Sometimes, it takes some digging to unearth the best players in a region.
Not in the Mid-Atlantic.
This region is crackling with talent from top to bottom, and today we look at the best of the 2012 boys. Here are the Top 20.
Jalen Robinson of DC United is a defender who excels anywhere on the field. He’s technical, athletic, smart and reads the game well from any position. He absorbs coaching like a sponge, and turned down National Team residency for academic pursuits at home. Michael Russo
is a central midfielder with great soccer knowledge and the ability to keep possession of the ball. He’s clever on the ball and can dictate the attack. He’s not an elite athlete, but makes up for it with technique and smarts.
Collin Martin is a forward who is brilliant with the ball at his feet, but tends to let up when the ball does not come his way. His work rate and movement off the ball need improvement, but he’s extremely dangerous going forward with the ball. (Editor's Note - all of this is true about Collin, but he's a 2013 graduate).
Potomoc and DC United compete during the winter.
Dakota Niedermeier is a goalkeeper who maximizes his natural ability by constantly working to improve every aspect of his game. That attitude – along with his natural talent – will serve him well at the Division I college level.
Yaw Amankwa is a big, strong forward with great natural ability and a nose for the goal. He’s been limited by injuries recently, but is a valuable attacking asset when healthy.
Michael Gamble of the Baltimore Bays is a dynamic forward who improves at an amazing rate every year. He’s got the will to score and win, and though he loves taking players on one-on-one, he is also developing a good awareness of when to pass the ball. He has been offered National Team residency.
Malcolm Harris is a versatile player who excels at any position. He’s calm on the ball, extremely competitive, and makes the game look easy. He defends and attacks aggressively, whips in dangerous crosses, and scores goals at pivotal moments. He has also been invited to residency.
Goalkeeper Andrew Harris protects and dominates his penalty area. He’s good attacking high balls, blocks shots and punts the ball very well. He’s very talkative and a leader of his team. He’s a force to be reckoned with and has a bright future ahead of him.
Matt Shinsky is a rugged center back who does all the dirty work. He has good timing on his tackles, understands the defensive system, and can also play in the holding midfield. He’s a strong player who can always be counted on in the back.
Richard Greensfelder is an undersized central midfielder with great game knowledge. He is very active and a great competitor who is strong in the air and on the tackle, and scores goals at big moments. He is just beginning to get the recognition he deserves.
Peter Lam of McLean is a center back with good athletic and mental qualities. He’s the quintessential captain who leads by example. His communication and competitiveness are unmatched, he loves to get forward and is a strong tackler and header of the ball.
Adam Hamdan is a wide defender with great passing skills and intelligence. He has good speed, a good attitude and is very coachable. He doesn’t get forward as much as his teammate Lam, but he distributes and finds passing options higher up in the field to help initiate the McLean attack.
Daniel Lauretano of Richmond Kickers is a left-footed midfielder whose skill and speed allow him to play inside or outside. He’s composed on the ball and rarely gives it away. He threads short and long passes with superb vision, and has the ability to create space and take defenders one-on-one, too.
Haydon Bennett is a holding midfielder with great size and strength in the air. He can get forward and score from long range and is effective getting on the end of crosses in the box. He’s not a silky smooth playmaker, but is energetic and effective in his role nonetheless.
Todd Wharton of Richmond Strikers is a central midfielder with great vision and technical ability who is responsible for setting up a ton of goals. The Striker attack flows though him, and he handles his responsibility as well as anyone his age. Valeriy Sviderskiy
is a speedy forward with great technique and clinical finishing ability. He sets up teammates to score, but can also do damage dribbling past defenders on his own.
Bruno Ramos is a left midfielder originally from Brazil who embodies his country’s soccer personality. He has great dribbling technique and dazzles with the ball when he cuts inside to set up the Strikers’ attack.
Eduardo De La Riva of Potomac holding mid with great game understanding and natural discipline. He’s the glue that holds the shape of the team, and is a steady player who anchors the Potomac midfield.
Jackson Eskay of FC Frederick is a defender with good instincts who likes to get forward and bolster the attack. He can do a little bit of everything.
Jonathan Beck of Reston FC is a holding midfielder with good communication skills and two-way abilities. He’s a leader for his team and with a calm and steady presence in the central midfield.