TAMPA, FL - After a four-year absence from the top spot in MLS, DC United has recaptured the glory of its dynasty years and is looking to extend it to the youth level of the game as well. Less than a week after DC United won its fourth MLS Cup championship, its U14 Boys and Girls teams will be kicking off their campaigns to win at the Super Y-League North American Championships November 19-23 in Orlando.
Just as Sunday's feat was not the first for the senior side, a Super Y-League championship on the 23rd will not be the first for the club. In 2001, the U14 Boys became the first affiliated with an MLS team to capture a Super Y-League title when they defeated the Atlanta Silverbacks 3-2.
A familiar name played for DC's U14 side in 2001. Playing up at the age of 12, Freddy Adu was a member of the team that season, but it was Ryan Russell who was the hero of the final, scoring the opening and winning goals and adding an assist in the win to earn Most Valuable Player honors.
Two-time World Cup veteran John Harkes, a familiar face to many in US soccer circles, is the leader of the youth arm of the MLS club. He traded in his cleats in 2001, and these days you can find him overseeing D.C. United's Youth Academy as the Director of Youth Development.
"I am so proud of all the DC United teams this year competing in the Super Y-League," said Harkes. "It was a pleasure to be part of the growth and development of the players this summer. Special congratulations go to both teams in the U14 age group."
Just 3-2 after their first five matches, the boys team reeled off eight straight wins, including avenging their earlier losses to the Baltimore Bays and Northern Virginia Royals. Over the course of the season, they outscored their opponents 62-13 behind leading scorer Axel Levry and garnered six shutouts. The team finished 11-2-0 in a three-way tie for first, winning the regular season Mid Atlantic Division title on the goal differential tiebreaker.
"As the season went on, the group grew more familiar with each other," said head coach Kris Kelderman. "A strong attack and ability to step up and score goals in the final third of the season pushed us to the top in a battle with very strong opponents."
Meanwhile, the U14 girls were having a stellar season of their own, running the table to finish atop the Mid-Atlantic Division at 11-0-0. The girls gave up only six goals, and notched eight shutouts over the course of their schedule.
"We were very happy to compete in the Super Y-League this year with DC United," said co-head coaches Cindi Harkes and Curtis Wilson. "We look forward to competing in the Finals against the top teams in the nation."
Brook Chang led the team in scoring, amassing 19 points to ensure her team's trip to Florida.
"Congratulations to them all," added Harkes. "They produced great results but more importantly displayed such great respect for the game, their teammates and for the opposition. I'm really looking forward to the Finals."
DC United is no stranger to championships and is quickly becoming one of the most successful franchises in American soccer history with eight significant championships.
This story was originally posted on the official web site of United Soccer Leagues.