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Updated: 2 years 20 weeks ago

Star Minnesota prospect stays in the Midwest

Mon, 01/23/2012 - 7:21am

Kylie Schwarz is the kind of player who seems tailor-made for the college game. She is fast, physical, and an imposing defensive presence.

And Wisconsin should be very happy to have her.

Schwarz verbally committed to the Badgers for the 2013 season when she will join other rising stars at the program like sophomore-to-be Cara Walls.
Kylie SchwarzOur No. 44 ranked player in the 2013 class Top 100, Schwarz had a diverse list of programs on her radar but in the end she will keep her talents in the Midwest.

Schwarz is a linchpin of ECNL club Minnesota Thunder and has U.S. youth national team experience. She is versatile enough to play a lot of places on the field so it'll be interesting to see where Wisconsin lines her up.

Schwarz headlines a big list of commits:

Jenny Olensky (PDA) has verbally committed to Syracuse for the 2013 season.

Andee Nelson (Challenge SC) has verbally committed to Marquette for the 2012 season.

Rebecca Beatty has verbally committed to Charlotte for the 2013 season.

Catherine Blair (CASL) has verbally committed to Duke for the 2013 season.

Paige Jarsombeck (Eclipse Select) has verbally committed to Creighton for the 2013 season.

Michelle Mottonen (Eclipse Select) has verbally committed to TCU for the 2013 season.

Haley Wingender (Las Vegas Premier) has verbally committed to Northern Arizona for the 2012 season.

Carolyn Seltzer (FC Virginia) has verbally committed to Delaware for the 2013 season.

Kara DeGuisto (Herndon FC) has verbally committed to Elon for the 2013 season.

Courtney Silberberg (JB Marine) has verbally committed to South Florida for the 2013 season.

Madison Foley (Hammer FC) has verbally committed to Belmont for the 2012 season.

Josee Stiever (North Shore United) has verbally committed to Minnesota for the 2013 season.

Karsten Hanlin (Colorado Rapids) has verbally committed to Denver for the 2012 season.

Paige DeThorne (Eclipse Select) has verbally committed to Eastern Illinois for the 2012 season.

Cassandra Fafalios has verbally committed to Florida Gulf Coast for the 2013 season.

Sarah Brown (Odyssey Sport SC) has verbally committed Syracuse for the 2012 season.

Hailey Brohaugh (Mississippi Fire) has verbally committed to Alabama for the 2013 season.

Mississippi Fire players Kat Stratton verbally committed to Alabama, Tiffany Huddleston verbally committed to Mississippi State and Abby Phillips verbally committed to Mississippi State. 


Danae O'Halloran (New Jersey Wildcats) has verbally committed to North Carolina for the 2013 season.

Madison Jones (South Carolina United) has verbally committed to UNC Greensboro for the 2013 season.

Categories: Youth Articles

Chivas USA, Whitecaps split Academy showdown

Sun, 01/22/2012 - 9:12am

PASADENA, Calif - Stevie Rodriguez and Ben Spencer each scored two goals in the opening 20 minutes, and the Chivas USA U18 team cruised to a 4-2 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.

In the afternoon game, Whitecaps U16 forward Brody Huitema found the back of the net three times in a 3-1 victory for the visiting side.

In the U18 clash, the defining moment of the game came only five minutes after the opening kickoff when Rodriguez stole the ball from Alex Rowley.

"I just read him, I knew he was going to go back [with the pass]," said Rodriguez about the steal that led to the penalty kick. "I went for it."

Rowley made an awkward challenge to win the ball back, but ended up fouling the Chivas USA attacking midfielder in the box and reduced his side to 10 men due to a red card for the denial of the goal scoring opportunity.

Chivas USA midfielder Stevie RodriguezRodriguez stepped up and finished the penalty kick for the early opener, but that was only the start of a great first half for the U.S. residency product.

Five minutes later, Rodriguez punished the sluggish Whitecaps side with a jaw-dropping finish for his second goal of the game. Left back Eric Gonzalez started the movement with a pinpoint 30-yard pass to the chest of Rodriguez who had made a diagonal run through the defense.

"I was going to cross it actually, but I saw the goalie off the line," said Rodriguez about his second goal. "So I just tried it."

Rodriguez perfectly controlled the pass off his chest, and then hit a wicked 25-yard volley into the corner of the net to double the lead.

"We are young and the players did not have a lot of time to get a shape with ten players against 11," said Whitecaps Academy Technical Director and U18 head coach Richard Grootscholten about the onslaught of goals in quick succession. "[Chivas USA] pressed high and played well."

In the 16th minute, Spencer netted his first goal of the day to increase the Goats lead to three after he finished off a spill from the Whitecaps keeper.

"As a forward, you have to follow up shots especially on a rainy day," said Spencer. "The keeper slipped, so it was an easy put-in."

Seven minutes later, Spencer expertly finished off a cross from Marky Delgado for the final Chivas USA tally on the day.

"It was a good run by Marky [Delgado]," said Spencer. "He whipped in a good ball and I got on the end of it."

With 12 minutes left in the half, Whitecaps closed the lead to 4-1 after the referee awarded Vancouver a penalty kick for a handball in the box. Caleb Clarke calmly slotted the spot kick home for his first of the day.

The Whitecaps forward added one more in the final eight minutes of the game on another penalty kick to bring his season tally to 14 goals in 12 games.  

"I have to compliment my team though, it is not easy when you are 4-0 down," said Grootscholten. "And I thought we had more chances at the end."

Chivas USA improved to 7-3-1 on the season with the win, and Whitecaps dropped to 8-2-2. Both sides play on Sunday with the local side hosting CDA and the visitors heading across the town to square off against LA Galaxy.

In the later game, Huitema stole the show with a hat-trick performance. The striker netted the opener after seven minutes when the Whitecaps quickly sprang a counterattack following a free kick in the attacking third from the home team.

Speedy midfielder Sebastian Cabrera raced down the left side and neatly picked Huitema for a sliding finish. Cabrera facilitated the second goal, as well, when he stole the ball from a Chivas USA defender in the 18-yard box and picked out Huitema.

The tall striker hammered his shot into the goalie's abdomen, which resulted in the young keeper fumbling the ball into his own net. 

After half, Huitema completed his three-goal day with an unmarked header off a corner kick.

"[Huitema] is getting to understand the role a little bit," said Grootscholten. "He can hold the ball and he can make the right runs. That is what I like about him, he can bring both attributes as a forward."

Chivas USA briefly overcame its scoring woes with a penalty kick goal from Jeffrey "Q" Quezada. But the young Goats could not convert any other opportunities and were frustrated by the lack of consistency in front of the net.

"I thought in the first half, we created enough chances," said Chivas USA U16 head coach Mike Munoz. "And if one goes in, it is a completely different game."

"Vancouver was very organized and they have some good players," added Munoz. "We gave up three chances and they took advantage of it."

Vancouver Whitecaps U16 is now 7-3-2 on the season, while Chivas USA fell to 5-5-1.

Starting lineups:
Chivas USA U18: Jake McGuire; Julio Chavez, Stephen Copley, Brendan Hines-Ike, Eric Gonzalez; Eduardo Quezada, Stevie Rodriguez, Nicholas Escalante; Marky Delgado, Ben Spencer, Jose Dheming

Vancouver Whitecaps U18: Callum Irving; Adam Polakiewicz, Daniel Stanese, Tim Hickson, Alex Rowley; Spencer DeBoice, Bryce Alderson, Ben Fisk, Wesley Cain; Yassin Essa, Caleb Clarke

Chivas USA U16: Cesar Jerez; Tyler Allen, Josue Garcia, Jeffrey Quezada, Malcolm Jones; Mark Hernandez, Adam Arana, Brian Kennedy, Edzon Cuevas; Ever Delatorre, Romario Lomeli

Vancouver Whitecaps U16: Nolan Wirth; Sam Adekugbe, Jackson Farmer, Alex Comsia, Matthew van der Eyden; Sebastian Cabrera, Mitch Piraux, Marco Bustos, Liam Elbourne; Carlos Patino, Brody Huitema

Categories: Youth Articles

Goats duo strikes

Sun, 01/22/2012 - 9:12am

PASADENA, Calif - Stevie Rodriguez and Ben Spencer each scored two goals in the opening 20 minutes, and the Chivas USA U18 team cruised to a 4-2 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.

In the afternoon game, Whitecaps U16 forward Brody Huitema found the back of the net three times in a 3-1 victory for the visiting side.

In the U18 clash, the defining moment of the game came only five minutes after the opening kickoff when Rodriguez stole the ball from Alex Rowley.

"I just read him, I knew he was going to go back [with the pass]," said Rodriguez about the steal that led to the penalty kick. "I went for it."

Rowley made an awkward challenge to win the ball back, but ended up fouling the Chivas USA attacking midfielder in the box and reduced his side to 10 men due to a red card for the denial of the goal scoring opportunity.

Rodriguez stepped up and finished the penalty kick for the early opener, but that was only the start of a great first half for the U.S. residency product.

Five minutes later, Rodriguez punished the sluggish Whitecaps side with a jaw-dropping finish for his second goal of the game. Left back Eric Gonzalez started the movement with a pinpoint 30-yard pass to the chest of Rodriguez who had made a diagonal run through the defense.

"I was going to cross it actually, but I saw the goalie off the line," said Rodriguez about his second goal. "So I just tried it."

Rodriguez perfectly controlled the pass off his chest, and then hit a wicked 25-yard volley into the corner of the net to double the lead.

"We are young and the players did not have a lot of time to get a shape with ten players against 11," said Whitecaps Academy Technical Director and U18 head coach Richard Grootscholten about the onslaught of goals in quick succession. "[Chivas USA] pressed high and played well."

In the 16th minute, Spencer netted his first goal of the day to increase the Goats lead to three after he finished off a spill from the Whitecaps keeper.

"As a forward, you have to follow up shots especially on a rainy day," said Spencer. "The keeper slipped, so it was an easy put-in."

Seven minutes later, Spencer expertly finished off a cross from Marky Delgado for the final Chivas USA tally on the day.

"It was a good run by Marky [Delgado]," said Spencer. "He whipped in a good ball and I got on the end of it."

With 12 minutes left in the half, Whitecaps closed the lead to 4-1 after the referee awarded Vancouver a penalty kick for a handball in the box. Caleb Clarke calmly slotted the spot kick home for his first of the day.

The Whitecaps forward added one more in the final eight minutes of the game on another penalty kick to bring his season tally to 14 goals in 12 games.  

"I have to compliment my team though, it is not easy when you are 4-0 down," said Grootscholten. "And I thought we had more chances at the end."

Chivas USA improved to 7-3-1 on the season with the win, and Whitecaps dropped to 8-2-2. Both sides play on Sunday with the local side hosting CDA and the visitors heading across the town to square off against LA Galaxy.

In the later game, Huitema stole the show with a hat-trick performance. The striker netted the opener after seven minutes when the Whitecaps quickly sprang a counterattack following a free kick in the attacking third from the home team.

Speedy midfielder Sebastian Cabrera raced down the left side and neatly picked Huitema for a sliding finish. Cabrera facilitated the second goal, as well, when he stole the ball from a Chivas USA defender in the 18-yard box and picked out Huitema.

The tall striker hammered his shot into the goalie's abdomen, which result in the young keeper fumbling the ball into his own net. 

After half, Huitema completed his three-goal day with an unmarked header off a corner kick.

"[Huitema] is getting to understand the role a little bit," said Grootscholten. "He can hold the ball and he can make the right runs. That is what I like about him, he can bring both attributes as a forward."

Chivas USA briefly overcame its scoring woes with a penalty kick goal from Jeffrey "Q" Quezada. But the young Goats could not convert any other opportunities and were frustrated by the lack of consistency in front of the net.

"I thought in the first half, we created enough chances," said Chivas USA U16 head coach Mike Munoz. "And if one goes in, it is a completely different game."

"Vancouver was very organized and they have some good players," added Munoz. "We gave up three chances and they took advantage of it."

Vancouver Whitecaps U16 is now 7-3-2 on the season, while Chivas USA fell to 5-5-1.

Starting lineups:
Chivas USA U18: Jake McGuire; Julio Chavez, Stephen Copley, Brendan Hines-Ike, Eric Gonzalez; Eduardo Quezada, Stevie Rodriguez, Nicholas Escalante; Marky Delgado, Ben Spencer, Jose Dheming

Vancouver Whitecaps U18: Callum Irving; Adam Polakiewicz, Daniel Stanese, Tim Hickson, Alex Rowley; Spencer DeBoice, Bryce Alderson, Ben Fisk, Wesley Cain; Yassin Essa, Caleb Clarke

Chivas USA U16: Cesar Jerez; Tyler Allen, Josue Garcia, Jeffrey Quezada, Malcolm Jones; Mark Hernandez, Adam Arana, Brian Kennedy, Edzon Cuevas; Ever Delatorre, Romario Lomeli

Vancouver Whitecaps U16: Nolan Wirth; Sam Adekugbe, Jackson Farmer, Alex Comsia, Matthew van der Eyden; Sebastian Cabrera, Mitch Piraux, Marco Bustos, Liam Elbourne; Carlos Patino, Brody Huitema

Categories: Youth Articles

Top 10 U.S. Under 21 Players

Fri, 01/20/2012 - 5:27am
EPSN just released their list of the Top 10 US soccer players that are under 21 years old. 
Categories: Youth Articles

True to Life Stories about Youth Soccer

Fri, 01/20/2012 - 5:04am

(The United Chronicles is a work of fiction. Any resemblance by the characters to true life people, or events in the world of elite youth soccer are coincidental, even if unavoidable.)
Derek Styles strode onto the training ground at United FC with a myriad of thoughts running through his brain. The first was the same one he always thought of at this first step onto a soccer field. The moment he felt the turf make that crunching feel beneath his cleats, he immediately went back to the first time he wore a pair of cleats onto a field at age 7. He loved the way it felt and it always made his pulse quicken just a bit, knowing that playing, and now coaching soccer, was about to take place. For as well-rounded as the 31-year old single man tried to be, he knew that in the end, soccer is what really made him tick. He had been a standout club and high school player followed by his earning All-America awards in college, before having a cup of coffee in the pros. He had a degree in business, loved music and history and tended to look down on those coaches he met who knew nothing else but soccer, but he couldn't deny that soccer was the thing he loved most.  Derek also couldn't help momentarily reflecting on the crazy turn of events that had brought him to this day. He had won all kinds of trophies coaching at another club in another state, capped by taking his signature team to a berth in the national championships. He had worked another job, selling office supply products, but that was only because the coaching gigs didn't pay enough to make ends meet. So when his old friend and sometimes mentor, Warren Parker, had offered him the chance to work full time at his club, he jumped at the opportunity for a full-time coaching job. "Here you can concentrate on soccer and you'll have all the advantages you could ask for," Warren had said. "We're as well-known a youth club as there is. The facilities are great. All the players in this area want to play for us, and the parents are willing to pay top dollar. You can work full time and what I want is for you to replace me someday as director." Derek didn't have to be asked twice. Warren was delivering four teams for him to coach including one, the U14 Boys, whom he thought would be the next dynasty-type team at the club, and the U17 Girls, who sported a number of all-star players but hadn't quite put it together in terms of team honors.  The pay was good, but to be under the oversight of Warren, a true national coaching legend, and for that same legend to be touting you as the next Director of Coaching at the club, well that was like hitting the jackpot. But then everything changed. Derek had been hired in June and was due to begin at the beginning of August, but in early July he got a call from Warren's wife telling him that her husband had a stroke two days earlier. The stroke was serious and while Warren made it through, he was told he would have to step back from his work duties for at least a season or else run a high risk of recurrence. Derek was shocked at the news, thinking his friend, still fit by all appearances in his mid-50s, could be hit in this manner. He was even more shocked when he heard from Bradley Pembroke, President of United, that in an emergency board meeting, Derek had been chosen as interim coaching director, on Warren's recommendation. So now Derek was stepping into more responsibility than he'd ever had before. On one hand it was a great opportunity, but he also found it to be an opportunity to fall on his face with everyone watching. He jettisoned two of the teams in order to assume the director's duties. He found a place to live and met with most of the club's coaches, just the night before the opening day of training. The coaches meeting had confirmed his suspicions that not everyone at the club was happy to have him there, and the stories coaches would swap at tournaments about the high-powered politics at United FC were turning out to be relatively true. He was in for a challenge, and Warren would not be able to help him much. "Coaching players, making them better - that's what I do," he told himself to snap out of his semi-daydream. He saw a few players warming up on various fields at the complex, with other backpack-wearing youngsters scurrying in from the parking lot. Some were rushing to avoid being late and others were striding confidently, apparently more comfortable in their situations than others. Amid the sounds of his cleats on the grass, kids' cleats on the blacktop of the parking lot, and car doors slamming, he heard a feminine voice ring through "Are you Coach Stiles?" He turned to look and got an eyeful. Stepping out of a black, Cadillac Escalade was an attractive blonde-haired woman, probably early to mid-40s Derek estimated, positively dressed to kill in her skinny jeans, Jimmy Choo stilettos and a Tory Burch jacket . He noticed her bracelets and the graceful way she carried herself, but then immediately the massive platinum diamond ring on her hand.  Before she said anything else he knew it was Pamela. Pamela Walker seemed to be something of a legend among the coaches at United. A few of them had mentioned to him during the meeting, but none in front of the whole group he noticed, that she was secretly referred to as a force to be reckoned with. One called her a coach's fantasy and nightmare all at once. She had a son, Trevor, who was a top player on the U14s. Rumor was that Pamela had made sure Warren Parker had removed the previous coach of the team and brought in someone better, who it turned out happened to be Derek. Another coach even asked Derek if he and Pamela were friends, as Pamela had apparently trumpeted to a few people that Derek was going to make things happen both for the team and her son.  Pamela's husband Irv was a board member at United, but really not that involved with things as his hugely-successful company kept him busy most of the time. The involvement part he left to Pamela, who more than made up for her husband's absence with her activity. Pamela had been the visible presence surrounding her family's large donation to the new training ground that Warren had worked so long for. She had also solicited some large donations from her associates in the country club set, all of which she made sure everyone knew about. But what the coaches were whispering about was Pamela's relationship to her older son's coach.  Stephen Ford had coached Hunter Walker's team to a pair of State Championships, and by all accounts Stephen and Pamela were inseparable. She wasn't the team manager, but more often than not she seemed to know team news before Stephen told the rest of the group about it.  During road trips, Pamela was known to settle debates among parents at the hotel bar or some restaurant by simply texting Stephen and then telling everyone his immediate reply. On other occasions, the two of them were nowhere to be found.  While Hunter was by most accounts an average player, he managed to get a spot on the roster of a college soccer team more lauded than those the rest of the team, even the consensus top player, were able to get. That Hunter rarely saw any action on the field during his freshman year of college was no surprise to anyone else at the club.  Another coach had told Derek that Pamela had advocated for Stephen to be the interim director after Warren's stroke. She lobbied so vehemently that other board members had to remind her during the emergency meeting that she wasn't, in fact on the board, and not really supposed to be at the emergency meeting. Pamela just seemed to have a way of being where she wanted to be. So Derek felt some apprehension at the approach of this woman who had both bragged about his coming to the club to coach her son, but also lobbied for someone else to assume the director's duties. He stopped and jokingly replied "It depends on what I'm being accused of?" Pamela laughed in a way he thought was probably forced, but not obviously so. "Oh, Warren said you were funny. I'm Pamela Walker. You've probably heard of my son Trevor. He's playing up on your team." Derek resisted the urge to respond with "No, never heard of him," and instead shook her offered hand and just replied "Derek Styles. Pleased to meet you." "I'm so glad Trevor will have the chance to play for such an accomplished coach," Pamela continued, undeterred. "He just loves soccer and with his kind of talent, he deserves a top coach like you." "Well I'm looking forward to working with the team," Derek said rather blankly, forcing a smile. "Oh coach, I ran by Starbucks and picked this up. I always bring coffee to practice so just let me know how you like it and I'll make sure to get it right," Pamela said in a voice Derek had to admit was pretty sexy. Derek took the cup without saying anything, not having the heart to tell Pamela he wasn't a coffee drinker. He thanked her and marched on a bit more swiftly to the field.  Pamela watched him for a moment and then, aware that she might not have seemed in control of things for a moment, quickly looked away and walked to the small hillside where parents for her son's team were beginning to gather. "Well, she's starting right away," Jerry Anderson said to Margie Heffner. Jerry and Margie were fellow parents on the United U14s and had been watching the scene from the hillside "Are you kidding?" Margie asked with a laugh. "If Brad's away this week he probably stayed the night already. He's just the next trophy."  Derek walked to the center circle of the training ground and blew his whistle. "Bring it in!"
Next Week: Chapter Two - Derek Meets the Team
Categories: Youth Articles

Breakdown of U16 Northwest Division

Fri, 01/20/2012 - 4:30am

Last season, the Seattle Sounders Academy joined the Development Academy and took the league by storm. Both the U16 and U18 teams won their divisions, and the younger side ended its inaugural campaign with a fifth place finish at the national Finals Week in July.  Some wondered if it was just beginner's luck, but this season's U16 Sounders team is proving that it definitely was not just a flash in the pan. The Rave Green youngsters are off to a 10-2-2 start through the first half of the year and look like a force on the national scene once again.
 "Comparing teams to me is apples to oranges," Sounders Academy Technical Director Darren Sawatzky told TopDrawerSoccer.com on Monday. "We strive to get better every year." The Sounders U16 returned a few of the younger players from last year's squad for another season with this age group. Sawatzky specifically talked about the play of Jalen Markey and James Nosack amongst those who are back with the team.
 U18 Sounders vs. De Anza (Photo by Chris Coulter)"When I talk about players, I always want to talk about the individual first," said Sawatzky. "And I am extremely proud of [Markey]. His growth as a young man is astronomical." Markey is the starting center back for the club and was recently called up to the U.S. U18 Men's National Team. Sawatzky also highlighted the play of winger Isidro Prado-Huerta who has five goals in 14 games.  "Prado-Huerta got a little interest from the national team," said Sawatzky. "He is silky, he is going to be good long term." There have been many other contributors to the early season success for Seattle, but this is only the tip of the iceberg for this group. "Lately, we have done very well result wise," said Sawatzky. "They haven't hit where they are going to get. It is a very special group of players. They are very driven and work hard, we are pleased but not content." Chasing Seattle in the standings is Northern California side De Anza Force, which is seven points back with two games in hand.  "We had a really good preseason," said head coach Shaun Tsakaris. "It was a fantastic start to the season. We started winning and created that atmosphere." The team slowed down a bit though in recent games, as it was hit with a rash of injuries. "With eight starters out with injury, we picked up a couple losses," said Tsakaris. One of those injuries was to star striker Jason Romero, who leads the division in scoring with 10 goals in six starts, but has been setback with a hernia injury. Even though Romero has carried the scoring load, the coach said it has been a combined effort from many players that put De Anza Force near the top of the division through the first few months of the season.  "I wouldn't say this is a group of 3-4 all-stars, more of a strength in numbers," said Tsakaris. "It has created a true team environment in training." Level on points with De Anza Force is local rival San Jose Earthquakes. The Earthquakes Academy is a perfect 3-0-0 through the opening few games of division play.  "This team's success is built on a culture of hard work," said Earthquakes Academy Director Fred Wilson. "I give a lot of credit to coaches Marquis White and Stephen Wondolowski." The MLS team from the Bay Area is taking a proactive approach in finding the best talent regardless of the birth year. For instance, the two goalkeepers that regularly start for this team were born in 1997, meaning they have two more years of eligibility at the U16 level.  Wilson specifically highlighted the play of James "JT" Marcinkowski and added that the club is expecting 'big things' from the young netminder.  "We want the best players on this team regardless of age," said Wilson about the amount of players playing up a year or two on the U16 side. He added that it also gives the academy a measuring stick for development when players join the club at an early stage of their playing career.   The Academy Director said it was hard to highlight just one player responsible for the fantastic start to the season and attributed a lot of the success to the chemistry of the team.  "At some point during the Showcase (in December), we had seven '97s on the field and they were doing as well as the starters," said Wilson.  Wilson said that a couple players, specifically Christian De Luna, would be making the move to the U18 team in January after playing so well in the first half of the season.  He also talked about the stellar play of Padilla Elisama, Andy Perez, and Roberto Mendoza, but did add it has been a team effort through and through to get to this point. Seattle, De Anza, and San Jose all return to the field for Development Academy action on Saturday. It will be the first game in weeks for each club, but they all seem confident in the preparation during the winter break.  "They had some light fitness work during the break," said Wilson. "After seeing training this week, we definitely look ready."  The Earthquakes travel to face the Santa Cruz Breakers, while De Anza Force heads east for a showdown with Cal Odyssey. Force coach Tsakaris gave his players 10 days off to recharge the batteries, but felt good about the team heading into the second half of the season.  As for the division leaders, Seattle flies down to Arizona for a clash with fellow MLS Academy, RSL-AZ.  "It is a little difficult to prepare to play in Arizona when you are ice skating," said Sawatzky about the current snowy conditions in Seattle. "There are no excuses though. They will get our best."
Categories: Youth Articles

Porter sets course for London 2012 Olympics

Thu, 01/19/2012 - 11:58am

The U23 Men's National Team wrapped up the domestic half of its two-week training camp with a 1-1 draw against the full national team on Tuesday.  While the result may be encouraging for the overall psyche, it was the rapid improvement from one game to the next that left the coaching staff extremely pleased. "More important than tying the national team was the progress we saw from game one to game two," said head coach Caleb Porter after Tuesday's scrimmage.  The coach was not excessively discouraged by the first scrimmage on Friday that resulted in a 0-4 defeat. In fact, he thought the team did well holding possession, which was the focus of much of the camp, but he was let down in the mental lapse defensively that saw the full team run up four goals in a manner of minutes.  Caleb Porter is pleased with the U23's progress.So, Porter worked on defense in the four training sessions between the scrimmages and the players responded with a more complete performance.  "I thought we were definitely tighter defensively. We worked on the back four and making sure that when there was no pressure that we were dropping the lines. And as we attack, making sure we were ready for that transition moment. Those things were very good (on Tuesday)." The players bought into this idea of quickly eliminating any attack, as the audible 'kill it' was prevalent from the players in the second scrimmage when the U23s briefly lost possession.  In general though, the theme of the camp remained in what Porter's teams do best - keep the ball and make the other team chase the game.   "In training, we are trying to develop the concept," said Porter. "We are going to be an attacking team. So you need to work on all the little details that go into playing attacking soccer, you can't just expect to be a team that throws a ball out and plays beautiful soccer." From spacing to combination play, Porter practiced what he preached even though he recognized that some of the players would not make the cut when he recalls camp in late February.  "Every camp I assume the guys will be moving forward," said Porter. "Doesn't mean they all will be. In fact, some of them won't." With nine midfielders in this camp, it is the most likely group to see the most cuts moving forward. The coach said he focused on finding the right blend of midfielders during this camp - the balance of creativity and destruction. Amobi Okugo and Jared Jeffery personified that versatility, which the coach seeks from his trio of midfielders, and started both scrimmages in the center of the field. Okugo is tailor-made for this system with his ability to quickly win possession back and facilitate from a deep laying midfield role. He was a star of the camp with his crunching tackles and efficient distribution.  Jeffery, on the other hand, had an up-and-down camp. At times, his decision-making came under question, and eventually led to some needless giveaways in the scrimmages. But he also showed more of a willingness than most to change the point of the attack, which drew praise from Porter and his staff.  No one really seized the reins on the final spot in the midfield though. Mikkel Diskerud enjoyed a brief spell there, but did not make his presence felt in either scrimmage. Dilly Duka had some positive moments, but the Columbus Crew midfielder drifted out of the play for stretches and frustrated the defenders with his reluctance to show for the ball.  Isaac Acuna made a really good impression in his debut with the national team program, but like many of the off-season players, he lacked some game fitness to really put his stamp on the spot.  "He is real clever, pretty smooth, good ideas," said Porter about Acuna. "He is an interesting piece. He is not fit, but he's got some good soccer in him, as do a lot of these guys. We are going to have a very difficult challenge in picking our group." The spots on the wing are fairly clear from this camp with Freddy Adu and Jack McInerney as the top choices. However, Porter said that he would have the top pick of domestic players for Qualifying, which means Brek Shea and Juan Agudelo, who were with the full team during this camp, will likely unseat that duo. Defensively, this team is a work in progress. Since Porter devoted so much time at the beginning of camp to the fluidity of the offense and only spent the last two days focused on the back four, the defense is playing catch-up in pretty much every facet. The coach does not seem concerned as he continues to advocate, "it is easier to destroy than create."  With only nine weeks until the opening Olympic Qualifying game against Cuba on March 22, Porter knows he has a long way to go before he has this team where wants it, but he does like the direction it is heading.  "It is a short window, but I like where we are at and I am pleased with the progress we are making."
Categories: Youth Articles

Warming manages details for Penn State

Thu, 01/19/2012 - 2:56am

If the devil is in the details, Penn State men's college soccer coach Bob Warming is going to find it. The veteran soccer mentor, who has guided the Nittany Lions the past two seasons, looks at the off- season as a chance to get very detailed in physical, technical and tactical training. "For me, this is a much more ideal time of development for players," Warming said. "In the fall you've got a game, regeneration day, some time to watch video and then get ready for the next game. Now we can look in more detail at each player's performances, set goals for each of them, and then after each of our spring games, review their play and apply the lessons the following week. It's analogous to how the USSF Development Academy is set up, and I think it's one reason why we've had players drafted every year in MLS since it began." Warming said the team is currently limited to 8 hours per week, only 2 of which can be actual soccer. The spring season proper begins Feb. 19th and, with an international match and an alumni game included, the Nittany Lions will play 7 matches in 7 weeks. The team has the advantage of using the massive Holuba indoor facility, which Warming said allows for a 120x80 field. Holuba HallAmong the training emphases are a physical component, including evaluation of VO2 Max testing to determine if players are working to their highest fitness potential; a tactical component featuring detailed analysis of the ProZone Stat service which breaks down player performances down to virtually every kick of the ball in the regular season; and a technical component utilizing the old-school method of players hitting a ball against a wall, with individual programs varying depending on positions played.  All of the data crunching still leaves room for Warming to rely on his eyeballs and his coaching instincts in evaluating his team and planning for the fall. "This week in training we've had 4v4 competitions," he said. "We can evaluate who scores the most goals, has the most assists, blocked shots, and that kind of thing. I also always look at whose team wins the most. Every time we play, the teams are different. It tells me who has the intangibles. Maybe they're not the player with the most goals, assists or blocks, but his team always seems to be winning. I've always found that to be a very valuable tool when determining who will play what role with your team."
After enjoying a 14-win season in Warming's first year at the helm, The Nittany Lions started the 2011 campaign strong, but struggled to a winless Big Ten campaign and ended up at 9-9-4 after dropping the Big Ten Tournament final to Northwestern. Looking ahead, Warming sees the spring as a key in rebuilding the team defense. The bright side is that we've had soccer at Penn State for 101 seasons, and this year we set a new school record for the number of clean sheets recorded, and (starting goalkeeper) Andrew Wolverton is returning. The bad news is we've lost 3 of the starting guys in the back line. So we'll need to find the right group back there, from our returning players and our incoming freshmen." While mere mention of the name "Penn State" instantly evokes thoughts of the scandal that led to the arrest of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and the firing of Joe Paterno, Warming said the team and the university itself is moving forward.
"What happened was awful in so many ways, but if you walk around the campus you'll see that the university and athletic department is going about our mission," Warming said. "The motto of the school is 'Success with Honor,' but that's also our mission. The university is working to get this thing figured out and to make sure nothing like this could ever possibly happen again, but our kids and our coaches weren't involved in any of this. We have a mission and we're getting after it. "It's something the team is aware of obviously, especially with the volume of media on campus every day, but it's not something occupying our thoughts probably as much as it was for a couple of weeks," he continued. "We just had I think 16 guys make the Dean's List. We have some focused kids here and everyone will keep working to get to the other side of this."
Categories: Youth Articles

Warming manages details for Penn State spring

Thu, 01/19/2012 - 2:56am

If the devil is in the details, Penn State men's college soccer coach Bob Warming is going to find it. The veteran soccer mentor, who has guided the Nittany Lions the past two seasons, looks at the off- season as a chance to get very detailed in physical, technical and tactical training. "For me, this is a much more ideal time of development for players," Warming said. "In the fall you've got a game, regeneration day, some time to watch video and then get ready for the next game. Now we can look in more detail at each player's performances, set goals for each of them, and then after each of our spring games, review their play and apply the lessons the following week. It's analogous to how the USSF Development Academy is set up, and I think it's one reason why we've had players drafted every year in MLS since it began." Warming said the team is currently limited to 8 hours per week, only 2 of which can be actual soccer. The spring season proper begins Feb. 19th and, with an international match and an alumni game included, the Nittany Lions will play 7 matches in 7 weeks. The team has the advantage of using the massive Holuba indoor facility, which Warming said allows for a 120x80 field. Holuba HallAmong the training emphases are a physical component, including evaluation of VO2 Max testing to determine if players are working to their highest fitness potential; a tactical component featuring detailed analysis of the ProZone Stat service which breaks down player performances down to virtually every kick of the ball in the regular season; and a technical component utilizing the old-school method of players hitting a ball against a wall, with individual programs varying depending on positions played.  All of the data crunching still leaves room for Warming to rely on his eyeballs and his coaching instincts in evaluating his team and planning for the fall. "This week in training we've had 4v4 competitions," he said. "We can evaluate who scores the most goals, has the most assists, blocked shots, and that kind of thing. I also always look at whose team wins the most. Every time we play, the teams are different. It tells me who has the intangibles. Maybe they're not the player with the most goals, assists or blocks, but his team always seems to be winning. I've always found that to be a very valuable tool when determining who will play what role with your team."
After enjoying a 14-win season in Warming's first year at the helm, The Nittany Lions started the 2011 campaign strong, but struggled to a winless Big Ten campaign and ended up at 9-9-4 after dropping the Big Ten Tournament final to Northwestern. Looking ahead, Warming sees the spring as a key in rebuilding the team defense. The bright side is that we've had soccer at Penn State for 101 seasons, and this year we set a new school record for the number of clean sheets recorded, and (starting goalkeeper) Andrew Wolverton is returning. The bad news is we've lost 3 of the starting guys in the back line. So we'll need to find the right group back there, from our returning players and our incoming freshmen." While mere mention of the name "Penn State" instantly evokes thoughts of the scandal that led to the arrest of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and the firing of Joe Paterno, Warming said the team and the university itself is moving forward.
"What happened was awful in so many ways, but if you walk around the campus you'll see that the university and athletic department is going about our mission," Warming said. "The motto of the school is 'Success with Honor,' but that's also our mission. The university is working to get this thing figured out and to make sure nothing like this could ever possibly happen again, but our kids and our coaches weren't involved in any of this. We have a mission and we're getting after it. "It's something the team is aware of obviously, especially with the volume of media on campus every day, but it's not something occupying our thoughts probably as much as it was for a couple of weeks," he continued. "We just had I think 16 guys make the Dean's List. We have some focused kids here and everyone will keep working to get to the other side of this."
Categories: Youth Articles

Warming manages details for Penn St. spring

Thu, 01/19/2012 - 2:56am

If the devil is in the details, Penn State men's college soccer coach Bob Warming is going to find it. The veteran soccer mentor, who has guided the Nittany Lions the past two seasons, looks at the off- season as a chance to get very detailed in physical, technical and tactical training. "For me, this is a much more ideal time of development for players," Warming said. "In the fall you've got a game, regeneration day, some time to watch video and then get ready for the next game. Now we can look in more detail at each player's performances, set goals for each of them, and then after each of our spring games, review their play and apply the lessons the following week. It's analogous to how the USSF Development Academy is set up, and I think it's one reason why we've had players drafted every year in MLS since its began." Warming said the team is currently limited to 8 hours per week, only 2 of which can be actual soccer. The spring season proper begins Feb. 19th and, with an international match and an alumni game included, the Nittany Lions will play 7 matches in 7 weeks. The team has the advantage of using the massive Holuba indoor facility, which Warming said allows for a 120x80 field. Holuba HallAmong the training emphases are a physical component, including evaluation of VO2 Max testing to determine if players are working to their highest fitness potential; a tactical component featuring detailed analysis of the ProZone Stat service which breaks down player performances down to virtually every kick of the ball in the regular season; and a technical component utilizing the old-school method of players hitting a ball against a wall, with individual programs varying depending on positions played.  All of the data crunching still leaves room for Warming to rely on his eyeballs and his coaching instincts in evaluating his team and planning for the fall. "This week in training we've had 4v4 competitions," he said. "We can evaluate who scores the most goals, has the most assists, blocked shots, and that kind of thing. I also always look at whose team wins the most. Every time we play, the teams are different. It tells me who has the intangibles. Maybe they're not the player with the most goals, assists or blocks, but his team always seems to be winning. I've always found that to be a very valuable tool when determining who will play what role with your team."
After enjoying a 14-win season in Warming's first year at the helm, The Nittany Lions started the 2011 campaign strong, but struggled to a winless Big Ten campaign and ended up at 9-9-4 after dropping the Big Ten Tournament final to Northwestern. Looking ahead, Warming sees the spring as a key in rebuilding the team defense. The bright side is that we've had soccer at Penn State for 101 seasons, and this year we set a new school record for the number of clean sheets recorded, and (starting goalkeeper) Andrew Wolverton is returning. The bad news is we've lost 3 of the starting guys in the back line. So we'll need to find the right group back there, from our returning players and our incoming freshmen." While mere mention of the name "Penn State" instantly evokes thoughts of the scandal that led to the arrest of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and the firing of Joe Paterno, Warming said the team and the university itself is moving forward.
"What happened was awful in so many ways, but If you walk around the campus you'll see that the university and athletic department is going about our mission," Warming said. "The motto of the school is 'Success with Honor,' but that's also our mission. The university is working to get this thing figured out and to make sure nothing like this could ever possibly happen again, but our kids and our coaches weren't involved in any of this. We have a mission and we're getting after it. "It's something the team is aware of obviously, especially with the volume of media on campus every day, but it's not something occupying our thoughts probably as much as it was for a couple of weeks," he continued. "We just had I think 16 guys make the Dean's List. We have some focused kids here and everyone will keep working to get to the other side of this."
Categories: Youth Articles

U23 MNT draws 1-1 with full national team

Wed, 01/18/2012 - 6:28am

CARSON, CALIFORNIA - On Tuesday, the U23 and full national team battled to a 1-1 draw at the Home Depot Center. The U23 team was closing off camp from California with the scrimmage as it heads to Costa Rica for two friendlies over the next week.  The 1-1 result was a stark contrast from the 0-4 shellacking that the full national team handed out on Friday when the teams met for the first time.  "First and foremost, we wanted to improve," U23 head coach Caleb Porter told TopDrawerSoccer.com after the draw. "We wanted to look at the last game and look at the things we didn't do well. We addressed those things in training and it showed up today." One of the ideas that Porter focused on during practice over the last two days was the play inside the 18-yard box - both for the offense and defense.   The U23 MNT held their own on Tuesday."We definitely were tighter defensively," said Porter. "Outside of the first five minutes, we defended really well. We need to be a little more lethal offensively though." The U23s conceded the lone goal early in the contest when Benny Feilhaber expertly picked out Graham Zusi for the opening score. The Sporting Kansas City midfielder drifted past U23 left back Jorge Villafana and rifled his shot into the lower corner of the net.  With the goal in the first five minutes, it looked like this contest might turn into another lopsided affair. But the Olympic side showed a newfound mental toughness and settled into the game after those nervous few minutes.  Once again, the U23 held the possession advantage throughout the game, but goal-scoring opportunities were sparse for much of the first half.  Eventually, Porter's side was rewarded for maintaining control of the game when they generated a corner kick 12 minutes before half time after a cross by Villafana was blocked out over the end line.  Dilly Duka's corner, which was hit on a rope, went unabated through the defense before Jack McInerney hammered it home on a bounce from eight yards out to level the score.  Porter added that his team spent time in the last few days working on set pieces so he was pleased with the immediate return he saw in the game.  In the second half, neither side broke through despite a couple chances for the younger squad. In the 62nd minute, Joe Corona expertly lifted a ball over the defense for Mikkel Diskerud, but Sean Johnson's catlike reflexes turned his effort away with a kick save.  Corona missed the scrimmage on Friday due to club commitments and his absence was noticeable in retrospect, as the Club Tijuana midfielder was a lively addition to the left side of the attack in the second half on Tuesday.  The U23 side had another chance to score when it looked like Tony Taylor broke through the defense but Johnson raced out of his box to kick the opportunity away.  Some attribution in the collective improvement in the rematch lies on the shoulders of forward Teal Bunbury and goalkeeper Bill Hamid. After spending the last week with the full team, the U23 eligible duo joined Porter's side for this scrimmage.  "It is a different dimension having [Bunbury] up there because he is a handful physically," said Porter. "It was good to get him in there and it was good to get Bill [Hamid] in there as well." Porter touched on the presence that Hamid added with his communication and ability to organize the defense in front of him. Comparatively, the decibel level on the field felt like a library when Hamid was on the bench in the second half.  Overall, Porter was pleased with how quickly his team improved from game to game regardless of the result.  "More important than tying the national team is the progress we showed today," said Porter. "Again, I thought the group overall came to play, but I am most pleased with the transitioning from training to the game." The team departs for Costa Rica in the morning with games against two professional clubs on the docket. In between the end of this camp and Qualifying in March, Porter said that there is a training camp scheduled for late February with a ticketed game planned for that period.  Lineup: First half: Bill Hamid; Kofi Sarkodie, Zarek Valentin, Sebastien Ibeagha, Jorge Villafana; Amobi Okugo, Jared Jeffery, Dilly Duka; Freddy Adu, Teal Bunbury, Jack McInerney Second half: Zachary MacMath; Michael Stephens, Royal Dominique-Fennell, Andrew Wenger, Sheanon Williams; Sebastian Lletget (Villafana '72), Mikkel Diskerud, Isaac Acuna; Joe Corona, Tony Taylor, Kelyn Rowe
Categories: Youth Articles

U.S. U17 MNT loses to Turkey 2-1

Wed, 01/18/2012 - 6:17am
The U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team dropped its first match of the Aegean Cup 2012 International Youth Tournament, falling 2-1 against host Turkey. DeAndre Robinson scored the lone U.S. goal in the match, cutting the deficit in half in the 54th minute. 
Turkey scored early, getting on the board in the fifth minute. The host team then scored again six minutes into the second half before Robinson scored for the U.S. The game was played with 40-minute halves. 
The U.S. U-17 Men will next face Denmark on Wednesday, Jan. 18, wrapping up the tournament on Jan. 20 against the Czech Republic.  Lineup: USA: Paul Christensen, Conor Donovan, John Requejo Jr., Shaquell Moore, Guyllain Kabala (Steven Echevarria 54'), Tyler Turner, Rubio Rubin, Angel Heredia (Corey Baird), Wesley Wade (Dembakwi Yomba 73'), Junior Flores, DeAndre Robinson
Categories: Youth Articles

Galaxy are "Beatles" of Development Academy

Wed, 01/18/2012 - 5:42am

Could the U18 LA Galaxy squad be any more like their MLS affiliate?
The senior Galaxy is the glamour club of the MLS, elevated by the star power of their three designated players.  
As for the Development Academy's Galaxy, well, they might have nearly as many pros as their senior team.
With homegrown signings like Jack McBean and Jose Villarreal, rumored international pros like Raul Mendiola and U.S. Youth National Team stars Mario Rodriguez and Nathan Smith, the Galaxy are the Beatles of the SoCal Division.
Jose VillarrealThey know it, and so does their competition.
"They are a star-studded team," said Jack Gorab of Pateadores. "I think the fact that some of their players are experiencing some time in the pros is really cool and it gives an idea of a benchmark that we should be at."
The Galaxy, which captured the U16 National title last season, is off to a 7-0-2 start to the season - how's that for a benchmark? 
And even with pro players shuffling in and out of the lineup, and the departure of Mendiola overseas, the team still feels it has a ways to go.
"Yes, we've had a good run of form so far, but this team has endless possibilities of where it can go," said Galaxy veteran Drew Murphy. "So far, this is the most talented team (I've been on). With such great players, it does nothing but good to the team. The competing within the team has a positive impact."
But before we crown them the Dream Team and hand them the SoCal Division, we should probably be warned that the rest of the region isn't prepared to lie down so easily.
In the season's early going, second-place Chivas USA (6-3-1) has proved a dangerous attacking squad and there's certainly enough talent spread throughout the division to make it a competition and not a coronation.
"We are all top players and there are plenty of guys on our team that could sign a contract at other clubs," warned Real Salt Lake's Cole Nagy. "LA's talent is obvious, but we have to focus on what we can control."
One thing the other clubs can't control is the recruiting power of the Galaxy. They've got the name, the location and the resources. 
Not to mention the admiration of more than a few players who line up against them.
"They play like Barcelona," said San Diego Surf's Jared Hegardt, giving them the ultimate compliment. "Every player on their team is very good. I wish I could say that we could catch up to them but it would certainly be hard. I think very highly of them."
Categories: Youth Articles

UCLA Women emphasize personal development

Wed, 01/18/2012 - 5:33am

It's all about the team, so they say. It is likely UCLA women's coach B.J. Snow has said something along those lines during his coaching career, but this spring on the Westwood campus, it's all about "me." Not "me" as in "my goals take precedence over the team's," but rather "working on making myself better so that this team can be better."  Make sense? Snow reiterated during an interview with TopDrawerSoccer.com that the focal point of the off season with his group is for each player to work on improving the areas where it is most needed. "Our spring is dedicated to making everyone get better individually," Snow said. "We sit down with all the girls and figure out what it is they can each do individually that will be the best thing for them looking toward next year. B.J. Snow"They need to take responsibility for that," he continued. "This is not just for their success here, but if they have aspirations to be a professional. We like to treat them like professionals when they are here." Snow added that the spring program could thus look different for each player. "They'll be working on various technical aspects of the game," he said. "We'll talk with each about which nuances to devote themselves to. Some may work on long service. Some may work on individual defending, or finishing, or crossing. For some it might be fitness, speed or strength. The next six months really will be devoted to that. We try to bring in the kind of players who have that sort of devotion, that will put in the sorts of hours to make themselves better. If players decide to take their foot off the gas in the spring, it will show up in the fall. " Snow added that this emphasis means the team will come way under the normal allotment of hours permitted for spring by the NCAA. "We don't go every day in the spring. That is their time to get better as players. We go 3 days a week, and we play futsal one of those days, which we feel is a big part of development," he said. "We do a lot of competitive things when we're with the whole group, but less is more in the spring. If we came out and trained every time, they would have no time or energy to work on the individual things we want them to do every day." Snow's attention to detail is likely fueled by the obvious high potential of this group. UCLA at times started 8 freshmen in the 2011 season, which ended with a surprise loss on PKs to San Diego in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament. With another year of seasoning for players like Abby Dahlkemper, Samantha Mewis, Sarah Killion, Kylie McCarthy, Megan Oyster and Ally Courtnall, plus another strong freshman class coming to Westwood in the fall, the coach can't help but be bullish on his team's prospects. "We kind of wish the season could start now, but any coach will tell you that August will seem like it gets here next week anyway," he said. "We have a lot to do to build for the fall."
Categories: Youth Articles

Jeremy Gunn talks about his new Stanford job

Tue, 01/17/2012 - 6:47am
 Following a Cinderella run to the 2011 NCAA National Championship game, Charlotte head coach Jeremy Gunn was one of the hottest names among coaches in college soccer.  In his five seasons with the 49ers, he developed a program with limited postseason success into a prominent national contender. It was a remarkable turnaround in a brief period.  Shortly after he closed in on the apex of building the 49ers program, a new opportunity was presented to Gunn that he could not pass up.  Jeremy Gunn at the College Cup."It was not that I had any great desire to leave Charlotte," Gunn told TopDrawerSoccer.com on Wednesday. "It was the opportunity to join one of the finest academic institutions in the world, and arguably the best athletics program in the country, was too big of a draw." It was only one week after a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to North Carolina in the title game, the first trip in program history for Charlotte, when he bid adieu to the Atlantic-10 program.  "I'll think about that game every day for a long time," said Gunn about the loss. "The wonderful part about the championship game is that we couldn't ask anything more from the team, staff, and players. I couldn't have been any prouder for how our players played that game." Now, a fresh challenge awaits Gunn in the Stanford Cardinal program that has only appeared in the NCAA tournament once since 2002.  A decade ago though, Stanford was the best in the west. The Cardinal appeared in three College Cups in four years and captured its only PAC-10 title during that spell.  Gunn believes the program is capable of returning to those days of glory.  '"There will be no excuses here," said Gunn. "I came here because I really think it is one of the best opportunities in college soccer."  There is a reason for Stanford fans to be excited about Gunn's appointment. The England-born coach has been successful at every stop in his college career.  Prior to his stint with Charlotte, he was the NSCAA NCAA Division II Coach of the Year in 2005 with Fort Lewis after making three trips to the title game in eight years. Before Fort Lewis, he was an assistant coach with Cal State Bakersfield when the Roadrunners won the Division II National Championship in 1995.  Gunn is humble about his accomplishments and his new role, even though he beat out a who's who of coaches for the Stanford job. "It is really flattering and really humbling. In the profession of college coaching, there are so many tremendous coaches out there. The timing was great for me personally that such an opportunity arose at a time when my program was successful." Gunn seized the opportunity to take on the next step in his coaching career when Stanford came calling, even though some amount of doubt surrounds his new conference.  During the college soccer offseason, San Diego State, which is a member of the Pac-12 for men's soccer, announced it would be joining the Big West for all sports in the near future. With the Aztecs departure, the Pac-12 would fall below the required members standard for an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.  "Even with San Diego State moving on, I am sure there are going to be some great programs that are interested in joining the Pac-12," said Gunn.  For the new head coach, there are more immediate concerns that mainly revolve around laying the groundwork to put together a successful program with his new school.   "The biggest thing to begin with is that foundation of getting organized as a group and getting the structure I'll be looking for in the future."  The coach also stated that all players previously verbally committed to Stanford were still planning on attending the university after the coaching change.  With previous successes come expectations and Gunn is aware that there is pressure on him to succeed in a similar manner to his previous stops, but putting a timeframe on achieving those types of accomplishments is not something he is willing to do at this point.  "The goal is always to do that as quickly as possible," he said about winning league titles and other postseason triumphs. "But to give a timeline on it, I couldn't even go there really."
Categories: Youth Articles

Record-setting goal-scorer makes commitment

Tue, 01/17/2012 - 4:42am

The Georgetown men could've used a few more goals this past season. The Hoyas were shut out five times en route to a first-round loss in the Big East Conference Tournament. 
Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, a young sniper was setting records and working toward the 2013 season when he'll be just the weapon Georgetown is hoping for. Brett Campbell, our No. 49 ranked player in his class, is set to attend Georgetown in 2013.  
Suliaman DainkehOf course, his verbal commitment for the future will do little to quell any scoring drought for the Hoyas in between now and then, but it's certainly something to look forward to.
Campbell set FC Delco's single-season goal scoring mark with 21 in 26 games last season, so his skill set is clear and defined. In fact, his offensive exploits led the entire Northeast Region during the 2010-2011 campaign.
The 6-foot-1 striker is lean and decisive. He had a host of other college programs on his radar like Penn State, Boston College and Michigan State but he went with Georgetown for reasons as academic as athletic.  "I want to major in political science, and they have a great program," he said. "There isn't a better city to study in than Georgetown - it just felt like the right school."   Speaking of the Virginia region, DC United's Suliaman Dainkeh has recently announced that he has verbally committed to Maryland for the 2013 season. 
An athletic and quick player, Dainkeh was recently invited to the U.S. U18 Men's National Team Camp earlier this month. He's one of our regionally ranked players and a potential impact athlete at the next level.   In other news: 
Christian Esposito (FC Dutchmen) has verbally committed to NJIT for the 2012 season.  Jeremy Lee (Central Virginia United) has verbally committed to Liberty for the 2012 season.
Rett Webb (Concorde Fire) has verbally committed to Elon for the 2013 season.  Max Ornstil (East Bay United FC) has verbally committed to Santa Clara for 2012 season. 
Danny George (Clearwater Chargers) has verbally committed to Florida Gulf Coast for the 2012 season. 
Fabio Machado (New England Revolution) has verbally committed to Burlington County College for the 2012 season. 
Cheick Diawara (Crew Soccer Academy) has verbally committed to Wright State for the 2012 season.  Ben Kern (Charlotte Soccer Academy) has verbally committed to Air Force for the 2012 season.
Categories: Youth Articles

Waldrum debuts at U.S. U23 camp

Mon, 01/16/2012 - 7:49am

And now coming to the stage, for the first time as the newly-named U.S. U23 Women's National Team Coach: Randy Waldrum.
The Notre Dame legend has added a noteworthy line item to his bio, not unlike Akron's Caleb Porter on the men's side, and this is the week he debuts.
The U23s arrived in Sarasota, Florida, on Sunday where they'll spend a week of training and familiarizing with their new coach.
Lindsey TaylorNot that the 24 players arriving won't be acquainted with Waldrum, and vice versa. Serving as a bridge to the senior national team, the early-year U23 camps always offer a nice mix of professionals and college standouts.
Waldrum, a two-time national champion, will recognize most of the faces whether he's formally met them or not. Oklahoma State standout, Adrianna Franch, Duke's Natasha Anasi, North Carolina's Amber Brooks, former Nebraska striker Morgan Marlborough, Florida's Erika Tymrak and UCLA's Jenna Richmond are all players he is no doubt familiar with.  
Waldrum will even find himself coaching a couple of his own, in Notre Dame's Sammy Scofield and Elizabeth Tucker. 
And while professional players Lauren Barnes, Elli Reed, Amanda DaCosta and Bianca D'Agostino will also be in the mix the camp will also feature newly-drafted Women's Professional Soccer rookies.
With the WPS Draft unfolding this past weekend in Kansas City, a few of the camp's attendees just recently had their professional dreams become a reality.
Stanford duo Camille Levin and Lindsay Taylor were both first-round draft choices that will be present. Levin was selected by Sky Blue FC with the fourth overall pick while Taylor headed to Western New York Flash at No. 6. 
So Waldrum won't be the only figure debuting a new title. He'll just be front and center. 
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 (Lee's Summit, Mo.), Danielle Foxhoven (Portland; Littleton, Co.), Lindsay Taylor (Stanford; Los Altos, Calif.), Laura Weinberg (Duke; Boca Raton, Fla.)
Categories: Youth Articles

Joe gives grades to MLS draft classes

Mon, 01/16/2012 - 7:49am
 With the first two rounds of the 2012 MLS Super Draft completed, here are my grades for each team.
Grade A+
  • Montreal Impact - It's hard to mess up a draft having the first pick, but Vancouver showed in 2011 it can be done. As an expansion team, Montreal has many needs and they picked up Andrew Wenger (#1) and Calum Mallace (#20); two smart players with on-the-field personalities that remind me of their head coach, Jesse Marsch - talented hard-nosed winners.
Grade A
  • Vancouver Whitecaps - This year Vancouver made outstanding choices. Darren Mattocks (#2) provides quickness and goal scoring ability that could develop into a special player. Trying to plug their sieve-like defense, Chris Estridge (#21) should provide defensive depth and versatility. Estridge had a poor combine, but I rely more on his accomplishments at Indiana.
Grade A-
  • FC Dallas - With only a single pick, Dallas picked a player of need and the best senior defender with Matt Hedges (#11).
  • Seattle Sounders - Made two high-reward player selections with Andrew Duran (#15) and Babayele Sodade (#34). Duran has the versatility to play center back, right back or where he might be best at defensive midfield. I suspect that first year Washington coach, Jamie Clark has had many conversations about his last coaching gig at Creighton with his cross-town professional team. Kurt Schmid is one of the most shrewd talent evaluators. Sodade had a tremendous combine and showed that he could fill a target forward slot with smart, aggressive play.
Grade B+
  • DC United - With a sole pick and many needs, DC United played it safe with the best player available, Nick Deleon (#7). He plays a similar role as Chris Pontius who suffered a season-ending injury and coincidentally DC United went into a losing streak at the same time. Deleon is best at left midfield, but his ability to get back will be crucial since DC United lacks a MLS-caliber starting left back. I wouldn't be shocked if Deleon is tried at left back. Ethan Finlay may have been a better fit since he is primarily a goal scoring forward.
  • Chivas USA - Also, with just one pick, they got a versatile forward, Casey Townsend (#5) who has the ability to score in many ways.
  • Colorado Rapids - They used their one pick for Tony Cascio (#14). He has the body that reminds me of Sal Zizzo and Cascio can blast shots from either foot.
Grade B
  • Los Angeles Galaxy - Having the last pick in both rounds, Los Angeles was able to find serviceable MLS quality defenders in Tommy Meyer (#19) and Kenney Walker (#38). Meyer was the best center back candidate remaining and Walker is a steal with the potential to be a starter in the future, because he's a smart player.
  • New York Red Bulls - They were able to fill a need at goalkeeper depth while drafting clearly the best goalkeeper in the pool with local Yonkers product, Ryan Meara (#31). I'd like this pick better, if New York had actually come and watched and talked to Meara at Fordham. Given New York's track record with draft picks, Meara is more likely to be seen on the side of a milk carton than at Red Bull Arena.
Grade B-
  • Philadelphia Union - With 3 picks, the Union got some talented players, but all of them come with inherent risk. Chandler Hoffman (#13) was an acceptable pick, but I could see him not working out - he's not a sure thing. I really like Greg Jordan (#32). He's a smart and he plays like a Brian Carroll clone. Jordan's speed is the question. According to Taylor Twellman, Philadelphia is planning on playing Ray Gaddis (#35) at center back. As best as I know, Gaddis has only played right back at West Virginia. He has good recovery speed, but this move would be a project.
  • Columbus Crew - They started strong with a nifty pick to choose the best senior forward in the draft with Ethan Finlay (#10). Finlay is a quick player with versatility to play wide midfield. He's been my number 1 senior for the majority of the year. The two subsequent selections, (Aubrey Perry (#26) and Kevan George (#29)), were not the best picks. Warren Creavalle would have been a better pick that could have filled the roles that these two players fill.
  • Real Salt Lake - They selected 3 interesting players. While some pundits exclaimed that Enzo Martinez (#17) was the steal of the draft, I think he went appropriately. Real Salt Lake is the best place for Martinez with their ball control style. However, Martinez has holes in his game so he'll be able to develop without having the pressure as a starter at first. Diogo de Almeida (#24) is a poor defender who may make the team but only as reserve and practice fodder. There were much better options available. I have no comment on Sebastian Velasquez since I've never seen him play (the only player drafted that I haven't seen at least 3 times).
Grade C+
  • Houston Dynamo - They didn't do poorly, but they could have done much better. Colin Rolfe (#18) is an adequate choice, but a better target forward would have been Babayele Sodade as a better Brian Ching replacement. Rolfe is not a sure bet, I give him a 50/50 chance to develop into a MLS forward. I really like the Warren Creavalle pick at #37, though.
  • San Jose Earthquakes - Sam Garza (#6) was too high a pick for him. Finlay/Deleon would have been better selections. With Garza inconsistency is prevalent. Jacob Hustedt (#25) is the pearl of their draft. I'd rather have Hustedt more than Garza. He's a talent. I wouldn't be surprised to find him playing right back. The Chris Blais (#33) pick is a waste - the goalkeepers in this pool are weak and with Jon Busch and David Bingham they don't really need to waste a second round pick on a 3rd. Lastly, San Jose should have gotten a solid defender with the 6th pick rather than another wide midfielder/forward.
Grade C
  • Chicago Fire - They picked 3 players but these players are horrible fits for the needs of Chicago. While I like the perspective of choosing the best player, it can't be done with total disregard of the current needs. Austin Berry (#9) is arguably one of the best center backs in the draft pool, but they already have had problems finding center back minutes for 2011 center back draftee, Jalil Anibaba. Berry can only play center back. They urgently need a right back or depth at left back. With both higher ranked left backs taken directly before Chicago's 34th selection, Lucky Mkosana is a complementary forward with Dominic Oduro and Patrick Nyarko. Hunter Jumper (#28) is a wasted pick and a move out of desperation. Jumper will be eaten alive 1v1 against quick forwards.
  • Sporting Kansas City - This is the third straight draft that they have chosen a forward in the first round. Kansas City could have been better served rather than taking Dom Dwyer (#16) with choosing Calum Mallace to solidify their midfield or Chris Estridge/Tyler Polak for left back depth. Cyprian Hedrik (#30) was a poor decision. He's a good athlete but I don't care for his ball skills. A better pick would have been one of the faster backs that were available to chase attackers that blow past the Sporting defenders.
  • New England Revolution - In their quest for mediocrity and strict fiduciary frugality, a grade of C (average) seems apropos. New England was able to get 2 Generation Adidas players, Kelyn Rowe (#3) and Tyler Polak (#22). I'm not sure that Rowe is a good fit with Benny Feilhaber already being the primary playmaker. Perhaps, Rowe and Feilhaber will pair to generate the attack, but it reduces positional flexibility. Polak is a good pick that could develop into a solid left back.
Grade C-
  • Toronto FC - They made a sensational pick with Luis Silva (#4). He's the best playmaker in the pool. But with the #12 pick, they inexplicably chose Aaron Maund who is one of the rawest center backs. Duran would have been a better choice.
Grade D
  • Portland Timbers - chose 2 poor players, Andrew Jean-Baptiste (#8) and Brendan King (#27) that might find a way onto the roster, but their play would be disastrous for the Portland fans. Jean-Baptiste is a thick athletic defender who should not be allowed to touch the ball in the attack. I've never been a Brendan King fan. He did well at the combine, but I'd be concerned as a Portland fan.
Categories: Youth Articles

Another undefeated season for Dallas Texans?

Mon, 01/16/2012 - 7:36am

The Lone Star State is a hotbed for youth soccer, so it should come as no surprise that the Texas Division is consistently one of the most competitive in all of the USSF Development Academy.   Boosted by the lone four-star Academy, per U.S. Soccer's grades, FC Dallas, and renowned youth clubs Solar Chelsea SC and Dallas Texans, the Academies in Texas continue to raise the bar on player development.  The focus for this year has been the shift in the calendar, as Texas moves to a ten-month schedule and eliminates the high school season. "It is a big step forward," Houston Dynamo Academy Director James Clarkson told TopDrawerSoccer.com on Friday. "It is a huge improvement especially in terms of scheduling the program with four training nights a week and games on the weekend." Brandon AubreyClarkson's U16 Dynamo team is currently middle of the pack in the Texas Division at the midway point of the season, but the standing is not nearly as important as his players' development. "Our goal is to get as many as possible to the first team," said Clarkson. "The beauty of this group is that the majority have two more years with us at this level." Houston Dynamo U16 is one of the youngest teams in the Development Academy with many players playing a year or more up. The coach said injuries have played a factor, but the U15 team in the club is the most talented he has seen.  Dynamo is also home of the youngest player in the Development Academy in 13-year-old Layee Kromah, who has yet to appear in a game; but the coach plans on using him in an upcoming fixture. "He is very raw," said Clarkson about the left-footed midfielder. "He has never had coaching, but athletically, physically - he is off the charts.  He is one for the future." At the top of the division is the Dallas Texans, which is undefeated through the first 14 games of the season.  Last year's Texans U18 team finished the season undefeated, a first for the Development Academy, but coach David Hudgell is reluctant to draw comparisons.  "I think it is a little bit early to say to be fair," said Hudgell. "There are similarities in the respect that there isn't anyone quote unquote that is an outstanding player as far as the league is concerned." The coach did discuss the play of a couple of players, but focused on the group to explain the success of the team.  "Brandon Aubrey has done really well in terms of scoring for a non-forward," said Hudgell. "Jared Rice has been great at center back, but really it has been a team effort." Hudgell also pointed out the move to a new schedule makes it difficult for the Texans to keep up this streak with three games against every team in the division compared to only facing each team twice in previous years.  "Up to this point, it has been a mentality thing where they have found ways to stay in the game or get on top of the game to get results. It is going to be very, very difficult to continue through the year undefeated like the U18 did last year." One Academy hoping for the Texans to trip up is Houston Texans SC, which is directly behind its parent club in the standings.  "We got off to a great start," said Houston Texans coach Scott James. "It has kept us at the right end of the table. Some of the younger players in the group have really stepped up and proved they belong at this level." Two of the younger players that James highlighted were Zachary Jackson and Albert Rocha.  Jackson is an attacking midfielder who was selected for the Academy Showcase Select game and the U17 training camp in December.  "He is a very dynamic player," said James. "He is at his best when he is running at players. From to game to game, he has just grown in strength to strength. He has come a long way in 14 games." James said it was too early to start thinking about the playoffs, and added that any one of the upper seven teams in the Texas Division is capable of finishing in the top two spots, which are guaranteed a position in the playoffs.  FC Dallas, Solar Chelsea SC, Lonestar SC Academy, and Texas Rush complete the best seven that James referenced.  The MLS youth academy possesses arguably the most talented roster in the division, which is led by U17 World Cup veteran Kellyn Acosta, but recently lost coach Oscar Pareja to the Colorado Rapids.  Solar claims the top scorer in the division in midfielder Alan Winn, who has 10 goals in 14 games.  As the teams round into the second half of the season, the yearly conundrum remains: can anyone catch the Dallas Texas?
Categories: Youth Articles

Rough spell dooms U23s in loss to full team

Sat, 01/14/2012 - 11:49am
 CARSON, CALIFORNIA - The opening few minutes suggested the Olympic team might have a chance against the more experienced full national team but the U23s could not hold onto the sharp start and were undone by some tired legs on defense en route to a 4-0 defeat.  "I thought the performance was actually pretty good," Porter told TopDrawerSoccer.com after the game. "I am never going to be satisfied losing, we don't want to die in beauty; but based on what we have been working on training, I think you saw a lot of really good things." Porter's team clearly won the possession battle thanks to some stellar play in the midfield, but his side could not break through the full team's defense.  Kelyn Rowe was recently drafted by the New England Revolution.On the other side of the ball, his back four held on for a while, but ultimately succumbed to the exhausting onslaught of attacks from Brek Shea. "The nice thing is that a couple of the guys that scored for them will be on our team for qualifying," said Porter referencing Shea, Juan Agudelo, and Teal Bunbury. "I think we will be okay."  The coach noted that he has not spent much time with the defense so far in camp, as he has concentrated on building a possession-oriented style. Over the next week, he said that he plans to tighten up the back four, which consisted of Joshua Gatt, Zarek Valentin, Andrew Wenger, and Kofi Sarkodie, to start Friday's scrimmage.  The center back duo of Valentin and Wenger started the game brightly with good distribution and efficient tackling, but Shea managed to break through after 30 minutes.  The FC Dallas winger beat the offside trap and sent a cross to Chris Wondolowski, who drilled his shot into the back of the net for the opener. That opening goal took the wind out of the sails for the U23s, and the mistakes began to add up.  "We got our heads down a little bit and we were out of it for ten minutes. We have to cut that out." A few minutes later, goalkeeper Zac MacMath carelessly gave the ball away to Juan Agudelo. The striker, who left the game before half with an ankle injury, passed to Benny Feilhaber for an easy open net goal.  The rout was on at that point and Jared Jeffery's square ball across the middle of the field, which was easily intercepted by substitute Teal Bunbury, was the icing on the cake. The former Akron Zip made it 3-0 with a classy finish under pressure.  The cherry on top came moments later when Zach Lloyd slipped in an excellent through ball for Shea who in turn delivered a perfect cross for Graham Zusi's lone tally of the night. The full team took its foot off the gas a bit in the second half and the game ended 4-0.   Despite the lopsided scoreline, there were plenty of positives from the Olympic team in the scrimmage.  "From box to box, in a lot of the ways, we were the team looking to control it," said Porter. "I think you saw some good football from the guys." "I thought it was good," Kelyn Rowe told TopDrawerSoccer.com after the game. "Playing against the senior team is tough for us, but I thought we did well." Rowe was a bright spot of the second half, as he was slotted into the right winger role and presented some problems for the full team defensively.  "Those scrimmages are good for us, and good for the 23s," said full team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann after the game. "It is a big year for U.S. Soccer with World Cup Qualifying and the Olympics." Porter was also looking ahead, as he talked about having full availability of the best players in the U23 age group for qualifying.  "Teal [Bunbury] and Brek [Shea] were a big reason they got four on us, so that is exciting for me knowing they will get experience with the full team before coming back to us," said Porter. "I know that experience will make us a more seasoned team come qualifying." Porter is confident he will have his full choice of MLS players come March for qualifying, but he is unsure about those in Europe.  "With the non-domestic guys, it gets a little bit trickier. We probably won't get some of the overseas guys." The U23s have two more practices scheduled before a rematch with the full team on Tuesday. After that scrimmage, the team travels to Costa Rica for a pair of games to close out the camp.  Lineup: First half: Zachary MacMath; Joshua Gatt, Zarek Valentin, Andrew Wenger, Kofi Sarkodie; Amobi Okugo, Jared Jeffery, Mix Diskerud; Freddy Adu, Jack McInerney, Dilly Duka Second half: Sean Johnson; Sheanon Williams, Royal-Dominique Fennell, Sebastien Ibeagha, Jorge Villafana; Michael Stephens, Sebastian Lletget, Isaac Acuna; Kelyn Rowe, Tony Taylor, Jack McInerney ('65 Joshua Gatt)
Categories: Youth Articles