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Updated: 2 years 30 weeks ago

Sneak Peak at TopDrawerSoccer.com 5.0

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 5:53am

Every year, we plan new features and improvements to make TopDrawerSoccer.com more robust, user-friendly, and valuable to you. Well, this year is no different - and marks the biggest change to the site since we launched the revamped version in April of 2008.
For the last six months, we have been rebuilding our site from the ground up on a faster, more stable, and more dynamic platform that will allow us to release new features and respond to feedback quicker. This also means our users will experience improved browsing with fewer crashes and errors. (For those techies out there who are interested, our new platform is Java based instead of PHP).
And not only have we revamped our entire backend (ie. the engine that powers our site), but we have given almost every element of our site a facelift leaving no stone unturned. Here is a rundown of the new features you can expect to see soon.
Improved navigationRather than having many nested menus that were often difficult to use, we are putting all the pages of our site in one, easy to read menu for each section. Additionally, we have created separate sections that will default to men's/boys' or women's/girls' content. Click here for a sneak peak.
New HomepageWe've made some graphical enhancements to our homepage to put the features you most enjoy right at your fingertips. Want to see it?
New RankingsNot only are our rankings getting a complete overhaul, but we've introduced new rankings. We have expanded our Top 100 lists to 150 and are now including four graduation classes. We will still continue to have Regional Rankings, but we are also introducing Position rankings, which will only be available to our Premier Members. Additionally, TeamRank will now consist of the top 50 teams in each age group across the nation.
Enhanced SearchHave you ever been looking for a player and then wanted to quickly see a list of commitments or even other articles? With our new search module we are putting all of our databases in the same place for easy access. No more searching for the correct search area, they are all in one place. Check it out.
New User ProfilesA brand new feature to TopDrawerSoccer.com is our new User Profile area. Now, once you have become a registered user, you can control all your settings from our User Profile area. Have a subscription? Change the subscription type, credit card info, or renewal options from within this new account settings area.
New Players To Watch FeaturesWe have finally made it easy to update your profile. As a player, you will now have control over your profile like never before. No longer will you have to wait for updates to take affect (unless you are uploading a new photo) as any changes to your profile will be immediate. And you will be able to access your profile information from within the same User Profile interface as all of your account settings. See it now.
We have also added some exciting new features for our subscribers:
  • Add links to videos that showcase your skills and abilities as an elite player without having to upload them to our site.
  • Add your Academic Honors such as GPA and test scores.
  • College Submissions - Send your direct profile link to the TopDrawerSoccer.com inbox of all the NCAA coaches. (Limit of 25 submissions for the life of the player. We do not guarantee a response or recruitment from college coaches or college programs.)
  • Add links to articles in which you have appeared that are not on TopDrawerSoccer.com
  • Event Calendar - Let college coaches know where you will be performing by adding all your events for the entire year.
 MobileDuring college season we debuted our mobile site in addition to our Android application. Currently, our mobile site only contains college content. But in 2012 we plan on creating a fully functional mobile site that contains all the same great content you currently find on the desktop version of TopDrawerSoccer.com.
Club Scoreboard2011 saw the rebirth of the Official NSCAA College Scoreboard. In 2012 we plan to introduce the Official Club Scoreboard. We will start modestly, including data from the U.S. Soccer Development Academy and ECNL, but plan on expanding to include all major leagues and tournaments.
And don't worry, if you happen to land on a page that doesn't exist, you will be met with one of the most respected people in the soccer community... Find out who it is.
We thank you for your continued support as we improve the #1 College and Club Soccer Destination. Please send comments or feedback to  ' ); document.write( addy_text85919 ); 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 recap: February 11-12

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 5:16am

CASL and North Carolina Fusion were the last two teams in the Atlantic Division to start division play, but that made no difference over the weekend when the two Academies captured three wins and one draw in four games.

CASL began Saturday with a thunderous 7-1 victory over Virginia Rush U18. Diego Rodriguez was the star of the show with three goals in 30 minutes after coming on as a second half substitute. The remarkable performance was only heightened by the fact Rodriguez was making his first appearance in the Development Academy.

CASL's Eric O'BrienIn the U16 game, CASL scored twice in the final ten minutes to defeat division leaders Virginia Rush, 3-2. Eric O'Brien had two goals in the game for CASL, and Evan Deycaza scored the game-winner with six minutes left on the clock.

On Sunday, the defense stepped up for CASL in a pair of 1-0 wins over the Richmond Kickers.

NC Fusion also had a great showing in Virginia with the U18 team collecting two wins. The first victory came against the Richmond Kickers on Saturday. Fusion's star center midfielder Warren Marshall scored in the first and last minute to help his team to a 3-2 win. On Sunday, Fusion claimed a 3-1 victory over Virginia Rush.

For the NC Fusion U16, Andre Fortune, Brandt Bronico, and Julian Montoya all scored in a 4-2 win over the Kickers. The lone blemish for the NC clubs came on Sunday in a 0-0 draw against the Virginia Rush U16.

West Conference:

Despite the absence of head coach Eddie Soto, who is with the U.S. beach soccer national team in Mexico, LA Galaxy U18 continued its winning ways with a 2-1 victory over Pateadores. The U16 Galaxy cruised to a 4-0 victory over Pateadores thanks to a hat trick from Justin Dhillon.    

Out in Arizona, RSL-AZ U18 crushed Santa Cruz Breakers 5-0 behind goals from Nick Semintendi, Maikon Orrellana, Casey Arick, and Dylan Kelly. In the U16 game, the Breakers started strong with two first half goals from Lynden Gooch and Hardip Singh.

But RSL-AZ answered in the second half, when Trevor Hyman, Benjamin Lopez, and Jose Navarro all scored within 28 minutes of the start of the second half to give RSL-AZ a 3-2 lead. Yet, an own goal by RSL-AZ in the final seven minutes ended the game in a 3-3 draw. In Northern California, Cal Odyssey U18's Tren Biswell and Gregory Antognoli each scored in the opening 20 minutes, but Arsenal scored three times over the next 30 minutes to claim a 3-2 win on the road.

Joab Santoyo and Jose Garcia led Arsenal U16 to a 2-0 shutout victory over Cal Odyssey to improve to 8-2-4 on the season.

Out on the coast, San Jose Earthquakes split a pair of games against Real So Cal. In the U18 game, Real So Cal won 2-1, while the Quakes won 3-1 in the U16 clash.

Central Conference:

Christian Duarte and Leobardo Vazquez each scored twice for Texans SC Houston U18 in a 4-3 win over Lonestar SC on Saturday. In the later game, Alejandro Labastida and Abraham Lopez contributed second-half goals in a 2-0 win for Lonestar U16.

Out at FC Dallas Sports Park, Daniel Garcia scored early in the game in a 1-0 win for FC Dallas U18 over Houston Dynamo. FC Dallas U16 scored five goals in 30 minutes en route to a 5-1 victory in the later game.

South Conference:

McLean Youth Soccer U18 still holds the top spot in the Atlantic Division after a 1-1 draw against Charlotte on Saturday. McLean is now 5-0-1 in division play this season. In the U16 game, Charlotte won 1-0 over McLean to jump to third in the division standings.

*Note: Not all game scores were available at time of publication.

J.R. Eskilson is a staff reporter at TopDrawerSoccer.com. Follow him on or send him an ' ); document.write( addy_text38870 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //-->\n ' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ' ); //--> .

Categories: Youth Articles

Alex Morgan scores twice to beat New Zealand

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 9:45am

U.S. forward Alex Morgan tallied the tying and game-winning goals in the closing minutes as the U.S. Women's National Team came from behind to defeat New Zealand 2-1 in front of a sellout crowd of 25,677 at FC Dallas Stadium.

Just minutes from losing a hard-fought match in which New Zealand proved to be an opponent with big heart and gritty intensity, the USA gave the home fans plenty to cheer about in a wild and dramatic final few minutes.

The U.S. had given up a goal on a poor back pass in the first few minutes of the second half - which proved to be the Kiwis only shot on goal in the game - and then spent the remainder of the match desperately pushing for an equalizer. In the 88th minute, second half substitution Megan Rapinoe crossed the ball from the right side and found Morgan at the far post. Morgan headed the ball down to the ground and her shot hit the inside of the left post and spun up into the goal. New Zealand goalkeeper Jenny Bindon grabbed the ball, but she was standing inside her goal, and the assistant referee did not hesitate to raise her flag, signaling that the ball had in fact crossed over the line.

With the momentum in their favor, the U.S. pushed for the game-winner and in the third minute of stoppage time, Morgan found the net once again on a header for her 16th career goal. With the final whistle just second from blowing, Rachel Buehler crossed from the left wing and Abby Wambach flicked the ball up in the air. Morgan jumped over a defender to win the header near the left post, sending her bouncing shot back off the right post with the perfect carom and into the net. Morgan was named But Light Woman of the Match with her two late tallies that are believed to be the latest goals scored by one player in a U.S. WNT game.

"It wasn't meant to be like that; I had other expectations in the first half, but I'll take the result any day," said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. "We made it really, really exciting. As Alex Morgan said after the game, 'there's something to be said about this team. We refuse to lose.' We always want to win. We did some things tactically that I was really happy about - playing a 3-4-3 the last 12-14 minutes going for a goal. It's a great attitude."

The U.S. improved to 6-0-0 on the year and 8-1-0 against New Zealand. The USA has won its past eight matches against the Ferns.

The late-game heroics from Morgan offset the efforts of a determined New Zealand side that did not back down after gaining the lead early in the 49 th minute. The Kiwis goal came off an ill-advised back pass from left back Kelley O'Hara, who looped a long ball back into the U.S. penalty area that second half substitute goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart could not get to before forward Hannah Wilkinson raced in to lift a shot over the onrushing 'keeper and into the net. Barnhart, who was a planned substitution for Hope Solo to open the second half, saw her first action of 2012 and earned her 42nd career cap.

Solo extended her scoreless streak this year to 495 minutes but did not have to record a save in her 45 minutes of work.

The goal was the first goal allowed by the USA this year after outscoring its opponents 38-0 in five matches to win 2012 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying and earn a berth for the 2012 London Olympics.

The USA tried to respond quickly following Wilkinson's goal. In the 57th minute, second-half sub Amy Rodriguez - who played very well on the left wing during her 45 minutes - took the ball down the left flank and crossed through the box to U.S. right back Amy LePeilbet. LePeilbet sent the ball back into the middle and found Wambach, but her header went directly to Bindon.

In the 67th minute, Rapinoe got her head on a Lauren Cheney corner kick from the right side and put it on frame, but Bindon safely covered up the attempt and did not allow a rebound as Buehler crashed the goal.

The hectic finish might had been avoided had the U.S. scored early, and it had a golden chance to do so after just 10 minutes when Morgan was tripped up in the box on what might have been a last defender foul. Wambach took the subsequent penalty kick, but rolled her shot off the left post as Bindon dove right. New Zealand cleared out of danger before any U.S. player could follow up.

The Ferns escaped that early threat and found their first strong scoring opportunity in the 12th minute as the speedy Wilkinson got behind the USA's pushed-up back line. U.S. defenders Buehler and Christie Rampone scrambled back, and just before they could get in Wilkinson's path, she took a shot that went over Solo's glove and also rose over the crossbar.

Next up for the U.S. WNT is the 2012 Algarve Cup in Portugal. The U.S. opens group play against Denmark on Feb. 29 at Municipal Stadium in Lagos, Portugal (12 p.m. kickoff).

Additional Match Notes:

  • This is the first time the U.S. WNT has won a match in which it trailed in the 80th minute or later. The previous standard came during a 3-2 win against Mexico in Costa Rica during the qualifying tournament for the 2004 Olympics. The USA fell behind Mexico 2-0 in the first 15 minutes, Lindsay Tarpley pulled a goal back just before halftime, tied the match in the 79th minute on a goal from Abby Wambach and won the game with an 84th minute goal from Julie Foudy.
  •  The USA piled up a 9-1 shots on goal, and a 19-7 overall shots advantage over New Zealand for the match.
  • The sell-out crowd was the largest to watch the U.S. women on home soil in more than eight years.
  •  Center back and team captain Rampone earned her 250th career cap on Saturday becoming only the fourth U.S. player to reach that mark. Only Kristine Lilly (352), Mia Hamm (275) and Julie Foudy (271) have played in more matches with the U.S. WNT.
  •  With temperatures in the mid-30s at kickoff, it was one of the coldest matches the U.S. women have played in its history.

Lineups:


USA: 1-Hope Solo (18-Nicole Barnhart, 46); 6-Amy LePeilbet, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 19-Rachel Buehler, 5-Kelley O'Hara (11-Sydney Leroux, 81); 9-Heather O'Reilly (8-Amy Rodriguez, 46), 7-Shannon Boxx, 10-Carli Lloyd (15-Megan Rapinoe, 62), 12-Lauren Cheney (16-Lori Lindsey, 81); 13-Alex Morgan, 20-Abby Wambach 
Subs not used: 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 17-Tobin Heath


Head coach: Pia Sundhage

NZL: 1-Jenny Bindon; 2-Ria Percival, 5-Abbey Erceg, 6-Rebecca Smith (capt.), 7-Ali Riley; 4-Katie Hoyle, 8-Hayley Moorwood (12-Betsy Hassett, 61), 11-Kirsty Yallop, 9-Amber Hearn, 10-Sarah Gregorius, 17-Hannah Wilkinson (13-Rosie White, 74) 
Subs not used: 3-Anna Green, 14-Holly Patterson, 16-Annalie Longo, 19-Kristy Hill, 21-Erin Nayler 


Head coach: Tony Readings

Categories: Youth Articles

Galaxy Academy at ease with two wins

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 6:44am

COSTA MESA, Calif. - - Neither the wind nor Pateadores could slow down the Galaxy Academy on Saturday. LA collected victories in both Development Academy games despite limited numbers due to injuries on the U18 team.

William Raygoza, who was playing up an age, was the difference maker in the U18 game. The suave midfielder found the back of the net in the 20th minute to give the Galaxy an early lead and facilitated much of the offense on the day for the MLS Academy.

Drew Murphy started the play to set up Raygoza's goal. Murphy hit a long cross to the far post, which Sebastian Velasquez knocked down for Raygoza. The U18 national team player placed his shot into the upper corner for the opening tally.

Alejandro VergaraGalaxy nearly doubled its lead ten minutes later when Velasquez sliced through the defense and slipped a pass onto the foot of Jaime Villarreal. Pateadores keeper Connor Gaal saved the forward's one-time shot, but the rebound landed back on Villarreal's foot.

Again he hammered the effort toward net on his first touch, but a Pateadores defender blocked the shot off the line with his chest.

"It started out great," Galaxy Academy coach Kenny Arena told TopDrawerSoccer.com about the U18 team's performance. "Once they got tired though, it sort of died down."

Arena cited the massive field that caused fatigue in some legs, and also left space for counterattacks, which the Pateadores capitalized on right before half.

The lone Pateadores tally came from TJ Casner, who was set free on goal by a great pass from Cameron Waymire. Casner lofted the bouncing ball over the keeper and into the empty net.

In the second half, it was one-way traffic with Galaxy taking command of the game thanks to the silky combination play of Raygoza, Velasquez, and Villarreal.

Three minutes into the second stanza, Villarreal nearly punished a massive blunder by Gaal. The keeper waited too long with the ball on his foot, and Villarreal closed enough space to block his clearance attempt. Gaal saved the embarrassing moment though, as he dove and swatted the ball away from the forward before it crossed the end line.

Galaxy would not be denied the three points and substitute Mario Rodriguez provided the right spark for the game-winning goal. The US Residency Program product supplied a perfectly weighted pass to Velasquez, who found the back of the net for the third time this season.

Galaxy U18 is now 5-1-0 in division play with an upcoming fixture against SoCal leaders Chivas USA next weekend.

In the U16 game, Pateadores and Galaxy were evenly matched in the first half, as neither team really took command of the match, but that quickly changed after half time.

Justin Dhillon scored three goals in 27 minutes in the second half and Galaxy U16 cruised to a 4-0 victory.  

Dhillon's first goal came basically out of nowhere. The tall winger received the ball on the touchline and immediately cut toward the middle of the field as challengers bounced off him.

The 16-year-old surprisingly tried his luck from 30 yards out, and rendered the keeper helpless with a well-placed shot into the upper corner of the net only two minutes after the break.  

"I don't think they settled down until that great goal from Justin [Dhillon]," said Arena. "They've found a way to continue to improve not just during the game, but through the whole season."

Six minutes later, Dhillon doubled the Galaxy lead thanks to a splendid pass from Martin Arrieta, which led the winger in stride behind the defense for a semi-volley over the charging keeper and into the net.

In the 69th minute, Dhillon completed the hat trick with an easy finish from only eight yards out. Alejandro Vergara was the provider for the final goal. The 14-year-old slipped the pass in between multiple defenders to Dhillon for his final goal of the game.

Kevin Labastida recorded the final tally of the day only a few minutes later. After Rolando Munoz's free kick bounced off the post, Labastida was in the right place for an easy tap in.

Galaxy U16 improves to 4-1-1 in division play, while Pateadores drops to 2-3-2.

Lineups:

Galaxy U18: Juan Cervantes; Oscar Sorto, Jeffery Payeras, Javan Torre, Nathan Smith; Grady Howe, Drew Murphy, Abel Leon, William Raygoza, Sebastian Velasquez; Jamie Villarreal

Pateadores U18: Connor Gaal; Francisco Varela, Weston Meckes, Kevin Caskey, Derek Paterson; Jack Gorab, Angel Maldonado, Brian Vall, Alvin Ballesteros; Roberto Escudero, Robert Casner

Galaxy U16: Daniil Slepukhin; Nathan Castillo, Justin Schottenhammer, Ivan Vasquez, Rolando Munoz; Aaron Lombardi, Juan Arellano, Bryan Guzman, Justin Dhillon, Alejandro Vergara; Martin Arrieta

Pateadores U16: Brandon Gomez; Arturo Fragoso, Colin McDermott, Alex Rosales, Corey Schramm; Danny Lopez, Arend Doppenberg, William Cline, Jose Castillo; Nahum Paz, Kevin Delatorre

Follow J.R. ESKILSON on
Categories: Youth Articles

Development Academy moves to 10-month schedule

Sat, 02/11/2012 - 2:14am

The U.S. Soccer Development Academy has announced it is moving to a 10-month season starting with the 2012-13 season.

After receiving overwhelming support from the Development Academy membership, the Academy is moving to a schedule beginning in the fall of 2012 that runs from September through June (or July based on postseason play). This creates a format that is similar to those followed by the elite soccer playing nations around the world as the Development Academy and U.S. Soccer continue their goal of closing the performance gap with the top soccer nations.

"If we want our players to someday compete against the best in the world, it is critical for their development that they train and play as much as possible and in the right environment," said U.S. Men's National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. "The Development Academy 10-month season is the right formula and provides a good balance between training time and playing competitive matches. This is the model that the best countries around the world use for their programs, and I think it makes perfect sense that we do as well."

A number of clubs already have switched to the 10-month season and have seen substantial improvement (Western Conference, Texas Division). U.S. Soccer recognizes there might be challenges during the transition process and will work with individual clubs to make this swift transition as easy as possible.

Claudio ReynaMoving to a 10-month season means players can focus on training together three or four times per week and play meaningful games on the weekend nearly year-round. Fewer games and an extended season will allow for the addition of a substantial number of extra training sessions, which are the primary vehicle for player development.

The 10-month season allows for a greater opportunity to institute a style of play and implement a system according to U.S. Soccer's Curriculum as well as build team chemistry. It also gives teams increased opportunities for younger kids in their club to "play up" against older players in both training and matches, thereby accelerating their development.

Read more: Development Academy coaches talk about move to 10-month schedule 

"Going to a 10-month season is an important step in the evolution of elite player development," said U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director Claudio Reyna. "The format provides the ideal platform to place an increased emphasis on the value of training on a regular basis, and offers the opportunity to play in quality, competitive games throughout an extended season. This schedule puts our elite players in line with kids in their age group internationally, and places the appropriate physical demands at this stage in their development.

"The addition of a significant number of training sessions per year will enhance the ability of players to develop," said Reyna. "Along with the support of our membership, this move has been greeted with enthusiasm from leading soccer nations around the world."

U.S. Soccer created the Development Academy in 2007 to improve the everyday environment for the elite youth player. The Development Academy is a partnership between U.S. Soccer and the top youth clubs around the country to provide the best youth players in the U.S. with an everyday environment designed to produce the next generation of National Team players.

 

Categories: Youth Articles

2012 id2 National Selection International Tour

Fri, 02/10/2012 - 8:38pm
The 18-player roster for US Club Soccer's 2012 id2 National Selection International Tour has been finalized in advance of the Feb. 17-27 journey to Spain, where the team will face FC Barcelona and Atlético Madrid, as well as a combined match against RCD Espanyol and UE Cornellà.
 
A total of 15 clubs and 11 states are represented on the roster (below), which is comprised of a team of male players born in 1998 selected from the two Fall 2011 id2 Program Training Camps.
 
The squad will face four opponents while overseas in addition to conducting training sessions and experiencing the day-to-day culture of some of the world's most well-known professional clubs. The players will have the opportunity to see some of Spain's largest cities, including Barcelona and Madrid.
 
A day after arriving in Barcelona, the id2 National Selection will take on both UE Cornellà and RCD Espanyol for one half each on Sun., Feb. 19. The matches will take place at the home ground of UE Cornellà with the first contest starting at 8:50 a.m. local time (2:50 a.m. ET).
 
The team will tour the famous L'Estadi Camp Nou on Mon., Feb. 20, a day before facing FC Barcelona at the club's official training complex - Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper. Kickoff on Tue., Feb. 21 is set for 7 p.m. local time (1 p.m. ET).
 
After transferring to Madrid, the id2 National Selection will close out its competitive schedule at 8 p.m. local time (2 p.m. ET) on Thurs., Feb. 23 against Atlético Madrid. The match is slated to take place at Ciudad del Fútbol in Las Rozas, the headquarters of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), the governing body of soccer in Spain.
 
The team will cap off the trip by attending the FC Barcelona vs. Atlético Madrid La Liga game at Estadio Vicente Calderón on Sun., Feb. 26.
 
Joining the squad as a member of the traveling party will be 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.
 
"We are very excited to have such a great collection of talented young players from all over the country assembled for the 2012 id2 National Selection International Tour," said Gerry McKeown, US Club Soccer's id2 Boys' Program Director. "They will have a tremendous opportunity to not only compete against the youth academies from some of the world's best clubs, but also to take in Spanish culture and experience life in a different country."
 
Two of the players are veterans of the 2011 id2 National Selection International Tour, as Logan Panchot and Kevin Silva will return to the id2 National Selection squad.
 
Consistent with US Club Soccer's philosophy that there should be zero or very little cost for participation in the id2 Program, US Club Soccer is funding the tour in conjunction with the strong support of Nike. There is no cost to players.
 
Once again this year, fans will be able to follow the id2 National Selection International Tour through video journals and updates posted on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. To take a look back at last year's id2 National Selection International Tour, follow the links below.
 
The 2012 id2 National Selection International Tour was coordinated in conjunction with Premier International Tours, The Official International Tour Partner of US Club Soccer.
 
ROSTER:
Harry Adanuty, Christian Albelo, Danny Barbir, George Braima, Chaz Burnett, Jonathan Navarro, Matthew Olosunde, A.J. Palazzolo, Logan Panchot, Christian Pulisic, Elijah Rice, Juan Riley, Chad Sahinkaya, Kevin Silva, Jack Skahan, Raheem Taylor-Parkes, Suniel Veerakone, Andrew Verdi
 
Head of Delegation:  Tom Atencio (Portland, Ore.)
Head Coach:  Gerry McKeown (Summit, N.J.)
Assistant Coach:  Benjamin Ziemer (Sebastopol, Calif.)
 
GAME SCHEDULE:
  •     Sun., Feb. 19 | vs. UE Cornellà & RCD Espanyol | Home ground of UE Cornellà | 8:50 a.m. CET (2:50 a.m. ET)
  •     Tue., Feb. 21 | at FC Barcelona | Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper | 7 p.m. CET (1 p.m. ET)
  •     Thu., Feb. 23 | vs. Atlético Madrid | Ciudad del Fútbol | 8 p.m. CET (2 p.m. ET)
Categories: Youth Articles

True To Life Story on Youth Soccer continues

Fri, 02/10/2012 - 2:26am

The United Chronicles is a fictional account of an elite youth soccer team. Any similarity in names to real-life personalities is a total accident.  Any themes reminiscent of real-life situations is intriguing. Click to read Chapter 1Chapter 2 and Chapter 3. The hotel room alarm switched on and Derek awoke to a deep-voiced announcer speaking in Spanish. It was still dark at 5 a.m. and he had to do a quick recalculation to remind himself where he was. Sometimes on the road, especially if he awoke in the middle of the night, it could take him minutes to remember. He'd even called the front desk before to ask a bemused clerk where on earth he was. But this time it took just a few seconds to remember, and the early wake-up reminded him he was about to lead his U14 Boys team into a tournament for the first time. The parents and players were both excited when Derek had informed them they would be competing in a top Labor Day event. Even as the squad rolled through its first few State League games with ease in August, everyone had the big tournament on his mind. This team had won tournaments before, but Derek made it clear that it would need to start testing itself regularly against the best competition in the region and country, and the Labor Day Tourney was the first chance to do so. Derek tended to hide his emotions, and he's been through these things before, but he had to admit he was anticipating the event himself. The way the team had responded in training, the way it had  crushed its early-season opposition, and especially the way most of the players were really picking up on what he wanted, was giving Derek reason to believe Warren was right about this team in particular having the ability to be something special. He also was finding his time with the team to be something of a refuge, because he found himself spending a lot more time on administrative tasks as part of his role as director ("interim director" he reminded himself often). The original plan was for him to coach four teams, and that was reduced to two after Warren's stroke and Derek's promotion, but even the 2nd team, the U17 Girls team, he was basically co-coaching with Charlie McIntosh, the coach he was getting to know and trust a bit more than the rest of the staff. So as he showered he was thinking through the morning routine, but he digressed to the few weeks since his after-dinner meeting with Pamela. He had trained her son Trevor a few times and he had to admit the boy did have some real potential, although his attitude would need to improve. At the sessions he had been polite but relatively short in his dealings with Pamela. She always brought coffee and he took a few perfunctory sips, but made a point to leave immediately after the session, also vetoing her suggestion that he conduct the training sessions at her home. For this trip, Pamela had called him to offer herself as a chauffeur for the journey, noting that the long drive would offer the chance "for us to get to know each other." She had also mentioned that Trevor would be going with another family, and pointed out that by using her as his travel service, he could pocket most of the travel money the club gave coaches. Derek recognized the problem with this arrangement just on the appearance level, but still he wondered just how she had been allowed to conduct herself like this with her older son's team. When he got to the room where the team breakfast would take place, he was happy to see two players, Todd Schleuter and Ruben Lomeli, already on hand. Todd was a somewhat nondescript player but a good team personality, while Ruben was a player just added to the team via a recommendation to Derek by a coach from another town. Ruben had been playing on an unaffiliated team and was definitely from the other side of the tracks compared to most of the other players on the team. Derek had gone to see him and knew in about 10 minutes he was someone worth bringing in, even on full scholarship. Todd's dad was there as well, drinking coffee and reading the sports page from the morning paper. Mr. Schleuter had agreed to sponsor Ruben on the trip and Derek wondered if it was out of compassion for the player's plight or because he thought it would improve his own son's standing on the team. "Pay to Play has a way of making a lot of things complicated," Derek thought. The team began trickling in and as everyone had breakfast, the players seemed upbeat, while most parents were relatively quiet, except for Mickey Hilliard's mom Karen who was far too much of a morning person for everyone's liking. Derek took a moment to tell the team that the things they do in preparing for matches mattered, and reminded them that these would be the toughest games they'd had in their team's history. He also reminded the parents that he expected their behavior to be a cut above what they were used to, and to strictly avoid any kind of coaching from the sideline. Pamela nodded vigorously in agreement to this, while a couple of other parents seemed agitated by his words. The matches couldn't have gone any better. United took its opening match 2-0 and then won a 4-1 decision in the afternoon. Already sure of a semifinal berth, he used some of the bench players a bit more in the Sunday morning match and was very pleased with the response in a 3-1 win. In Sunday afternoon's semifinal game, Froggy Barazza scored with just a couple of minutes remaining for a 2-1 win over a highly-rated team from Texas, and just like that the team was in the final. At the team dinner that evening the mood was very upbeat and Derek even allowed himself to enjoy a friendly conversation with Pamela in front of the whole room. He knew here effusive compliments were probably well overstated, but he realized he enjoyed hearing it from the beautiful woman. "Is tonight the big night?" Jerry Anderson whispered to Margie Heffner as they eyed Derek and Pamela from across the table.  "If it hasn't happened already," Margie replied. "Then again, he does seem a little more in control of himself than some of the others. I don't know if she's quite figured him out yet." "Well she can figure me out anytime she likes," Jerry responded, cracking Margie up. As happy as everyone seemed to be Sunday evening, there was no preparing for the letdown Labor Day morning when United lost in the final to another highly-rated team, this one from Michigan, 3-1. Derek talked for a few minutes after the game and, he hoped, set a tone by not getting too down over the loss.  "You're doing a lot of good things but you are not the only good team at this level," he said. "When you have moments like these you have to determine just how badly you want to be the best.  You say you do, but only time can tell. You have to approach training with an idea of getting better every time. That's what it takes." After the trip home, Derek made some dinner in his apartment. He watched a little TV and was just about to turn in when there was a knock on the door. He glanced at the clock, 10:30 p.m. He moved quietly to the door and peered through the peephole. It was Pamela. Next Week - Chapter 5: An Unexpected Visit
Categories: Youth Articles

Martin Vasquez is very happy at RSL-AZ

Fri, 02/10/2012 - 2:08am
 The position of Technical Director at Real Salt Lake-Arizona, the residency program of the Utah MLS team, has become a revolving door for highly qualified coaches in youth soccer over the last year.   Greg Vanney first took on the job in June of 2010. After six months of holding the role, Vanney was offered the spot as Robin Fraser's assistant coach at Chivas USA.  Mike Munoz stepped in on an interim basis to finish the year; yet again he left RSL-AZ to take a position on Chivas USA's coaching staff over the summer.  But it appears RSL has finally found a long-term solution in Martin Vasquez, who was hired by RSL in July of 2011 as the Director of Operations for RSL-AZ.  Vasquez was Klinsmann's right hand man at Bayern Munich.Previously, Vasquez was famously the assistant coach with Jurgen Klinsmann at Bayern Munich and later the head coach of Chivas USA. Currently, he has an on-going role as the assistant coach with the U.S. men's national team, also under Klinsmann, but his full-time responsibilities are with RSL-AZ.   "I am very happy," Vasquez told TopDrawerSoccer.com regarding his new job. "I feel like I can make an impact here. I can help develop players. I have some experience, so I am enjoying it very much." The rest of the RSL-AZ coaches are thrilled to have someone with Vasquez's expertise on the staff.  "It is great," said staff coach Freddy Juarez. "You pick up a lot of stuff from him, there is an excitement, a buzz about the coaching staff. And he has so much experience, but he is always listening to suggestions from the other coaches." Juarez also gave a ton of credit to Vanney and Munoz who helped develop the foundation for RSL-AZ, which is built on technical ability and possession-oriented tactics. U.S. Soccer scored RSL-AZ's style of play favorably in the end of the year report cards handed out to every Development Academy.  The style of play has not changed much from one technical director to the next, and Vasquez spoke about how the technical ability of the players is important for pushing them to the next level.  "My main responsibility is to help these players develop and give them an opportunity with the first team," said Vasquez. "Last year, we signed two boys to first team contracts. Hopefully in the future, we will have more." As a residency academy, RSL-AZ is challenged with finding players who are willing to move to Arizona, which can be a bit of a difficulty given the novelty of the idea.  "I think word still doesn't get out there too much, maybe inside the Academy it does, but most of our players come from outside the Academy," said Juarez. "We still need to get the word out more. Most of our players are coming from word-of-mouth." Another area where Vasquez is helping is the publicity and connections for the residency, which is based in Casa Grande, Arizona. Carlos Salcedo, the starting center back for RSL-AZ U18, is a family friend of Vasquez. He joined the Academy after spending the last couple of seasons with Mexican club Tigres' youth system.  The inaugural success of the RSL-AZ program also attracted some notable prospects to the lone U.S.-based MLS residency program, namely U.S. youth international Jordan Allen.  "[Allen] has been doing very well, he is one of our impact players," said Vasquez. "He is hot right now, so we continue to get him the ball and have him run at defenders." Allen, who is 16-years-old, has been moved up to the U18 team in recent games and performed exceptionally well.  Time will tell for the future of the players, but it looks like the revolving door may have stopped in just the right spot with Vasquez.
Categories: Youth Articles

Arizona club looking to shock ECNL

Thu, 02/09/2012 - 3:01am

SC del Sol stands in the middle of one of the fiercest rivalries in the ECNL. But the talented U18 team isn't there to mediate, they want in on the battle.



Through the first half of the season the Arizona club has proven it belongs. With a record of 7-2-0, SC del Sol is right in the thick of a Mountain West Conference race that features Real Colorado and Colorado Rush. 



They've defeated both teams this season, giving the unsung group reason to believe that they could unseat the Colorado couple.



"They are both strong teams," said SC del Sol coach Les Armstrong. "Both teams have exceptional players that really put us in a tough bracket. It's a matter of us being organized at the right time. We're confident we can do well and we like our chances to reach nationals."



Colorado Rush's Lindsey HoranAs they should be.



SC del Sol is highlighted by one of the top goal-scorers in the country, Cali Farquharson who has a whopping 18 scores and six assists this season.

She is complimented by fellow attackers Emily Paxton and McKenzie Berryhill and U.S. U18 camp goaltender Laura Glew.

But then, all the contenders are loaded with talent, aren't they?



The Colorado Rush have one of the most devastating scorers in the country, in U.S. U18 star Lindsey Horan, while Real Colorado has Layla Brown and company.

The Mountain West U18s are set to return from their two-month break in action later this month. It's the final hurrah for this age group, many of whom have already ironed out their college plans as they enjoy the twilight of their high school careers.

The degree to which coaches can keep their players' minds from wandering could end up being the difference in who emerges on top.

For coach Armstrong, that challenge will be tackled with a team retreat.

"We'll take a couple days and have an outing. We put together a curriculum that we'll go over just to cover the basics of what we want tactically as a group," he said. "We have to keep good team unity and buy into the fact that it's not just about getting into college, but representing your club and trying to develop. I told the team, 'let's see if we can finish the job.'



"It would be unusual to see a team from Arizona win the whole thing."

Categories: Youth Articles

Controversy surrounds MLS' Home Grown rule

Thu, 02/09/2012 - 12:20am

This is part two of an article on the MLS Home Grown rule. Please read part one: HERE.

One of the biggest holes in the idea of the player identification lists is what happens when a player moves from one academy to another, which is currently transpiring between RSL and Chivas USA in the case of U.S. U18 forward Ben Spencer.

Spencer is from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and spent last year at RSL-AZ after being scouted at U.S. U15 national team camp by former RSL-AZ residency directors Greg Vanney and Mike Munoz.

After a season with RSL-AZ, Spencer followed Vanney and Munoz to Chivas USA, where he trains with the first team and starts for the Chivas USA U18 team.

"I would simply say the rights to Ben Spencer are in dispute," said RSL General Manager Garth Lagerwey.

Ben SpencerExplaining how Spencer is eligible for a Los Angeles MLS academy despite being from New Mexico is another part of the rules that are not public.

"We have a limited number of out of territory exceptions," said Lagerwey. "Every MLS team gets at least one. Teams in smaller markets get a couple more."

Delving deeper into the financial logistics of the contract, the Home Grown deals are set aside from the salary cap restrictions in a manner similar to Generation adidas contracts.

"The Home Grown roster has a budget attached to it, which is pretty significant, with the idea that there is a finite amount of money reserved for signing Home Grown players," said Lagerwey, who said the budget was in the six figures.

"These Home Grown players don't count on your cap if you keep them within, what is effectively, a Home Grown player salary budget. So in that sense, it operates very much like a Generation adidas program on a team-by-team basis."

Wheeler added that the role of the Home Grown Player contract is quickly surpassing the Generation adidas deal, in terms of the best option for young players.  

"We used to have Generation adidas contracts as the best deal for these players," said Wheeler. "Now, Generation adidas deals are going to be slowly phased out by Home Grown deals as being the best deals. You aren't going have as many kids unidentified by MLS academies."

"The league doesn't care how a kid gets in as long as he signs with MLS," Wheeler added.  

Lagerway called it a collective effort in the advancement of the rule to ensure the best players in the country ended up in MLS.  

"This is some pretty normal growing pains, as we try to figure out what the best system is not just for MLS, but also U.S. Soccer," said Lagerwey. "For the youth stuff, we are all in this together. It does us no good to develop players who can only play in MLS but not the national team. It doesn't do us any good if we aren't able to get all the best players in the country to play for MLS Academy teams."

"Those are things that everybody agrees on and are desirable. There is a learning process and a development process that is going on and hopefully once the rules get settled, then I think all of the stuff will be a lot clearer."

Till then, MLS continues to dive further into the rabbit hole to settle the fragile framework of the current Home Grown rules.

Categories: Youth Articles

Move to Midatlantic is just fine for Ohio Elite

Wed, 02/08/2012 - 11:57pm

The Ohio Elite U16 Girls have moved to the ECNL Midatlantic Conference this season after spending the last few seasons in the Midwest, which has made for a "unique situation" according to head coach Tim Lesiak.  

"We are in a pretty unique situation because we moved to the Midatlantic Conference this year, so we are playing a lot of teams we don't normally get to play," said Lesiak. "For us, we get the best of both worlds because we play cross-conference games, against old rivals like Michigan Hawks, and now new teams in this conference."

With a 4-0-0 record to start conference this season, the move appears to have fit the team pretty well. Lesiak attributes a collective effort from all of his players to the great start to the season.  

"We aren't giving up a lot of goals," said Lesiak. "I think that is because of our organization on the field and team defending."

Maranda MeltonThe coach went on to describe his team's style of play as unrelenting high-pressure with a focus on possession when it wins the ball back. And like many teams, Ohio Elite has set its focus on qualifying for the National Finals at the end of the season.

While it has been a group effort to maintain four clean sheets in seven games, Lesiak highlights the play of his four defenders and two goalkeepers for their tireless effort to lead the team to a 6-1-0 overall record.

"We have played with the same back four for every game, except for an injury here or there," said Lesiak. "The normal back four have been playing together for three years. When you talk about consistency, it comes from those kids playing so much together."

Lesiak's normal defense consists of Lauren Heger, Madeleine Pescovitz, Darby Schwarz, and Megan Niebuhr. The coach also highlighted the play of the goalkeepers Brooke Mauro and Anna Hall who he said are "playing the best they have ever played."

Offensively, Maddie Huster is the standout. Huster, who is a member of the U15 national team, plays as a center midfielder for Ohio Elite.

"We kind of roll with how Maddie rolls," said Lesiak. "She is a central midfielder, but she is more like a withdrawn striker. Everything through the midfield comes through her, she is probably most dangerous in the final third."

Chasing Lesiak's team in the standings is FC Delco, which just started its season, and McLean Youth Soccer. ECNL standings are based on points per game rather than overall points.

Ohio Elite has yet to play FC Delco, but did already face McLean in the first game of the season for the Cincinnati based club. Ohio Elite won 2-1 in a close contest. Lesiak complimented the opponents by referring to them as one of the "best teams we've faced this season."

U17 Midatlantic Conference

FC Delco and FC Virginia lead the charge in the U17 Midatlantic Conference, but closing in on their shadows is Bethesda SC, which is third in the table with a 3-1-1 record to the start the season.

"We've had some immediate success," said Bethesda SC U17 coach Jonathan Morgan. "We were fortunate enough to train twice a week during the fall when the girls had high school soccer so we felt prepared going into the ECNL season."

Morgan went on to say that the scheduling has been fortuitous too, as his side has mainly played teams that have just now started the season, but soon Bethesda will face the Virginia clubs, which are at the end of their season.

The difference in the amount of games played was apparent in the lone loss of the season for Bethesda, according to the coach.

"We had a great opportunity to win that game," said Morgan. "They were seasoned and more prepared to deal with management of the game once they gained the lead."

Bethesda had the lead early, but eventually gave up two goals and lost 2-1 in the third game of the season for the Maryland club. The loss has not deterred any ambitions for this team. The goal remains to finish in the top eight in the national standings.

Morgan said that the team had too many things going on at the same time at the end of the season last year, and decided to turn its full focus on the ECNL this year.

One high profile team member as it drives toward postseason success is U17 national team star Andi Sullivan, who has only appeared in one game for her club team this season due to the heavy schedule of camps leading up to CONCACAF Qualifying coming up this Spring.

"She has a pretty big role with the U17s, so we have to be careful with the minutes she plays," said Morgan. "It is a balance to keep her sharp with a fair amount of games."

Morgan also spoke about the strong play from a quartet of players who have helped the team to a strong start to the season.

"I'd say our standouts so far have been Cortney O'Connell, Tyler Lussi, Alexandra Grossman, and Jordan Coburn," said Morgan.

The coach added that he is excited to have this group back in full training and about the upcoming competition. Bethesda returns to ECNL action on Saturday against Richmond Strikers.

Categories: Youth Articles

U17 WNT Camp To Decide CONCACAF Roster

Wed, 02/08/2012 - 5:17am

The U.S. U17 Women's National Team is down to its final few matches before Albertin Montoya chooses an 18-player roster for the this month's international trip to Spain, and more importantly, May's CONCACAF Qualifying in Guatemala City, Guatemala.



One of them unfolded Monday night when the U.S. side dispatched the U17 German team in a 2-0 victory. The result was the first of three matches this week at the U17 camp in Sunrise, Florida, that will give Montoya the glimpse he feels he needs to finalize his group.



"There are seven players I know are going to be starting for us (in Spain) and so the other spots are still to be determined," Montoya said. "Players have really stepped up and proved that they need to be in the discussion. It's very close. They're making it hard on me, which is good."



Albertin MontoyaSome new candidates to make the international trips emerged for the U.S. side including camp first-timer Brittany Basinger, who got the start with the defense and performed well. Midfielder Arielle Ship also saw some time on the backline for a change as Montoya played with new lineups.



The goal-scorers were Andi Sullivan, in the 53rd minute and Emily Bruder in the 69th, two players who don't have much to worry about in terms of making the team.
 
Among those who are not sure bets, striker Margaret Purce also played a nice match alongside regular camp standout Summer Green. 

Lauren Kaskie is back for her second straight camp after she missed out on a couple gatherings because of a fractured fibula.

"We're really starting to come together and build chemistry all the way around," Montoya said. "We created great chances and were very dangerous offensively. We'll mix things up for our (final two matches) to make sure everyone plays. It's the best way of making sure we come together."
 
All of which serves to give Montoya final pieces of evidence before he chooses his team.   
 
U.S. Lineup vs. Germany 
USA: 1-Jane Campbell; 8-Brittany Basinger (16-Morgan Reid), 5-Maddie Bauer, 6-Miranda Freeman, 17-Gabbi Miranda (4-Arielle Ship); 9-Morgan Stanton (20-Toni Payne), 3-Morgan Andrews, 2-Sarah Robinson (7-Joanna Boyles); 10-Summer Green, 19-Andi Sullivan (22-Margaret Purce), 14-Amber Munerlyn (25-Emily Bruder) 
Subs Not Used: 11-Lauren Kaskie, 12-Cameron Castleberry, 13-Caroline Chagares, 15-Lizzy Raben, 18-Cassie Miller, 21-Gabby Matulich, 23-Kayla Mills

Head Coach: Albertin Montoya

U.S. U17 WNT Camp Roster


GOALKEEPERS (2): Jane Campbell (Concorde Fire South; Kennesaw, Ga.), Cassie Miller (Sereno FC; Cave Creek, Ariz.)


DEFENDERS (6): 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 (10): Joanna Boyles (Chelsea Ladies; Raleigh, N.C.), Caroline Chagares (PDA Slammers; Wyckoff, N.J.), Miranda Freeman (Lady Renegades SC; Royal Palm Beach, Fla.), Summer Green (Michigan Hawks; Milford, Mich.), Kayla Mills (Slammers FC; West Covina, Calif.), Gabbi Miranda (Colorado Rush; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Sarah Robinson (MVLA Lightning; Los Altos, Calif.), Arielle Ship (Real So Cal; Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Morgan Stanton (Colorado Rush; Lakewood, Colo.), Andi Sullivan (Bethesda SC; Lorton, Va.) 


FORWARDS (6): Emily Bruder (Utah Avalanche; Sandy, Utah), Cameron Castleberry (Chelsea Ladies; Raleigh, N.C.), Gabby Matulich (MVLA Lightning; Los Gatos, Calif.), Amber Munerlyn (So Cal Blues; Corona, Calif.), Toni Payne (Concorde Fire; Birmingham, Ala.), Margaret Purce (Freestate Soccer; Olney, Md.)

Categories: Youth Articles

MLS' Home Grown rule is not for your eyes

Wed, 02/08/2012 - 5:04am

One paragraph - that is all the space that is devoted to the MLS Home Grown rule on the league's official website. It is four lines and it is intended to spell out how an amateur player can migrate from the Academy to a professional contract.

"A club may sign a player to his first professional contract without subjecting him to the MLS SuperDraft if the player has trained for at least one year in the club's youth development program and has met League criteria. Players joining MLS through this mechanism are known as Home Grown Players.

There is no limit to the number of Home Grown Players a club may sign in a given year.
"

It seems so simple, yet the process is so complex.

Home Grown Player Jimmy McLaughlin"Like many new programs, it is evolving," Real Salt Lake General Manager Garth Lagerwey told TopDrawerSoccer.com about the ambiguity of the Home Grown rule. "It was only two years ago that, for the first time, every MLS team had an Academy."

And it was three years ago when Los Angeles Galaxy's Tristan Bowen inked the first ever MLS Home Grown contract with the league. Since that point, the fragile framework of the MLS Home Grown rule began to take shape.  

"I think, out of necessity, a lot of the rules in place right now are best guesses, because literally they were being vapid at a time when most teams did not have Academies," said Lagerwey. "And if you are going to try to write rules for things that don't exist, I think it is pretty normal those things will evolve over time."

That does not guarantee clarity, but the thought process behind the Home Grown rule has advanced from an afterthought to a point of focus where the league has taken the time to spell out some of the details for the future.

"The MLS player competition committee had a meeting this year because they need to make these rules transparent to all teams," Agent Michael Wheeler, who has negotiated a Home Grown contract, told TopDrawerSoccer.com recently.

Lagerwey did not want to speculate on the direction that the rules would take heading into the new season.

"It has been many meetings over a couple years now as to how we, on the technical side, think stuff should evolve," said Lagerwey. "The league has taken our advice under advisement, and they will make their decisions. They'll let us know how they come out, but I think it is impossible to guess how those will shake out."

While Wheeler added, unsurprisingly, that the rules sent to MLS teams identify the requirements of the Home Grown deal in more specifics than the one on the MLS website.

Part of the particulars of the rule that is not addressed on the league website, but both Wheeler and Lagerwey discussed is the player identification lists. Each MLS team has a list for U23, U18, U16, and U14, which includes 18-20 players in each age group.

"You can put them on the list, but that is just a placeholder, and for the sake of clarity, to let everyone know that this kid is part of our program," said Lagerwey. "But he is not eligible until he completes the training, which is effectively a year - the exact wording is 80 training days, which includes games, practices, and team functions."

For RSL, which does not have a U14 team at its residency program in Arizona, the list is currently blank at the youngest age group. RSL is attached to a youth club in Florida, but Lagerway said those players could not be included on the list because the club is outside RSL's territories [Utah and Arizona].

"The official RSL program is the one in Arizona so the kids who are there are the ones on the list for U16 and U18," said Lagerwey. "MLS teams are now starting to add U14 age groups and that is something we hope to do in the near future."

Read part two of the feature on the MLS Home Grown rule: HERE 

Categories: Youth Articles

New 2012 Boys Top 100 Released

Wed, 02/08/2012 - 3:09am

They're back!

After a months-long layoff to reconfigure and examine the entire player pool, the Players To Watch Top 100 player rankings are back for the 2012 Boys Top 100 class.

The 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.

After February updates of national 2012 and 2013 rankings for Boys and Girls soccer (over the next 3 weeks), 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.

See the updated Boys 2012 Top 100 rankings here.

Categories: Youth Articles

Let's talk about high school soccer

Tue, 02/07/2012 - 5:59am

Soccer in the United States has reached the crossroads of its worth. It is significant enough for casual sports observers to recognize it, and it is niche enough that cultural demands still triumph over purpose at times.

Unfortunately for scholastic sports, it has become the easy target when talking about cultural demands that take the prerogative over function for soccer. And now, it is in the crosshairs for U.S. Youth Technical Director Claudio Reyna, as he pushes for all Development Academy clubs to switch to a 10-month season and abolish the top talent from boys high school soccer.

"In the U16 and U18 age groups around the world in the leading nations, the kids are playing 10 months," Reyna told ussoccer.com in December. "We felt by lengthening the seasons and providing an opportunity for players to play with and against better players, it would provide a better pathway for developing players in the long-term."

Claudio ReynaThe Development Academy began implementing the switch this year with the West Conference and Texas Division, about a third of all the teams, dropping high school from the agenda and bringing most clubs to the Academy-only program.  

Has the move been well received?

"The high school thing has been a difficult obstacle for our guys," said De Anza Force U16 head coach Shaun Tsakaris. "American parents are used to having high school sports as part of their child's upbringing."

De Anza Force, like other Western Conference clubs, lost some players who preferred to play in front of classmates in high school.

"As far as the development of players, it makes the most sense to play a 10-month season," said Seattle Sounders Academy Technical Director Darren Sawatzky. "On the other side of it, there is a lot of personal and positive individual growth that happens in high school."

Fellow academies also echoed in the benefits of player development under this schedule.

"Without a doubt, it has been positive," said Texans SC Houston U16 head coach Scott James. "The overall development of the player has certainly risen for the players from the start of the season."

Texans SC Houston local rivals, Houston Dynamo, spoke glowingly of the benefits from playing year-round under this plan.

"It is a big step forward," said Houston Dynamo Academy Director James Clarkson about the shift away from a high school soccer season. "It is a huge improvement especially in terms of scheduling the program with four training nights a week and games on the weekend."

Dallas Texans U16 coach David Hudgell explained that the extra couple months of soccer helps with designing a year round program for player development, but he does miss the brief recess he used to have during the high school season.

"Being honest, it was a little refreshing to have that break for high school," said Hudgell with a chuckle. "But obviously we don't have that and we have to adapt to this and see how it goes."

On the girls' side, the issue has not reached the same level of debate as it has with the boys, but it is still a big presence for the elite players in the country. And it comes with a mixed bag of opinions.

"High school can offer stuff that we cannot in club in terms of playing in front of peers," said KCFC Technical Director Huw Williams. "I am okay with that break, but ask me again in June, and I may say otherwise."

Williams' club is nationally recognized for developing top talent. KCFC is a member of the ECNL, but not the Development Academy. Even though Williams is not from the U.S., he recognized how beneficial high school soccer was for his own children in terms of personal growth.

Sereno SC girls U16 head coach Paul Taylor was just hopeful that his players would come back healthy after the high school season in Arizona.

Real Colorado coach Jared Spires wished he could run training with his team during the high school season, considering his players were finally returning from injuries.

For the Academies that have not moved away from the high school season yet, there is talk about when the move is, not if it is happening.

"That is what U.S. Soccer wants, and that is what we are shooting for," said South Carolina United Battery U18 coach Clark Brisson about eliminating the high school break. "Right now, we are having some discussions about implementing that in 2012 or 2013."

Other coaches in the Southeast Division feared the amount of games the players have to play in the short high school season before returning to the academies for the end of the season stretch.

"The high school season in Georgia is a lot of work for the kids," said Ray Tomlin of Georgia United. "They play a lot of games - up to three a week - in a short two and a half month season."

San Diego Surf and Nomads SC are the only California academies that have yet to make the switch, but will next season. Surf U16 head coach Mike Nicholson was concerned about how far his team would be behind other teams in the division that were training full time during this period.

With the ambition of moving all 78 Development Academy clubs to the 10-month schedule, the resistance may begin to swell on a larger scale, but the issue is not apocalyptic. As many coaches put in perspective, this is only the top 1% [in theory] of the high school eligible players, and capable athletes will likely fill those spots as well.

The thread from the conversations with coaches remains that high school soccer will still have a social role, but the developmental place has passed.

Categories: Youth Articles

College star's little brother signs NLI

Tue, 02/07/2012 - 2:11am

The Wenger era lives on.
As Duke's Andrew Wenger moves on to MLS, after becoming the first overall pick of last month's MLS Draft, his mini version is set to join the college ranks.
PA Classics veteran Jonathan Wenger signed to play with Elon next season, keeping the family name firmly rooted in the NCAA.
Jonathan has been a strong presence and captain for his club team and the Elon Phoenix can use an injection of youth after finishing near the bottom of the Southern Conference last season.
Jacob Speed (center) celebrates.Of course, big brother Andrew set the college stage ablaze as the nation's top scorer in 2011 but we're not expecting the same outburst from Jonathan, particularly in his freshman season. He's a different kind of player, though a Wenger nonetheless. 
Other recent boys' signings include:

Patrick Figgie (Beachside SC) has signed to Bucknell for the 2012 season. 
Alexander Basiakos (Club Ohio) has signed with Wright State for the 2012 season
Jacob Speed (Dallas Texans) has signed with Kentucky for the 2012 season. 
Patrick Schulz (Sockers FC) has signed with Marquette for the 2012 season.
Robert Soto (Match Fit Academy) has signed to Long Island for the 2012 season.
Jacob Harlan (West Georgia F.C.) has signed to USC Upstate for the 2012 season.
Dylan West (CDA) has signed with San Jose State for the 2012 season. 
Eric DeJulio (Sporting Kansas City) has signed with Creighton for the 2012 season. 
Quincy Thomas (PA Classics) has signed to play with Memphis for the 2012 season.
Categories: Youth Articles

Program comes out of nowhere to sign Top 100

Mon, 02/06/2012 - 8:05am

When we spoke to Taryn Tomczyk last year about her potential college destination she gave us a list of her strongest candidates.



Colgate wasn't on it.

Ah, but those sneaky Raiders. They swooped in to steal her heart and add another great prospect to an already strong 2012 class.



Tomczyk signed last week to join fellow Top 100 players Sidney Morales-Parodie and Lauren D'Amico - giving Colgate a sleeper class for the second straight year, a fact that wasn't lost on Tomczyk.



Taryn Tomczyk"One of the reasons that I chose Colgate was because they have been bringing in such strong recruiting classes," said Tomczyk, who said she also gave great consideration to Ohio State.

"I knew that Lauren had committed and she told me a lot about the program. It's a really prestigious school academically and the girls seem to have good team chemistry on the field."



Well, winning certainly helps that and the Raiders happen to be the toast of the Patriot League.



Tomczyk could help add to the winning ways. She's arrived to this point despite being beset by an ACL injury two years ago. She had to rehab and regain the buzz she had created prior to going down and she's done well for herself.



Other girls' signings and commitments include:



Darcy McFarlane (Marin FC) has verbally committed to North Carolina for the 2013 season. McFarlane will  be joining sister Kelly McFarlane who will be a Tar Heels junior this fall.

Jamei Borges (Chicago Inter) has signed with Saint Louis for the 2012 season.



Catherine Caniglia (NSA Premier) has signed with Miami (Ohio) for the 2012 season.



Rachel Lovely (Chicago Fire Juniors) has signed with High Point for the 2012 season.



Kirsten Glad (Damascus Dragons) has signed to UNC Greensboro for the 2012 season

.

Sarah Scheidell (FC Bucks) has signed with Temple for the 2012 season.



Katrina Guillou (FCV Cardinals) has signed with UNC Wilmington for the 2012 season. 



Jordyn Ryfiak (Michigan Hawks) has signed with Valparaiso for the 2012 season.



Nikki Pokipala (Slammers FC) has signed with Tulsa for the 2012 season.



Sammi Swan (Utah Avalanche) has signed to Utah for the 2012 season. 



Caitlin Jancuska (D'Feeters) has signed to Tulsa for the 2012 season.



Natalie Ogden (De Anza Force) has signed to Oregon State for the 2012 season. 



COMMITS



Bridget HIllsman (Eclipse Select) has verbally committed to Saint Louis for the 2013 season.



Olivia DiFonso (Penn Fusion) has verbally committed to Rhode Island for the 2013 season. 



Hannah Clark (Mustang SC) has verbally committed to BYU for the 2013 season.



Abigail Pyne has verbally committed to Duke for the 2014 season.

Categories: Youth Articles

Development Academy recap: February 3-5

Mon, 02/06/2012 - 7:55am

South Carolina United Battery U18 collected six points during its weekend trip to Virginia with wins over McLean Youth Soccer and Richmond Kickers. Nestor Jaramillo notched the lone goal on Saturday in a 1-0 win over Atlantic Division leader, McLean. On Sunday, Battery exploded for five goals in a 5-3 victory over the Kickers.

What else happened in the Development Academy last weekend?

West Conference:

RSL-AZ U16 has been perfect in conference play this year, and that continued over the weekend with wins over Arsenal and Real So Cal. The older RSL-AZ did not fare as well with only one point from the two games.

Chivas USA's Ben SpencerChivas USA U18 put some space between itself and its nearest competitors with a win over Strikers FC on Saturday. Marco Delgado provided two assists and the Goats are now four points clear of second place, LA Galaxy.

In Northern California, De Anza Force U18 claimed a pair of 1-0 victories over Crossfire Premier and Seattle Sounders to take over the top spot in the Northwest Division. Nicholas Lima continued his goal-scoring streak with the game-winner against Crossfire. He has now scored in three consecutive contests.

The Sounders U18 team dropped both road games over the weekend and now trails De Anza Force by two points in the division. The Sounders U16 team recorded a win in a 6-1 thrashing of Santa Cruz Breakers on Saturday, but lost the next day 0-3 to De Anza Force. The Sounders are still top of the division at that age with a three-point cushion.

California Development Academy U16 continues to enjoy the return of Dalton Pando to the club. Pando started the season with RSL-AZ, but rejoined his former local club to start 2012. Since his arrival, Pando has scored six goals in five games, including a hat trick against Crossfire on Thursday. CDA U18 did not enjoy the same success, as it dropped games to Crossfire and San Jose Earthquakes by the same score, 2-1.

MORE ACADEMY NEWS: Development Academy recap: Feb. 3-5 |RSL-AZ U16 still perfect

Central Conference:

Solar SC U18 kept its faint hope of catching FC Dallas in the standings alive with a 1-0 road win over Houston Dynamo on Sunday. Jesse Mirairio Toledo had the game-winning goal just before half time for his third goal of the season. The U16 team won by the same score with Toryima Asom providing the winning strike.

Andromeda FC also had a six-point weekend with both teams winning 2-0 against Classics Elite on Saturday. Goals from Brendan Haberkorn and Nicolas Diego Lozada-Smith lifted the U16 team. Gabriel Forrest Cano and Fernando Ignacio Perez-Cervantes found the back of the net for the U18 team.

League leaders, FC Dallas U18, marched to another shutout victory, its tenth of the season. Also Gallegos and David Robledo scored for the FC Dallas, which leads the division in both goals scored and goals against.

East Conference:

South Carolina United Battery U16 split the two-game swing through Virginia with a close 1-0 loss to McLean, and an easy 4-0 victory over Richmond Strikers.

Richmond Kickers, on the other hand, did have a nice Saturday with a pair of wins over the Richmond Strikers. Grayson Smith registered a hat trick in the U16 team's 4-2 win over local rivals, which is the first division win of the season for the Kickers. The U18 Kickers improved to 4-3-0 in division play with the 1-0 win over the Richmond Strikers.

Categories: Youth Articles

U18s scoreless draw, RSL-AZ U16 still perfect

Mon, 02/06/2012 - 7:27am

OAK PARK, Calif. - Real So Cal and RSL-AZ's U18 teams are even on points this season in the SoCal Division. On Sunday, they were even on the field too.

The two U18 teams battled to a scoreless draw in the first contest of the day, as the teams remain tied for fourth in the standings after the weekend.

Both clubs played the day prior and it was obvious in the morning game on Sunday with wasteful finishing and tired legs in the second half.

The first real scoring chance of the fixture came just before half time when RSL-AZ's Etiandro Tavares raced behind the Real So Cal defense, but keeper Josh McNeely, who had an exceptional game, thwarted Tavares on the breakaway.

The visitors did come close to breaking the scoreless draw in the second half on two separate occasions. In the 62nd minute, Ricardo Velasco dribbled through a number of defenders before ripping a shot from distance, but his effort skipped off the crossbar.

Six minutes later, Jordan Allen, who was the most dangerous player on the field, beat his defender on the wing and ripped a shot at the near post that hit the outside of the post.

Real So Cal held its own with a couple of chances on the counterattack, but the local team also looked a little tired from a long weekend of games.

"I thought the effort was good, but at times we lacked quality especially in the attacking third," RSL-AZ Technical Director Martin Vazquez told TopDrawerSoccer.com after the game. "I'm pleased overall. At least we take one point back, but we have a group that could have taken the three points."

RSL-AZ was shorthanded because striker Maikon Orrellana is currently training with the El Salvador U23 national team in preparation for Olympic Qualifiers. RSL-AZ coach Freddy Juarez said Orrellana is doing well in the camp and definitely in the discussion for a spot when Qualifiers start next month.

MORE ACADEMY NEWS: Development Academy recap: Feb. 3-5 | Win and draw for Chivas USA

In the younger game, RSL-AZ continued its perfect record in divisional play with a 2-1 win.

It only took 90 seconds for the Arizona academy to find the back of the net, when Jose Vasquez's perfectly weighted pass picked out a well-timed run from Benjamin Lopez. The striker from San Diego easily put the road team up by a goal early in the contest.

Real So Cal nearly had the rebuttal though. A couple minutes after the goal, RSL-AZ's defense was caught out of position, and Robert Martirosyan skillfully crossed to Dean Wright. The keeper forced Wright wide, and his off-balance attempt hit the wrong side of the post.

RSL-AZ doubled its lead before half and this time it was Lopez setting up the play on a silver platter for his teammates. The forward controlled a loose ball in the 18-yard-box with a soft touch, as defenders quickly surrounded the target player. He looked wide and found a wide-open Lucas Cawley on the right wing.

The midfielder raced onto the pass and hit a one-time cross to the far post, which Andrew Brody converted through traffic for what held up to be the game-winning goal.

Brody was a terror down the left side all game, and even won over some support from the local fans when he juked two defenders near the corner flag with some silky moves in the second half.

Real So Cal closed the lead after half time when Daniel Mondragon struck a shot from a tight angle that went into the roof of the net to bring the home team within a goal. But Real So Cal could not find the equalizer in the final thirty minutes.

RSL-AZ U16 improves to 6-0-0 in division play while Real So Cal falls to 1-4-2.

U18 lineups:

Real So Cal: Josh McNeely; Wade Lipke, Forrest Solis, Brandon Vincent, Kevin Martinez; Juan Samayoa, Daniel Dannas, Manvir Manak, Pedro Arias; Richard Martinez, Daniel Reilly

RSL-AZ: Joey Speshock; Lucas Seligman, Jesus Dominguez, Carlos Salcedo, Ive Burnett; Nick Semintendi, Miguel Salazar, Casey Arick, Jordan Allen; Etiandro Tavares, Jose Navarro

U16 lineups:

Real So Cal: Jason Trejos; Brennan Castro, Collin Liberty, Raleigh DeGraw, Brian Arzate; Manuel Celio, Kevin Cervantes, Angel Hernandez, Christian Chavez; Robert Martirosyan, Dean Wright

RSL-AZ: Benjamin Machini; Rodrigo Uriarte, Corey Nemeth, Jonathan Stadler, Isaias Juarez; Andrew Brody, Jose Vazquez, Trevor Hyman, Lucas Cawley; Hernan Cota, Benjamin Lopez

Categories: Youth Articles

A win and a draw for Chivas USA Academy

Sun, 02/05/2012 - 6:31am

COSTA MESA, Calif. - Chivas USA Academy left Orange County with four points from two Development Academy games against Strikers FC on Saturday, but it sure felt like six points after the Chivas USA U16 squad scored twice in the final ten minutes to salvage a point in an exhilarating 3-3 draw in the later game.

In the morning fixture, Chivas USA U18 looked uninterested but still managed to pull out a 2-0 victory over Strikers FC thanks to goals from Brendan Hines-Ike and Rene Santos. U.S. U18 midfielder Marco Delgado provided both assists in an otherwise unremarkable game.

Hines-Ike's goal, which was his first of the season, came in the 32nd minute off a corner kick by Delgado. The midfielder delivered a flawless service to the center of the box and Hines-Ike rose above a sea of red jerseys to nod the ball into the net for the opening goal.

Brendan Hines-IkeChivas USA took the 1-0 lead into half, even though the Strikers nearly caught them napping twice with threatening shots off counterattacks that required convincing saves from Jake McGuire, who recorded his fifth shutout of the season.

In the second half, the overall quality of the contest remained the same, but Chivas USA did produce a touch of class with its second goal. Delgado stole the ball from a Strikers defender and raced toward the net, but slowed down when he realized the center back had cut off his angle on goal.

Delgado then pulled off a slick inside-out move, which left his mark wobbling like an empty water bottle caught in the wind.

Granted time and space, the midfielder easily picked out Rene Santos at the top of the box, who put just enough on his shot to squeeze it inside the far post to double the Chivas USA lead.

The possession evened after the second goal, but Strikers were unable to generate quality chances in the final third. The 2-0 win looked nice for the road team, but it was far from a pleasing performance for those involved.

"We work so hard during the week to make the game on the weekend the showcase for us, and we certainly did not do that today," Chivas USA U18 head coach Dan Calichman told TopDrawerSoccer.com after the game. "That being said, I am thrilled we picked up three points and the shutout, but very, very sloppy for us, so as the coach I am not happy with our performance."

Chivas USA U18 has now won eight games in a row and sits atop the SoCal Division in the Development Academy, but that is purely academic to the coach at this point.

"I don't think it means that much," said Calichman when asked about the significance of being in the top spot at this point. "We are worried about where we are at the end of the season."

MORE ACADEMY NEWS: Atlantic U16 Division breakdown | Academy contenders try to avoid slump

Both clubs appeared to save most of the fireworks for the second game though, as the two teams combined for six goals in the contest.

Strikers took an early lead when Christian Thierjung slipped a ball into the box for Paul Salcedo Borrego. The forward made no mistake about his finish and buried the ball into the back of the net to excite the home crowd.

Chivas USA nearly had an answer in the 31st minute when Edzon Cuevas slalomed through three defenders before hitting a rocket off his right boot from 20 yards out, but the shot only chipped the paint off the crossbar.

The MLS Academy did find the equalizer though, and it came only seconds before the half time whistle. Ever Delatorre raced to the end line and delivered a pinpoint perfect cross to Jorge Ruiz's head for the tying goal.

Strikers returned to the field in the second half looking to regain the lead, and made efficient use of their chances thanks to the play of Borrego.

Borrego's second goal was a mirror image of the first with Thierjung once again slotting the ball to him for an easy finish against a keeper rushing off his line.

Thierjung's afternoon was not over quite yet. The elusive winger added a goal to his two assists in the 55th minute when he beat his defender and ripped a shot past the keeper to give the home team a 3-1 advantage.

With only 25 minutes remaining, and little to show offensively in the second half, it looked like Chivas USA was doomed to defeat. But the Strikers and their fans learned one important lesson on Saturday: never count out Jorgie Ruiz.

In the 70th minute, the 14-year-old forward buried a free kick from 25 yards out in to the upper corner of the net to bring Chivas USA within one goal.

With only moments remaining in the second minute of stoppage time, it was Ruiz again providing the magic. He beat two defenders down the sideline, then passed it off to Ryo Fujii, who floated the shot over the Strikers goalie for the tying goal.

"Jorgie has been great," Chivas USA head coach Mike Munoz said about the star of the game. "He just got called into the U15 national team, so he is very excited. And it shows that it doesn't matter how old he is, he deserves to be playing at this level."

Munoz added that right back Malcolm Jones was also called into the U15 national camp, which will be held in March.

Chivas USA Academy has next weekend off before it returns to the field on February 18 for the mini-SuperClasico against LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center.

Categories: Youth Articles