The battle for North Carolina writes another chapter this weekend.
All four Development Academy teams square off against each other this weekend, as the Charlotte Soccer Academy hosts North Carolina Fusion, and CASL Chelsea heads on the road to play North Meck SC.
It’s going to be a tenacious battle in both games, as there’s usually little separating the four clubs.
“We always have a tough game against Charlotte,” Fusion U18 head coach Marc Nicholls told TopDrawerSoccer.com. “They’re usually very close games, it’s ironic, whenever you play a local team they’re usually close ones. Charlotte’s always been a very well organized team, difficult to break down.”
Charlotte’s U18 group is currently leading the pack of Carolina teams in the Atlantic Division, although they have played three more games than the Fusion and CASL.
There’s no shortage of talent on the field in either U18 game, as the Fusion’s Marco Sunol (2013 graduate heading to play at North Carolina) looks to lead his side’s attack against Charlotte, while CASL Chelsea aims to remain unbeaten at the U18 age group.
The Fusion coach anticipates it to be a typically challenging interstate matchup.
“We don’t expect anything different than we always face, which is a competitive game played in a good spirit,” Nicholls said.
At the U16 level, Charlotte is currently atop the North Carolina pack, four points ahead of North Meck – although they’ve played three more than CASL or the Fusion. All four are trying to hunt down first place Virginia Rush this weekend.
It’s a big weekend for the Chicago Fire Academy. Both the U18s and U16s have enjoyed strong starts to the Great Lakes Division portion of its schedule and look to continue to do so on a trip to Ohio to take on Crew Soccer Academy and Internationals.
The U18s currently sit at the top of the division, and with Victor Pineda possibly back in the mix after being away for U.S. U20 camp, the Fire’s success should continue.
Top-ranked Crew Soccer Academy Wolves will look to hold off the advancing Fire at the U16 level when they face rivals Vardar on Sunday. Vardar’s U18s remain in the mix in the division and can close the gap on the Fire as well.
Another U20 player who returns to his Academy team is FC Dallas star Danny Garcia. One of the top scorers for FCD’s U18s, they take on Solar Chelsea and continue to hold the top spot in the Texas Division.
D.C. United continues its non-Divisional matchups and hits the road, traveling up to New York to face FC Westchester and Albertson SC. Momentum is on D.C.’s side after sweeping all four games against South Central Premier and Oakwood Soccer Club last weekend. Collin Martin returns from the recent US U20 camp for D.C. United’s U18s.
Baltimore Bays Chelsea U18s have yet to lose in 2012. They’ll once again put that record to the test on a New York road trip following a similar pattern as D.C. United, taking on Albertson and Westchester.
It’s a tricky test for FC Delco at home as they welcome Northwest sides South Central Premier and Oakwood Soccer Club.
The battle for first place in the U18 SoCal Division is a fierce one between three MLS Academies – Real Salt Lake, LA Galaxy and Chivas USA. Two head into action this weekend, as Chivas USA plays So Cal Blus, and LA Galaxy hosts the Surf. Chivas gets starting goalkeeper Jake McGuire back from U20 camp, while Raul Mendiola has re-emerged for the Galaxy.
De Anza Force U18s can take the outright lead in first place in the Northwest Division when they take on Vancouver Whitecaps. There’s even more at stake for the U16 sides, as Vancouver currently sits second in the Division, two points ahead of the Force, but the Whitecaps have two games in hand.
While North Carolina’s battle is a prominent interstate clash of the week, down in Florida a pair of DA powers also face each other as Clearwater Chargers host IMG Soccer Academy. Both U18 teams sit at the bottom of the Southeast Division and need three points, while the same can be said for each club’s U16 teams.