The annual US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (US Youth Soccer ODP) Boys Winter Interregional kicked off today with the four Regional teams in the 1996 age group competing at IMG Academies, the world's largest and most advanced mulit-sport and education complex, in Bradenton, Fla.
Continuing its tradition of elite play and competition, youth from the nation's top player identification and development program, US Youth Soccer ODP, will train and compete in front of U.S. National Team staff, professional and collegiate coaches to maximize their exposure for selection to the next level of play.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Soccer Federation named Richie Williams as the new head coach for the Under-17 U.S. Men's National Team program. Williams and his assistants were in attendance Friday and will be scouting each game throughout the weekend for future Youth National Team camps.
Thirteen players who competed in last year's '96 Interregional have been called into U.S. National Team camps since then, and several were invited into the U.S. Soccer Residency program and have become leaders for the U-17 team. The most notable '96 to have success with the National Team is Herber Mejia-Flores of Region I, an All-Star selection at last year's ODP Fall Interregional. Mejia-Flores led the U.S. U-17's to the championship at the Nike International Friendlies two months ago, being named Man of the Match and adding an assist in a 3-1 win versus Brazil. Mejia-Flores also scored the game winning goal in the 88th minute after already being named Man of the Match versus Turkey and added an assist in a draw with France. In total, eight players from last year's US Youth Soccer ODP 1996 Interregional competed for the U.S. in the Nike Friendlies, with Wesley Wade (Region I), DeAndre Robinson (Region III) and current Region IV player Rubio Rubin scoring goals.
When the U.S. Under-17's traveled to Turkey earlier this month for the Aegean Cup, nine players who were a part of last year's '96 Interregional were on the roster, and of them Conor Donovan (Region III), Rubin, Robinson and Wade accounted for all five of the U.S.'s goals in the tournament.
US Youth Soccer ODP is the original Olympic Development Program and the only elite player development program that can claim members of Major League Soccer and Women's Professional Soccer as well as a majority of current and past national and youth team members, as alumni.
Summaries from today's matches...
It was a tale of two halves as Region II came back from a 3-1 halftime deficit to defeat Region I 4-3. Wyatt Fabian (Lehigh Valley United, E-PA) gave Region I the lead just 15 minutes into the game, but Region II's Abdikadir Anyah (N/A, MN) equalized immediately in the 17th. Arthur Bosua (HBC, E-NY) put Region I ahead again with a strike in the 27th and William Eskay (FC Frederick, MD) added a two goal cushion with a 33rd minute goal to head into the break. Region II took over momentum just 12 minutes into the second period with goals from Amar Sejdic (United FC, KY) and Thomas Hull (Campton United, IL) to level the game, and Sejdic struck for the game winner and his double in the 62nd to give Region II the victory.
Region III and Region IV shook off the nerves with three goals in the first 15 minutes before Region III closed out at 4-1 win. Mario Da Silva (Parkland Predators, FL) netted first for Region III in the 8th minute, but Guilherme Leme (Sparta United, UT) leveled just four minutes later for Region IV. Only three minutes later Daniel Rutter (Tennessee Rush) grabbed the first of his double to put Region III up for good before adding the South's third a minute after the restart. Zack Bailey (Chicago Fire Jrs. - Mississippi) finished things out with a goal in the 67th.
2012 US Youth Soccer ODP Boys Winter Interregional
IMG Academies, Bradenton, Fla.
Scores | Friday, Jan. 27, 2012
1996 Region II 4, Region I 3
Goal scorers: Region II - Abdikadir Anyah (17:00), Amar Sejdic (54:00) (62:00), Thomas Hull (57:00)
Region I - Wyatt Fabian (15:00), Arthur Bosua (27:00), William Eskay (33:00)
1996 Region III 4, Region IV 1
Goal scorers: Region III - Mario Da Silva (8:00), Daniel Rutter (15:00) (46:00), Zack Bailey (67:00)
Region IV - Guiherme Leme (12:00)
Saturday, Jan. 28
Sunday, Jan. 29
(The United Chronicles is a fictional account of an elite youth soccer team. Any similarity to real life people and situations in your area are almost surely coincidental, while any similarity in names is a complete accident.) Read Chapter 1
Derek looked around the center circle at the 18 young men in their red, white and gray United FC training gear and suppressed a grin. As much as he was confident he had done good things for his many successful groups and players in the past, part of him felt a little like a mad scientist whenever he began to work with a team. After handling introductions, he asked the group a simple question. "What is this team about?" After a brief pause, Trevor Walker spoke up confidently. "Winning," he exclaimed. "Oh yeah," another boy grunted and a few high fives and fist bumps were exchanged among the group. "OK," Derek responded. "Winning what?" "Everything," said the boy who had shouted out previously. This was Edgar "Fricko" Frick, a big defender who tended to pal around with Trevor. "We won State Cup last year and this year we'll win the Nationals." More guffaws and gesticulations followed. Derek already knew about the group's reputation for cockiness, and he didn't see this as an altogether bad thing, but he also knew managing this by occasional injections of humility was part of his mission. "OK, so if your goal is to win Nationals, how do you propose to make that happen?" After a slightly longer pause, another boy, standing a short distance away from the core group, offered more quietly, "Hard work?" This was Freddie Barazza, sometimes called Froggy because of his deep, raspy voice. Nobody else said anything in response, which Derek noted. "OK, hard work is part of winning, that is true," he said. "But what does hard work even mean? What are you working at?" Derek saw some perplexed looks coming back at him and figured he'd better complete the narrative. "My point is, you are talking about being the best team in the nation. From what Coach Parker tells me, you have that kind of talent, so it's a worthwhile goal, but it has to be just one part of your goal. Tell me this, how many of you want to play professional soccer?" Every player raised his hand. "OK," Derek said. "Do you think this team could go out today and play Man United and do well?" Most of the players immediately laughed and said 'no," - but hot shot forward Joe Mitchell flashed a big smile and shouted out "Except for me. I could school Rooney." Derek continued on, "Of course you can. But for the REST of us who cannot, what needs to happen for use to be that good?" "Steroids?" said team goalkeeper Caleb Waugh. Everyone laughed and Derek smiled too. "You have to get bigger, yes, but legally," he said, turning to face Caleb (more laughter). But you don't win at higher levels just by being bigger or faster, you have to be smarter. You have to be more skilled, right?" Some players nodded affirmatively. "So my point is, we have to work hard at being better soccer players. You guys have won a lot around here because most of the best players know that this is the best team and they all want to come here, and your moms and dads make sure that you can get here. But that only gets so far. You can't just think we're good because we're good. You have to continually work to improve as players as thinkers, as athletes, and as young men. That's what your real goal has to be." Derek saw a lot of positive looks back, along with a few skeptical ones, notably from Fricko and Trevor. He figured this was enough preaching for the opening session and instructed the players through some passing drills. As he watched, he recalled Warren's words about the team, that they were very athletic and had some good technical players, but also needed some great improvement in the latter area, as well as cohesiveness, mental toughness and a better understanding of the tactical part of the game. He put the team through some more drills and then had a brief 9v9 scrimmage. He noticed that Fricko, Trevor and few of the others did better in this segment of training than they had in the technical drills. As the session closed, Derek turned to leave the ground and was surprised to see Pamela just a few feet away from, smiling broadly and looking at him more intently than he was comfortable with. "Oh Coach, I'm so glad you are here. I can tell already you are going to be perfect for this team," she said." Derek winced and forced out a thank you. He was just about to mention that he preferred parents not come onto the training ground when she continued. "We're taking you out this evening to a welcoming dinner. It's my treat and the parents are all so eager to meet you. I've taken care of everything." Derek figured he would need to meet the parents at some point anyway, and he didn't really have any plans, and wow, Pamela really was attractive - but wait, that was not why he was telling her he'd be glad to go. Meeting the Parents Twenty minutes later he was walking into Scotty's Sports House, a stereotypical place with about 200 TVs and a lot of high-fat, high-calorie food. Derek found himself sitting on the end of one table with Pamela immediately to his right. The parents, typically one connected to each player, were seated on each side of a trio of tables that had been pulled together. The boys were in a room on the other side of a window. Many of them were playing pool or shooting darts, and it appeared a few players, and their parents, did not make the trip. He was about to ask Pamela about this when she stood and called to the others. "Everyone," she said with an air of authority. The din in the surrounding restaurant lowered for a moment, but Pamela continued speaking to the group. "Thank you for coming. I thought it was important to show Derek some United FC hospitality upon his arrival." As she said this she gripped his forearm tightly and made his skin feel a little tingly. "I thought it would be nice for him to be able to meet everyone and give him a chance to tell us all his plans for our team." Derek knew he tended to think too much about word choice anyway, but he was picking Pamela's remarks apart mentally. "OUR team?" he thought. "Share my PLANS? - don't count on it." Even as he was thinking this he suddenly realized he was staring at Pamela, who was smiling back at him, and then as he looked at the rest of the group, he knew that they were all taking this in. The whole moment had lasted probably for that long - a moment - but he was embarrassed nonetheless, so he began to speak. "Err, I, thank you for inviting me here," he stammered. "I'm really excited about the chance to coach at the club and your boys especially. I understand it's a talented group and I see a lot of potential. I'm hopeful I can help each of them improve a great deal as players." "Coach?" It was John Metzger, father of twin brothers Rich and Ron. "Do you like your teams to play a Brazilian Samba style or is it more English or German?" Derek noticed some parents suppressing laughs at this and saw a few eyes roll. John had just identified himself as the team soccer geek both with his question and the inflections with which he pronounced "Brazilian Samba." "I kind of like the Utah Disco style of play myself," Derek joked, drawing laughs from the group and a confused look from John, who was wondering if he had missed a new tactical innovation somewhere. "I think maybe too much is made of those differences. Soccer is 11 players, a ball, a field and 2 goals, wherever it is played. Players need to have skill, understanding, fitness and athleticism. They need to be committed to improving as players and if they can do that, they should be able to play most styles. I do like my teams to play something more complicated than just kicking it up the field and running after it, because that style always meets its match somewhere. If you really learn how to play, then you have a chance to beat anyone, but you can't just ignore that it's a physical, athletic game. Does that make sense?" John nodded and everyone continued ordering food and drinks. Other than introductions, Derek spent the rest of the dinner listening to Pamela tell stories about Trevor, her older son, and various philanthropic causes she was involved in, usually somehow related to the well-being of the club. He listened politely and tried to avoid staring at her. The other parents seemed caught up in their own conversations and occasionally checking on the boys in the other room. As the gathering started to break up, Derek noticed the parents were picking up their own tabs but that only Pamela was covering his. "Shh," she whispered when he started to object. "Don't say anything. Actually I need you to hang around just a little longer to ask you some questions please. I really need your advice." So as he accepted more well-wishes from departing guests, his mind started racing with the possibilities of this additional meeting with the beautiful but conniving Mrs. Walker. "Well look who is staying behind," Jerry Anderson said to Maggie Heffner as they walked out of the restaurant. "Yeah," Maggie replied. "I guess we know who the star of THIS team is going to be." Chapter 3 - A Candid Conversation
The Minnesota Thunder and Carmel United U15 ECNL teams have work to do.
While their Midwest Conference competition has all but completed its schedule and is resting comfortably for the winter, the two aforementioned clubs are lagging well behind. Conference-leading Eclipse Select (12-0-1), for example, has only a pair of matches in June to be concerned with while Carmel and the Thunder, with just five and four matches played respectively, are both booked from here until the summer.
Is this a balanced competitive landscape?
Josie Thurman"It's a bit of a disadvantage," said Carmel United coach Ralph Richards. "Particularly, early in the season for us it makes it more challenging to be ready to play. Players are coming back and their exhausted from (playing high school and league) - sometimes you may not know who you're getting back and there are always injuries."
The high school season is of course to blame for the staggered start. The Thunder and Carmel cap their high school seasons around the beginning of November when the rest of the conference is in the meat of its ECNL campaign.
So now they'll have to go outside their region to make up the games, playing the likes of Penn Fusion, Ohio Elite and FC Bucks in order to close the gap.
It's a quandary that has few solutions. But there is one possibility that could shift the look of the ECNL: move the teams to new conferences.
There has been talk that Carmel will be moved out of the Midwest next season.
"It's a conversation that's being had I think," Richards said. "I'm not sure of the specifics and where the league is with that, but it is a possibility."
Until then, the Midwest will be playing catch up from here until the summer.
The U14 division of the Midwest Conference is dealing with no such problems. With each team playing on relatively the same pace we get an accurate look at which clubs are separating from their competition.
Exhibit A: Eclipse Select. The respected Chicago club is taking no prisoners and is off to a perfect 8-0-0 start. The Select are dominating foes with a goal margin of 31-6 and are led by standouts like Zoe Redei, Cassandra Rohan, Alissa Gorzak and Courtney Daugerdas.
Not quite as dominating thus far has been KCFC which sits in second place with a mark of 6-2-1. The Kansas club gave Eclipse one of its tougher matches of the year in a 2-0 loss back in September but they'll probably be hard pressed to catch them atop the standings.
Time will tell.
Ian Barker, a veteran in the realm of soccer coaching education, has been selected as the Director of Coaching Education for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Barker's appointment was announced today by NSCAA CEO and Executive Director Joe Cummings.
"Ian is the perfect choice to lead the NSCAA's coaching education program to new heights," said Cummings. "He brings to us extensive experience in coaching education at both the state and national level, which is complemented by his experience as a candidate and instructor in the NSCAA's coaching education system. His unique background provides him with the kind of perspective required to assess where soccer coaching education currently stands. This will be a valuable asset as he charts a new course that will continue to grow the NSCAA's influence in this critical area."
Barker joins the NSCAA staff after serving as the men's soccer coach at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., a position he assumed in 2003 after four years as an assistant coach for the squad. He also has collegiate coaching experience at the University of Wisconsin, where he was an assistant coach for the men's team from 1989-97, helping the Badgers to four NCAA tournament appearances in a five-year span. The 1995 team won the Big 10 title and claimed the NCAA national championship.
Barker's coaching education credentials are impressive. He has served as a staff instructor for US Soccer's coaching education program since 1999, teaching both state and nationally hosted residential licenses. He has also instructed the National Youth License for US Youth Soccer. From 1997 through 2007, he also served as Director of Coaching and Player Development for the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association (MYSA). Responsibilities included development and coordination of programs for 140 youth soccer clubs throughout the state, management of between 45 and 60 full- and part-time employees and working collaboratively with the MYSA's board of directors. During his tenure he co-developed and advocated Parents and Coaches Together (PACT), a training program designed to create a more positive soccer experience for players, coaches and parents.
As the assistant head coach for US Youth Soccer's Region II Boys Olympic Development Program, he has led teams on international tours in Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Costa Rica, England, Germany, Italy, Scotland and Switzerland.
In May of each of the last two years, Barker has been Technical Director for International Sports Connection, serving as part of a team funded by the U.S. State Department to assist in the creation of a youth soccer system in Uganda. Through this program he educated nearly 400 Ugandan male and female coaches.
Barker holds a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy and literature from the University of Warwick in Coventry, U.K., graduating with honors in 1987. He received his postgraduate certificate of education a year later.
Barker earned his first coaching badge while in college with the English FA's Preliminary Award in 1986, before moving to the US in 1987. He earned his USSF A License in 1995. He holds the NSCAA's Premier Diploma and was part of the inaugural class to receive the NSCAA Master Coach Diploma in 2006.
Trials with European clubs are becoming a semi-regular occurrence for American players. However, it is pretty rare for a player who has not even started high school yet to get an invitation to train with one of the top clubs in Italy.
Joshua Perez, who is a 14-year-old in the Chivas USA Academy, has spent extended periods of the past year on trial with ACF Fiorentina. The nephew of U.S. U14 national team coach Hugo Perez recently returned to his club team, and coach Mike Munoz gave TopDrawerSoccer.com an update on his prepubescent star.
Joshua Perez"He has been on trial two or three times," said Munoz. "With the European laws, it is impossible for him to sign a professional contract without his family moving there."
The Chivas USA U16 head coach did not know if that was in the cards for the Perez family, but he does know the MLS Academy had plans of its own for the bright, young talent.
"It is fine for him to go during the offseason and get that experience," said Munoz about the trials. "But we do have a plan in place for his future with the club."
Munoz mentioned that it is the philosophy of the club to play players up an age or two, but Perez is playing against 16-year-olds even though he just turned 14 last week.
"When he plays against bigger, stronger players, he is still a little kid," said Munoz. "It is our philosophy and it is what we want to do. We think in the big picture it will pay off."
So far this season, Perez has not looked out of place in the Chivas USA U16 lineup despite the gap in age between him and his opponents.
"To his credit, he has played and started in most of the games," said Munoz about the left-footed midfielder. "He has been great this year. He has done really well."
Physically, Perez does not look more mature than any players his age; it is his technical ability that sets him apart. His quick interchange with passing and natural calmness on the ball has belied any disadvantage in size for the 5'5" middle school student.
Against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday in a 1-3 loss for the Goats, the 14-year-old entered the game late in the second half and held his own against taller, faster defenders. His composure and quick thinking helped facilitate a few movements for the trailing side, but he did not completely find the rhythm of the game.
On Sunday, Perez returned to the starting lineup and delivered a better performance. He registered his first goal of the Development Academy season in a 7-3 victory over California Development Academy.
Chivas USA is hoping it is the first of many goals for one of the club's highly touted prospects.
Ask a head coach from the U16 SoCal Division which divisional opponent was the most difficult to play against, and you will likely receive a handful of different answers. It is not just the coaches being civil; there are four or five teams at the top of the table in SoCal that could easily be considered among the best 10 teams in the nation.
"It is a very, very tough division, and there are some fantastic teams," San Diego Surf head coach Mike Nicholson told TopDrawersoccer.com. "Our division is excellent."
Nicholson's team leads the region with a 4-2-1 record in division play, but the advantage is miniscule as Real Salt Lake-Arizona is only one point behind Surf with a perfect 4-0-0 record.
Brian Iloski"We had trouble with Arsenal and Chivas USA, especially in the first half," said RSL-AZ coach Freddy Juarez about the best teams his squad has faced this year. "Those were two teams that forced us to play very good soccer to win the game."
Nicholson, who is also the assistant coach with USD, said he missed a couple of games during the college season, but added that his fellow coaches told him that RSL-AZ and LA Galaxy were quality teams.
"I thought Arsenal had an immense amount of talent," said Nicholson of the teams he coached against. "They have some great players."
Arsenal coach Steve Lucey talked about RSL-AZ and Surf as the toughest competition through the first half of the year. The Chula Vista club has only played three divisional opponents this season, but faces a very tough test this weekend against defending U16 Development Academy National Champions LA Galaxy.
With the amount of quality teams in the SoCal division, it makes getting to the top of the table tough and staying at the top even more difficult. Nicholson attributed his team's standing to having a young team in the U16 Development Academy last year, and combining with the very talented U15 team.
"We have a good bunch of players with a good chemistry," said Nicholson. "The essence of it is that we have players who understand the game and like to play good soccer."
Nicholson is in a peculiar situation. Surf is one of two clubs in the division that is allowed to play high school soccer this season [Nomads is the other team], next season all nine SoCal clubs will be on a ten-month schedule.
"We are going to have to come out of high school and do well right away," said Nicholson as he contemplated the disadvantage for his club with a three-month break for high school soccer.
The coach highlighted a handful of players who stood out from this season including forward Brian Iloski, center back Eric Holt, midfielder Michael Turner, midfielder Zach Salado, and goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas.
Juarez gave credit to the returners to the RSL-AZ residency program for his squad's perfect start.
"Last year we had quality players, but it was their first year," said RSL-AZ coach Freddy Juarez. "Our backline for the most part was all 1995s last year. Now they come back this year, and tell the new players these are the standards. They have all quickly bought into it."
Juarez went on to highlight the play of forward Andrew Brody, goalkeeper Cesar Cobos, and forward Jose Navarro.
"If you talk about the heart of the team, it would be [Jose Navarro]," said Juarez. "He is quiet, hard-working, and never complains. His characteristics are exactly what this team is about."
Trailing RSL-AZ and LA Galaxy in the standings in fourth place is Chivas USA, which is 6-5-1 through the first half of the season.
Head coach Mike Munoz described the season as inconsistent.
"We can be the dominant team in games, and somehow find a way not to win them," said Munoz. "We are a very young team so there are going to be growing pains, but that is our club's philosophy. We want to challenge them against bigger, faster players. We do it with this team, the U18s, and the reserve team."
The top two scorers on Munoz's team are Romario Lomell and Jorge Ruiz. The latter of which is only 14-years-old, but looks like he easily belongs at this level with four goals in six starts.
"We are excited with our younger players," said Munoz referencing Ruiz among others. "We do feel that we have some very good talent coming through."
In the middle of the table is Lucey's Arsenal side, which on paper is perhaps the best team in the division, but has been setback by the inopportune timing of injuries to a few crucial players.
The main star of the Arsenal roster is U.S. U17 World Cup veteran Paul Arriola, who has 10 goals in nine games this season. Arriola is tied with Pateadores' Brian Pacheco for second in the division in goals scored. They both trail LA Galaxy Academy's Jamie Villareal, who has 13 goals in 10 games.
For the non-San Diego clubs, Development Academy play continues this weekend with important clashes between LA Galaxy - Arsenal and Real So Cal - Chivas USA. With a ten-month schedule, the fight for one of the top spots in the division never really stops.
There's an interesting uprising going on in the Development Academy's U18 Northwest Division and the Vancouver Whitecaps are leading it.
The newest addition to the Academy, the Whitecaps have burst onto the scene with the intention of challenging the establishment - also known as, Seattle Sounders FC.
With a 9-2-2 record, which includes a 3-0-1 divisional mark, Vancouver has sent an early message that they're legitimate contenders. The 3-1 victory over the reigning division champion Sounders on December 17 further drove the point home.
Dominque Dismuke (Photo by Seattle Sounders)"The Vancouver Whitecaps are one team that can challenge us for the top spot," admitted Sounders leading scorer Dominique Dismuke. "I have nothing but respect for those guys because they are a very good team."
Added teammate Ian Lange, the Sounders' center back, "Vancouver will challenge us but I still believe we will win the division."
On paper, the Whitecaps have proven to be more dominant than the rest of the division thus far. They're scoring twice as many goals as their opponents, the only team that can say that, and they've yet to lose at home.
Then there's the matter of Vancouver being a residency program which obviously allows them to benefit from focused training and chemistry building.
Caleb Clarke is guiding the team's attack with a healthy group of capable players filling in behind him.
But enough about the Whitecaps. The Northwest Division is much more than a one, or two-horse race.
De Anza Force ranks second to Vancouver in points but trails no one in confidence.
"There are several things that make us a strong team," said De Anza's Matt Escobar. "We have a deep team where everyone competes to make the starting lineup. We have great chemistry that keeps building."
De Anza will be leaning even more heavily on chemistry considering they're currently without their two top attacking players (James Huffer and Ryan Masch) who are recovering from injuries.
"We've been moving players around accordingly," Masch said. "I strongly believe in the abilities of my teammates and think that we have a great chance of going to the playoffs for the third year in a row."
Crossfire Premier will be another quality club to watch for but their intrastate rival the Sounders are the resident alpha dog of the division and they have the success to back it up.
The Sounders' current squad includes players from the U16 team that reached last year's National Finals - a target destination for the elder group.
"If we play our game the way we know we can it'll be tough for (anyone) to get the top spot over us," Dismuke said.
Colorado Rush and Real Colorado are close neighbors . . . and fiercely competitive rivals. This is especially true for the U17 ECNL teams, where the two clubs are first and second in the Mountain West standings, respectively.
"They have a very good team and a really good coach," said Real Colorado head coach Jared Spires about Rush. "Both teams are nationally competitive and really compete against each other hard - probably hate each other at times, but probably will make good teammates down the road."
Spires' Real Colorado U17 ECNL team is in second in the standings with an 11-0-3 record, but he says it should definitely be better.
"I wouldn't say we are off to a good start," said Spires. "In our conference we have done okay, but the team has had a rash of injuries."
Makayla 'Mac' McBrideThe coach said that five of his starters have been hit with long-term injuries and he attributes the copious amount of bodies in the training room to the amount of games the young ladies played last year.
"This team played so much soccer last year - ECNL national championship, Far West Regionals, etc. - it was non-stop highly competitive soccer. And their bodies needed a break, and unfortunately, not having a break and playing all those games contributed to it. As a club, it is something we are looking to eliminate in the future."
Even though the highly talented Real Colorado side has been hit by the injury-bug, they have fought through and remain in contention for bragging rights in the state of Colorado.
"As a collective group, the players were able to rise up and give us a fighting chance," said Spires. The coach went on to highlight Candace Cephers, who is the only healthy defender on the roster from last year's championship team.
"She is the type of kid that sees a void of leadership and plays like one of the best players," said Spires about Cephers. He also described her as "outstanding in the air" and very strong.
Real Colorado's top scorer from last year, Alex Anthony, has yet to make much of an impact due to injury, but Spires is hopeful in the return of Anthony and others in the coming month.
Spires' team has a trio of games in February before the club goes on break for high school soccer. The coach said that he anticipates a few of his stars will return for those games, but worries about what condition they will return in after the scholastic season.
While Real Colorado only trails Rush by a point in the conference standings, its rivals have done much better on the national stage in limited games. Rush is currently holding onto a spot in the top 11 in the National Flight A standings. Real Colorado is toward the bottom of the table with only one win in five games.
Rush's good national standing is thanks to the play of U17 national team members Elizabeth Raben, Gabrielle Miranda, and Morgan Stanton. Also, last year's leading scorer, Danica Evans, is back for another turn at tormenting defenses in the Mountain West.
Mountain West ECNL U16
For the U16 age group, the story is much the same with Colorado Rush leading the conference standings behind the stellar play of Brittney Stark, Taylor Terrell, and Lauren Conley.
Chasing the Rush is Arizona's Sereno Soccer Club U16. Jorian Baucom, who has eight goals in seven games this season, leads head coach Paul Taylor's squad.
Taylor's team started the season well with a win over Real Colorado and a draw against Colorado Rush.
Linsey Martin"I think we had a good training camp, and the girls set some realistic goals for themselves," said Taylor. "We came in quite fit and sharp, which was very helpful to get us off to a great start against some very good competition. We played a couple of friendlies against some boys' teams to prepare us for the competition."
Unsurprisingly, Taylor also pointed to the Rush as his team's main opposition inside the region.
"I would say the Colorado Rush is a very good team. We've tied and lost to them in two very good soccer games. It could have gone either way on both games. They are our main competitors in our conference."
The coach is dealing with a bigger difficulty besides Rush, high school soccer. His team's last ECNL game was in October, and they will not return to the field until March.
"Fingers crossed they come back somewhat healthy," said Taylor. "We start gearing up for a very hectic March period, which could make or break this season."
Sereno is comfortably sitting near the top of the table in the conference, but Taylor's side is lacking in the national standings.
"San Diego is a big deal for us," said Taylor referring to the ECNL National Showcase event. "The long-term goal is to get into the top 16 and get into the National Championship in Chicago at the end of the season."
Elsewhere in the U16 Mountain West, Real Colorado is making a push up the standings. Spires, who is also the assistant coach with the Real Colorado U16 team, said that head coach Lorne Donaldson has done a great job with that team.
"Lorne just took them over a year ago and when you go from one coach to another, it changes personalities," said Spires. "I really like the changes they've made. They are working hard and playing hard. I think they are a team that will really peak at the U17 age."
Real Colorado U16 is looking to make the promotion to Flight A this season, as the club is currently in the top 16 in the standings for Flight B. Joining Donaldson's side in the lower flight is the Nevada club Heat FC, which sits four spots above Real Colorado in the national table.
Heat FC is third in both the U16 and U17 ECNL age groups for the region, and also firmly in the conversation for promotion in the older bracket.
Nick Thiros, was making an unofficial visit, and watching the Lobos ascend to a new level left an impression on him.
"It showed that they are a great program and they know how to play the game," Thiros said. "I enjoyed being down there."
So much so that the La Roca Premier attacker gave his verbal commitment to the Lobos for the 2013 season.
Thiros, a regionally-ranked standout, joins Steve Manios who also committed to the Lobos for 2013.
Their high profile season aside, New Mexico had already gained favor with Thiros for being one of the first programs to show strong interest in him. He preferred to stay in the West anyway, and also considered schools like Santa Clara, San Diego and San Diego State. Nick ThirosThiros is a technically-strong player who has great vision and has served as his team's captain so he brings leadership. He's a good addition for a program that will likely attract a few more of them. Other boys' commits, include: Steven Wright (California Development Academy), a regionally-ranked standout who has committed to Washington for the 2013 season.
Jared Odenbeck (Charlotte Soccer Academy) committed to Georgetown for the 2013 season, choosing the Hoyas over the likes of Stanford, Wake Forest, and Virginia.
Sam Bascom (Cincinnati United Premier) has verbally committed to Navy for the 2013 season. Brett Edler (Crew Soccer Academy) has verbally committed to Wright State for the 2012 season. Jacob Glickman (Jersey Crew) has verbally committed to Wesleyan University for the 2012 season. Alec Ferrell (Internationals SC) has verbally committed to Wake Forest for the 2012 season.
Jameson Detweiler (SAC United) has verbally committed to Drexel for the 2012 season.
Derek Lynch (FC Copa Boca) has verbally committed to Rutgers for the 2012 season. Travis Nicklaw (Notts Forest) has verbally committed to San Diego State for the 2012 season.
Luis Vega (Fusion FC) has verbally committed to Florida Gulf Coast for the 2012 season.
Andrew Connors (Spirit United) has verbally committed to LaSalle for the 2012 season.
Connor Wear (Westside Metros) has verbally committed to Portland for the 2012 season.
Jorge Lopez (NJ Rangers) has verbally committed to NJIT for the season.
Billy Heavner (PA Classics) has verbally committed to UMBC for the 2012 season.
2012 US Youth Soccer ODP - Girls 1997 Development Camp Rosters - Charlie Kellogg and Joe Zahler Sports Complex | Las Vegas
Region I Name City State Club Team Elise Andrich Herndon VA FCV Sydney Brackett Hollis NH FC Stars of Massachusetts Madeleine Brill-Edwards Haverford PA FC Delco Jamie Delaney Sparta NJ Randolph Soccer Club Danielle Etzel Madison CT South Central Premier KaitlynForsht Chantilly VA Mclean Premier Soccer Maria Garofolo Barto PA FC Providence Paula Germino-Watnick Chevy Chase MD MSC Kaelyn Johns Downingtown PA Penn Fusion Soccer Academy Jessica Laszlo Stamford CT Beachside Soccer Club Lauren Lucas Rye NY Patriots FC Reilly Lucas Freeport NY Albertson Soccer Club Phoebe McClernon West Chester PA Penn Fusion Soccer Academy Jessica McKee Sewell NJ Washington United Piranhas Mackenzie Palmer Massapequa Park NY Massapequa Soccer Club Julia Panko Millstone Township NJ NJSA - 04 Hope Quinonez Westbury NY Farmingdale United Soccer Club Cailin Regan Akron NY Empire United - Buffalo Victoria Reis Rockville Centre NY Farmingdale Soccer Club Heather Rucci Baltimore MD Baltimore Bays Amanda Saymon Bridgeport WV West Virginia United Soccer Club Sara Seper New Hyde Park NY Farmingdale Soccer Club Fallon Sheridan Ardsley NY New York Rush Stephanie Shin Gaithersburg MD Bethesda Soccer Club Kristen Swope Harrison City PA Foothills SC Allison Trzaska Yardley PA Yardley Makefield Soccer Club Nicole Wagner Chester NY World Class Jenna West Manheim PA Penn Legacy 96 Black Savana Yurick Wexford PA Beadling Region II Name City State Club Team Jordyn Bloomer Hartland WI Lake Country Utd Emma Rigby Naperville IL Midwest United Abbie Boswell Woodridge IL NSA Alyssa Baumbick Avon Lake OH Cleveland Internationals Maddie Chalifoux Champaign IL Illinois FC Reece Christopherson Overland Park KS KCFC Hannah Dolfuss Ft. Wayne IN Carmel United Bayley Feist Cincinnati OH Tristate Futbol Alliance Alessandra Fistrovich Indianapolis IN St. Francis Soccer Club Sydney Goins Cincinnati OH Kings Soccer Academy Amber Hoot Churubusco IN Carmel United Ryan Kokoska Zionsville IN Carmel United Shannon Magnan Brighton MI Michigan Hawks Chamberlain Mathis Grand Rapids MI Alliance FC Malley O'Brien Superior WI Rachel Roberts Lebanon OH Warren County Utd Olivia Sency Medina OH Kayla Sharples Naperville IL Eclipse Daniell Sobelman Glendale WI Region III Name City State Club Team Rachel Bates Panama City FL Bay United SC Sam Colley Williamsport TN Brentwood SC Gaylynn Cooper Jackson MS MSC Fire Holly Fritz Cape Coral FL Chicago Fire Jr Florida Clara Gastaldi Suwanee GA AFU MaryKate Helms Jacksonville NC OCSA Costal Crew Hope Hyde University Park TX Sting 97 Carrie Lawrence Orlando FL Krush CFK Julia Lenhardt Frisco TX Sting Kiera McMeekan Naples FL Chicago Fire Jr Florida Madison Neely Charlotte NC Charlotte SA Caylin Prillaman High Point NC Charlotte SA Lakyn Pope Plano TX FC Dallas 98 Mary-LoveTaylor Wilson NC 96 CASL Region IV Name City State Club Team Emily Bringgold Folsom CA Place United Victoria Buda Rancho Palos Verdes CA SoCal Blues Quinn Frankel Pacific Palisades CA Westside Breakers Aridahi Gonzalez Las Vegas NV Heat FC Janae Gonzalez Folsom CA Blues - Sacramento Grace Hancock Boise ID FC Nova Kelcie Hedge Post Falls ID Spokane Soccer Club Alexius Hill Centennial CO Real National Claire Kong-Johnson Honolulu HI Leahi Soccer Club Baseley McClaskey Grand Junction CO Colorado West Select Milan Moses San Leandro CA Pleasanton Rage Leah Pruitt Rancho Cucamonga CA Arsenal FC Alexandra Quails Gresham OR Eastside Tottenham Aspen Robinson Littleton CO Colorado Rush Nike Hailey Skolmoski Riverton UT Avalanche ECNL Eleanor Small Reno NV International Alleandra Watt Colorado Springs CO Pride Predators
2012 US Youth Soccer ODP - Girls 1995 Development Camp Rosters - Charlie Kellogg and Joe Zahler Sports Complex | Las Vegas
Region I Name City State Club Team Sarah Kaiser Erie PA Erie Admirals Emily Marshall Adamstown MD Camille Roberts Fogelsville PA STM FC Lehigh Ashley Williams Utica NY Region II Name City State Club Team Kelly Neeb Cincinnati OH Cincinnati United Premier Rachele Armand Aurora IL Team Chicago Bryce Banuelos Elmhurst IL Elizabeth Bartels Omaha NE Toro S C Kaitlyn Clark Liberty MO Viati Gianna Dal Pozzo Naperville IL Team Chicago Meegan Johnston Grayslake IL Team Chicago Ashlynn Jones Pickerington OH Blast FC Gracie Lachowecki Evansville IN SWISA Rose Lavelle Cincinnati OH CUP Crew Jrs. SamanthaMaher Caledonia MI Michigan Hawks Micaela Powers Beaver Creek OH Ohio Galaxies FC Jenna Romano Naperville IL Team Chicago Allison Stucky Brecksville OH Cleveland FC Savannah Trujillo Kansas City MO KCFC Kari Weinland New Albany OH Blast FC Region III Name City State Club Team Jessica Allen Loganville GA GSA Mallory Bane Orange Park FL Creeks Clash McKenzie Bricker Collierville TN 95 Lady Lobos Annaly Ferrell Tulsa OK TSC Hurricanes Stephanie Kolwicz Midland GA Concorde Fire Julia Moore Ft. Lauderdale FL Coral Springs Renegades Riley Narum Clearwater FL Tampa Bay United Kallie Peurifoy Walterboro SC SC United Mt Pleasant Kayla Puzas Suwanee GA Concorde Fire South Claire Salazar Broken Arrow OK TSC Hurricane 96 Delaney Sheehan Mandeville LA Chicago Fire Juniors, LA Beryl Smith The Woodlands TX Challenge 95 Kat Stratton Belden MS MFC Fire 95 Lauren Tanner Buford GA GSA Phoenix 95 Red Taylor Wagnon Atlanta GA GSA Indira Wildschut Canton GA Concorde Fire 95 Grace Wright College Station TX Challenge 95 Region IV Name City State Club Team Aurora Bodenhamer Vancouver WA ESUFC Brooke Boothe Ontario CA Legends FC Isabelle Butterfield Bellevue WA Eastside FC Sarah Carter Bonney Lake WA WPFC Rebecca Cox Los Altos Hills CA PSV Union Kaithlyn Fahrner Henderson NV Premier 95 white Shyann Glasser Renton WA Washington Premier Hannah Holm Spokane Valley ID River City Emma Makela Mukilteo WA Crossfire Krystyna Sikora Los Angeles CA South Bay Force Samantha Trenary Coto de Caza CA Slammers
2012 US Youth Soccer ODP - Girls 1996 Development Camp Rosters - Charlie Kellogg and Joe Zahler Sports Complex | Las Vegas
Region I Name City State Club Team Leah Hardin Aberdeen MD Cassidy Babin Ellicott City MD Christina Cardamone Herndon VA BRYC Elite '95 Samantha Grasso Shelton CT CFC United Karli Cirovski Highland MD Darien Dunham Cheshire CT AFC Pride Caitlyn Flores Dumfries VA PWSI Courage '95 Gold Heidi Gspurning Yorktown Hgts NY Jillian Kennedy Annandale NJ Jersey United Lightning Haley Kent Charlottesville VA SOCA u16 Storm Meredith Manley Pottstown PA PF '95 Mary Monahan Manalapan NJ Mission-Battle of Monmouth Erin Neville Commack NY Nicole Petocchi Penfield NY Empire USA Rochester U-15 Blue Lillian Puccia Andover MA North Shore united Allison Vickers Williamstown NJ U-14 Fury Region II Name City State Club Team Heather Rolls Fenton MI Michigan Hawks Olivia Sherman Okemos MI TNT Dynamite Sophie Babo Maple Grove MN Minnesota Thunder Academy Kristen Dodson Aurora IL Sockers FC Chicago Monreau DeVos Grand Rapids MI Grand Rapids Crew Jrs. Shannon Hendricks Granger IN Jr. Irish Catherine Kent Elmhurst IL Sockers FC Alexis Kiehl Cincinnati OH Hammer F.C. Kaitlynn Kiehl Cincinnati OH Hammer F.C. Madison Lewis Lebanon IN Carmel United Tara Lierman Holt MI TNT Dynamite Kellee O'Shaughnessy Ft. Wayne IN Ft. Wayne Fever Sofia Pavon Chicago IL F. C. United Talise Romain Naperville IL NSA Maddy Turner Granger IN Carmel United Josie Thurman Noblesville IN Carmel United Nicole Zuckerman Livonia MI Michigan Hawks Region III Name City State Club Team Alexcia Alexander Lafayette LA Houston Dynamo Jrs Raymara Barreto Mt. Pleasant SC SC United Mt Pleasant Morgan Beans Atlanta GA GSA 97 Red Taylor Braun Colleyville TX Texans 96 Red Karla Cabello Oklahoma City OK OFC 96 Natasha Davenport Collierville TN TN Rush Lana Duke Edmond OK TSC Hurricane 96 Delaney Griffin Franklin TN BNA Hannah Huizenga Duluth GA GSA 96 Red Annalyn Kumar Fort Worth TX D' Feeters 97 Bria Mosley Conyers GA Atlanta Fire United Elizabeth Murphy McKinney TX Solar 96 Rachael Reddy Birmingham AL BUSA Kristina Schulz Fort Worth TX D'Feeters Tatum Wagner Tulsa OK TSC Hurricane 97 Marlo Zoller Sapulpa OK TSC Hurricane Region IV Name City State Club Team Emilia Bladin Seattle WA Eastside FC Abigail Callahan Coronado CA San Diego Surf Carissa Christensen Rancho Cucamonga CA Fram Brooke Evans Salt Lake City UT La Roca Futbol Club Mikayla Flores San Dimas CA Legends FC Dana Fujikuni Moorpark CA Real So Cal Zoe Higgins Sandy OR Oregon Rush Arianna Hudson Portland OR FC Portland Catherine Kearl Salt Lake City UT Utah Avalanche Rachel Lusby Beaverton OR FC Portland Stephanie Malherbe Temecula CA So Cal Blues Abby Morrow Bothell WA Eastside FC Rebecca Rasmussen Golden CO Colorado Rush Rachel Wheeler Bellevue WA Eastside FC Madison Wiegand-Brown Colorado Springs CO Pride Predators '97
"I'm excited about the opportunity to coach the U.S. U-17 Men's National Team and be with the players full-time in the Residency Program," Williams said. "It is a great responsibility as the players kick off the cycle toward the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup, but it is also an excellent platform for introducing them in more detail to the philosophies and style of play that are being integrated throughout the National Team programs."
Williams had previously been the head coach of the U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team and the Mid-Atlantic Region technical advisor for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, but will leave both positions to immediately take over the U-17 Residency Program full-time in Bradenton.
2012 Spring Semester Residency Roster"Richie is an ideal candidate to guide the development of our young National Team players while also preparing the team during the next year to qualify for the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup," said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. "His experience as a player and coach at the highest levels will allow him to continue to provide a professional environment for the players in our U-17 Residency Program."
Before joining U.S. Soccer, Williams spent five seasons with Major League Soccer's New York Red Bulls as an assistant coach. Williams began his coaching career in 2005 as an assistant coach for his alma mater, the University of Virginia.
As a player, Williams represented the U.S. Men's National Team for five years from 1998-2002, compiling 20 appearances and 11 starts. During his professional career, he won three MLS Cups with D.C. United in 1996, 1997 and 1999.
The current crop of U.S. Under-17 players were born mostly in 1996, with three born in 1997, making all the players eligible for the upcoming CONCACAF qualifying tournament and FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2013. The U.S. Soccer Development Academy continues to have a growing influence on the U-17s, with 26 of the 31-player Residency roster stemming from Academy clubs. U.S. Soccer Technical Advisors continue to scour the country in search of the best players that are age eligible for the upcoming events in 2013.
The U-17 Residency Program has been a fixture of U.S. Soccer since 1999. The U.S. players live on campus at IMG Academies in Bradenton, and train in the morning before attending classes at St. Stephens Episcopal School. Along with training daily, the players regularly use IMG's state-of-the-art strength-training facilities, and top-of-the-line soccer equipment and fields.
This setup has helped the U-17s with both individual player development and team development. Since its inception, more than 300 players have been through the Residency Program, and more than 100 of those players have moved on to MLS, or the professional leagues in Europe. A total of 24 players have also registered at least one cap with the full MNT.
With introductions out of the way, now comes the difficult part for U.S. U23 Women's National Team coach Randy Waldrum.
Having just wrapped his first camp in Sarasota, Florida, after being named the coach just a week earlier, Waldrum must now make sense out of what he's just seen.
The U23s are scheduled to head to Spain for the La Manga Tournament next month and it's up to the new guy to select the roster.
Never mind that he's only had a week to evaluate. It amounts to kind of a crash course for the Notre Dame coach but it's all a part of the new U.S. Soccer gig.
"The primary purpose of the camp for me was to see what I had," Waldrum said. "This was my only opportunity to see them before (Spain). I did know most of the players coming in but you really get a different perception of them when you see them train twice a day for an entire week."
So what did he learn?
Camille Levin"Well, take a player like (Stanford's) Camille Levin; we played against her in the 2010 National Championship and again last year but seeing her day in and day out I realized just how versatile she is. She can play anywhere, and I wasn't previously aware of that."
Conversely, the 24 players invited into camp - which featured collegiate stars sprinkled in with a few professionals - saw a new side of Waldrum.
There was intense training, of course, and the group scrimmaged against the IMG and Clearwater Chargers clubs but there was a bigger purpose to the gathering.
Waldrum wants to help define an identity with the U23 group, one that connects to the rest of the U.S. Soccer program as a whole.
Because of the nature of the U23 age group this hasn't always been the case. There's no major event to prepare for every two years and the squad works with a smaller window of time throughout the year.
"In speaking with the players I was hearing that they felt like they weren't a part of the program as a whole, and the age group was more about the individual," Waldrum said. "Hopefully I can change that mindset. My job is to push players forward into the full team. I would imagine that the faces of the U.S. Women's team will be changing in the coming years and I'm trying to prepare them for that."
So in addition to making his own personal connections with his new team, Waldrum is also trying to cultivate the group's ultimate connection to the program.
It's part of the grand scheme of Technical Director April Heinrichs and Development Director Jill Ellis to unify the women's program.
It's a new approach and one that appeals to Waldrum, who has previously been called in to help the U.S. Women's program at different times during his decorated coaching career.
Waldrum said he'll get a chance to sit down with national team coach Pia Sundhage in the coming month as the lines of communication are wide open these days at the U.S. Soccer base.
As for Waldrum, the two-time national champion is enjoying his new challenge even if it does involve some difficult decisions right out of the gate.
"As coaches you want to coach at the highest level," Waldrum said. "I've been involved with U.S. Soccer for some time but to now have a full time position is special. Jill (Ellis) and April (Heinrichs) have brought in a multitude of coaches and perspectives, which is what I like. Where in the past, things have been somewhat closed off to certain coaches things have really opened up and it's helpful for everyone."
U.S. U23 WNT Camp Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Adrianna Franch (Oklahoma State; Salina, Kan.), Emily Kruger (California; Woodside, Calif.), Megan Kufeld (Washington; Freemont, Calif.)
DEFENDERS (10): Natasha Anasi (Duke; Arlington, Texas), Lauren Barnes (Philadelphia Independence; Upland, Calif.), Amber Brooks (North Carolina; New Hope, Pa.), Camille Levin (Stanford; Newport Coast, Calif.), Taylor Lytle (Texas Tech; Las Cruces, N.M.), Blake Miller (West Virginia; St. Louis, Mo.); Toni Pressley (Florida State; Melbourne, Fla.), Elli Reed (Boston Breakers; Park City, Utah), Sammy Scofield (Notre Dame; Geneva, Ill.), Kika Toulouse (Virginia; Arlington, Va.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Zakiya Bywaters (UCLA; Las Vegas, Nev.), Bianca D'Agostino (out of contract; Longmeadow, Mass.), Amanda DaCosta (Sky Blue FC; Katonah, N.Y.), Jenna Richmond (UCLA; Centerville, Va.), Elizabeth Tucker (Notre Dame; Jacksonville, Fla.), Erika Tymrak (Florida; Lakewood Ranch, Fla.)
FORWARDS (5): Vicki DiMartino (Boston College; Massapequa, N.Y.), Morgan Marlborough (Nebraska; Lee's Summit, Mo.), Danielle Foxhoven (Portland; Littleton, Co.), Lindsay Taylor (Stanford; Los Altos, Calif.), Laura Weinberg (Duke; Boca Raton, Fla.)
Chivas USA Academy forward Ben Spencer and midfielder Marky Delgado have been pretty busy in 2012. At the start of the year, the two stars of the Chivas USA Academy were called into camp with the U.S. U18 national team. Since then it has been non-stop soccer for the pair with Academy games and preseason training with the first team.
The Goats' stars did take some time on Saturday to talk with TopDrawerSoccer.com about appearing in the first camp under new U18 head coach Richie Williams, their chemistry on the field, and training with the Chivas USA first team.
Ben Spencer"It was a good camp," said Spencer. "Richie Williams is a fun guy to work with and there were awesome players out there. It was fun training with the best players in the country."
His teammate echoed his sentiment about training for the first time with the new coaches.
"I liked it out there," said Delgado. "The coach brought a new training style, so you had to get used to it. It took everyone some time, but after awhile we got it."
Delgado was with the U.S. residency program last year, so he has plenty of experience with national team training camps. He did not go into detail about what exactly made Williams' style unique, but did refer to it as "different."
This camp also added another twist for Delgado, as the coaching staff put the talented playmaker in a new position.
"The coach was playing me at defensive mid," said Delgado. "At residency, I was playing on the wing and then I moved to the middle, but I was definitely comfortable at [defensive mid]."
Spencer also has some experience with the youth national team program. The 16-year-old striker spent time with the U15 national team before he enrolled with the RSL-AZ residency last year.
The 6'4 New Mexico native does not face the same positional dilemma though. He has quickly matured into one of the most lethal forwards in the Development Academy with 30 goals to his name in just over a season of a play.
"Ben did really well," said Delgado about his teammate's play in Florida. "He held the ball, scored some goals, and did what he had to do."
Spencer attributed his success in Florida to having his hard-working teammate in his same group for many of the drills and scrimmages.
"There is a lot of chemistry between us from playing in the Academy, reserve games, and training with the first team," said Spencer.
On Saturday, the two combined for two goals in a 4-2 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps U18. Delgado set the stage both times for the striker to put the ball in the back of the net. The next day, Delgado and Spencer scored two a piece in a 5-1 win over California Development Academy U18.
As for anyone else who performed well at the national team camp, Delgado praised LA Galaxy Academy's Willie Raygoza, who he said had a great camp by retaining possession and facilitating the offense for their group.
When asked to assess their own performances in Florida, both thought they did well. Delgado also mentioned that an assistant coach told him "he did a great job" in the exit interviews.
Both players recognized that even though the acknowledgment of getting called up to the national team is nice, the work does not stop there.
"You have to put in the work," said Spencer. "The guys work hard to get there, and now it is all about working hard to stay there."
The two 16-year-olds have definitely put in the work with a week of two-a-days at the U18 camp, followed by preseason training with the Chivas USA first team, and then Academy games, but it looks like the work is starting to pay off for them.
Spencer impressed everyone in the Chivas USA organization when he performed exceptionally well in a fitness test on the first day of training camp.
"I didn't have much of an off-season," said Spencer with a nonchalant smile. "I felt good, and I guess the results showed in the beep test."
With the way Spencer and Delgado are playing, their schedules are going to remain busy in the near future.
U.S. U-18 MNT January Camp Roster:
US Youth Soccer is divided into four regions, Region I (East), Region II (Midwest), Region III (South) and Region IV (West) to assist in national competitions. US Youth Soccer ODP is known as the premier identification and development program for the nation's youth seeking the opportunity to compete at the national, professional and collegiate levels of play. US Youth Soccer ODP, designed to identify and develop a pool of players from which U.S. National Teams may be selected, is the original ODP program. US Youth Soccer ODP is the only elite player development program that can claim members of Major League Soccer and Women's Professional Soccer, as well as a majority of current and past national and youth team members, as alumni.
Friday, Jan. 273 p.m. Region II v Region I Field 53 p.m. Region IV v Region III Field 6
Saturday, Jan. 283 p.m. Region III v Region II Field 53 p.m. Region I v Region IV Field 6
Sunday, Jan. 298:30 a.m. Region IV v Region II Field 58:30 a.m. Region I v Region III Field 6
* Schedule is subject to change 1996 Rosters Region I Jersey Name City State Club 7 Gioacchino Albanese London UK Kensington Dragons 13 Patrick Berneski Warrington PA Lehigh Valley United 12 Arthur Bosua Dix Hills NY HBC 1 Calvin Boyle Pittsburgh PA North United 16 Joseph Castano Williston VT Nordic United 8 William Eskay Damascus MD FC Frederick 14 Wyatt Fabian Sinking Springs PA Lehigh Valley United 10 Michael Fornaro Hamilton NJ Medford 11 Zachary Graziani Imperial PA Beadling 17 Daniel Kaiser Highland MD SAC 0 James Knoebel Warrenton VA Beach FC 5 Garrett Muzikowski Jackson NJ Toms River 4 Will Rasid Wilbraham MA Western United 6 Christopher Scian Towaco NJ Montclair 9 Noah Snyder Warrington PA Lehigh Valley United 15 Arik Moe Bethesda MD MSC 2 Daniel Warner Aiken Road NY New York Premier 3 Zachary Zandi West Chester PA Penn Fusion Region II Jersey Name City State Club GK 1 Drew Donnally Plainfield IL Chicago Fire Juniors GK 2 Mitchell O'Kelly Bowling Green KY Louisville United 3 Jamie Colin Kenosha WI Red Star FC 4 Cameron Cool Midway KY Lexington Football Club 5 Prayag Jina Aurora OH Everest Soccer Club Black 6 Benjamin Troester Iowa City IA Iowa Soccer Club-Titans 7 Landon Sibole Omaha NE Omaha FC Elite 1 95-96 8 Nathan Donovan Aurora IL AFSC Premier 9 Thomas (T.C.) Hull St. Charles IL Campton United 10 Eddie Saydee Brooklyn Park MN MN Thunder Academy 11 Ken Krolicki Plymouth MI Michigan Jaguars 12 Andres Torres Chicago IL Chicago Fire Youth Academy 13 Abdikadir Anyah St. Paul MN n/a 14 Nathan Bergstrom Savage MN MN Thunder Academy Blue 15 Spiro Pliakos Rochester Hills MI WAZA FC East Black 16 Nathaniel Shultz Highland Hts OH Ambassadors FC Blue 17 Sidney Otiendo Minneapolis MN Higher Ground Academy Region III Jersey Name City State Club 7 Shadi Awad Vestavia Hills AL Vestavia Hills SC 4 Zack Bailey Madison MS MS Fire 10 Kevin Byrne Loxahatchee FL Royal Palm Beach 6 Mateo Correa Tamarac FL Coral Springs United 11 Mario Da Silva Parkland FL Parkland Predators 8 Christopher Davis Wilmington NC Fuquay Varina AA 12 Cameron Hardington Jacksonville FL Jacksonville United GK Logan Jones Tampa FL Fusion FC GK Braeden Luna Destin FL Emerald Coast United 13 Johnny Nartowicz Orlando FL Florida Rush 16 Andrew Raad Rock Hill SC Discoveries SC 2 Daniel Rutter Brighton TN TN Rush 17 Austin Sandel Tallahassee FL West Pines United 14 Cameron Steele Clayton NC Fuquay Varina AA 3 Trenton Whitely Lawrenceville GA NASA 9 Wilfred Williams Johnson City TN Fusion FC 4 Dennis Zapata Orlando FL CFK GK Christopher Zappia Raleigh NC Carolina SC Region IV Jersey Name City State Club n/a Ian Coleman Beaverton OR OSSA n/a Tyson Fox Merdian ID Boise Nationals n/a Marshall Garcia Bakersfield CA Roadrunners n/a Lucas Janetos Mill Valley CA Marin FC n/a Patrick Lee Wilton CA n/a n/a Guilherme Leme Pleasant Grove UT Sparta n/a Emmanuel Lopez San Diego CA Albion SC n/a Dylan McIllese Sandy UT Inter FC n/a Rubio Rubin Beaverton OR Westside Metros n/a Jose Nuno Adelanto CA Arsenal FC n/a Carter Perry Boise ID Boise Nationals n/a Antonio Porreco Beaverton OR Westside Metros n/a Isaac Strever Vancouver WA Westside Metros n/a Sam Strong Santa Barbara CA Santa Barbara SC n/a Taylor Takada Honolulu HI Honolulu Bulls n/a Luis Vargas West Valley UT Sparta United n/a Rolando Velazquez Junction City OR Lake Oswego FC n/a Timothy Joseph-Wheelwright Pleasant View UT La Roca Premier
On Saturday, a handful of Development Academy clubs returned to the field after a few weeks off for winter break. If there was any concern about rust, most of the teams put those doubts out of mind with explosive offensive performances.
In the nine U18 games, the teams combined to score 40 goals with both LA Galaxy and Solar SC contributing six a piece. The nets were burning in the three conferences that returned to play this weekend. So who came out on top in these high-scoring contests?
In Texas, Solar Chelsea SC enjoyed a high-scoring Saturday with its two teams combining for 11 goals in a pair of wins over Andromeda FC. For the U16 team, Mitchell LaGro grabbed top honors with two goals in a 5-1 rout.
Dallas Texans' Brandon AubreyDallas Texans U16 continued its undefeated season with a 2-1 win over Houston Dynamo over the weekend. In the U18 game, Dynamo's Christian Diaz helped secure a point on the road with the lone goal for the visitors in a 1-1 draw.The 2010-11 Development Academy top goal-scorer, Kekuta Manneh, faced his old team for the first time on Saturday. Manneh, who leads the nation again this year with 20 goals, found the back of the net once, but it was not enough for Lonestar Academy, which lost 3-2 via a last minute goal by Texas Rush's Diego Galdamez. Lonestar exacted some revenge in the U16 game though with a 2-0 victory.
Chivas USA U18 handed the Whitecaps its second defeat of the season with a 4-1 result, but the U16 did not fare as well in a 1-3 loss. On Sunday, Chivas USA U18 crushed California Development Academy 5-1, and then the U16s destroyed CDA 7-3 in the later clash. Forward Ben Spencer led the charge for the U18s over the weekend with four goals in the two games.
Not to be outdone by its cross-town rivals, LA Galaxy U18 smashed CDA 6-1 on Saturday behind a hat trick from Drew Murphy and a pair of goals from Willie Raygoza. U.S. residency product Nathan Smith made his debut with the Galaxy after spending the first half of the Academy season with Cal Odyssey. Kenny Arena's U16 side claimed a 2-0 victory on the day.
On Sunday, Whitecaps rebounded from the loss against Chivas USA with a 1-0 win over Galaxy U18, which ended the LA club's 10 game undefeated streak.
In the lone matchup between two teams from the SoCal Division, Pateadores recorded victories over Strikers SC in both age groups by a 2-1 and 1-0 score line, respectively.
Up the coast, De Anza Force U18 climbed to second in the Northwest Division with a 1-0 victory over Cal Odyssey. Nicholas Lima's goal ten minutes before the final whistle provided the separation in a fixture riddled with three red cards. For the U16 sides, goals from Geoffrey Dunn and Shane Luna were the difference in a 2-0 win for De Anza Force.
Elsewhere in Northern California, Santa Cruz Breakers U18 seized its first division win of the season with a 4-2 victory over San Jose Earthquakes. John Chronopoulos was key in the result with three goals in the game to bring his season tally to 12.
Due to weather conditions, the Seattle Sounders Academy was unable to travel for its scheduled game against RSL-AZ.
Eli Dent and Nestor Jaramillo continued their torrid scoring pace with a goal a piece in a 2-1 win for South Carolina United Battery over North Meck U18 on Saturday. The U16 sides settled for a 1-1 draw.
On Sunday, Battery and Charlotte Soccer Academy U18 battled to a 2-2 draw. Charlotte's Alex Givens registered both goals for the home side. The younger Battery team won 3-2 in the later contest to improve to 14-3-3 on the year.