbally committed to DePaul for the 2013 season.

Samantha Bersett (St. Louis Scott Gallagher) has signed to NJIT for the 2012 season.

 Katie Gernsbacher (Lonestar SC) has verbally committed to Texas for the 2013 season.

Madison Hogan (South Jersey Elite Barons SA) has verbally committed to Old Dominion for the 2013 season.

Nikki Adams (Penn Fusion) has verbally committed to Delaware for the 2013 season.  


Jenny Scro (East Meadow United) has verbally committed to Massachusetts for the 2013 season.  

Alexandria Vigil (Dallas Texans) has verbally committed to Lamar for the 2013 season.

Categories: Youth Articles

CAA Women's Spring Preview

Top Drawer Soccer - Thu, 03/22/2012 - 2:00am

When it comes to CAA women's soccer, parity is the name of the game.
Over the past eight seasons, seven different schools have won the CAA tournament, and this season is shaping up to be par for the course.
"I think it's going to be an interesting fall," William & Mary head coach John Daly told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "VCU will be good again, James Madison, Old Dominion will improve on last year. I thought Drexel had made good improvement from previous years [along with] Hofstra and Northeastern."
Of course, with so little between some of the top teams, spring preparations take on an even bigger weight. While the Tribe may be viewed as early favorites for the CAA again this fall, others like James Madison, Virginia Commonwealth, Hofstra and Delaware are angling to improve and aim for postseason honors next year.
VCU's Cristin Granados. Photo by VCU Atletics.Like all programs, each school is in a different place. One program, JMU, took a trip to Costa Rica and played some local club sides before opening up the NCAA spring schedule last weekend with a 0-0 draw against the University of Richmond.
Injuries have hindered the Dukes' immediate preparations, however.
"Our biggest issue right now is we have six players out for the spring for a variety of reasons related to injury," JMU head coach David Lombardo told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "Kids coming off of surgeries, kids that have some lingering injuries from the fall that we're just being very cautious with so that's been part of what we've been working with.
"We are experimenting to say the least, but that's what the spring is for. You already know who your core players are, you're trying to find those kids who last fall didn't get as much exposure, experience or playing time," he said. "You're hoping a number of those kids step up and out of the shadows and now you can look at them and say this is a kid who can help us out in the next fall."
JMU returns almost all of its starters, including last year's leading scorer Lauren Wilson, attacking midfielder Katie Menzie and goalkeeper Kate Courter, all who will figure prominently in the fall.
"On paper we don't lose a lot - I think we have most of that covered from within and I think we've got some talented freshmen coming in that will push for playing time," Lombardo said.
The team that will carry the target as defending champions on its back in the fall, William & Mary, sputtered in its first spring game, losing 5-0 against a very strong Penn State team.
While a significant loss, it gives the Tribe an idea of what needs to get done this spring.
"[We need to improve] the speed of play, speed of decision-making and just improvement in the execution as we just coughed the ball up too much, didn't get tight on them when they had the ball and just conceded too many goals and too many chances," Daly said.
Returning forward Mallory Schaffer is going to be a senior in the fall, and a lot of the attacking responsibility will fall on her shoulders.
Virginia Commonwealth, which lost in the CAA tournament final to William & Mary, peaked at the end of the season before falling short against the Tribe. Led by two Costa Rican youth internationals Cristin Granados and Karol Sanchez, the Rams finished second in the CAA regular season.
Three starters have since left, including two players in defense, giving VCU plenty to work on. That, and honing their attack are the two biggest tasks the Rams want to tackle in the spring.
"We weren't the best offensive team in the CAA," head coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "We were very good defensively but offensively we were not at the top of the list for the CAA so we've been focusing a lot on the final third and finishing our chances."
Surveying the whole conference, there's little reason to believe that the CAA won't be just as wide open as it has been in recent times, with Delaware, George Mason, Hofstra and Northeastern among those ready to mix it up as well. What each team accomplishes this spring season could end up impacting how the fall plays out.
CAA Players to Watch
Mallory Schaffer, William & Mary: An outstanding 2011 for Schaffer saw her produce 17 goals and six assist, by far W&M's leading goal scorer. She'll need to be back at her best if the Tribe hopes to repeat this year.
Lauren Wilson, James Madison: It was an average season for the Dukes, who finished in the middle of the pack last year. Wilson, who will be a junior in the fall, is starting to embrace her need to be one of the go-to players this year and is almost certain to eclipse her 2011 total of eight goals.
Bex Kunz, Virginia Commonwealth: One ingredient lacking in VCU's game last year was consistency in front of net. Kunz, who will be a junior in the fall, enjoyed a strong start to her collegiate career in 2010, although played sparingly a year ago. Currently off to a solid start in the spring, she could earn more minutes and help generate more offense.
Categories: Youth Articles

ECNL adds two Texas clubs

Top Drawer Soccer - Thu, 03/22/2012 - 2:00am

There is a cost to play against the best, and that cost is not always on the field.  Earlier this week, ECNL, the elite girls club nationwide league, invited two Texas clubs, Albion Hurricanes and Texas Rush, into its competition, beginning in August 2012. "It is a huge opportunity for us," Texas Rush Technical Director Don Gemmell told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "It is a vital part of our overall program for our elite competitive girls. Nationwide the landscape is changing for club soccer. It is great to be a part of the national programs." Gemmell went on to say that only 26 clubs in the country hold the distinction of being part of the ECNL and the U.S. Soccer Federation's Development Academy, the boys nationwide youth club league. Gemmell was thrilled that Texas Rush is now set to be part of that exclusive group.  However, the invitation does come with some baggage, as the cost of elite club soccer continues to climb with every year.  "There is always concern about costs," Gemmell said. "We try to subsidize travel for the competitive kids through fundraisers." Albion Director of Coaching for Girls Russell Gee said that the parents there have known about the possibility of joining the ECNL after the Houston-area club applied twice in the past, but the club is still holding meetings now to discuss that issue.  "We are going through our internal meetings now," Gee said. "We are in the throes of putting everything together. That said, we do already play in the national league, and travel to events at Disney World." Gee went on to say that he believes the ECNL decided to add his club this season because of the progress it has shown on and off the field in recent years.  "All of our 96s, 97s, and 98s are playing at a regional and national level," Gee said. "We are putting players through to college with 25 heading to college programs next fall. We are showing the player development to get players to the next level. It is a credit to the girls, the coaching staff, and the club to join the ECNL." Both Gemmell and Gee believed their clubs will be competitive in the ECNL for the start, but know there will be some difficult challenges in the first season.  "It is a very tough conference and there is a learning curve to play against the best, which is what the ECNL is," Gee said. "We have some very good teams and believe they will go out there and compete immediately."
Categories: Youth Articles

Interview with U17 MNT Coach Richie Williams

Top Drawer Soccer - Thu, 03/22/2012 - 2:00am
 (TopDrawerSoccer.com  Managing Editor Robert Ziegler recently spent part of a week in Bradenton, Florida with the U17 Men's National Team residency program. Following is one of a series of articles about what he saw and heard there). BRADENTON, FLORIDA - The U17 Men's National Team residency program here has long been the pinnacle of the youth development program on the boys' side of American soccer. For more than 10 years, top youth players around the country have aspired to be invited to live, train and play on the campus of IMG Academy here, where U.S. soccer has established its residency program. The facilities and amenities are top class. From three beautiful fields, to a seemingly unlimited supply of gear from Nike, to spacious apartments for the players,  to the daily shuttling to a nearby private school with a curriculum built for the players, to full access to IMG's sport science labs and the team's athletic trainers, the residency program provides a great soccer environment for its 32 players (currently 31). The biggest drawback to residency is that the players are taken from their home environment at age 15 or 16. The staff of U.S. soccer and the people at IMG clearly do great work to make the experience for each player as good as it can be, but they'll never be able to make it like home. With the continued improvement of the USSF Development Academy, there is growing support around the country for discontinuing residency and having the U17 MNT operate like other youth national teams, holding camps by invitation 4 or 6 times during the year. The federation is committed to the program through next year's FIFA U17 World Cup, but internal discussions continue regarding the future. As part of our recent visit to Bradenton, we talked with head coach Richie Williams in his office at IMG about his opening two months on the job since being appointed to replace Wilmer Cabrera in January.
Q: What are your priorities as you come into the job? RW: This is the closest thing that you have to professional soccer. We all live here together, are able to train every day from 9 to 11:30. The players have three beautiful fields, a full-time staff including administrators, trainers, and equipment manager, plus full-time coaching. We have three coaches and will be adding a fourth later this month.  It is a great environment for kids to develop individually and collectively. Hopefully we develop them into great soccer players and help U.S. Soccer and MLS down the road. Q: How do you balance the evaluation and teaching components of your role as head coach? RW: I've been here two months so I'm getting the chance to figure it out. All of the players are here for at least the whole semester. We couldn't ask them to change in the middle because of school and I think it's fair to give everyone at least a semester to try to develop and blend in. What I try to tell the players is, everybody has been successful just to get to this point, so even if we make changes, it doesn't mean your career is over. You might just not be ready in an area. You may be ready when it's time for the U18s or U20s. We're getting different levels of competition and seeing how players react and develop. In a little while we will go to France and that will be the first time I see them in international competition. We go to Houston in May and will see them against MLS academies. There will be changes in the summer and then we go forward toward next year's qualifying for the World Cup.  We'll keep putting them in a good environment for teaching and competing and see how they develop. Q: What is your impression of the group in terms of talent and mentality? RW: It's a little difficult for me to compare the team to past cycles My understanding is people believe it is a good group in terms of technical ability. I think they are good people for the most part and they are trying hard to listen and improve, Again, it will take some time to see how they react tactically in the fied, and I will get a better idea when we see them in a higher-pressure environment like we'll see in France. Q: How does the concept of an American style of play advanced by USSF Technical Director Claudio Reyna factor in to what you do? RW: I work with Claudio and we all have an understanding of how we want to play, an attractive brand of soccer, playing out of the back, possessing and attacking. We want teams that are good at transition from attack to defense and back. We play a 4-3-3. We've had a number of conversations about using same format  for youth national team camps from one age group to the next. That's not always easy but I think we have the same ideas on what we want to try to do.  Q: Is the Development Academy and the new overall philosophy (from Jurgen Klinsmann and Claudio Reyna) making a positive impact?  RW: It's still a work in progress in terms of what we need for our players, like getting the DA players to start training 4 or 5 times a week instead of 3, and to have better training sessions across the board. But the work is taking place to try and identify these things and implement them. It's not perfect. There are still things to address, but I think every year it is getting stronger and stronger. We're going in the right direction. Q: Is there more psychology and mentoring involved here at Residency than in your past coaching assignments? RW: We addressed the team at the beginning of my time here. With this U17 position, there are 2 parts. There is coaching and teaching on the field and teaching and developing of players off the field. It is an Important part of their lives. They need to develop into good people. We let them know, we know they are talented players, but we also need to have players who do the right things off the field, including in school. Out of the group of players here, we hope they all end up being professional players, but that's not the reality. So we want them to know they can come and talk to us. We want to help them all around.
Friday: We Talk with the rest of the coaching staff  about philosophy of player development.
Categories: Youth Articles

U.S. U-17 WNT Heads to OTC for Qualifying prep

Top Drawer Soccer - Thu, 03/22/2012 - 12:38am

The U.S. Under-17 Women's National Team will come together for a training camp from April 1-10 at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., as head coach Albertin Montoya has called up 24 players to what is the final event before the team enters CONCACAF Qualifying for the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup.

The qualifying tournament will be held in Guatemala from May 2-12 and will send three countries to the third FIFA World Cup for U-17 women to be held in Azerbaijan from Sept. 22-Oct. 13. Montoya will choose a roster of 20 players to travel to Guatemala, where the USA will face Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago and the Bahamas in group play.

The young Americans have already earned some quality results this year, defeating the U-17 team from Germany twice and downing U-19 squads from France and the Netherlands during an event in La Manga, Spain, early this month, where the U.S. U-17s also drew the England U-19s 1-1.

The U-17s will play three matches during the camp, two against college teams and one against the China Under-20 Women's National Team, which will take place at the OTC on April 9 at 4 p.m. PT.

Roster By Position:

GOALKEEPERS (2): Jane Campbell (Concorde Fire South; Kennesaw, Ga.), Cassie Miller (Sereno FC; Cave Creek, Ariz.)
DEFENDERS (7): Brittany Basinger (FC Virginia; Purcellville, Va.), Maddie Bauer (Slammers FC; Newport Beach, Calif.), Miranda Freeman (Lady Renegades SC; Royal Palm Beach, Fla.), Lauren Kaskie (Heat FC; Las Vegas, Nev.), Gabbi Miranda (Colorado Rush; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Lizzy Raben (Colorado Rush; Greenwood, Colo.), Morgan Reid (Chelsea Ladies; Cary, N.C.)
MIDFIELDERS (10): Morgan Andrews (FC Stars of Mass.; Milford, N.H.), Joanna Boyles (Chelsea Ladies; Raleigh, N.C), Caroline Chagares (PDA Slammers; Wyckoff, N.J.), Summer Green (Michigan Hawks; Milford, Mich.), Gabrielle Matulich (MVLA Lightning; Los Gatos, Calif.), Kayla Mills (Slammers FC; West Covina, Calif.), Sarah Robinson (MVLA Lightning; Los Altos, Calif.), Arielle Ship (Real So Cal; Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Morgan Stanton (Colorado Rush; Lakewood, Colo.), Andi Sullivan (Bethesda SC; Lorton, Va.)
FORWARDS (5): Emily Bruder (Utah Avalanche; Sandy, Utah), Darian Jenkins (Sparta SC; Riverton, Utah), Amber Munerlyn (So Cal Blues; Corona, Calif.), Toni Payne (Concorde Fire; Birmingham, Ala.), Margaret Purce (Freestate Soccer; Olney, Md.)

Categories: Youth Articles

Caleb Porter Selects Official 20-Player Roster

Top Drawer Soccer - Wed, 03/21/2012 - 5:42pm
U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team head coach Caleb Porter has selected the 20 players that will compete in the 2012 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying tournament and attempt to qualify for the Olympic Games in London this summer.

Drawn into Group A with Canada, Cuba and El Salvador, the U.S. opens play against Cuba on March 22 at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. CT, and the match will be broadcast live on Universal Sports Network, mun2 and streamed live on concacaf.com. The USA faces Canada on March 24 at 6 p.m. CT, and then closes out group play on March 26 against El Salvador.

The semifinal and final matches will be played at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., on March 31 and April 2, respectively.

"We feel very confident about the team we have put together to help us achieve our goal of qualifying for the Olympic Games," said Porter. "It's been a great week of preparation here in Nashville, and we are excited to reach this stage of the process. This group is united and ready for the challenge."

Porter named Philadelphia Union midfielder Freddy Adu as team captain and D.C. United defender Perry Kitchen as vice-captain.

Porter originally named a 19-player training camp roster on March 12, adding Tony Taylor a day later. On March 18, Molde-based defender Joshua Gatt was recalled by his club after the team experienced a series of injuries. The only new player named to the final 20-man roster by Porter was Sheanon Williams.

The roster is loaded with players who have experience in international competition, as 13 players have played in at least one World Cup at the youth level. Four players -Adu, Jared Jeffrey, Brek Shea and Williams - have appeared in both U-17 and U-20 tournaments.

The U-17 Residency Program developed 11 of the players who will represent the United States in Olympic qualifying, with many in Residency during the same cycles: Adu and Michael Stephens (2003 cycle); Jeffrey, Amobi Okugo, Kofi Sarkodie, Shea and Williams (2007 cycle); Juan Agudelo, Joe Gyau and Kitchen (2009 cycle).

A total of 14 players on the roster come from MLS clubs, with the Philadelphia Union contributing three players. Adu is the only player with previous experience in qualifying, having scored four goals in three appearances during the 2008 tournament. FC Dallas forward Shea, who has appeared in all 10 of the U.S. Men's National Team matches under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, was the 2011 U.S. Young Male Athlete of the Year and is coming off a strong season with FC Dallas that included MLS Best XI recognition and a nomination for MLS Most Valuable Player.

Agudelo joins the camp after earning 14 appearances with the senior team last year. Agudelo was the first player to come out of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy to earn a cap with the U.S. Men's National Team. A total of four players on the roster have Development Academy ties: Agudelo, Joe Corona, Bill Hamid and defender Zarek Valentin.

In total, eight players on the roster have at least one cap with the full team, while Adu, Agudelo and Teal Bunbury have recorded goals. The development of these players throughout this cycle has been done in collaboration with the work of U.S. Men's National Team head coach Klinsmann, continuing the process of having vertically integrated National Team programs.

Kitchen and San Jose Earthquakes centerback Ike Opara are both coming off their first appearances with the U-23 team, having participated in the February training camp that culminated with the 2-0 victory against Mexico in which Agudelo and Mix Diskerud tallied for the United States.

Five players are plying their trade outside the United States, including Corona (Club Tijuana), Diskerud (Gent), forward Gyau (Hoffenheim) and Jeffrey (Mainz). Borussia Dortmund-based striker Terrence Boyd will report March 21 to Nashville, having made his debut for the full team when he came on as a substitute in the USA's 1-0 victory against Italy.

The U-23 goalkeeping tandem includes D.C. United's Hamid and the Chicago Fire's Sean Johnson. Both played for the U.S. Men's National Team at the start of the year. Hamid manned the net during a 1-0 victory against Venezuela on Jan. 21 in Glendale, Ariz., as the U.S. Soccer Development Academy alum became the ninth goalkeeper in U.S. history to collect a shutout in his first game. Johnson earned his second international cap when he played in the second half of a 1-0 win against Panama on Jan. 25 in Panama City.

The diverse roster includes players hailing from 13 different states reaching from coast to coast, with three coming from California and two each from Maryland and Texas.

U.S. U-23 MNT Roster By Position -

GOALKEEPERS (2): Bill Hamid (D.C. United; Annandale, Va.), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire; Lilburn, Ga.)
DEFENDERS (6): Perry Kitchen (D.C. United; Indianapolis, Ind.), Ike Opara (San Jose Earthquakes; Durham, N.C.), Kofi Sarkodie (Houston Dynamo; Huber Heights, Ohio), Zarek Valentin (Montreal Impact; Lancaster, Pa.), Jorge Villafaña (Chivas USA; Anaheim, Calif.), Sheanon Williams (Philadelphia Union; Boston, Mass.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union; Potomac, Md.), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana; Chula Vista, Calif.), Mix Diskerud (Gent; Oslo, Norway), Jared Jeffrey (Mainz; Richardson, Texas), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union; Sacramento, Calif.), Michael Stephens (LA Galaxy; Naperville, Ill.)
FORWARDS (6): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls; Barnegat, N.J.), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund; Berlin, Germany), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City; Prior Lake, Minn.), Joe Gyau (Hoffenheim: Silver Spring, Md.), Brek Shea (FC Dallas; Bryan, Texas), Tony Taylor (Estoril Praia, Jacksonville, Fla.)

Categories: Youth Articles
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