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U17 Player Interviews Part 1: Junior Flores

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 2:00de la mañana

(TopDrawerSoccer.com Managing Editor Robert Ziegler recently spent part of a week in Bradenton, Florida with the U17 Men's National Team residency program. Following is one of a series of articles about what he saw and heard there). BRADENTON, FLORIDA - Junior Flores can be a special soccer player. Anyone who watched the U17 Men's National Team in action late last year during the Nike Friendlies already knows that. He has tremendous technique and combines it with excellent soccer instincts to make for a truly skilled player. Those of us wishing for bigger and better things for American soccer on a professional and international level tend to get excited when we see young players like Junior come along. Having just turned 16 this week, the sky seems to be the limit for the attacking midfielder. An unsourced report in a newspaper from his home area of Northern Virginia talked about agents and shoe contracts and deals with professional clubs overseas being lined up. Junior told our Travis Clark that the story was just "rumors" but there's likely plenty of fire to go with that smoke (and it's likely not an accident that the story ran). Whatever the particulars, it's certain by now that Junior will be pursuing professional soccer, not the college route. He has a tremendous opportunity before him with the U17 MNT and beyond. He needs to understand it could all come crashing down very quickly. I've seen too many players identified as the next big thing whose soccer careers amounted to nothing. I've been part of anointing some of them, even as I tried to mute expectations and deflect criticism from them. A player like Junior needs to understand his success will have nothing to do with what he's done so far, but with the things he does from now on, going forward.  He has to maintain the highest work ethic, a tremendous enthusiasm and love for the game itself, and a great humility about himself as a person and a player. I've just met him briefly during my trip to Florida and he seems like a nice young man. I have no reason to believe he won't do any or all of the right things, but I feel compelled to write this word of caution, because I know anyone in his situation will have people lining up to tell him how great he is. Some do this just due to misguided enthusiasm, while others are truly hoping to get a cut of the potential action. Junior needs to drive all of their words out of his head and just keep working under the authority of coaches. Most of all he needs to keep close to the people who care about him as a person, not as a money or fame machine.  So, all of that said, watch the brief interview we did a couple of weeks ago in Bradenton. Here are the other articles from this series: Interview with U17 head coach Richie WilliamsU17 MNT Coaches discuss player developmentU17 MNT Training Session: Part 1U17 MNT Training Session: Part 2  
Categorías: Youth Articles

Academy Weekend Preview March 31-April 1

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 2:00de la mañana

All by itself in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States, a small cluster of Denver-area clubs represent the only USSF Development Academy presence for miles around.
So naturally, whenever two of the three teams play each other, it's a pretty big deal, as is the case this weekend when Real Colorado and the Colorado Rush square off on Saturday.
Adding incentive to the games is the need for both teams - especially at the U18 level - to pick up points this weekend. But regardless of what's at stake in the standings, it's a game both teams want to win.
"Real has long since been a good derby for us and for our club at all levels," Rush U18 head coach Erik Bushey told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "We're excited to play them, certainly to kick off our league campaign. It's a chance with one game to get off on the right foot and we're hopeful that we can do that. We certainly expect a very good match, full of spirit, and a lot to play for."
Jonathan BarahonaNeither U18 team has enjoyed much success outside of the division to this point, and each needs results in the division to hope for a playoff spot down the line. Ruben Siguenza, a Rush newcomer who scored a hat trick two weeks ago, will look to carry the scoring load.
While Siguenza and Jonathan Barahona are two big pieces for the Rush, both are recent additions from El Salvador. A lot is certain to fall on the shoulders of the established players like Joe Morales and Akio Ohtake-Gordon to push Rush towards a win.
"There's a lot of local stories and friendships, but at the same time rivalries that exist, so I hope that for those guys who have been a part of it for a long time that it's a memorable experience."
Central Conference
It's a tricky divisional weekend for Indiana United Fire Academy, as they take to the road and face Michigan sides Crew Soccer Academy Wolves and Vardar SC.
"I'd imagine there's not going to be much between the teams this weekend," Indiana United's U18 coach John Higgins told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "It makes it a little bit more difficult going on the road, I don't think there's any easy games on the road."
Spring break is going to make this particular trip a bit more difficult, as it leaves the Fire's U18s without leading scorer Thomas Sanner. The Princeton-bound forward has eight goals in eight starts this year and does well leading the line and holding up the ball.
Sporting Kansas City U18s have enjoyed an unbeaten start to their division schedule through two games, and welcome Colorado Rapids to town this weekend for an all-MLS battle in the Frontier Division on Sunday. Eduardo Moreno has enjoyed a strong start for KC's U18s with five goals in seven games, while the Rapids will be missing Dillon Serna who is with the U.S. U18 team this week.
West Conference
The Vancouver Whitecaps continue to enjoy life in the Development Academy, as both U18 and U16 teams boast strong division records so far - with marks of 5-1-2 and 6-1-1 in the Northwest Division respectively.
This weekend's test is the arrival of Pateadores, and while not a division game, it's an opportunity to boost the U16s wild card chances. As usual, Vancouver's preparations for the weekend are primarily introspective.
"Our general focus will always be on our players and our squad," Whitecaps U16 coach Craig Dalrymple told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "We've looked at their results and see that they've had a strong second third to the season, they seem to have got some decent results of late, have played a few MLS squads and have come out on the positive side of the results.
"We know it's going to be a good challenge, and that's what we expect.  That's what we hope in the Academy, we want every game to test us."
It's been a good year also for Chivas USA U18s, currently leading LA Galaxy in the standings SoCal Division. Not too far behind is Real Salt Lake-AZ U18s, who travel to play Chivas on Saturday. The stakes are a little different at the U16 age group, as Real Salt Lake is currently atop the division, and the Chivas side is aiming to gain ground. 
East Conference
Two local Mid-Atlantic rivals begin their division schedule as D.C. United host nearby Baltimore Bays on Saturday. 
"It's a neighborhood match, I wouldn't call it a derby, but it's two pretty successful local successful clubs that always bring a competitive nature and a competitive fight," D.C.'s U16 head coach Tom Torres told TopDRawerSoccer.com.
With both teams likely to be saddled with absences related to spring break, injury and national team duty, it won't dull the competitive edge, but rather require some of the more fringe players on both sides to step up. D.C. won't be able to call on starters like Lars Eckenrode, Rafael Fagundo and Suliaman Dainkeh, who are among the absences.
Elsewhere, the New York Red Bulls U18s have a chance to build on its four-game winning streak, with matchups against Empire United SC and Seacoast United. New York's U16s are on a similar run of late, winners of five straight heading into this weekend.
Categorías: Youth Articles

ECNL weekend preview: March 31-April 2

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 2:00de la mañana

Saturday marks the start of the fourth ECNL National Showcase Event of the season in San Diego, California.  And just like the previous gatherings of the top clubs across the country, the competition is expected to be spirited and lively. "It's obviously going to be very tough," FC Stars of Massachusetts U18 head coach Jason Dewhurst told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "I think every one of our games across the age groups is against West Coast teams. It's always difficult going to the West Coast, especially when it's on their turf." The long flight out to California combined with the home-field advantage that some of the Southern California teams enjoy makes it a daunting task for the East Coast visitors to pick up some points at the event.  "We expect every game to be very close, tightly contested," Dewhurst added. "But we're really looking forward to it. It's been a long winter for us and we're looking forward to getting out there."Other coaches agreed about the competitiveness of the games especially among the top flight teams.  "There are no easy games in the top flight of the ECNL," Bethesda U16 head coach Dave Nolan told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "If we don't play well, we could be in for a long weekend. But when my team is ready, they can play with anybody." U15: Jordan DiBiasiOn Saturday, the FC Bucks face Washington Premier in a showdown between two undefeated Flight B teams. Premier is eighth, while FC Bucks is ninth in the standings, as both teams look to push to the top of the table during the final stretch of the season. Washington Premier is led by center back Jessica Udovich. FC Bucks defender Leigh Ann Bertolet leads the team offensively with two goals and two assists this season.  So Cal Blues take on Northern California powerhouse Mustang SC on Sunday. The Blues are fifth in Flight A with a 6-1-1 record, but Mustang will be looking to put a dent in that mark, as Mike Descombraz's squad pushes toward a playoff spot. Mustang will have to slow down Anika Rodriguez who has eight goals and five assists on the season.  To cap the event, Colorado Rush takes on local club San Diego Surf in a fixture between top Flight A teams. Rush leads the nation with a perfect 5-0-0 record. Surf is tenth in the standings with a 5-1-2 record. The Colorado club is led by the attacking twosome of Jordan DiBiasi and Jastin Redman who have combined for 24 goals in 15 games this season.   U16: CrossFire Premier and PDA U16 meet on Saturday in a matchup between two teams on the bubble of a playoff spot in the Flight A Standings. CrossFire's Calisse Crissler leads the team in scoring this season with two goals and two assists.  On Sunday, Albertson Fury takes on the top team in Flight A, Slammers FC. The Slammers will be looking to overcome the absence of Kayla Mills. The forward is scheduled to join the U17 Women's National Team camp that day in Chula Vista.   West Coast FC takes on Albertson Soccer Club to cap the event in San Diego. The New York club is currently seventh in the National Flight A Standings, but faces a big challenge against last season's third place team.  U17: Mustang SC is currently second in the National Flight A Standings, but could take over the top spot with a perfect nine-point weekend at the Showcase Event. The quest starts on Saturday with a game against Freestate Soccer Alliance (Maryland). Mustang will need to slow down Allison Cislo, who has five goals and two assists this season.  The Northern California is not the only one trying to drop Eclipse Select (Illinois) from the top spot. Scorpions SC (Massachusetts) is also looking to close the gap on the top two sides over the three-game event. Boston College commit McKenzie Meehan leads the team in scoring with five goals and two assists. Scorpions will face a challenging task on Monday when they face the runner-ups from last season in Real So Cal. Kristi Walker's squad is 6-3-1 in conference play and brings a seven-game winning streak into the clash.  U18: This weekend offers a rematch from last season's U17 ECNL National Championship. San Diego Surf beat PDA 1-0 in that meeting, but this season has not been as kind to either team. Both find themselves on the outside looking in on the playoff race, and need a strong showing this weekend to get back in the mix.  The rematch happens on Sunday among a couple of other notable games including Colorado Rush against Slammers FC, and Arsenal FC versus CrossFire Premier. 
Categorías: Youth Articles

2014 commits early after thorough process

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 2:00de la mañana

Ashton Miller is way ahead of schedule.
The Michigan Hawks midfielder navigates the field with a technical proficiency that eludes some of her peers, and a decisiveness that belies her age.
A 2014 graduate, Miller recently committed to Duke completing a process that was far from impulsive.
Ashton Miller"I have been looking at schools intensely for about a year now," she said. "Duke appealed to me because over all it had everything I was looking for: the campus was gorgeous, the girls were extremely nice and the soccer is great."
A player that sees the whole field, Miller clearly reviewed her options before picking the Blue Devils.
"I narrowed my list of favorite schools down to about three before I made a final decision," said Miller, a former invitee to the U.S. U14 National ID Camp. "Although it's been fun, I was ready for it to be over with as it's a stressful process. I also know that I haven't reached my full potential yet and I'm continually working to get there."  Other commitments include:
Taylor Francis (CASL) has verbally committed to Pittsburgh for the 2013 season. She is a US Club Id2 Camp player. Kinley McNicoll (Toronto Lynx) has signed to Wisconsin for the 2012 season. 
Amanda Whittle (South Bay Force) has verbally committed to San Francisco for the 2013 season. 
Naomi Matley (Charlotte Soccer Academy) has committed to Winthrop for the 2013 season.
Sheridan Fox (Capital Athletic SA) has verbally committed to Utah Valley for the 2013 season. 
Shaylyn Orr (Sparta United) has verbally committed to BYU for the 2014 season.  Danielle Marx (Albertson SC) has verbally committed to LaSalle for the 2013 season. 
Amanda Stephenson (Legends FC) has signed with George Mason for the 2012 season. 
Categorías: Youth Articles

2013 star to graduate early, join ACC program

Thu, 03/29/2012 - 4:03de la mañana

As if Wake Forest's incoming class wasn't strong enough, they even picked up a bonus.



Stellar 2013 graduate Collin Martin, our No. 8 ranked player in his class, is set to graduate from high school one year early and will bolster a freshman group that was already one of the finest in the country.



Martin, a midfielder for the D.C. United U18 Academy team, is no stranger to playing up in age as he has done throughout his young career. 

A young player with impressive international credentials, Martin has much experience with the U.S. Youth National Team program, including a call up in the last U.S. U20 camp. He also trained last summer with German club TSG Hoffenheim and in 2008 with Manchester United.



"What an exciting surprise that he's joining us a year early," Wake Forest coach Jay Vidovich said in a release. "That speaks volumes about the young man. Once again, he fits into the mold of what it takes to have success at Wake Forest. He is ambitious and a good student, but the bottom line is his talent is obvious. He's the youngest U20 kid on the national team and that speaks volumes of him being able to compete with older players."

Martin joins an eye-popping cast of incoming players that includes Michael Gamble, Jalen Robinson and Andrew Harris.

Look out, ACC.



In other news:



Matt Turner (FC Clarkstown) has signed to Fairfield for the 2012 season.



Yanni Hachem (CASL) has verbally committed to NC State for the 2013 season.



Dewey Lewis (Grand Rapids Crew Jrs) has verbally committed to Michigan
State for the 2013 season.

Categorías: Youth Articles

U17s gather for final camp before qualifying

Thu, 03/29/2012 - 3:57de la mañana
With the U17 CONCACAF World Cup just a month away, there's much at stake heading into next week's U.S. U17 women's national team camp.

Twenty-four players have been called up for a final training camp in Chula Vista, Calif., from April 1-10 to complete preparations. It marks the final camp prior to the qualifying tournament scheduled for the beginning of May in Guatemala.

With just over a month to go, head coach Albertin Montoya is planning on recreating the qualifying experience as best as he can in California.

"We're actually going to try to replicate what we're going to be experiencing at qualifying as much as possible, so we've set up three games just like we would in the preliminary rounds," he told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "Our idea is let's have three games just like we would in group play against different types of opponents, and prepare as well as we can.

Summer GreenDuring the week, the U.S. is set to play three exhibitions - one on April 4 against UC Irvine women's team, on April 7 against San Diego State, and on April 9 against China's U20 Women's National Team. The time between matches is spaced out in similar fashion as it will be in Guatemala.

The players are eager and anxious for the challenge of another camp.

"I am so excited for camp to start," defender Brittany Basinger told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "I am really looking forward to playing against China's U20 team. That will be a true test for us."
 
The U.S. women will try and carry the good form of 2012 into this camp. In a handful of friendly matches this year, the U.S. has picked up a pair of wins against German's U17 team, and went unbeaten during a recent trip to La Manga, Spain, where they played against U19 competition.

Qualification in Guatemala is far from assured. The U.S. U17 wnt failed to qualify for the World Cup in the last cycle, falling on penalty kicks against Canada after a 0-0 draw.

That fact isn't something the coaches harp on consistently, but it is mentioned on occasion.
 
"We don't speak of it too much," Montoya said. "We make sure they understand you can't take any of these teams for granted, especially when you go in CONCACAF and you're playing away like that."

The pressure of the upcoming tournament lingers, but it's for now it's something the players can simply block out.

"I am trying not to think about the pressure," Basinger said. "I have been training hard and working on my fitness. I will just go and play that best that I can and trust that I have prepared properly."

Along with trying to duplicate the experience of qualifying, the coaching staff is planning drill down on some of the more fundamental aspects of on field play.

"It's going to be a lot of emphasis and focus on fine tuning things like attacking and defensive set plays, free kicks, corner kicks, all of that," Montoya said. "We haven't gone over too much as we haven't really concentrated on getting results as much as we will be going into qualifying."

Overall, Montoya is pleased with where things stand, and says that there isn't anything big the team needs to get done in the coming week - the main focus on progressing forwards and building towards the all-important qualifying tournament.

"Four months ago, five months ago I thought there was a lot of things we needed to work on," he said. "But going into this camp I'm actually very happy with where we're at and now it's just continuing to move along in that direction."
 
U.S. U17 Camp Roster:

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

Defenders: Brittany Basinger (FC Virginia; Purcellville, Va.), Maddie Bauer (Slammers FC; Newport Beach, Calif.), Miranda Freeman (Lady Renegades SC; Royal Palm Beach, Fla.), Lauren Kaskie (Heat FC; Las Vegas, Nev.), Gabriele Miranda (Colorado Rush; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Lizzy Raben (Colorado Rush; Greenwood, Colo.), Morgan Reid (Chelsea Ladies; Cary, N.C.)

Midfielders: Morgan Andrews (FC Stars of Mass.; Milford, N.H.), Joanna Boyles (Chelsea Ladies; Raleigh, N.C), Caroline Chagares (PDA Slammers; Wyckoff, N.J.), Summer Green (Michigan Hawks; Milford, Mich.), Gabrielle Matulich (MVLA Lightning; Los Gatos, Calif.), Kayla Mills (Slammers FC; West Covina, Calif.), Sarah Robinson (MVLA Lightning; Los Altos, Calif.), Arielle Ship (Real So Cal; Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Morgan Stanton (Colorado Rush; Lakewood, Colo.), Andi Sullivan (Bethesda SC; Lorton, Va.)

Forwards: Emily Bruder (Utah Avalanche; Sandy, Utah), Darian Jenkins (Sparta SC; Riverton, Utah), Amber Munerlyn (So Cal Blues; Corona, Calif.), Toni Payne (Concorde Fire; Birmingham, Ala.), Margaret Purce (Freestate Soccer; Olney, Md.)
Categorías: Youth Articles

Dillon Serna stars in U18 National Team game

Thu, 03/29/2012 - 1:51de la mañana

CARSON, Calif. - Two second half goals from Dillon Serna propelled the red team to a 2-1 victory over the blue team in the U18 Men's National Team intrasquad scrimmage on Wednesday at the Home Depot Center.

Chicago Fire Academy's Andrew Oliver found the back of the net in the first half for the blue team, when he was deftly sent past the defense by an excellent pass from Indiana Fire United's Travis Wannemuehler. Oliver rounded the keeper and scored into the empty net for the blue team in the 30th minute.

The blue team dictated much of the play in the opening half thanks to pressure from the attacking trio on the red team's defense. Yet, the goal-scoring opportunities were limited for both sides in the first 45 minutes.

Dillon SernaThe second half offered new faces, and one in particular brought some life to the proceedings.

"I didn't start the game, so my job was to bring energy and work hard," Serna told TopDrawerSoccer.com "We were down 1-0, so we had to comeback. I ended up scoring, so it feels good."

Serna's first goal came in the 60th minute when he picked off a pass about 22 yards from goal with no defenders in front of him.

"It was a soft pass, so I had time," Serna said. "It was a 2v1 with the keeper, and I put it away."

Eight minutes later, Serna grabbed the game-winner on a slick exchange with Alejandro Guido. The Rapids Academy player received a through ball from Guido, as he raced past the defense. With a defender on his hip, Serna decided to cutback inside the six-yard box.

"Oh man, that was a little more work," Serna said with a smile. "I saw the defender slide, and I was going to play it back but the keeper came out so the near post was open."

In a spinning move that would make a ballerina proud, Serna's cutback turned into a screwdriver kick that nestled inside the near post for the game-winner.

Overall, the midfielder thought the play was solid from the group after only a few days of training.

"We have only been here a few days, but I think we are starting to get it and understand what the coaches are asking for."

Serna's quality was evident from the moment he stepped on the field, and he attributed that to training with the Rapids professional team.

"Since I got back from residency, I haven't been training with the academy," Serna said. "I wanted to keep my level up, and with the first team it does a good job with that."

The midfielder is playing left back and left mid with the first team; he said that he prefers a spot in the midfield. As for the next step for Serna, he is committed to Akron in the fall, which should be a reunion of sorts from the last U17 World Cup team. 

"A few guys from residency are going there, so I am looking forward to it."

Notes:

  • On top of the assist on Oliver's goal, Wannemuehler displayed a great touch and quick change of pace in the first half. He was one of the standouts for the blue team on the day.
  • Another star of the blue team, Matt Dunn dictated much of the game from his role at the #6 spot. As a destroyer and distributor, Dunn looked sharp in the 50+ minutes he played. On Tuesday, head coach Javier Perez highlighted Dunn, as one of the players he hopes to bring the professional mentality to the camp.

 

Lineups

Blue (coached by Eric Imler): Zackary Steffen; Miguel Polley, Mobi Fehr, Michael Amick, Malcolm Harris; Matt Dunn, Marco Delgado, Adam Najem; Paul Arriola, Andrew Oliver, Travis Wannemuehler

Subs: Alex Bono; Miguel Alves, Trevor Haberkorn; Christian Cruz, Zack Pfeffer; Ben Spencer, Willie Raygoza

Red (coached by Chris Armas): Ethan Horvath; Dylan Greenberg, Suliaman Dainkeh, Jalen Markey, Jose Ocamp; Antonio Murillo, Alejandro Guido, Kristian Scott; Stefanos Stamoulacatos, Esteban Rodriguez, Jamie Villareal

Subs: Jacole Turner; Koty Millard, Matt Habrowski; Romilio Hernandez, Dillon Serna; Benji Lopez, Jordan Allen
 

Categorías: Youth Articles

ECNL standout headed to Big East

Wed, 03/28/2012 - 5:02de la mañana

Grace Damaska and Georgetown go back a long way. Way back.
"I first visited (Georgetown) during a WAGS tournament when I was 11," she said. "It is a special place."
It is also a place where Damaska will be adding a few more years of history. The 2013 standout has committed to the Hoyas, choosing them over programs like Clemson and Penn.   Damaska is an elite ECNL player for the Atlanta Fire where she is her team's leading scorer and play-maker and always seems to rise to the occasion with big performances in the league's important events.
Grace DamaskaAt Georgetown she thinks she's found an environment to help hone her dynamic ability in the next phase of her career.
"I feel like I fit well with the Georgetown style of play and the personalities of the coaches and players," Damaska said. "I also love their academic reputation and location."
Joining Damaska in today's update is Abigayle Gearing, an Eclipse Select star who has verbally committed to Tennessee Tech for the 2013 season. Gearing has played up for her club on the U18 team Eclipse team and also put in her team in the USYSA National League.  Natasha Kouo, of PDA, is a former US Youth Soccer U15 National Champion, and recently has committed to Maryland for the 2013 season.  Other commits include:  Alexa Schneider (East Meadow United) has verbally committed to Albany for the 2013 season.  Emily Mosbacher (MVLA) has signed to Harvard for the 2012 season.  Haley Hooper (Windy City Pride) has verbally committed to Trinity College for the 2013 season.  Paige Phillips (FC Delco) has verbally committed to Vermont for the 2013 season.  Haley Pounds (Challenge SC) has verbally committed to Texas A&M for the 2014 season. Pounds has been a U14 and U15 U.S. National Team player.   Haley DesRosiers (Aztec Soccer) has verbally committed to Holy Cross for the 2013 season.  Clare Pleuler (Aztec Soccer) signed with Boston University for the 2012 season.  Shannon Mulvey has verbally committed to Saint Joseph's for the 2013 season.  Megan Tracewell (Penn Fusion) has verbally committed to Rhode Island for the 2013 season.  Erin Booth has verbally committed to Minnesota for the 2013 season.  Haley Yow (FC Virginia Hotspur) has verbally to Duquesne for the 2013 season.  Blake Pruitt (D'Feeters) has signed to Arkansas for the 2012 season.
Categorías: Youth Articles

U.S. Soccer needs to stay the course

Wed, 03/28/2012 - 2:00de la mañana

I have been asked about a dozen times today what I thought of the U23 MNT's nightmare exit from the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Nashville Monday night. I find it hard to be eloquent about a kick to the stomach, so I wasn't going to write anything, figuring the players ratings J.R. Eskilson and Travis Clark would suffice. But then my friend and colleague J.R. wrote the following for the 91st Minute and I realized the Philistines were upon me, so I had to write this. Here's what I have to say: With Jurgen Klinsmann, Claudio Reyna, Tony Lepore and others, U.S. Soccer has finally instituted a top-to-bottom system of player development that is truly aimed at long-term, high-level success. The hardships faced by both the full national team and Caleb Porter's U23 MNT as they try to implement a progressive style of play are not entirely surprising, but for our national team setup (full and youth) to abandon the mindset and course it has embarked upon would be a much greater tragedy than Monday's very disappointing result vs. El Salvador. We now have a setup where each of our youth national teams are taught a similar system of play that emphasizes possession, attacking and possession. One of the reasons Caleb Porter was selected for the U23 job is that he has been very successful with this in the college ranks at Akron, and is committed to his teams playing the right way.  It parallels what has taken place with Klinsmann on the full national level. His teams have had issues, but he has remained true to the cause, and I say this is a good thing. We need those kinds of coaches guiding our national teams. Look. U.S. Soccer has shown how far it can go in international competition with a style of play that mostly involves defending.  Playing 10-11 men behind the ball can probably get us out of the group stage at the World Cup (assuming the odd last-minute goal) and then that's about it. We can mostly dominate CONCACAF that way, but when we run against the best soccer nations in the world, not being able to play a true attacking style that involves attacking from multiple points and styles and a midfield that wins and keep the ball, we will lose to the teams who can play the right way, nearly all of the time.  This is the true hurdle we now have to overcome and it does not take place overnight. A lot of the players currently being employed at the older national team levels have had very little experience being coached to play that way. It doesn't mean they can't learn it, but again, it will take some time. For the sake of the greater and loftier goals, it is imperative that we keep working at it from this approach, and avoid kneejerk reactions regarding coaches, formations, style of play and playing personnel. At the younger age groups, the work being done via the USSF Development Academy and with the USSF Training Centers and scouting system is beginning to bear fruit. There is a clearer idea than we have had communicated before about what kind of player and team play is needed. The top-level coaches and scouts are communicating in a coordinated fashion with a purpose toward evaluation, identification and ultimately, better player development. There is finally a plan in place and it must be given a chance to take effect, no matter how it might affect some soccer baron's old-time business fiefdom. I've been watching this up close for 10 years now and I'm telling you, we finally have a chance to get somewhere. Each new cycle of U17 and U20 and then, full national team squads, will be receiving players who have played possession soccer, attacked via combination play, and developed actual 1v1 defending skill (rather than just relied on numbers behind the ball - this was a big issue with the U23s). As we produce more of these players, one can only hope that MLS teams will increasingly adopt such styles of play (what I'm seeing so far this season is not a cause for optimism) and those players will continue to develop as young professionals, the best of whom will then be the basis for the kind of youth and full national teams that can truly advance the cause of American soccer to the highest levels. This can happen. It's within perhaps a few years reach even, but we have to stay the course and be willing to suffer some tough moments in the meantime. Yes, there's accountability for underperforming, but we have to take a mature view to discerning the difference between that, and giving the requisite amount of time for our players learning top to bottom how they must play in order to climb the proverbial mountain. So even as we continue to push for greater reforms such as instilling the DA at younger age groups and expanding MLS Reserve schedules to a full season youngsters turning pro has a more certain player development payoff, let's be sure that we do nothing to short-circuit the very real progress we are making to truly contend for the international stature we supposedly all want for the American game.
Categorías: Youth Articles

U.S. Soccer needs to stay the course

Wed, 03/28/2012 - 2:00de la mañana

I have been asked about a dozen times today what I thought of the U23 MNT's nightmare exit from the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Nashville Monday night. I find it hard to be eloquent about a kick to the stomach, so I wasn't going to write anything, figuring the players ratings of J.R. Eskilltison and Travis Clark would suffice. But then my friend and colleague J.R. wrote the following for the 91st Minute and I realized the Philistines were upon me, so I had to write this. Here's what I have to say: With Jurgen Klinsmann, Claudio Reyna, Tony Lepore and others, U.S. Soccer has finally instituted a top-to-bottom system of player development that is truly aimed at long-term, high-level success. The hardships faced by both the full national team and Caleb Porter's U23 MNT as they try to implement a progressive style of play are not entirely surprising, but for our national team setup (full and youth) to abandon the mindset and course it has embarked upon would be a much greater tragedy than Monday's very disappointing result vs. El Salvador. We now have a setup where each of our youth national teams are taught a similar system of play that emphasizes possession, attacking and possession. One of the reasons Caleb Porter was selected for the U23 job is that he has been very successful with this in the college ranks at Akron, and is committed to his teams playing the right way.  It parallels what has taken place with Klinsmann on the full national level. His teams have had issues, but he has remained true to the cause, and I say this is a good thing. We need coaches just like that to guide our national teams. Look. U.S. Soccer has shown how far it can go in international competition with a style of play that mostly involves defending.  Playing 10-11 men behind the ball can probably get us out of the group stage at the World Cup (assuming the odd last-minute goal) and then that's about it. We can mostly dominate CONCACAF that way. But when we run against the best soccer nations in the world, if we are not able to play a true attacking style that involves attacking from multiple points, with more than one method and featuring a midfield that wins and keeps the ball, we will lose to the teams who can play the right way, nearly all of the time.  This is the true hurdle we now have to overcome and it does not take place overnight. A lot of the players currently being employed at the older national team levels have had very little experience being coached to play that way. It doesn't mean they can't learn it, but again, it will take some time. For the sake of the greater and loftier goals, it is imperative that we keep working at it from this approach, and avoid knee-jerk reactions regarding coaches, formations, style of play and playing personnel. At the younger age groups, the work being done via the USSF Development Academy and with the USSF Training Centers and scouting system is beginning to bear fruit. There is a clearer idea than we have had communicated before about what kind of player and team play is needed. The top-level coaches and scouts are communicating in a coordinated fashion with a purpose toward evaluation, identification and ultimately, better player development. There is finally a plan in place and it must be given a chance to take effect, no matter how it might affect some soccer baron's old-time business fiefdom. I've been watching this up close for 10 years now and I'm telling you, we finally have a chance to get somewhere. Each new cycle of U17 and U20 and then, full national team squads, will be receiving players who have played possession soccer, attacked via combination play, and developed actual 1v1 defending skill (rather than just relied on numbers behind the ball - this was a big issue with the U23s). As we produce more of these players, one can only hope that MLS teams will increasingly adopt such styles of play (what I'm seeing so far this season is not a cause for optimism) and those players will continue to develop as young professionals, the best of whom will then be the basis for the kind of youth and full national teams that can truly advance the cause of American soccer to the highest levels. This can happen. It's within perhaps a few years reach even, but we have to stay the course and be willing to suffer some tough moments in the meantime. Yes, there's accountability for underperforming, but we have to take a mature view to discerning the difference between that, and giving the requisite amount of time for our players learning top to bottom how they must play in order to climb the proverbial mountain. So even as we continue to push for greater reforms such as instilling the DA at younger age groups and expanding MLS Reserve schedules to a full season youngsters turning pro has a more certain player development payoff, let's be sure that we do nothing to short-circuit the very real progress we are making to truly contend for the international stature we supposedly all want for the American game.
Categorías: Youth Articles

U.S. Soccer needs to stay the course

Wed, 03/28/2012 - 2:00de la mañana

I have been asked about a dozen times today what I thought of the U23 MNT's nightmare exit from the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Nashville Monday night. I find it hard to be eloquent about a kick to the stomach, so I wasn't going to write anything, figuring the players ratings J.R. Eskilson and Travis Clark would suffice. But then my friend and colleague J.R. wrote the following for the 91st Minute and I realized the Philistines were upon me, so I had to write this. Here's what I have to say: With Jurgen Klinsmann, Claudio Reyna, Tony Lepore and others, U.S. Soccer has finally instituted a top-to-bottom system of player development that is truly aimed at long-term, high-level success. The hardships faced by both the full national team and Caleb Porter's U23 MNT as they try to implement a progressive style of play are not entirely surprising, but for our national team setup (full and youth) to abandon the mindset and course it has embarked upon would be a much greater tragedy than Monday's very disappointing result vs. El Salvador. We now have a setup where each of our youth national teams are taught a similar system of play that emphasizes possession, attacking and possession. One of the reasons Caleb Porter was selected for the U23 job is that he has been very successful with this in the college ranks at Akron, and is committed to his teams playing the right way.  It parallels what has taken place with Klinsmann on the full national level. His teams have had issues, but he has remained true to the cause, and I say this is a good thing. We need those kinds of coaches guiding our national teams. Look. U.S. Soccer has shown how far it can go in international competition with a style of play that mostly involves defending.  Playing 10-11 men behind the ball can probably get us out of the group stage at the World Cup (assuming the odd last-minute goal) and then that's about it. We can mostly dominate CONCACAF that way, but when we run against the best soccer nations in the world, not being able to play a true attacking style that involves attacking from multiple points and styles and a midfield that wins and keep the ball, we will lose to the teams who can play the right way, nearly all of the time.  This is the true hurdle we now have to overcome and it does not take place overnight. A lot of the players currently being employed at the older national team levels have had very little experience being coached to play that way. It doesn't mean they can't learn it, but again, it will take some time. For the sake of the greater and loftier goals, it is imperative that we keep working at it from this approach, and avoid kneejerk reactions regarding coaches, formations, style of play and playing personnel. At the younger age groups, the work being done via the USSF Development Academy and with the USSF Training Centers and scouting system is beginning to bear fruit. There is a clearer idea than we have had communicated before about what kind of player and team play is needed. The top-level coaches and scouts are communicating in a coordinated fashion with a purpose toward evaluation, identification and ultimately, better player development. There is finally a plan in place and it must be given a chance to take effect, no matter how it might affect some soccer baron's old-time business fiefdom. I've been watching this up close for 10 years now and I'm telling you, we finally have a chance to get somewhere. Each new cycle of U17 and U20 and then, full national team squads, will be receiving players who have played possession soccer, attacked via combination play, and developed actual 1v1 defending skill (rather than just relied on numbers behind the ball - this was a big issue with the U23s). As we produce more of these players, one can only hope that MLS teams will increasingly adopt such styles of play (what I'm seeing so far this season is not a cause for optimism) and those players will continue to develop as young professionals, the best of whom will then be the basis for the kind of youth and full national teams that can truly advance the cause of American soccer to the highest levels. This can happen. It's within perhaps a few years reach even, but we have to stay the course and be willing to suffer some tough moments in the meantime. Yes, there's accountability for underperforming, but we have to take a mature view to discerning the difference between that, and giving the requisite amount of time for our players learning top to bottom how they must play in order to climb the proverbial mountain. So even as we continue to push for greater reforms such as instilling the DA at younger age groups and expanding MLS Reserve schedules to a full season youngsters turning pro has a more certain player development payoff, let's be sure that we do nothing to short-circuit the very real progress we are making to truly contend for the international stature we supposedly all want for the American game.
Categorías: Youth Articles

Meet new U18 head coach Javier Perez

Wed, 03/28/2012 - 12:01de la mañana

CARSON, Calif. -- Who is Javier Perez?

That is the question many U.S. Soccer fans asked when the federation named the Spaniard the U18 Men's National Team head coach in February.

At only 34 years of age, he is the youngest head coach among the current group in the youth national team program.

Perez's history and background though belies the fears of naïveté.

He already has a Ph.D in Exercise Physiology, a UEFA PRO license from Royal Spanish Football Federation - one of three coaches in Spain to have both honors, and studied at some of the top clubs across Europe.  

How did a young coach with that pedigree arrive in the fold of U.S. Soccer?

Claudio Reyna.

Javier Perez"He is a very special person," Perez told TopDrawerSoccer.com about his friendship with the U.S. Youth Technical Director. "We met through a mutual friend when I was in London. We connected instantly because we see soccer in a similar way, but we approach it from a different perspective - he has the vision of a professional player and I have the vision of a coach."

Perez started coaching when he was 24 years old, and he quickly rose through the ranks in Spain.  

"When I was working with Real Madrid, I had the opportunity to start working with the Spanish Federation," Perez said. "I had the chance to learn from the top of the soccer world in Spain. Through all these years, I have been building this knowledge and experience coaching."

Over the course of the last decade, he spent six years with Real Madrid's youth academy, a couple in London studying different styles of play from clubs likes Chelsea, Inter, and Ajax, and a few starting the New York Soccer Club with Reyna in 2009.

"After Claudio retired, he was looking at how to make a difference in youth soccer in his country and he had this idea about starting a club in New York," Perez said about partnering with Reyna to start a club. "He had the idea to start something special - with his experience of the U.S. soccer landscape and my knowledge of European clubs and coaching - but it was short-lived as U.S. Soccer immediately hired him as the Youth Technical Director."

Perez remained the Director of Coaching at the New York Soccer Club after Reyna left, a position that Perez still holds today.

It would not be long before their paths would intertwine again, as Perez co-wrote the U.S. Soccer coaching curriculum, which Reyna unveiled last April.

And now, Perez finds himself once again working alongside his friend.

"The challenge is very big, and I am glad I have Claudio guiding the whole process," Perez said about the job as a youth national team head coach. "The challenge here is to build up a proper style of play. In other countries, it is smaller and there is a similar type of player.

"In this country, we have different backgrounds and many different ideas. So bringing players from different teams in different parts of the country and put them together and make them work with the same style of play is the biggest challenge."

Now in charge of his first youth national team, Perez is quick to get to work on making the direction of his team clear.

"This camp is very much about what is the style of play," he said about his first camp. "It is about what we want from them individually and as a team. On the field today, I was giving them one directive, move the ball quickly."

The players said they have enjoyed the camp so far, and all spoke about the similar message from the coaching staff in the first few days.

"I like Javier's sessions," Chivas USA Academy forward Ben Spencer told TopDrawerSoccer.com. Spencer also said he thought Perez was focusing on possession and speed of play in the first days of camp. 

"The new staff is focusing on speed of play and getting the ball moving quicker," De Anza Force defender Michael Amick told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "We have been working on possession in short, tight spaces. It has been good so far."

U17 World Cup veteran Alejandro Guido agreed with his teammates: "The coaching staff is focused on possession and getting the ball forward."

As the coach builds this team and the style of play, one element of his past may have a hand in helping him take the best approach to utilizing his players.  

"I don't think sports science is a big thing here or in other Anglo-Saxon countries, but it is in Spain and Portugal," Perez said about his educational upbringing. "A sport science background helps you understand the game from a different point of view, not only as a coach, but also to see the productivity of the players. It helps understand how the players can be more efficient on the field."

Even with a notable educational background, Perez recognized that as a young head coach in the youth national team program, he is a bit unique.

"I would say it is probably an unusual profile - to have a young coach with this type of role - but I feel very confident and comfortable with the position. I am extremely happy and excited."

U18 Men's National Team Camp Roster:

Goalkeepers (4): Alex Bono (Empire United; Baldwinsville, N.Y.), Ethan Horvath (Real Colorado; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Zackary Steffen (Philadelphia Union; Downington, PA), Jacole Turner (Sporting KC; Lee's Summit, Mo.)

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

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

Forwards (10): Jordan Allen (RSL Arizona; Rochester, N.Y.), Paul Arriola (Arsenal FC; Chula Vista, Calif.), Christian Cruz (San Jose Earthquakes; Hercules, Calif.), Benjamin Lopez (RSL Arizona; San Diego, Calif.), Andrew Oliver (Chicago Fire; Indianapolis, Ind.), Zach Pfeffer (Philadelphia Union; Dresher, Pa.), Esteban Rodriguez (Tijuana, MX; Palmdale, Calif.), Ben Spencer (CD Chivas USA; Albuquerque, N.M.), Jaime Villareal (LA Galaxy; Inglewood, Calif.), Travis Wannemuehler (Indiana Fire United; Evansville, Ind.)

 

J.R. Eskilson is a staff reporter at TopDrawerSoccer.com. Follow him on or send him an ' ); document.write( addy_text83699 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //-->\n ' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ' ); //-->
Categorías: Youth Articles

SEC continues to improve by leads and bounds

Tue, 03/27/2012 - 11:50de la tarde
Change is afoot in the Southeastern Conference.

Offseason moves mean that the conference is going have a new look in the fall, with Missouri and Texas A&M joining up for 2012.

Along with that, Tennessee's Angela Kelly moved on to coach at Texas, and was replaced by former Maryland head coach Brian Pensky.

His first impressions of the shifting conference after two months on the job are glowing.

"The growth of this conference I think is really occurring right now," he told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "It's inspiring all of us to be better, it's inspiring all of us to work harder and therefore be better."

Nicole LocandroThis year, the 14-school landscape is certain to provide a unique challenge, as the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri means that this fall each team plays each other once, offering very little wiggle room in non-conference action.

Georgia head coach Steve Holeman is pleased about the two new programs coming aboard.

"We're adding two quality opponents - Texas A&M is a perennial top 10 team in the country and Missouri is usually a top 25 program, NCAA team," he told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "It's just going to make our conference better and strong, more competitive."

For now, however, the shifting landscape is something on the horizon, not immediately impacting spring preparations. Schools like Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Auburn, Florida that are angling for the top spots next season are hard at work in spring preparations.

In Tennessee, life for new head coach Pensky is busy as he gets to know his new team, new surroundings, and an entirely new set of opposition. That isn't putting a damper on anything, however.

"Right now I'm learning about our team and the areas in which we are good and the areas in which we need to get better," he said. "And we're going to be the best we can be. I think there's no reason why we can't compete at a high level in this league and give ourselves to do very, very well in this league."

Pensky has a big challenge on his hands, as he looks to replace two of Tennessee's three leading scorers from the fall - although he's hopeful that the speedy tandem of Iyana Moore and Alexis Steadman will be a handful up front.

Regardless, this fall is going to provide a testing ground for Pensky, although adjusting from the ACC shouldn't be too difficult of a process.

One team with its work cut out for it is Georgia. Looking to build on last fall's at-large bid into the NCAA tournament, the Bulldogs are without six important players for the entire spring season because of injuries. That includes Alexa Newfield, the conference's leading scorer in the fall who is out with a meniscus tear in her knee.

Fortunately there is a silver lining, as the injuries are providing opportunity for others to shine at this time of year.

"You're seeing some of our forwards that came off the bench and played probably anywhere from 20-40 minutes a game that are really playing 80-90 minutes in the spring games," Holeman said. "They're getting a lot of quality playing time, it's only going to make them better, improve them and give them more chances to play in the fall."

Every team in the SEC is going to be dealing with one thing this fall - the nature of the schedule creating must-win situations almost every time teams play outside the conference, as it'll impact the chances of an at-large bid at the end of the season.

"Since we're actually playing everyone in our conference, it becomes imperative that we all do extremely well in our non-conference games," Holeman said. "Most teams in the SEC are only going to have six non-conference games, so it's hard to get it exactly right because RPI is such a big factor."

Of course, the exact implications won't be known until this fall. But despite the numerous changes and new look, there's little doubting the SEC is going to be just as deep, if not even more challenging, come this fall.

Players to Watch

Alexa Newfield
, Georgia - A sterling sophomore season where she scored 16 goals and added eight assists has Newfield poised for big things. And while she'll miss most of the spring with an injury, her importance to a strong Georgia side cannot be overstated.

Erika Tymrak, Florida - An offensive juggernaut on the SEC's most prolific attack last fall, Tymrak is a senior this year and will no doubt be looking to go out with a bang.

Sabrina D'Angelo, South Carolina - Last fall's SEC Freshman of the Year, D'Angelo is fresh off a successful U20 World Cup qualifying campaign with Canada which means she'll miss part of the fall season. An excellent goalkeeper, her presence at the back provides a security blanket to the South Carolina back line.
Categorías: Youth Articles

West Virginia joins MAC for Men's Soccer

Tue, 03/27/2012 - 6:17de la tarde

The Mid-American Conference (MAC) announced today the addition of West Virginia as an affiliate member in men's soccer beginning in the 2012-13 academic year.

The addition of the Mountaineers will increase the MAC men's soccer membership to eight members-five from MAC full-time membership (Akron, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan) and three affiliate members (Florida Atlantic University, Hartwick College, West Virginia).

"I am pleased to welcome West Virginia University as an affiliate member in men's soccer beginning with the 2012 season," said Dr. Jon A. Steinbrecher, Commissioner of the Mid-American Conference.  "The Mountaineers have a wonderful history in men's soccer and will depth and strength to the Mid-American Conference."

The 2012 season will be the 51st season of competition for men's soccer for West Virginia.  The Mountaineers have a 410-339-81 all-time record (1961-2011) and have 12 NCAA Tournament appearances, including five since the 2005 season, and 14 All-Americans.

"West Virginia University is committed to remaining a national player in men's soccer.  We believe an affiliation with the Mid-American Conference provides our institution a platform to partner with quality soccer programs represented by a loyal, passionate fan base.  We look forward to continuing a proud tradition of soccer excellence in the Mid-American Conference," said Oliver Luck, West Virginia University Director of Athletics.

"Our team has a tradition of success and an incredible fan base with record-setting crowds," said Dr. James P. Clements, West Virginia University President.  "We have some very exciting soccer to look forward to this year and I have no doubt our men's team will continue to make Mountaineer nation very proud."

West Virginia is led by head coach Marlon LeBlanc, as the Mountaineers finished the 2011 season with an 11-8-1 record and an RPI of 24 and strength of schedule of 19th in the nation.  Last season, West Virginia defeated Xavier, 2-1, in the NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament First Round, before falling at Maryland, 4-0, in the Second Round.

Last year marked the fourth time in the last six seasons for the program to be ranked among RPI in the Top 25.  LeBlanc was named 2006 Soccer America Coach of the Year, as well as the 2006 FieldTurf National Coach of the Year and 2006 NSCAA/Adidas Northeast Coach of the Year.  In addition, West Virginia has ranked in the Top 25 in attendance in each of the last four consecutive seasons.

"I would like to thank Commissioner Steinbrecher, Associate Commissioner's Donyale Canada and Jeff Bacon, and the Mid-American Conference member institutions for inviting West Virginia University as an affiliate member in the MAC for men's soccer," said head coach Marlon LeBlanc. "Athletic Director Oliver Luck gave me the green light to pursue whichever conference avenue was going to be the best fit for our men's soccer program.

After extensive research, spearheaded by West Virginia Associate Athletic Director Terri Howes, we believe the MAC provides us the best opportunity to partner with a conference that recognizes soccer as a priority sport, and with other institutions that share an uncompromising vision and expectation of excellence on the field and in the classroom. Our goals of competing for and winning National Championships remains unchanged, and clearly, the Mid-American Conference has proven that it prepares its programs to win national championships.

The MAC, which was already a very competitive league, is now even stronger with the addition of West Virginia University and has the potential to be one of the better leagues in the NCAA. With the continued support of our university President Dr. Jim Clements, Athletic Director Oliver Luck, the Morgantown community, and the Mountaineer Maniacs, which provide us with one of the best atmospheres in all of college soccer, I am confident that West Virginia soccer will continue to flourish in the Mid-American Conference."

West Virginia witnessed goalkeeper Zach Johnson drafted in the 2011 supplemental draft by the L.A. Galaxy.  Also, defender Raymon Gaddis became the first West Virginia player to ever be drafted in the MLS SuperDraft, selected in the second round, 35th overall, by the Philadelphia Union in 2012.  All combined, coach LeBlanc has witnessed seven former players turn professional.


MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE
Founded in 1946, the Mid-American Conference is an NCAA Division I, 12-member conference that sponsors 23 championships and is one of 11 members of the Football Bowl Subdivison (FBS). With total enrollment of nearly 300,000 students, the league represents institutions of higher learning in six (6) states - Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, and Ohio. In addition a 13th school - University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA. -- is an affiliate member for football only.

Current MAC schools that hold full membership and the year they joined are -- East Division: University of Akron (1992), Bowling Green State University (1952), University at Buffalo (1998), Kent State University (1951), Miami University (1947), Ohio University (1946). West Division: Ball State University (1973), Central Michigan University (1971), Eastern Michigan University (1971), Northern Illinois University (1975-86, rejoined in 1997), University of Toledo (1950), Western Michigan University (1947).  The University of Massachusetts (2012) competes in the East Division in football only. The conference office is based in Cleveland, Ohio.

Categorías: Youth Articles

U17 MNT Training Session Examined, Part 2

Tue, 03/27/2012 - 5:32de la mañana

(TopDrawerSoccer.com Managing Editor Robert Ziegler recently spent part of a week in Bradenton, Florida with the U17 Men's National Team residency program. Following is one of a series of articles about what he saw and heard there). 
BRADENTON, FLORIDA - On the 2nd day we werre on hand to watch the U17 Men's National Team train (Read about Day 1 here), the team started with strength and agility, working to improve explosiveness and core strength through various exercises requiring them to generate maximum pulling power, utilizing some nifty equipment that generates resistance as each player tries to accelerate. Some older-fashioned drills with a medicine ball are also employed to build strength. While the goalkeepers begin working on footskills of their own, the field players breaking off into 7, 3v1 groups, playing keep away in very tight spaces. "We cannot have lackadaisical passing," head coach Richie Williams shouts to the players at one point. His assistant Jim Rooney adds "If you're reaching (for the ball), you're not moving." The team then shifts to a somewhat elaborate passing drill that involves a lot of moving and accurate distribution, with players required to keep mental tabs on the actions of several players around them.  Williams talks with the group after several variations of the passing drill, using the occasion to impart some overall philosophy to the young group. "You're going to make mistakes out there, we all do," he says. "But let's be learning things. Don't keep making the same mistake." On another occasion he talks about being total soccer players. "It's not just athleticism and technique," he said. "You have to be smart out there. So often it comes down to your decisions." At another point when some of the passing in a possession game begins to suffer, he warns players against being overly elaborate. "There's a point when you start to get tired and then it's even more important to play simple and smart," he says. "Let the ball do the work. That's how we want to play." The team then breaks into a short scrimmage (maybe 20 minutes). The lineup for one side seems to reflect the players who have been starting in the team's matches this spring against MLS or college sides. Junior Flores is creative at attacking midfielder while Cameron Lindley and Angel Heredia keep things moving in the holding slots. Rubio Rubin is an attacking force on the left. Defender Ty ler Turner is good in the air and goalkeeper Evan Louro comes off his line well. The effort in the scrimmage is quite evident, but throughout it, the coaching staff are touching on finer points of positioning, movement and organization. The players then break into three groups (loosely defined: defenders, midfielder and forwards) for some functional finishing training (to coin a phrase). What I mean by that is the midfielders were practicing shooting on the run from some distance after having a ball laid off for them by a target player (Rooney in this case). The team utilizes defender silhouettes which were doing a good job of blocking some shots, but some of these midfielders can really drill a ball.  Williams was working with forwards on finishing as well, only they were hitting shots from their own dribbling at the end of the area, alternating which way they would move in relation to the goal before shooting.  Latronica had goalkeepers and defending playing something like a corner kick goal, with a lot of crossing and heading being worked on. The common denominator of all three groups is that they were training players on how to put the ball into the back of the net. This day's work finished with some light calisthenic or warmdown activity, and once again the team scurried off to clean up and get ready for school. Among other things, players can work in the evening individually on technique or additional sports science-related activities.  One day I was there, the group was having ice baths after school, in tubs set up outside the athletic training offices. This was being done as the group followed the closing minutes of a UEFA Champions League match that saw Chelsea fight back from a deficit to advance in the knockout stages, setting off a wild celebration among the obviously soccer-mad group.  Players talked about spending some time on the FIFA 2012 video game, while TV in the rooms allows them to watch the big games. Players are given help with their academic work and of course the soccer facilities are all right there, with training daily and games on most weekends.  It's not hard to figure out why youth players from around the country want to be here, but the current cycle of U17s could be the last that utilizes residency, as the USSF Development Academy continues to improve, and a way to prepare players that doesn't take them out of their home environment is increasingly preferred. Part 6: Exclusive Player Interviews
Categorías: Youth Articles

U.S. eliminated from Olympic Qualifiers

Tue, 03/27/2012 - 2:05de la mañana
It was an epic, heartbreaking failure for the U.S. U23 Men's National Team on Monday night in the final game of Group A play from the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Nashville.

Holding a 3-2 lead in the 94th minute, the U.S. only needed to withstand a few more seconds of play before hearing the referee blow his whistle for full time and clinching a spot for the team in the semifinal.

El Salvador midfielder Jaime Alas picked off a pass in the midfield and raced into space. Alas tried his luck from 25 yards out, which skipped across the turf off the fingertips of Sean Johnson and into the net for the equalizer at the death.

"The players are devastated," U23 MNT head coach Caleb Porter said in an emotional press conference following the game. "Sorry for the fans. Sorry for U.S. Soccer. We just weren't able to get the job done."

The 3-3 draw dropped the U.S. to third place in the group, which ends the U.S.'s run to clinching a spot at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. El Salvador and Canada advanced from Group A and will play in the semifinals on Saturday.

U.S. Player Ratings:


Bill Hamid, 5 -- The injury put a damper on his night, and held him partially responsible for both of the goals. He did not do much prior to taking the knock, and was not entirely at fault for either goal.

Kofi Sarkodie, 5 -- His return to the lineup provided a much needed boost of energy. But he screened Boyd on El Salvador's goal from a set piece and didn't engineer a tremendous amount going forward.

Ike Opara, 5
-- Again the defense wasn't good enough, conceding three cheap goals. And while Opara made no obvious errors, there were numerous shaky moments that culminated with the last-minute goal.

Perry Kitchen, 5
-- In the same vein as Opara, Kitchen played okay, but wasn't nearly as commanding and the back line still had too many problems and issues that weren't sorted out.

Jorge Villafana, 4 -- Most of El Salvador's success came down the U.S. left flank, where Villafana was overrun at times. His poor ball for Kitchen started the sequence for El Salvador's second tally of the game.  

Amboi Okugo, 6 -- The early yellow card slowed his game, and while he played well enough to avoid contact and still boss the midfield. However, he didn't do that well enough towards the end of the game.

Mix Diskerud, 5 -- The center midfielder had trouble finding the game in the first half, and dropped into a deeper role in the second half with some success at facilitating the offense.

Joe Corona, 5 -- Like the game against Canada, Corona's time and space on the ball was limited by the buzzing El Salvadorans. Without that, Corona's impact on the game was minimal, except for when he popped up to score what was the go-ahead tally at the time.

Freddy Adu, 7
-- There was a ten-minute spell in the second half where Adu took over the game and provided two brilliant assists. Questions should be asked about why he was taken off at the end, when he had done well holding the ball.

Terrence Boyd, 7 -- The German-born striker provided two quality goals, and withstood the abusive tactics from defenders. He did lose the mark on the first goal, and he failed to hold possession in the corner at the end of the game.

Brek Shea, 6 -- The start to the game could not have been better for Shea. He torched the right back and delivered a great assist to Boyd. After that, it was a struggle for Shea, who could also shoulder blame on not being able to kill off the game.

Substitutes:

Sean Johnson, 4 -- Johnson's night will be remembered for his unsuccessful effort on the final shot from distance, but he did have two quality saves earlier in the half.  

Michael Stephens, NR -- Only had a few minutes at the end.

Joe Gyau, NR -- Only had a minute at the end of the contest.
Categorías: Youth Articles

A pair of GKs commit to their local programs

Tue, 03/27/2012 - 1:54de la mañana

Scott Levene, one of the top goalkeepers in his age group, has committed to hometown University of Connecticut for the 2013 season.

Levene is an FC Westchester product who has made quite the name for himself in his region during his strong young career. He has attended multiple U.S. Youth National Team camps and competed for high school state titles.

Levene, who tries to model his game after our nation's top shot stopper Tim Howard, had his sights set mostly on East Coast programs before setting on Ray Reid's powerhouse Huskies.

"I am very pleased to have been chosen by coach Ray Reid as the University of Connecticut offers me an outstanding fit for both academics and soccer," he said. "I am proud to be able to play for my home state and it's a dream come true."

Joining Levene in today's update is fellow U14 and U15 U.S. National Team call-in Jonathan Davis, another netminder who has committed to NC State for the 2013 season.

A South Atlantic Region standout, Davis is also supporting a local program and will bring a lot of good experience to the table.

In other boys' news:

Javan Toledo (Andromeda SC) has signed with Midwestern State for the 2012 season.

Bernard Tume (Arsenal FC - CA) has signed with Valparaiso for the 2012 season.

Zachary Bialik (Match Fit) has verbally committed to Rutgers for the 2013 season.

Ngeindolah Smith (Bethesda SC) has verbally committed to Colgate for the 2013 season.

Categorías: Youth Articles

ECNL Weekend Recap March 23-25

Tue, 03/27/2012 - 1:48de la mañana

It was a light weekend of ECNL action with another showcase coming soon in San Diego at the end of March. But one particular matchup from the latest action renewed a rivalry.

Last year, FC Stars of Massachusetts U18s saw its national title hopes dashed by PDA out at the ECNL nationals in Colorado.

On Sunday, FC Stars were able to secure a small measure of revenge, defeating PDA 2-1, as the Stars played its first action of 2012 over the weekend.

"We've been looking forward to this game since nationals in Colorado," U18 head coach Jason Dewhurst told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "The lead up the last couple weeks has been real intense in training and they've been constantly been thinking about this game. I won't say it was revenge, it's just the chance to put something right."

FC Stars took a 2-0 lead thanks to a pair of goals by Hayley Dowd, before PDA pulled one back with about five minutes left in the game. Both sides had chances after that, and PDA came close to equalizing, hitting the crossbar before FC Starts held on for the win.

2010 ECNL Semifinal"We knew it was going to be a good game, it was back and forth, end to end, chances on both sides," Dewhurst said. "They're a very, very good team."

Unfortunately for FC Stars, the entire weekend wasn't a good one. With the PDA game on Sunday, a matchup against World Class FC only ended in a 1-1 draw. Morgan Andrews scored to give FC Stars the lead, but World Class scored with just about a minute to go.

But the hiccup Saturday ended up adding fuel to the fire for Sunday's grudge match.

"We knew we had to bounce back from the disappointment from Saturday and make sure we took care of business on Sunday and they did," Dewhurst said.

Other action at the U18 age group saw PDA win its other match of the weekend, dropping Scorpions SC 5-0. Crossfire Premier took out Pleasanton Rage 3-1 out in the Pacific Northwest, while Mustang SC beat Washington Premier 3-0.

U15

Bethesda SC won big over the weekend, running past FC Delco by a 5-0 score...Washington Premier was involved in two low-scoring matches, tying Mustang SC 0-0 and beating Pleasanton Rage 1-0...FC Stars of Massachusetts defeated World Class FC 5-1.


U16

FC Delco picked up an important win; defeating East Coast rivals Bethesda SC 3-0 on Saturday. The hosts scored twice within the first 10 minutes of the game through Linnea Faccenda and a Tayler Jamison penalty kick. A lengthy injury break threw the game off track, and with FC Delco still up two, Lauren Mengel cleared a Bethesda chance off the line. Alexandra McKinley scored to put the game away.

"We did a good job of high-pressuring them and not letting them get in a rhythm," FC Delco coach Nick Chrisanthon said. "FC Bethesda's a very technical team and we did a good job of disrupting them."

Albertson Fury snuck past East Meadow by a 1-0 score...FC Stars of Masschusetts went unbeaten, beating World Class FC 2-1 and drawing 1-1 with PDA.

U17

Out west, Slammers FC put in a dominant performance, winning 5-1 over Arsenal FC...PDA swept its pair of games, winning 3-2 over FC Stars of Massachusetts and 1-0 over Scorpions SC...Connecticut FC defeated SoccerPlus Connecticut 2-1.

Bethesda SC won 2-0 on the road over FC Delco thanks to goals from Izzy Latour and Jordan Coburn. Catherine Granville set up both tallies for Bethesda, who continued to put pressure on conference leaders Ohio Premier and FC Virginia with the win.

Categorías: Youth Articles

Development Academy Recap: March 24-25

Tue, 03/27/2012 - 1:40de la mañana

The rarity of special players is what makes seeing them in person so extraordinary. 

On Saturday, UC Santa Barbara commit Emannuel Boateng showed exactly why it is easy to call him an exceptional talent.  

Boateng, in his U.S. Soccer Federation Development Academy debut, supplied two splendid assists and Strikers FC U18 held onto a 2-1 victory over Seattle Sounders. 

It is pretty rare for a club to add a player of Boateng's quality midway through the season, and that fact did not elude Strikers FC U18 head coach Ruben Fernandez after the game. 

"We have been playing good soccer - this is a very hard-working group," Fernandez told TopDrawerSoccer.com. "We just didn't have that special player and it is a big help for us. He is obviously a special player."

The coach went onto say that now that his team had added that missing piece, the wins will start to come after an unlucky, difficult start to the season. 

Ema BoatengHis prediction rang true on Sunday, as Strikers topped Crossfire Premier 2-0 to improve to 7-10-2 on the season. 

Boateng has escaped much of the national limelight while starring for Cate School, a small, private boarding school in the suburbs of Santa Barbara, California, over the past three seasons in the lowest division of CIF athletics.   

The 18-year-old arrived in the United States in 2010 via the Right to Dream academy, which helps children in Ghana find new opportunities. Seattle Sounders midfielder Michael Tetteh and Marquette University's James C. Nortey are also graduates of Right to Dream. 

The explosive left-footed attacker figures to be a crucial piece for the Gauchos in the fall, but for now, can he do enough in the Strikers' final eight games to push them into playoff contention?

 

West

Strikers FC U16 topped Seattle Sounders 4-0. The MLS academy had multiple players playing up with the U18 team and was a bit shorthanded. It also did not help when Ryan Harber was red carded shortly after half. Strikers took advantage of the numerical gain with goals from Christian Thierjung, Daniel Herrerea, Felipe Liborio Jr., and Adam Lenth. 

Crossfire found some success on the trip to Southern California with a 3-2 win over Pateadores on Saturday. Pateadores' prolific striker TJ Casner scored twice, but Crossfires' Ian Adams answered with two of his own. Carlos Aceves-Dela Cruz netted the game-winner for the Seattle club. 

In the U16 game, former Chivas USA star Christian Carrillo was on point for Pateadores in a 2-0 win. Nahum Paz also scored for the Pats. 

In a Northwest Division showdown, Vancouver Whitecaps U18 beat De Anza Force in a meeting between top teams. The visitors from Northern California overcame an early goal by Spencer DeBoice via goals from Greg Singer and Luc Brubaker. But the visitors could not hold on and an own goal and strike from Ben Fisk secured three points for the MLS Academy. 

In the younger fixture, De Anza Force fought back from a 2-0 hole at half to claim a draw on the road. Joseph Bolous scored early in the second half and Arya Haghighi equalizered in the final moments. 

San Jose Earthquakes U16 defeated Cal Odyssey 1-0 behind a late second half goal from Roberto Mendoza. The Earthquakes are now 5-3-1 on the season and fourth in the Northwest Division. 

In the lone fixture between SoCal Division foes, Arsenal U16 topped Real So Cal 4-3. Mason Klerks scored twice, while Paul Arriola and Jose Garcia also scored for the winners. Christian Chavez had a brace for Real So Cal and Luis Carbajal added another in a losing effort. 

Central

Indiana United Fire Academy claimed two wins on Saturday. The U18 team topped Internationals (Ohio) 2-1 thanks to goals from Ahmed Mitchie and Michael Galullo. Indiana United Fire U16 cruised to a 3-0 victory behind a brace from Joey Bastian. Rece Buckmaster scored the other goal. 

In Texas, the Texas Rush U18 mounted an impressive comeback in a 3-3 draw against Solar Chelsea SC on Saturday. Solar's Samuel Hayward, Ryan Condotta, and Chandler Crosswalt all scored in the opening 23 minutes, but Rush grabbed one back right before half via Diego Galdamez. 

Rush carried the momentum into the second half and completed the comeback with goals from Carlos Mendoza and Philip Piper to steal a point after a horrendous start. 

Dallas Texans U18 rolled over Classics Elite 5-0 on Saturday with five different players finding the back of the net. Brandon Aubrey, Barry Foster, Geoffrey Hill, Slyvester Contreras, and Andre Reyes all scored for the Texas. 

The U16 game was not any kinder to Classics Elite. Cooper Whitfield, Christian Soldat, and Jason Machado each scored two goals apiece for Dallas Texans U16 in a 6-0 win. The Texans are now 16-1-7 on the season and ten points clear at the top of the division.

 

South 

Roland Minogue IV scored both goals for Charlotte SA U18 in a 2-0 win over North Meck on Saturday. Minogue now has seven goals in 14 games, as Charlotte continues to close the gap at the top of the Atlantic Division. 

In the U16 clash, Charlotte SA suffered its first loss of the season in division play. A second half goal from Chukwuka Anyafo propelled North Meck to a 1-0 win. 

In Florida, Kendall SC U18 beat Clearwater Chargers 3-1 on Saturday. Daniel Gonzalez, Nahuel Medina, and Dario Vanegas scored for Kendall in the victory. 

Clearwater Chargers U16 stormed past Kendall SC in the U16 game. Brandon Kim, Austin Myara, Bakie Goodman, and Nicholas Day all scored in the 4-0 result. 

On Sunday, Nicholas Pappacena continued his stellar season with two goals in a 5-1 win for Weston FC over Clearwater Chargers. Pappacena now has 11 goals in 17 games. 

East

This season is going from bad to worse quickly for the South Central Premier (Connecticut) U16 team. 

Oakwood Soccer Club (Connecticut) was the latest to beat up on SCP. Luke Nguyen recorded a hat trick for Oakwood in a 3-0 win and SCP dropped 0-9-0 on the season with a negative 32-goal differential. 

On the other end of the spectrum, New York Red Bulls had a perfect weekend with four wins in four games. It started on Saturday with a prototypical game-winner from Georgetown commit Brandon Allen in a 1-0 win over Match Fit Chelsea. Allen wasn't done for the weekend though. He added another game-winner the next day in a 2-0 win over NJSA.

The scoring was more spread out for the New York Red Bulls U16 team. Malcolm Dixon, Derrick Etienne, Amando Moreno, Alex Muyl, and Adam Najem all scored in a 5-0 win over Match Fit Chelsea on Saturday. 

Moreno completed the brilliant weekend with two more goals on Sunday. Ismar Tandir, Matthew Miazga, and Muyl also scored in a 5-2 win over NJSA. 

Baltimore Bays Chelsea U18 ran its winning streak to five games on Saturday with a 3-0 victory over FC Greater Boston. Yaw Amankwa, Tanner Vosvick, and Ishmaiah Calwrie scored for the winning side. 

In the U16 game, FC Greater Boston handed Baltimore Bays Chelsea its second loss of the season in a 1-0 game. Harrison Swartz scored for the Massachusetts club.

Categorías: Youth Articles

Legends dominate 2011-12 National League Champs

Mon, 03/26/2012 - 10:01de la tarde

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (March 25, 2012)- The US Youth Soccer National League Under-15, Under-16 and Under-17 Boys and Girls, and Under-18 Boys completed their third and final day of matches today at the Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex in Las Vegas, held in conjunction with the Players Showcase.

Other than the Under-18 Girls, who completed league play in Orlando at the end of December, the rest of the 14 division titles had to wait until the final weekend in Las Vegas to be decided, including five divisions coming down to the final day of play.  Division champions in the Under-15 through Under-17 Boys and Girls age groups earned a place at this summer's US Youth Soccer National Championships, and first and second place finishers earned automatic qualification to compete in the league again next season.

With so much on the line, games in Las Vegas carried significant meaning toward the outcome of the season.

As a club, Legends FC of Southern California finished the season in unprecedented fashion, as all four Legends girls teams that qualified for the league won their division title.

In the five year history of the National League, only one club had won more than one National League title in the same season. 

The Dallas Texans have won multiple league titles in the same year three different times, but only once did they win more than one in the same gender. 

The Texans won U-15 Girls and U-16 Boys in 07-08, the U-16 and U-17 Girls and U-16 Boys in 08-09 and the U-16 Girls and U-17 Boys last season. 

This season, Legends FC won U-15, U-16 and both U-17 championships.

Under-16 Legends FC 95 were the second team from the club to clinch a title, and the first of three on the final day.  They were locked in a heated race with 2011 National Championships participant Match Fit Chelsea Beat (NJ) that came down to the last game of the season.

"All seven games could have gone either way, every game was a battle.  In Atlanta, we came back from being down 2-0 to win in extra time 3-2, we won yesterday in the 80th minute, so there was never a game thinking we were going to win.  We were in a battle all seven games," said U-16 Head Coach John King.  "Being able to put together seven games during the whole league is amazing.  This team is a bunch of warriors and I think it's special because it's not easy to put together seven games in this league.  So, for them to do this, and to finish on top, is amazing.

"I don't think (the players) get it yet.  They're going to walk away and they'll start thinking about it and it's going to hit them because we didn't come in thinking we were going to win it.  We came in to compete and do our best.  To walk away today going to the National Championships is amazing.  It's very exciting because they definitely deserve it."


2011-2012 National League Champions
Girls
U-15 Blue: Kings Soccer Academy (OH-S)
U-15 Red: Legends FC 96 (CA-S)
U-16 Blue: Legends FC 95 (CA-S)*
U-16 Red: KCFC/Futura Academy (MO)
U-17 Blue: Legends FC 94 (CA-S)*
U-17 Red: Legends Breakaway (CA-S)*
U-18 Blue: FC Pennsylvania Strikers (E-PA)
U-18 Red: Toro Bravo (NE)

Boys
U-15 Blue: Chicago Magic (IL)
U-15 Red: CUP Crew Juniors Gold 96/97 (OH-S)
U-16 Blue: Scottsdale 96 Blackhawks (AZ)
U-16 Red: GSA 96 Phoenix Red (GA)
U-17 Blue: Galaxy 94/95 (IL)*
U-17 Red: Eastside FC 94 Red (WA)
U-18 Blue: Annandale United FC (VA)*      
U-18 Red: Grand Rapids Crew Juniors (MI)
*clinched title Sunday


Second Place Qualifiers for 2012-2013 National League Season

Girls
U-15 Blue: Match Fit Chelsea Colchesters (NJ)
U-15 Red: Eclipse Select 96-97 (IL)
U-16 Blue: Match Fit Chelsea Beat (NJ)
U-16 Red: Internationals 95 Red (OH-N)
U-17 Blue: VSA Heat Blue (VA)
U-17 Red: Michigan FC 95 (MI)


Boys
U-15 Blue: CESA 96 Premier (SC)
U-15 Red: St. Louis Scott Gallagher Academy (MO)
U-16 Blue: OBGC Rangers (MD)
U-16 Red: Beachside SC (CT)
U-17 Blue: Albion SC White (CA-S)
U-17 Red: Raiders FC (IL)


Some highlights from today's matches...

Under-16 Girls
Legends FC 95 (CA-S) needed a win against Region IV semifinalist Beach FC 95 White (CA-S) to ensure a Blue division championship, and they got the result they needed with a 1-0 score.  Taylor Greenwood netted the game winning goal in the 61st minute as the U-16's became the second of four Legends FC teams to claim National League championships this year.

Match Fit Chelsea Beat (NJ) needed a victory over Cleveland United White (OH-N) and some help from Beach FC versus Legends, but they got neither in a 1-1 draw.  However, the draw did inch Match Fit by Grand Rapids Crew Jrs. Gold (MI) for the second spot in the table, earning Match Fit an automatic spot in the league next year.  Angela Spiker struck first for Cleveland in the 29th minute but Match Fit leveled just six minutes later with Alexis DellaPietro's fourth goal of the season to return the National League in 2012-2013.


Under-17 Girls

Legends Breakaway (CA-S) needed at least two wins and a draw in the final weekend to surpass Michigan FC 95, but the Region IV semifinalists left no doubt by grabbing three wins, scoring 12 goals and giving up just one, en route to the Red title.  Breakaway clinched the division today with a 5-1 victory over Players SC (NV).  Nicolette Martino, a Loyola Marymount commit, put Breakaway in front 32 minutes in, but Rosaura Guerrero equalized for Players eight minutes later as they headed into halftime.  USC commit Tanya Samarzich put Breakaway back up for good in the 63rd as Kylie Sincox (San Diego), Samarzich and Martino added insurance goals for the second half outburst.

Not to be out-done by their Red division sisters, Legends FC 94 (CA-S) clinched the Blue division today as they ran past fellow Southern Californians Albion SC White 6-0.  Just like Breakaway, Legends 94 used a second half scoring spree to deliver the title in style.  Lamar commit Shavonn Johnson and MeiLessah Rangel put Legends up 2-0 at the break, and four second half goals from Johnson, Aly Moon, Yazmin Montoya and Daniela Alvarez sealed the trip to South Carolina for Legends.

Under-17 Boys
Galaxy 94/95 Blue needed a victory to guarantee the Blue division crown and following the theme of the day, a second half goal surge sent them on their way to South Carolina.  After going into halftime 0-0 with CUP Crew Jrs. Gold (OH-S), Galaxy scored three goals in six minutes to roll to the championship in a 3-1 win.  Colin Donnally got things going with a goal in the 53rd before Patrick Flynn doubled it in the 58th and Madisen Gonzalez again in the 59th.  CUP pulled a goal back in from David Janusz, but it wasn't enough to deny Galaxy the title.

Two-time National League champ Albion SC White (CA-S) needed a result and something less from Galaxy and although they upheld their end with a 2-1 win over Annandale Knights FC (VA), Galaxy's win meant a tie atop the standings where Galaxy won the head-to-head tiebreaker.  Annandale's Moises Lazo struck first in the 13th minute, but Dominic Chavez leveled before half and Richard Kirouac hit the winner in the 57th.  Although Albion fell short of a league title this year, the second place finish qualifies them to return for next season.

Under-18 Boys
Annandale United (VA) knocked off 2011 Region I champion and National Championship finalist Penn Fusion Celtic (E-PA) 2-1 to leap Lou Fusz SC Gold (MO) for the Blue crown.  Radford commit Sergio Arzubiaga put Annandale in the lead in the 29th minute, but Georgetown commit Keegan Rosenberry pulled the goal back for Celtic three minutes after the restart.  James Madison commit Tyler Durbin hit for the game winner in the 61st to deliver Annandale's third victory of the weekend and a National League title.

Categorías: Youth Articles