Getty Images

Weekly Update: Academy's in Cali

The Crew Soccer Academy (CSA) Under-16 and Under-18 squads will travel to the Lancaster National Soccer Center in Lancaster, Calif., this weekend, Dec. 5-8, for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy league's Winter Showcase, where they will take on their counterparts from three different clubs. They will meet Met Oval (N.Y.) on Friday, Virginia Rush on Saturday and Pateadores (Calif.) on Monday.

CSA opened its second season in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy league on Nov. 15 and 16, as both squads traveled to Houston to take on Texas Rush AHFC and Texas SC. On Saturday, Nov. 15, each squad took on Rush AHFC, with the U16s defeating Rush, 4-1, and the U18s following with a 3-0 victory. CSA returned to action the next day, Sunday, Nov. 16, against Texas SC, when the U16s fell to Texas SC, 1-0, and the U18s earned a 2-2 draw.

The U.S. Soccer Development Academy has seen the advent of several changes for the 2008-09 season. All 62 clubs that participated in the first year will be returning, while 12 new clubs have been added, including eight new clubs in Texas, two in the San Francisco area, on in Los Angeles and one in New England. With 74 clubs, the conferences have been realigned into four conferences - Central, East, South and West - with nine divisions to provide a schedule that will necessitate fewer flights for each team to help reduce costs. The Crew Soccer Academy Under-16s and Under-18s will once again compete in the Great Lakes Division, which is part of the Central Conference.

During the 2008-09 Academy season, more than 2,000 games are scheduled across the country, including two Showcase weekends, this weekend's Winter Showcase and the Spring Showcase that will take place over Memorial Day weekend, May 22-26, at the Sarasota Polo Grounds in Clearwater, Fla.

The 10-month Academy season will build into a playoff weekend in June 2009. The top three teams in each division, along with the top five fourth-place teams, will qualify for the 32-team Academy Playoffs at Bryan Park in Greensboro, N.C. The top eight teams from each age group will then qualify to compete at the Academy Finals Week in July.

The Crew Soccer Academy completed its first campaign in the inaugural season of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy in 2007-08, with both its Under-16 and Under-18 squads enjoying substantial success on the field, a nearly unparalleled feat in the Academy's inaugural season. Each Academy team played in three of the four Academy Showcases, Winter (Frisco, TX), Spring (Rockford, IL) and Summer (Greensboro, N.C.) and performed exceedingly well, as each team posted an undefeated record of 7-0-1 in the three events.

Outside of the Showcase events, both squads also did well in regular season Conference play. The U-16s finished with a record of 19-4-7 (64 pts.) on the season, good for fourth place in the stacked Great Lakes Conference. The U-18s completed its inaugural season in first place in the Great Lakes Conference, finishing with a record of 21-5-4 (67 pts.).

Thanks to its first place Conference standing, the Under-18s earned the opportunity to compete in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Finals at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., July 12-18. The Academy Finals featured the top team from each conference in the U-16 and U-18 age groups, with teams participating in a round-robin format, culminating with a placement game on the final day. In addition to the games played during the Finals Week, U.S. Soccer also provided educational programming for Academy players, coaches and administrators. The CSA U-18s defeated CASL, 2-0, on July 12 in its opening game in group play, then took a day off before facing LAFC on July 14 in its second contest. The Crew tied LAFC, 1-1, in front of a large crowd on the grounds of The Home Depot Center. In its third and final match of group play, the CSA squad defeated Concorde Fire, 2-1, improving the U-18s to an undefeated record of 2-0-1 in group play. But the squad fell just short of advancing to the championship game, due to finishing in second place in its group based on goal differential. The team moved on to compete in the third-place match on Friday, July 18, against Colorado Rush, finishing up its Finals week with a 4-0 victory. The win earned the CSA U-18 squad a third place finish in the inaugural U.S. Soccer Development Academy Finals, which featured 64 of the best youth U-17/18 teams in the entire country.

MLS CUP-CHAMPION CREW TO RECEIVE CITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION MONDAY

Columbus City Council will present the Crew with a Resolution of Expression on Monday, Dec. 8, at 5 p.m. in recognition of the finest season in the club's history, which included its first-ever MLS Cup Championship, earned after a 3-1 victory over New York on Nov. 23, and the 2008 Supporters' Shield (awarded to the team with the most points overall during the regular season). Council Member Priscilla R. Tyson will introduce the Resolution and present it to Crew President & General Manager Mark McCullers and select players at City Hall during the Council's meeting.

CREW TO HOLD ANNUAL TEAM GEAR SALE THIS WEEKEND

The Crew will hold its annual Team Gear Sale this Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 6-7, at the Crew Training Center at Obetz (4153 Alum Creek Dr., Obetz, OH 43207). After Crew Soccer Nation members have the first opportunity to purchase gear at an exclusive presale, the Team Gear Sale will be open to the general public on Saturday, Dec. 6, and Sunday, Dec. 7, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on both days. A variety of authentic jerseys, training gear and more will be available and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Crew Soccer Foundation, the Crew's charitable arm.

CREWZERS DANCE TEAM TRYOUTS SET FOR THIS WEEKEND, DEC. 5-7, AT CREW STADIUM'S HUNTINGTON CLUB

The Crewzers Professional Dance Team will be holding auditions for women interested in performing for the Crew's official dance and cheerleading squad Dec. 5-7 at Crew Stadium's Huntington Club. Registration and the first round of clinics will be held Friday, Dec. 5, at 6 p.m. The second clinic and preliminaries are slated for Saturday, Dec. 6, at 10 a.m. and the final auditions will be Sunday, Dec. 7 at 12 p.m.. Attendance at all clinics is mandatory to be eligible for the final auditions. The Crewzers are comprised of career women and college students who commit themselves to countless hours each week to make them the dynamic team they are. The squad has a variety of ages, but ladies must be 18 by Aug. 31, 2009 to be eligible for the 2009 team. Registration for walk-ins will begin Dec. 5 at 5 p.m. For more information, audition details and pre-registration options, visit www.thecrewzers.com.