Top Drawer Soccer

Syndicate content
TopDrawerSoccer.com News
Updated: 2 years 37 weeks ago

U20 WNT cruises in CONCACAF opener

Sat, 03/03/2012 - 2:48am

The U.S. U20 women's national team overcame a conservative Guatemalan defense, which continuously put eight players behind the ball, on way to a 6-0 victory in the opening game of Group B play at the 2012 CONCACAF U20 Championship.

Lindsey Horan scored three, Julie Johnston added two, and Katie Stengel netted one in the one-sided affair on Friday.

Horan first found the back of the net 12 minutes after the opening whistle thanks to a well-placed cross from outside back Crystal Dunn, which the striker headed home.

U.S. dominated possession throughout the game, but Guatemala had its best run of play after the opening goal. Guatemala only had a half-chance during the spell, and keeper Bryane Heaberlin easily handled the shot.

Lindsey HoranU.S. doubled its lead fifteen minutes before half when Guatemala failed to clear a cross into the box. The ball eventually bounced out to Johnston 25 yards from goal. The Santa Clara midfielder's thunderous half volley ripped into the upper corner of the net, as the keeper could only glance at it screaming past her.

The Americans had an opportunity to further the lead ten minutes later when University of Virginia midfielder Morgan Brian hammered a shot from 15 yards out, but it only rattled the post. The teams went to the break with U.S. holding a two-goal advantage.

After half, Swanson's side quickly put the game out of reach with four goals in 27 minutes to start the second stanza.

"We were happy with the result. I think our performance was good at times and other times not as sharp as maybe we would have liked," U.S. U-20 WNT head coach Steve Swanson said in a release. "We finished some good goals and we got better as the second half progressed. Those were good things to see. In this first game we felt our nerves a little bit and just weren't as sharp as we had been up until this point. It's the start of things and it's good to get off to a good start."

Horan scored her second of the game in the 46th minute when she raced onto a through ball and hit a sliding effort past the keeper from the upper corner of the box.

Eight minutes later, Dunn set up another goal with a splendid cross. The defender drove the ball to the far post and Stengel headed it home for her lone strike of the evening.

Johnston grabbed her second six minutes after that. Captain Mollie Pathman delivered a corner kick into the box that Sam Mewis struck on the volley and Johnston deflected into the net.

Horan capped off the game with a scissor kick goal with only sixteen minutes left on the clock. Substitute Chi Ubogagu started the movement with some fancy footwork that eluded multiple defenders before she sent an exquisite cross to Maya Hayes.

Hayes header went off the crossbar; the rebound hit off the head of a trailing defender and bounced off the post to Horan who completed her hat trick. The U.S. eased back after the sixth goal, and saw the game out for an easy victory.

The U20 women's national team is back in action on Sunday in the second game of pool play against Cuba.

Top U.S. performances against Guatemala:

  • Lindsey Horan - The Colorado Rush striker had some tidy finishes amongst her three goals, and grabbed the early lead in the Golden Boot race. Most importantly though, she finished the early chance, which stuck a major thorn in the conservative approach from Guatemala.
  • Katie Stengel - Unjustly denied a spot on the scoreboard in the first half, Stengel was the boss of the attack. She orchestrated and broke down a team that put eight players behind the ball at most times.
  • Crystal Dunn - The speedy outside back hardly did anything wrong all game, and delivered two assists on silver platters for her strikers.
  • Chi Ubogagu - The second-half substitute immediately found the rhythm of the game and proved to be the perfect compliment for Horan up top. Her silky footwork, lightning-quick first step, and incisive passing should have led to a couple more goals, but U.S. pulled off the gas a bit after the sixth goal.

U.S. starting lineup:
1-Bryane Heaberlin; 4-Crystal Dunn, 3-Cari Roccaro, 5-Kassey Kallman, 2-Mollie Pathman (capt.); 15-Sam Mewis, 6-Morgan Brian (12-Vanessa DiBernardo, 68), 8-Julie Johnston; 11-Lindsey Horan, 14-Katie Stengel (9-Chi Ubogagu, 57), 7-Kealia Ohai (20-Maya Hayes, 46)

Categories: Youth Articles

U.S. beats Italy...Worth Shouting about?

Fri, 03/02/2012 - 3:51am
 In the aftermath of the United States' victory in Genoa, the New York Times hailed, "A U.S. Win Worth Shouting About."  While this may be true, it may be worth considering just what it is we should be shouting for.  The narrative surrounding the U.S.'s first win over the Italians has been delivered to the tune of 11 attempts in 82 years, and finally, yes finally, we've defeated the mighty Azzuri.  Match commentator Ian Darke, anchoring ESPN2's coverage, struck the initial chords expressing utter amazement after Clint Dempsey's go ahead goal, and America's dogged defense that held Italy scoreless for the remaining thirty minutes of play. "Well this is rather unbelievable," Darke effused, "one of the greatest victories in America's history."  Fine I suppose, but perhaps a bit naïve in the same breath.  To get beyond the naïveté, let's consider the two categories in their own right; the U.S.'s victory, and our soccer history.  First, a look at our soccer history.  Have we ever beaten the Italians?  No.  Would it be worth listing off all the teams we have or haven't beaten, elite or otherwise, to come to grips with what this means?  This would be a waste of time if you ask me, for two reasons.  First, as soccer nations go, we remain very young when compared to the likes of Italy, Germany, Brazil and Argentina.  While U.S. soccer historians will always herald an unlikely victory over England in the 1950 World Cup as a unique national achievement, we would be foolish to suggest that our nation's soccer history reaches back that far using any objective criteria.  In reality, the true dawning of our nation's soccer history begins at the 1990 World Cup, where a bunch of College All Americans traveled to Italy to play seasoned professionals of the greatest clubs in the world: clubs I might add that our player's have only recently been considered as worthy members.  Fast forward to February of 2012 and our soccer history spans a twenty-two year blink of an eye.  For those desirous of instant gratification, twenty-two years may seem like an eon.  For the Germans, who've competed in every World Cup since it's inception, or the Spanish who've just won their first World Cup after thirteen attempts, it's hard to take a twenty-two year span too seriously.  So while a victory over Italy adds to our collective soccer consciousness, it seems a bit over stated to pop champagne when in our twenty-two year span we've competed in six World Cups, reached the knock out stages in three of them, while gaining precipitous international respect with each passing year.  When a nation is a perennial participant in the World Cup, reaching the final sixteen in half of its appearances, they're hardly a squad to shrug off.  Just ask the Czech Republic, Colombia, Nigeria, Ireland, or The Ivory Coast if they'd prefer to switch places.  I suspect they would. Second, with respect to the match itself, that the U.S. scored an opportunistic Clint Dempsey goal, largely against the run of play in a 1-0 victory over a strong Italian side should come as no surprise.  To gain an additional layer of perspective, let's press rewind on our twenty-two year soccer history, and for a moment remember that if it weren't for Paul Caliugiri's miraculous long range strike - on a field akin to a cow pasture surrounded by a soccer stadium - against Trinidad and Tobago, the United States does not qualify for the 1990 World Cup.  On the wings of Caliugiri's under appreciated, yet legendary goal, transition from lowly CONCACAF qualification to the Olympic Stadium in Rome, a squad that included Steve Trittschuh (Tampa Bay Rowdies), Jimmy Banks (Milwaukee Wave), Brian Bliss (Albany Capitals) and Desmond Armstrong (Baltimore Blast), faced the likes of Gianluca Vialli (Sampdoria, and later player/manager of Chelsea), Roberto Baggio (Fiorentina, eventual World Player of the Year), Paolo Maldini (A.C. Milan, and arguably the greatest left back of all time).  If, on the night of June 14 a motley crew of Yanks, mostly representing indoor soccer teams of what was then AISA, had managed to do anything more than concede the one goal they did, it would have been cause for celebration.  Had they tied or beat Italy at that time in our nation's soccer history surprise would have been a completely acceptable response: though we should also remember that then, as is less the case now, not many would have been watching, let alone paying attention.  Fast-forward to Feb 29, 2012, the U.S. competed against Italy with a veteran team of experienced internationals, sprinkled with uncapped youth gaining valuable experience.  Players wearing the stars and stripes hailed from clubs all across a burgeoning Major League Soccer, the EPL, Bundesliga, and Seria A.  If we take this, and our recent soccer history as a reasonable measuring device - where draws or victories against the likes of Mexico, England, Portugal or Spain are becoming more frequent - a 1-0 World Cup defeat to the Italians in 1990 was in fact far more miraculous than a 1-0 victory in a 2012 friendly. So what is there, if anything to shout about?  First, a win in international soccer is a win, and as our collective soccer consciousness grows, a win against Italy can only encourage future endeavors against elite competition.  Second, the manner of victory should be instructive to our understanding of what the current U.S. team is capable of.  Sound and mature play from a stout back four demonstrates a growing confidence that a goal is tough to come by when facing Sam's Army.  A steady performance in the midfield from Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu makes it clear that while we have yet to produce a Cruyff, Zidane or Messi, we can boast of industrious and reliable Paul Ince and Edgar Davids types.  Bradley's attacking possession and defensive disruption, along with Edu's ability to track and thwart Italian advances are a good sign of what could be a stodgy tandem for the next five to ten years.  Though we may still struggle to score (and it should be noted that all at the highest levels do), it should be clear by now that Jozy Altidore is a physical menace for opposing defenders; he runs, shoves, dips, dodges, nods and lays off, until his body says "no more."  He and the rest of the U.S. striker core are still lacking a commanding presence in front of goal, but they are not lacking in effort.  Give them time, and another year or two under Klinsmann's tutelage and let's see where the chips fall.  They may fall for better or worse, but to this point we just don't know, and where we stand is surely preferable to where we've stood in the past. As the chips fall, media and fans alike should remember, soccer is a game of storied nations who've built up institutional strengths and weaknesses generation upon generation.  As we learn to appreciate what it means to be a soccer nation, patience is surely a virtue to be prized.  While the American soccer fan may be overly conditioned by the "program alert" mentality of ESPN's bottom line, it's high time we begin to appreciate the development of our evolving soccer history, which is growing quite well. Victory over Italy or not, we can shout about that.
Categories: Youth Articles

Top 100 player still driven after commitment

Fri, 03/02/2012 - 2:00am

Erika Leal got her college commitment out of the way last summer; she still has more than a season left before she'll make it to Loyola Marymount in 2013, and yet, she has hardly taken her foot off the pedal. 


"As a player, I am very self-driven, and my own worst critic," Leal explained. "If I think there's something in my game that isn't good, I'll fix it."



This is the mentality of a standout who is the No. 99 ranked player in her 2013 class. 

A midfield presence for the San Diego Surf, Leal has no doubt gathered some of her drive from her father, a Marine. 

He's also a big reason she chose LMU.



"My dad has been deployed several times so he unfortunately has missed a lot of my soccer games," she said. "I wanted to stay close to home so I knew he would always be able to make my home games.

"The location is perfect because all of my relatives live within a 20-mile radius of the campus. It is the perfect school for me - I love everything about it and couldn't be happier about my decision."



But just because she's made her decision doesn't mean she's resting on it. Far from it. Take notice fellow footballers.



In other commitment news:  

Jennifer Boudreau (Solar SC) has verbally committed to Memphis for the 2013 season. 


Abby Reed (FC United) has verbally committed to Indiana State for the 2013 season. 


Arianna Collins (FC Alliance) has signed with Morehead State for the 2012 season. 


Alex Hussar (Tustin United) has signed to Pacific for the 2012 season. 


Stephanie Kolwicz (Concorde Fire SC) has verbally Georgia State for the 2013 season.  


Lauren Knight (St. Louis Scott Gallagher) has verbally committed to Florida Gulf Coast for the 2013 season.

Danielle Mellem (West Coast FC) has verbally committed to the University of Charleston for the 2013 season.

Kiana Clarke (Cooper City Cobras) has verbally committed to Auburn for the 2013 season.

Karen DeGuisto (Chantilly Youth Association) has verbally committed to Saint Joseph for the 2013 season.

Caitlin Bucksbaum (FC Stars of Mass) has verbally committed to Villanova for the 2013 season.

Eleanor Cook and teammate Taylor Kennedy, both of Cajun Soccer Club, have verbally committed to Louisiana Lafayette for the 2013 season.


Alexandra Bruder (Real So Cal) has verbally committed to USC for the 2014 season. 


Kenzie Tillitt (Nevada Elite FC) has verbally committed to Colorado for the 2013 season.

Riley Narum (Tampa Bay United) has verbally committed to College of Charleston for the 2013 season. 


Talia McMurtrie (PA Classics) has verbally committed to FIU for the 2013 season.

Maha Maarouf (Houston Dynamo) has verbally committed to South Alabama for the 2013 season. 

Brittany Coca (Brandon Flames) has verbally committed to Belmont for the 2013 season.

Sara Smeltzer (Birmingham United) has verbally committed to Liberty for the 2013 season. 

Categories: Youth Articles

U.S. U17 WNT begins play in Spain

Fri, 03/02/2012 - 2:00am

U.S. U17 women's national team coach Albertin Montoya has a clear plan in place for the team's upcoming trip to La Manga, Spain - keep building towards qualifying, and sharpen the attack.

"I think we've got some very dangerous players so it's now really getting them to work well with each other in the attacking third," he recently told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "In the last couple months we've been really working on the possession part of the game and making sure we're well organized in the back and now we're just moving our way up the field and hopefully by qualifying we'll have everything put together."

The group last trained together at the beginning of February, playing a pair of friendlies in Florida against Germany, winning those 1-0 and 2-0 respectively. Montoya cited the team's defensive prowess and ability to control possession as high marks of that gathering.

Summer GreenNow, the head coach is trying to sort out how to best utilize his array of weapons in the 4-3-3 formation the team uses, including Summer Green, Emily Bruder, Andi Sullivan and Maggie Purce, who are all on the roster heading to Spain.

But the tournament itself will be a unique preparation for the CONCACAF qualifying process in May, as the U17s will play up against U19 competition, facing France, England and Holland.

"Not only are we playing an age up, we're also playing some very strong sides in the women's game," Montoya said. "France has come a long way in these last five years. You saw what the senior team did in the World Cup, I thought arguably they were one of the best soccer playing teams in the World Cup.

"England is always a very talented, athletic and very well coached, and always an attacking sound team so we're looking forward to playing them, and Netherlands is another team that is up and coming in the women's game."

Montoya also said that France's game is generally similar to Mexico, one of the group opponents the U.S. women will face in qualifying, and he'll use the games to continue to try out different lineup combinations, specifically focused on improving the team's goal-scoring potency.

Along with fine-tuning the attack, the tournament is a chance to head abroad as group, as this marks the first occasion that this particular U17 group will travel somewhere. And while many of the players already are used to the demands of traveling and playing with their respective ECNL teams, it's a chance to get players used to long distance travel before tough competition.

"We'll always prepare for the worst, that's what I tell our players - anticipate every flight being delayed, anticipate maybe even missing a flight, bus breaks down, anticipate for the worst, and if it doesn't happen it'll be a great trip altogether," Montoya said.

"We can just keep thinking about performing well, understanding what the rules are within the game and really get their minds on playing good soccer all the way around. It's not going to be too much of a new experience for them."

The U.S. U17s begin play on March 4 against France.

U.S. U-17 WNT Roster By Position:


GOALKEEPERS: Jane Campbell (Concorde Fire; Kennesaw, Ga.), Cassie Miller (Sereno FC; Cave Creek, Ariz.)


DEFENDERS: Morgan Andrews (FC Stars of Mass.; Milford, N.H.), Brittany Basinger (FC Virginia; Purcellville, Va.), Maddie Bauer (Slammers FC; Newport Beach, Calif.), Lauren Kaskie (Heat FC; Las Vegas, Nev.), Lizzy Raben (Colorado Rush; Greenwood, Colo.), Morgan Reid (Chelsea Ladies; Cary, N.C.)


MIDFIELDERS: Miranda Freeman (Lady Renegades SC; Royal Palm Beach, Fla.), Summer Green (Michigan Hawks; Milford, Mich.), Gabbi Miranda (Colorado Rush; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Sarah Robinson (MVLA Lightning; Los Altos, Calif.), Morgan Stanton (Colorado Rush; Lakewood, Colo.), Andi Sullivan (Bethesda SC; Lorton, Va.)


FORWARDS: Emily Bruder (Utah Avalanche; Sandy, Utah), Amber Munerlyn (So Cal Blues; Corona, Calif.), Toni Payne (Concorde Fire; Birmingham, Ala.), Margaret Purce (Freestate Soccer; Olney, Md.) Travis Clark is a staff reporter at TopDrawerSoccer.com. Follow him on or send him an ' ); document.write( addy_text7312 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //-->\n ' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ' ); //-->

Categories: Youth Articles

Development Academy preview: March 2-4

Fri, 03/02/2012 - 2:00am

FC Dallas heads north to Sporting Kansas City on Friday for the first game of March in the Development Academy. The two teams enter the game at completely different stages of the season.

Sporting Kansas City is only six games in and yet to play an Academy fixture since December. The U18 team is 4-2-0 in those early season games, while the U16 team is 2-2-2.

Meanwhile, FC Dallas U18 is cruising at the top of the Texas Division with already 18 games played and a 15-1-2 record including a four-game winning streak through February.

FC Dallas U16 has not faired quite as well with a 7-4-7 record, but do currently hold the second spot in the Texas Division.

Daniel Garcia Friday night's games against Sporting KC is just the start of the road trip for FC Dallas. The Hoops head to Indiana on Sunday to complete a non-division weekend against Indiana United Fire Academy.

West Conference:

Vancouver Whitecaps host San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday in the lone contest between two teams in the Northwest Division. The Earthquakes U18 team trails Vancouver by one point heading into the weekend with a game in hand.

In the U16 group, Earthquakes trail the Whitecaps by two points, and are looking for revenge after Vancouver crushed San Jose 5-0 in February in the first meeting between the clubs. The Quakes will be counting on forward Elisama Padilla to provide the spark offensively. Padilla has four goals in his last three games.

Out in the desert, RSL-AZ hosts Crossfire Premier in a non-division game. RSL-AZ U18 is currently riding a red-hot streak with ten goals for, and zero against in the last two games. El Salvador U23 forward Maikon Orrellana leads the MLS residency with six goals in 13 games.

RSL-AZ U16, on the other hand, has hit a slight road bump. Last time out, RSL-AZ suffered its first divisional loss of the season against Pateadores. Leading-scorer Jose Navarro factors to be a major contributor on the scoreboard for RSL-AZ on Saturday.

In sunny Southern California, U.S. U17 World Cup veteran Paul Arriola makes his return to the Arsenal FC lineup following the conclusion of his high school season. Arriola and his squad head north to the Home Depot Center for a showdown with Chivas USA in the lone SoCal division game this weekend.

California Development Academy hosts Pateadores on Saturday, as the Thompson brothers try to bring the Sacramento club out of the cellar in the U18 division standings. Last week, both Tanner Thompson and Tommy Thompson found the back of the net in a win over the Seattle Sounders U18.

 

MORE ACADEMY NEWS: Carolina clubs ready to chase down Virginia sides | Chicago Fire sweeps preseason tournament

 

Central Conference:

Solar Chelsea SC and Andromeda make the flight north to Indiana for a swing through the Hoosier State with fixtures against Crew Soccer Academy and Internationals over the weekend.

Midfielder and Duke recruit Zachary Mathers leads the Solar Chelsea SC U18 team with 8 goals in 19 games. Kevin Smith's group might be buoyed by the return of Alfred Koroma. The University of Akron commit recently competed in the U20 national team camp in Florida that ended on Thursday.

In Texas, Dallas Texans U16 put its undefeated record on the line again against sister-club Texans SC Houston on Sunday. Texans SC Houston trails Dallas by ten points in the standings. Brandon Aubrey leads the Dallas team with 10 goals in 17 games.

Texas Rush hosts Houston Dynamo to round out the docket from the Texas Division.

J.R. Eskilson is a staff reporter at TopDrawerSoccer.com. Follow him on or send him an ' ); document.write( addy_text59478 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //-->\n ' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ' ); //-->
Categories: Youth Articles

Light weekend ahead for ECNL action

Fri, 03/02/2012 - 2:00am

The taxing trials of a national showcase generally necessitates a break in action the following weekend, and across the ECNL, the majority of clubs across the country are getting a chance to rest and regenerate ahead of the looming spring schedule.

Most of the clubs involved didn't make the trip last weekend and are getting into the mix with plenty at stake.

In the U16 age group, Ohio Elite Soccer Academy is back in action for the first time since a brief schedule of games that the club all managed to win in its division, currently holding a 4-0 record in the Midatlantic Conference. Madeline Huster and Lauren Heger both enjoyed success in December, and are certainly looking to continue that.

Ohio Elite's Jamie PfeiferOne of the few clubs at that age group to play two games over the weekend is McLean Youth Soccer. Led by Julia Suarez, who has scored 11 times on the season, has helped lead the club to a 7-3-1 record, and will look to be in form against Freestate Soccer Alliance and PDA.

U15

The Dallas Texans have an intrastate matchup on their hands when they play the Dallas Sting on Sunday. Emily Bates has been the star for the Texas club so far, scoring 13 goals in 12 games, while the Sting currently holds the top spot in the Texas Conference and will aim to keep that hold.

U17


Another Ohio team is heading back into action after a lengthy layoff, with Ohio Premier Eagles hosting FC Bucks and Penn Fusion. The Eagles are one of many teams looking up at table-toppers FC Virginia, who don't play this weekend.

FC Bucks are at a similar spot to their opponents this weekend, as they'll look to maintain their points per game lead over both the Eagles and the Ohio Elite Soccer Academy.

U18

At the highest age group, the college-bound elite all hope to finish their club careers in style, and Freestate Soccer Alliance faces a regional test against McLean Youth Soccer. Buoyed by the goal scoring of future Rutgers player Gabriele Moreno, Freestate currently hold an advantage over McLean in the standings and will seek to maintain the lead after this matchup.

A strong Albertson Fury side also heads into action with the chance to climb in the Northeast Conference standings, playing Connecticut FC on Sunday.

Travis Clark is a staff reporter at TopDrawerSoccer.com. Follow him on or send him an ' ); document.write( addy_text72077 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //-->\n ' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ' ); //-->

Categories: Youth Articles

2012 id2 tour comes to a close

Thu, 03/01/2012 - 11:44pm
After a successful 10-day tour highlighted by matches against academy teams from top Spanish clubs such as FC Barcelona and Atlético Madrid, the 2012 id2 National Selection International Tour came to a close Feb. 27 as the squad returned to the United States.
 

 
Just one day after arriving in Spain, the id2 National Selection had its first matches on Feb. 19, playing a combined match against RCD Espanyol and UE Cornellà. In a pair of 40-minute contests, the team earned a split, dropping the first game to UE Cornellà 2-1 before defeating RCD Espanyol 1-0.
 
On Feb. 21, the team notched an impressive 3-1 victory over FC Barcelona at the club's official training complex, Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper. Two days later, the team dropped a 2-1 decision to Atlético Madrid at Ciudad del Fútbol in Las Rozas, the headquarters of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), the governing body of soccer in Spain. The competition portion of the schedule was completed with a scrimmage against C.F. Rayo Majadahonda on Feb. 25.
 
In addition to the team's four matches and one scrimmage, the id2 National Selection had the chance to experience professional soccer in Spain. The team attended two La Liga matches, watching Lionel Messi score four goals to lead FC Barcelona to a 5-1 victory over Valencia CF at L'Estadi Camp Nou, and seeing FC Barcelona win at Atlético Madrid 2-1 later in the week.
 
During its 10 days in Spain, the squad visited FC Barcelona's L'Estadi Camp Nou, Atlético Madrid's Estadio Vicente Calderon, and Real Madrid's Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Away from the soccer field, the players were able to take in the culture of Spain, with extensive opportunities to experience the cities of Barcelona and Madrid.
 
"This year's id2 National Selection International Tour was wonderful in that we visited some of the cathedrals of modern soccer in Barcelona and Madrid," said Gerry McKeown, US Club Soccer's id2 Boys' Program Director. "Not only are these great soccer destinations, but culturally they are pretty special places to be and I think the players enjoyed both aspects. They played in some games where they were challenged, but these challenges show them what it takes to be a young professional."
 
Joining the squad as a member of the traveling party was U.S. Soccer Technical Advisor Juan Carlos Michia. Numerous former members of the id2 National Selection team have earned invitations into U.S. U-14 Boys' National Team Camps in the months immediately following past tours, including multiple players who made their first appearance at a U.S. Soccer camp.
 
The id2 National Selection included 18 male players born in 1998 selected from the fall 2011 id2 Regional Training Camps. Consistent with US Club Soccer's philosophy that identification and development should be free to players, the organization funded the trip in conjunction with the strong support of Nike; there was no cost to the players.

Full roster: Harry Adanuty (CASL), Christian Albelo (TSV Aimicita Vierheim 1906/09), Danny Barbir (PDA), George Braima (Columbus Crew), Chaz Burnett (PDA), Jonathan Navarro (PAC Atlas), Matthew Olosunde (New York Red Bulls), A.J. Palazzolo (St. Louis Scott Gallagher), Logan Panchot (St. Louis Scott Gallagher), Christian Pulisic (PA Classics), Elijah Rice (Chicago Magic), Juan Riley (Weston FC), Chad Sahinkaya (Dallas Texans), Kevin Silva (PDA), Jack Skahan (Sunrise FC), Raheem Taylor-Parkes (Brandon FC), Suniel Veerakone (Michigan Wolves), Andrew Verdi (FC Delco)


Read more: 2012 id2 national selection tour heads to Spain | Club Soccer News | Youth Soccer News

 

Categories: Youth Articles

U17 MNT drops 4-1 result to Sporting KC

Thu, 03/01/2012 - 11:36pm

Sporting Kansas City recorded a 4-1 victory on Thursday in a pre-season exhibition against the United States Under-17 National Team at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Sporting KC striker and SuperElite tour alum Soony Saad scored twice in a three-minute span during the second half to lead Sporting past Richie Wiliams' residency squad.

Midfielder Konrad Warzycha opened the scoring for Sporting Kansas City in the sixth minute. Luke Sassano worked his way through the midfield and played a pass to trialist Mozzi Gyorio on the right side of the penalty area. The Canadian's cross found Warzycha waiting at the back post and the second-year pro placed his header past the keeper for an early 1-0 lead.

The Under-17's did well to even the score in the 14th minute after being awarded an indirect free kick at the top of the six-yard box when goalkeeper Steve Spangler picked up what was ruled to be an intentional backpass from Korede Aiyegbusi. Junior Flores touched the set piece to Rubio Rubin, who powered his shot high over the gathering of players on the goalline and beneath the crossbar.

Former Sporting Kansas City Juniors player Kyle Miller notched the match-winner in the 50th minute. Dom Dwyer and Gyorio combined at the top of the penalty area to attract the attention of the U17 defense, allowing Miller to to find space on the right side of the penalty area and the Rockhurst alum slotted his shot inside the far post.

From there, Saad sealed the victory with goals in the 64th and 67th minutes. His first came on an individual effort, forcing a turnover with high pressure and then taking the necessary touches before bending his effort around the keeper. Less than three minutes later, Saad fed Shawn Singh inside the penalty area where he was promptly tripped up by Conor Donovan. Saad converted the ensuing penalty kick with a well-taken shot from the spot as the keeper guessed the opposite direction.

Categories: Youth Articles

Player rankings from U23 2-0 win over Mexico

Thu, 03/01/2012 - 5:04am
Olympic qualification is three weeks away, and the U.S. U23 team wrapped up its latest camp with a 2-0 win against its Mexican counterparts on Wednesday night.

Goals came from Mix Diskerud and Juan Agudelo for the U.S., who begin the CONCACAF qualifying tournament on March 22 in Nashville, Tennessee.

It was a confident performance from Caleb Porter's side, with the team appearing to have fully bought into his high tempo, attractive style of play. The U23 national team controlled the possession battle for long stretches of the match, before tiring a bit late in the second half but managed to keep a clean sheet.

Here are the player ratings for the U.S. U23s against Mexico (scale of 1-10):

GK Bill Hamid, 6.5 -- Only had one save to make, and did well to punch the volley clear. Wasn't really tested aside from that, and commanded his back line well. Replaced at the half for Sean Johnson.

D Kofi Sarkodie, 5 -- Got caught out of position on a few occasions and was erratic going forward. Porter demands a lot from his outside backs, and tonight's performance from Sarkodie was not up to snuff especially in the attacking third.

D Ike Opara, 6 -- It was a strong start for Opara, and his second half header nearly set up a Gyau goal. However, towards the end of the second half his positioning wasn't as solid as he started to tire and Mexico began to boss the game.

D Perry Kitchen, 7 -- A limited player pool will likely force Kitchen into central defense, but he looked game for it, hardly putting a foot wrong all game, the clear standout along the back line.

D Zarek Valentin, 5.5
-- Mexico probably deserved a penalty when Valentin bounced a clearance off his own teammates, allowing Fabian to gain possession and run into the penalty area. The left back then put his hands up on his man in the box, but the referee bailed Valentin out by showing the Mexican attacker a yellow card for simulation.

MF Alfred Morales, 6 -- Morales was a star in the first half with a commanding presence in the center field - strong on the tackle, sharp on the pass. Then he fell off the cliff in the second half, and Mexico's midfield took control of the game.

MF Mix Diskerud, 8.5 -- A man of the match performance from Diskerud who finished the night with a goal and an assist. He was at the heart of almost everything positive the USA did all evening, and harried Mexico's midfield.

MF Joe Corona, 5.5 -- Corona showed his class whenever he received the ball, but for a player of his stature and quality, he needed to be more assertive in the middle of the field.

F Freddy Adu, 7 -- Deployed on the right wing, Adu was dangerous whenever he touched the ball. His audacious shot was deflected in by Diskerud, and most importantly, he worked his tail off defensively.

F Juan Agudelo, 6 -- Put himself in good positions and combined pretty decently with the attack. Took his goal well, but did seem like he isn't a good fit to play as the No. 9.

F Joe Gyau, 8.5 -- A couple of touches got away from him, but overall it was a stellar night for Gyau. His speed was too much for the Mexico defense, and they simply could not slow him down in the first half. Should have had an assist or two if the finishing had been better.

Substitutes


GK Sean Johnson, 5.5 -- Made a couple of nice reaction saves in his second half shift, but Johnson needed to hold onto the ball a bit better, as he bobbled a few easy catches.

F Teal Bunbury, 5 -- In need of a strong performance to help solidify his spot on the final qualifying roster, Bunbury was shaky at best, looking as though he was forcing the issue and unable to emulate Agudelo's success earlier in the match.

F Tony Taylor, 4.5
-- It was not a night that Taylor will want to remember. His two shots were well off target, and he did not even bother to link up with Bunbury when they were both on the field. Perhaps his role did not highlight his skills, but Taylor has a massive hill to climb to make this squad.

F Dilly Duka, NA
-- Duka had some decent touches in limited minutes, but it was a quiet cameo for the Columbus Crew attacker.

MF Amobi Okugo, NA -- Came on with only a few minutes remaining and didn't do much of anything notable.
Categories: Youth Articles

The future of the MPSF remains murky

Thu, 03/01/2012 - 1:18am

During a time when every college conference seems like it wants to shuffle the cards and create a superconfernce, the Moutain Pacific Sports Federation has decided to sit still with men's soccer, which has put the conference in a delicate balance.

"We are not quite sure specifically what the future of MPSF men's soccer holds for us given all the movement from conference realignment," MPSF executive director Al Beaird told TopDrawerSoccer.com in an exclusive statement on Tuesday. "I do know however that MPSF men's soccer will continue to provide teams in the western United States a conference home as we have done for the past 20 years.

"We will be patient and see how the bigger picture shakes out and go forward from there. One thing for sure, we look forward to having a competitive men's soccer conference into the foreseeable future."

In men's soccer, Sacramento State is leaving the conference this year for the Big West, while Houston Baptist is replacing the Hornets to even out the numbers in the MPSF.

In 2013, the conference will be a revolving door with New Mexico, UNLV, and Air Force all bound for the Conference USA/Mountain West merger, although, Lobos' head coach Jeremy Fishbein told TopDrawerSoccer.com on Monday that the details were still being ironed out for that league.

Simon TobinCSU Bakersfield is also in the discussion to exit the MPSF in the coming years. Multiple PAC-12 coaches informed TopDrawerSoccer.com that a meeting was held last week to vote in the Roadrunners as a seventh member and eventual replacement for San Diego State, which is leaving the PAC-12 to join the Big West.

PAC-12 administrators still need to approve the move, but all signs point to the Roadrunners heading to the PAC-12.

If all of the aforementioned teams do indeed leave, MPSF would be left with four teams, below the required minimum of six for an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, and without the two programs currently gaining national notoriety, CSU Bakersfield and New Mexico.

"When you are talking about the possibility of losing five programs in two years, I think everybody has a concern," University of Denver head coach Bobby Muuss told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "We will all put our heads down and see what is best for the conference, what is best for individual programs, and what is best moving forward."

Muuss made a point to add that Denver is a proud member of the MPSF and some quality programs will remain in the conference.

MORE COLLEGE NEWS: Wake Forest with high hopesUCLA, Mexico U20 NT draw

While the MPSF does remain fully intact in 2012, it should be one of the most competitive men's soccer conferences in the nation.

New Mexico returns the majority of the roster from last season that won the MPSF league, MPSF tournament, and advanced to the third round of the NCAA tournament.

"I am excited about our team," Fishbein said. "It is always an adjustment when guys leave and new leaders emerge, it kind of amazes me how quickly players assume new roles. And I am proud of this new found maturity in our guys, the team has taken a new identity pretty quick."

The Lobos finished last season highly ranked in every poll, but surprisingly seeded as the 10th team in the NCAA tournament.

"There is no perfect way to calculate the RPI," Fishbein said in reference to the low seed. "It isn't something that I dwelled on, certainly I would have liked more home games, but we were very capable and should have won games on the road. It is not something I try to put too much focus on."

One of the main components of the RPI, which is a major factor in postseason seeding, is road games against quality opposition. Fishbein said New Mexico continues to challenge itself with games against the best teams in the nation. This fall, his team has scheduled UCLA on the road to start the season.  

"That is going to be a great test," Fishbein added about the opener. "Then we go to a tournament at University of Tulsa and play SMU and Tulsa. Those are three great games to start the season. We are going to see what we are about pretty quick."

Once the Lobos start conference play, Air Force, Denver, and CSU Bakersfield all look capable of taking down last season's frontrunner.

"I am excited [about next season]," Muuss said. "Players and coaches learned a lot from this season, and we are putting it behind us."

Muuss brings in another strong recruiting class to Denver this year headlined by four-star prospect Malcolm Harris, who is the no. 32 overall recruit from the 2012 class.

"We are excited of the future of the program moving forward," Muuss said. "Malcolm's ability to play multiple positions should allow him to contribute immediately."

Paired with junior Blair Jeralds in defense or sophomore Brian Hoyt in midfield, and the Pioneers clearly have building blocks for the future.

CSU Bakersfield poses as the biggest threat to New Mexico in the upcoming season. Coach Simon Tobin returns star forward Gyasi Zardes for another year in hopes of leading his Roadrunners to glory.

"It is lucky for us he will play one more year," Tobin said. "He will leave after his junior year. He likes being at school and wants to finish school."

Tobin went on to address the rumors about any reluctance from Zardes to join Los Angeles Galaxy as a Home Grown player.

"He stayed to finish his degree, nothing else," Tobin added. "He loves the Galaxy - he is a Southern California kid."

Zardes is the brightest star in the MPSF in 2012, but teammate Korey Kindle has also drawn the attention of MLS scouts for his splendid play at left back.

Tobin added a strong recruiting class, which should be officially announced in the coming days, to compliment his returners.

Four-star recruits Christian Duarte, Oscar Sorto, and Carlos Grande figure to be immediate contributors for the Roadrunners, which are looking to return to the NCAA D-I tournament.

The long-term future of the MPSF may be hazy, but this fall should be a fitting final showcase of the talented programs in the oft-neglected conference.

Player to watch in the MPSF:

Gyasi Zardes (CSU Bakersfield, forward, redshirt junior): "I have coached for 25 years, and I will never coach anyone this good again," CSU Bakersfield head coach Simon Tobin said about Zardes. "He has everything." Zardes scored 18 goals last year in 20 games last season, and could very likely top that total this year, as the Galaxy Academy product develops into the most electrifying player in college soccer.

J.R. Eskilson is a staff reporter at TopDrawerSoccer.com. Follow him on or send him an ' ); document.write( addy_text72573 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //-->\n ' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ' ); //-->
Categories: Youth Articles

Carolina clubs ready to hunt Virginia sides

Thu, 03/01/2012 - 12:56am

With the Development Academy spring schedule about to kick into a high gear, there is going to be a tight race in the U18 Atlantic Division.

McLean Youth Soccer is currently top of the table with 26 points and an undefeated record of 8-0-2, and will look to hold off the challenge of CASL, Charlotte Soccer Academy, NC Fusion and North Meck SC, who all begin a heavy slate of action in the next two weeks.

Of course, the coaches themselves are fairly nonplussed about how the schedule breaks down in their particular division.

"There's not too much we can do about that," CASL Chelsea U18 Coach Carlos Somoano told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "We're kind of where we are, they're where they are, they're kind of towards the end of their season, we feel like we just got started."

CASL's Alex OlofsonRight now, that quartet of North Carolina-based teams are preparing to begin the chase, as the Virginia pair of McLean and Richmond Kickers currently sit first and second at the top of the division.

The Kickers, sitting on 18 points with a record of 6-6, finished the February part of its schedule with two straight wins, and hope to maintain sight of a playoffs spot.

But regardless of that, they've been pleased with how things have gone this year.

"We've had gradual improvement overall, certainly by the results they've had a lot more success on the field and the main reason for that is we played so much better over the last three months," assistant coach Leigh Cowlishaw told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "I think it has a lot to do with improved confidence from the team, understanding the style of play we've committed to, and players who've stepped up and played better soccer."

MORE ACADEMY NEWS: Fire sweeps preseason tournamentFrontier Division racks up flyer miles


Holding off the challenge from the four very talented NC teams won't be easy, especially since the Virginia clubs won't play again until June. CASL, who won the division last year, boast UNC-bound talents like Alex Olofson and Nick Williams, while also relying on players like McAmos Paye (heading to Creighton) and Joaquin Del Rosario (NC State).

But that won't stop the NC Fusion, North Meck or Charlotte from throwing in the towel. The Fusion, who lost defender Jonathan Campbell to early enrollment at UNC, is hoping to live up to lofty expectations.

"Our emphasis is on the performances, the results are important but at the same time, they're not everything," head coach Marc Nicholls told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "We certainly expect this team is a team that should be in the playoffs and right now I think you'd have to say that we're on the bubble for that."

One thing is for sure as the chase heats up - when any of the two teams in North Carolina clash, it's going to be a spectacle, especially with what's at stake in the standings.

"Those games are great, very competitive, one game over the weekend so all of your preparation can do into that one challenge," Nicholls said of the Carolina matches. "We're able to scout each other a little bit and plan accordingly. I think they are the games players and the coaches look forward to the most, but in the right spirit."

Regardless of how those games shake out, McLean will have a final chance to seal the top spot, with four games scheduled for June, all at home against the four teams from North Carolina.

Travis Clark is a staff reporter at TopDrawerSoccer.com. Follow him on or send him an ' ); document.write( addy_text51575 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //-->\n ' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ' ); //-->

Categories: Youth Articles

New MNT Jersey leaked on Nike website

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 7:20am
Did Nike jump the gun and accidentally leak the new U.S. Men's National Team away jersey?
Categories: Youth Articles

YNT standouts choose instate colleges

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 7:10am

Even before Marco Carrizales gave his commitment to SMU, he was completely invested in the program. Living within walking distance of the school's Dallas campus, Carrizales found himself at every home game last season. 
So when it came time to choose a school there was no campus visit - not even the trips to his favorites, North Carolina and Wake Forest - that could tell him anymore about a school than he already knew about the Mustangs.
"I saw myself fitting into that program better than any other one," said Carrizales, who recently gave his verbal to SMU for the 2013 season. "I'm not the biggest player (5-foot-8) so I really like to play on the ground with the ball at my feet and they have a program that plays that way."
Marco CarrizalesCarrizales, an FC Dallas standout, is great with the ball at his feet, by the way. He's quick and also scrappy when it comes to winning possessions, and he's played against top talent through the Development Academy and his call-ins to the U.S. Soccer program.
One of his best friends, Murphy Short, is heading to SMU this fall and Carrizales plans to pick his brain as much as possible. 
Not that Carrizales doesn't already know what it takes. He plays on one of the top USSF Development Academy club teams in the country and regularly competes against pro players like homegrown signings Jonathan Top, Ruben Luna and Moises Hernandez. 
"The professionalism of FC Dallas has really helped me mature," he said. "I'm looking forward to SMU, but first I'd like to win a national championship this season."
This past week saw a few other big names make announcements, including Ben Spencer of Chivas USA and Cal Odyssey defender Carlos Grande.
Spencer is our No. 20 ranked player in the 2013 class. He's a 6-foot-5 target striker who should make a large impact at the next level.
A recent call-in with the U.S. U18 Men's National Team, Spencer decided to keep his talents relatively local in committing to the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos. 
"My family and I thought it was best that I stayed on the West Coast," he said. "USCB just felt right. It is an amazing school and a great program. The atmosphere of the program is as close to a pro environment as it gets."
Grande is a tough national team player who is ranked No. 43 in the Top 100 and is college-ready. He has committed to play at Cal State Bakersfield.
In other news: 
Patrick Barnes (Shattuck-Saint Mary's Academy) has signed to Winthrop for the 2012 season.  
Jesus Gonzalez (Kendall SC) has signed with Gonzaga for the 2012 season. 
Joel Salmeron (Chicago Fire) has signed to UIC for the 2012 season.
Kyle Richards (Concorde Fire SC) has verbally committed to West Virginia for the 2013 season. 
TRANSFERS
Liberty has announced three transfer arrivals for the 2012 season: Johnny Torres, arriving from Wake Forest; Sammy Dieng, of Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas, and Tanner Wilcox who will arrive from Butler. 
Categories: Youth Articles

Chicago Fire sweeps preseason tournament

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 6:44am
 The Development Academy Carolina Challenge Cup is quickly becoming a favorite for several east coast professional academies in late February.
Held in conjunction with the pro tournament of the same name, six Development Academy teams descended on Charleston, South Carolina over the weekend with an eye on the resumption of the USSF DA slate in March.
D.C. United, Chicago Fire, Indiana United Fire, South Carolina United Battery, Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls sent their respective U16 and U18 sides to contest the tournament that wrapped up on Monday night.
Kyle Dal SantoAfter three group games, the Chicago Fire emerged victorious at both age levels, going 5-0-1 in six games, outscoring their opponents 11-1 in the process. More importantly for the Fire was getting back into action after a lengthy break.
"It was a long winter for us, long grind," head coach Larry Sunderland told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "To get some games that meant something was good. We haven't played a game that has meant something since December."
Despite last playing competitively at the Winter Showcase, both Chicago's U16 and U18 teams excelled down in Charleston. Behind the play of goalkeeper Kyle Dal Santo, Louis Bennett and Marcus Epps, Chicago defeated New York, D.C. United and South Carolina Battery to claim the U16 crown.
With the variety of different teams on display, Sunderland was particularly happy for his younger charges. 
"The nice thing about the tournament is that we played teams and every team played a different style, which was really good for us to see," he said. "It's one thing when we talk about the 18s, but it was really good for the 16s to see, maybe mature them a little bit, to get them to understand how they have to adapt sometimes to the course of the game and the way the opponent is playing."
Meanwhile, the Fire's U18 group clinched the title thanks to a 2-0 win on Monday over South Carolina, with Joseph Calistri's long distance goal putting the game away. Drew Conner and homegrown professional signing Kellen Gulley put in solid shifts for the victorious U18 side.
Making the achievement even more significant was the firepower at that level, including New York, Columbus and D.C. United, with the latter featuring Patrick Foss and Jalen Robinson - although stalwart Collin Martin was absent because of U.S. U20 obligations.
"Overall I think we were really pleased," D.C. U18 coach Nolan Sheldon told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "We definitely got a lot out of the three matches that each team was able to play. I would say that there were some moments throughout each of the three games where things were really, really good, maybe the best they've been all year in terms of the level of play."
The Crew used the event as a chance to bring down not just their two Development Academy sides to compete in the Challenge Cup, but to also take three of their pre-Academy teams on the road to play in friendlies against CASL Chelsea and South Carolina United.
"It was pretty special," Crew Soccer Academy Director Andrew Arthurs told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "We have a lot of interaction with our first team players and coaches here in Columbus, but that was the first time we'd been on the road with the first team. To have all of those levels in one hotel and connecting over the course of four or five days was a great experience."
According to Arthurs, Akron-bound center back Andrew Souders was one of the standouts for the U18s, as well as defender Alex Ranalli, forward Brett Elder, and midfielder Zach Mason as the Crew finished fourth place at that age level, and fifth at the U16.
One of the unique features of the tournament was the chance to pit MLS Academy sides against each other, as D.C. squared off against the Fire and Crew. It's a unique element to the Development Academy that adds a bit more motivation to those sorts of games.
"We get up for them - we're definitely excited," Sheldon said. "If you're going to look at the schedule and you're going to get New York Red Bull, Fire or Crew, they definitely jump off the page a little bit more than some other teams may."
And while the Fire emerged from this particular competition on top, it's clear that every team involved in South Carolina has a lot of potential as the Development Academy season continues in full force this spring.
Final Standings

U16 W L T GF GA PTS Chicago Fire 3 0 0 6 1 9 D.C. United 1 1 1 4 3 4 Indiana Fire 1 1 1 5 5 4 SCU Battery             1 1 1 2 3 4 Columbus Crew 0 1 2 0 2 2 New York Red Bulls 0 2 1 2 5 1               U18 W L T GF GA PTS Chicgo Fire 2 0 1 5 0 7 New York Red Bulls 2 1 0 5 3 6 D.C. United 1 0 2 5 4 5 Columbus Crew 1 2 0 5 7 3 SCU Battery 1 2 0 4 3 3 Indiana Fire 0 2 1 3 7 1
Categories: Youth Articles

USMNT, WNT, U23 MNT set for leap day triple

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 2:19am
A full slate of international matches are on the docket for U.S. Soccer on Wednesday, Feb. 29, as three National Teams are in action across the globe. The jam-packed leap day tripleheader includes matches for the U.S. Men's National Team, U.S. Women's National Team and the U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team.

The U.S. Women kick off the day with their opening match of the Algarve Cup against Denmark at 12 p.m. ET. Following shortly after, the U.S. Men take on four-time FIFA World Cup champion Italy at 2:30 p.m. ET, live on ESPN2, ESPN3 and Galavision.

The U.S. Under-23 MNT closes the day out with the only game on the home front, facing Mexico's U-23 squad at 9 p.m. CT at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Tickets for the U.S. U-23 match are still available at ussoccer.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000. The U-23 match will be broadcast live on Univision.

Fans can follow all of the matches via ussoccer.com's MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer for the Men's National Team and U-23 MNT, and @ussoccer_wnt for the Women's National Team.

Highlights of all matches will be available at U.S. Soccer's Media Center.

U.S. MNT FACES ITALY IN GENOA: The U.S. Men's National Team prepares for its first match in a little more than a month as it faces Italy at Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa, Italy. The U.S. is in the midst of a three-game winning streak dating back to last year. The USA under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann opened the 2012 campaign with 1-0 victories against Venezuela and Panama in January, and capped off 2011 with a 3-2 victory on Nov. 15 against Slovenia.

U.S. WNT OPENS 19TH ANNUAL ALGARVE CUP: The U.S. Women's National Team will be looking for its seventh win in as many games this year when it faces Denmark to start the 19th Annual Algarve Cup. The match will be played at the Municipal Stadium in Lagos, Portugal. The U.S. Women are coming off a thrilling 2-1 come-from-behind victory against New Zealand on Feb. 11 at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Alex Morgan tallied the game-tying goal in the 88th minute and the game-winner in the third minute of stoppage time. The U.S. Women have won the Algarve Cup eight times, including seven of the past nine years.

U.S. U-23 MEN TAKE ON AGAINST MEXICO IN QUALIFYING TUNE-UP: The U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team gets set for a final tune-up match heading into the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying. The U-23s host Mexico at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas. The match is a prelude to the U.S. U-23's Olympic Qualifying, with the group stage running from March 22-26 at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.
Categories: Youth Articles

U.S. MNT, WNT, U23 MNT SET FOR LEAP DAY TRIPLE

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 2:19am
A full slate of international matches are on the docket for U.S. Soccer on Wednesday, Feb. 29, as three National Teams are in action across the globe. The jam-packed leap day tripleheader includes matches for the U.S. Men's National Team, U.S. Women's National Team and the U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team.

The U.S. Women kick off the day with their opening match of the Algarve Cup against Denmark at 12 p.m. ET. Following shortly after, the U.S. Men take on four-time FIFA World Cup champion Italy at 2:30 p.m. ET, live on ESPN2, ESPN3 and Galavision.

The U.S. Under-23 MNT closes the day out with the only game on the home front, facing Mexico's U-23 squad at 9 p.m. CT at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Tickets for the U.S. U-23 match are still available at ussoccer.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000. The U-23 match will be broadcast live on Univision.

Fans can follow all of the matches via ussoccer.com's MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer for the Men's National Team and U-23 MNT, and @ussoccer_wnt for the Women's National Team.

Highlights of all matches will be available at U.S. Soccer's Media Center.

U.S. MNT FACES ITALY IN GENOA: The U.S. Men's National Team prepares for its first match in a little more than a month as it faces Italy at Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa, Italy. The U.S. is in the midst of a three-game winning streak dating back to last year. The USA under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann opened the 2012 campaign with 1-0 victories against Venezuela and Panama in January, and capped off 2011 with a 3-2 victory on Nov. 15 against Slovenia.

U.S. WNT OPENS 19TH ANNUAL ALGARVE CUP: The U.S. Women's National Team will be looking for its seventh win in as many games this year when it faces Denmark to start the 19th Annual Algarve Cup. The match will be played at the Municipal Stadium in Lagos, Portugal. The U.S. Women are coming off a thrilling 2-1 come-from-behind victory against New Zealand on Feb. 11 at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Alex Morgan tallied the game-tying goal in the 88th minute and the game-winner in the third minute of stoppage time. The U.S. Women have won the Algarve Cup eight times, including seven of the past nine years.

U.S. U-23 MEN TAKE ON AGAINST MEXICO IN QUALIFYING TUNE-UP: The U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team gets set for a final tune-up match heading into the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying. The U-23s host Mexico at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas. The match is a prelude to the U.S. U-23's Olympic Qualifying, with the group stage running from March 22-26 at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.
Categories: Youth Articles

2013 Girls Top 100 Player Rankings Updated

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 2:00am

Today we update our Players To Watch National Top 100 Ranking for the 2013 Girls graduating class. Many of the names have been ranked for a while, but new players continue to crack the list, as others drop off.  Through all of this we continue to look around the countryside for the best soccer talent in the land, class by class.

After a months-long layoff to reconfigure and examine the entire player pool, we resume the process with this update. Our rankings are made after an examination of national and regional honors among players in the top competitive leagues in the country, as well as selections to youth national teams and other top honors awarded across the nation. Further investigation includes the consulting of coaches at various levels throughout the country.

While many top players in the 2013 graduating class have already committed to college programs, they tend to react in unique ways to their status. Some may, at least in coaches eyes, coast a bit, while others redouble their efforts to prepare themselves for the college level, or drive harder for national team involvement. This of course can greatly affect the rankings.

After we complete our February updates of national 2013 rankings, the rankings will expand to four age groups, 2013 through 2016 (both genders), with the top 150 being selected for each. The work on these rankings has been going on for some time and will begin being released in March. Each of the top 150 lists will be updated quarterly. Regional lists will from this point be shorter reflections of the national list only, with minimal additional players added.

So we hope you enjoy the rankings and somehow manage to remember, it's impossible to get complete agreement on so massive a task as to ranking all players in high school age groups nationwide. If you have a different opinion, you are certainly entitled, but please don't think of this as life and death stuff - we don't.

Click here to see the updated ranking. 

Categories: Youth Articles

Frontier Division teams rack up flyer miles

Tue, 02/28/2012 - 1:27am

With teams in Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, Colorado, and Minnesota, the Frontier Division of the USSF Development Academy is a nightmare for travel agents.

Minnesota Thunder joined the Academy last season, and suffered through some of the difficulties of constant travel on the way to a four-win year in its debut. This season's Thunder U18 has matured and learned from last season's blues.

"The first year served a lot of lessons," Thunder U18 head coach Jon Lowery told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "We have had a good start this year because there is a lot of the nucleus from last year's U16 team back with the club. Now, they have that experience in the Development Academy."

Lowery's squad is off to a 3-0-1 start and tops the division, albeit, in the very early stages of the season. The coach added that he has turned those tricky situations with flights and back-to-back road games into teaching points.

"We try to move those realities into soccer and make it into game management situations," Lowery said about flying to nearly every away game. "Despite being difficult, it makes the players approach the game in a more professional way. It gives them experience in game management and how to take care of themselves."

Dillon Serna Directly behind the Thunder in the standings is Shattuck-Saint Mary's Soccer Academy, which is also in its second season in the Development Academy.

"You have to go through a year of it to feel the rhythm out," Shattuck-Saint Mary's U18 head coach Tim Carter told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "It is helpful to have a year under our belt."

Carter's team is 4-1-0 to start the season, which the coach attributed to having a group with experience in the Development Academy. Carter highlighted the play of John Lujano, Jacob Gandarilla, Patrick Barnes, and Andrew Kendall-Moullin as the standouts from the first five games.

Chasing the two Minnesota clubs in the standings are the Colorado Rapids led by head coach Brian Crookham, which currently sit in third place with a 3-0-2 record.

"It is going well," Crookham told TopDrawerSoccer.com about the Rapids U18 season so far. "A bit disjointed because we still had a high school season this year."

Next year, all Academies are moving to a 10-month schedule thus eliminating high school soccer for Development Academy players. The Rapids got a jump-start on most clubs by training through high school with about 20 players from the Academy. The team played in a local adult league, where the coaches focused on technical development more than results.

MORE ACADEMY NEWS: Development Academy Recap - February 25

Crookham said it was the first season that the Rapids attempted to assemble a large group during the high school season, in previous years it has only been a handful of players.

"Makes our transition for next year easier," said Crookham. "We are fortunate with our facility that we are outside five days a week too. The work is getting done right now. It has been a productive two months."

The Rapids are excited to get back to Academy play on March 17, but Crookham's side may have to deal with limited numbers, as MLS reserve games start that week.

"We will have a lot of players in reserve games," added Crookham. "Oscar Pareja, the new full team coach, is a big believer in player development. Four or five players will definitely see time in reserve games."

Crookham talked glowingly of the play of Dillon Serna, Shane O'Neill, and Andrew Epstein, who has occasionally played up on the U18s at goalkeeper.

"Shane O'Neill has been tremendous in dictating the play, and allowing us to be pretty bold going forward," said Crookham. "He is an anchor for our midfield."

Slightly behind the Rapids in the standings are the U16 division champions from last year, St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri.

Tim Leonard's team came within a goal of qualifying for Finals Week last year, and said his group set its sights on trying to make it to that event this year.

"I think that is definitely within reach," Leonard told TopDrawerSoccer.com.

Leonard did not think that the travel was much of a difficulty for his team, because "it is something where we don't know any better."

"The kids really responded well," added Leonard about traveling to away games. "It does bring together the team being on the bus and in the hotel."

After an extended period off, Leonard's U18 team returns to play on March 17 against Chicago Fire.

"They are ready to go," said Leonard.

Players to watch in the U18 Frontier Division:

Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids, midfield) - "Dillon makes a difference," Crookham said when describing the leading scorer for the Rapids U18 team. Serna is currently the only Rapids Academy player training with the first team during the preseason. His speed of play and vision were the two best attributes that his club coach highlighted. Serna is bound for the University of Akron in the fall.

Adama Keita (Minnesota Thunder, forward) - "Adama is a special player. He can score goals, he is dynamic, and he is very competitive. We are thrilled to have him," said Lowery. Keita was born in 1995, which makes him eligible for the U16 team, and Lowery said it is a possibility for him to play with the younger team, but he fits in well with the U18s so that is where he is playing for now. Keita is set to play for the University of Wisconsin Green Bay in the fall.

Categories: Youth Articles

Ike Opara ready for clash against Mexico

Tue, 02/28/2012 - 12:38am

With the U23 men's national team camp dwindling toward its final days in Frisco, Texas, Ike Opara and the rest of the squad look forward to Wednesday's friendly against Mexico at FC Dallas Stadium.

"We are antsy for that game," Opara told TopDrawerSoccer.com over the phone on Monday. "Hopefully, we come out prepared and ready to work."

This is Opara's first camp with the U23s. After dealing with a rash of injuries in his first two professional seasons, Opara sounds relieved to be back in the fold in the national team program.

"Obviously with my injury issue over the last year and a half, it is getting the rhythm back," said Opara. "I came into preseason with San Jose reasonably fit and now I am feeling good."

Ike Opara in 2009Before catching the injury-bug, Opara was a stalwart at center back for the U20 national team during qualifying and the World Cup in 2009. His combination of athleticism and competitiveness quickly made him a favorite amongst the coaches.

He was also a commanding force in college where he collected the ACC Defender of the Year honors in 2008 and 2009 with Wake Forest. With that impressive resume, San Jose Earthquakes selected him with the third overall pick in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft.

But after two seasons in MLS, the defender has only made 19 appearances due to a broken foot in his rookie season.

Opara said he physically feels great now and is pleased to be in consideration for a spot on the Olympic Qualifying team.

MORE NATIONAL TEAM NEWS: Ramos continues work with U20 | U20 WNT ready for CONCACAF Championship

"It was a breath of fresh air [to get called into this camp]," said Opara, who had been in preseason camp with San Jose prior to the call-up. "For me, the camp has gone well and I am pleased with my performance."

This has also been the first opportunity for Opara to fit in with head coach Caleb Porter's 4-3-3 system and possession-heavy style of play.

"It is a very, very good system to play in," said Opara. "For a new guy like myself, it has been easy to jump in thanks to the coaches and the guys continuity."

This is the third camp for this age group since Porter took charge of the team in late 2011. The coach continues to whittle down the roster to 20 players before qualifying starts on March 22.

"Each day in practice, he comes up with another suggestion about what he wants to see differently," said Opara about the instructions from Porter. "At the same time though, we do a good job as a team in defending, and that helps the back line along with everybody on the field."

So far, Opara has started both games from this camp at center back alongside Zarek Valentin. The two have combined to hold San Antonio Scorpions, an NASL team, and FC Dallas to one goal in a pair of victories.

"We have gotten good results so far and hopefully that will continue versus Mexico," said Opara about the two scrimmages against professional teams.

The former Demon Deacon star was also positive about how the defense has played in those games.

"We have gelled well in camp," said Opara. "Most of all, we are very good at communicating. If we aren't on the same page, we work to figure it out."

Opara is hoping all the hard work in practice will come to fruition in the final game from this camp.

"Hopefully, it pays off come Wednesday," he added.

The U23s play the Mexico U23 national team on Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. (CT) at FC Dallas Park. The game will be broadcast live on TeleFutura.

Categories: Youth Articles

ECNL Showcase provides top-level competition

Tue, 02/28/2012 - 12:34am

Elite showcases are designed to challenge and stretch the best players ECNL has on offer.

And this past weekend, players and coaches alike were tested to their limits at the ECNL National Showcase in San Antonio, as the league put on another successful showcase in the heart of Texas.

"It was another outstanding event," ECNL commissioner Sarah Kate Noftsinger told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "The games were all competitive - with all showcase events for us, every game means something, every goal that's scored for or against could have an impact in the overall standings. That feeling is always there and it brings another aspect to a national event."

But with the success, there were plenty of obstacles teams had to overcome and contend with in the three-day window - including the presence of more than 275 coaches and scouts for the U.S. national team.

Dallas Texans' keeper Ashton Hierholzer"It was a tough weekend," FC Virginia U17 coach Paul Ellis told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "Physically, it was probably the most three demanding games we've played in a row in a long, long time."

While Ellis' side performed decently from a results standpoint - winning once and losing twice - the experience once again provided a chance to learn how to cope with the difficult demands of a high level event. According to Ellis, injuries pushed his players even further than other squads, as four girls couldn't travel - adding to the strain of playing three games in quick succession.

"It's very demanding, but obviously because of the travel distance and the cost, there's no other way of getting three competitive games in without going back-to-back-to-back like that," Ellis said. "Obviously it does affect the quality of the games the deeper they go into these events."

Perhaps then it came as little surprise to see a number of the Texas-based clubs fare well in San Antonio, not only possessing a strong pool of talent, but also factoring in a shorter commuting distance to the event. Dallas Texans (7-1-1), FC Dallas (7-2-3) and Solar Chelsea (10-1-1) all sent at least three teams to the event and performing at a high level.

Other teams, like Michigan Hawks U16 (2-0-1), San Juan SC U16 (1-0-2), Colorado Rush U15 (3-0-0), Washington Premier U15 (1-0-2) managed to string together three unbeaten games across the three days.

MORE ECNL NEWS: ECNL Showcase produces shutouts | ECNL Showcase gets underway

While the physical demands were evident, the games provided tough competition across the board. High-scoring matches were truly few and far between - though there was an odd lopsided result tucked into the final scoreboard here and there throughout the action-packed weekend.

"When you getting the top teams together, the games are very, very competitive no matter who you're playing," Ellis said. "When you're looking at all the scores, there's very few games that's more than two goals. They're always very, very tight. It was a well put on event, it was very good."

In all, the experience across the three-day weekend left coaches pleased with the overall way things ran.

"We really love the atmosphere that surrounds [the tournament]," KCFC coach Huw Williams told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "When you warm up your teams you see the other games going on, and it's just quality games all the way around."

The next ECNL Showcase is scheduled for a little more than a month away in San Diego, California on March 31.

"It's a quick turnaround, but I'm looking forward to it, and I hope the teams are as well," Noftsinger said of the next showcase. "San Diego is going to be pretty neat. It's a constantly evolving entity, and each time we want to improve, improve, improve."

Categories: Youth Articles