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Academy Playoffs: U16 Playoff Preview

Article Written by J.R. Eskilson
Published: June 16, 2015

It’s playoff time! The Development Academy U16 playoffs start on Tuesday June 23 with the first games of group play from Westfield, Indiana.

MORE: Development Academy Playoff previews

With 32 teams in the running, U.S. Soccer paired up the squads in eight different groups with the group winners advancing to the next stage of the playoffs. Below is a rundown of every team from every group. 

Group A

Crew SC Wolves (19-2-6) 

Résumé: Mid-America Division Champions, No. 4 overall seed

Scoop: Wolves enjoyed a stellar campaign with only two losses on the books. The stout Wolves defense only let in 24 goals in 27 games. Goalkeepers Jacob Crabtree and Hunter Morse combined to set the tone for the Wolves throughout the season. The Wolves aren’t only a defensive team. Daniel Wright leads the attack with 24 goals. Farai Mutatu finished second on the team with 13 goals. 

Capital Area Railhawks (20-10-6)

Résumé: Third place in the Southeast Division

Scoop: Familiarity and experience were the keys for the Capital Area Railhawks U16 squad this season. “This group is in large portion the returning group from last year’s 16 Academy Team,” Capital Area Railhawks U16 head coach John Bradford told TopDrawerSoccer. “Last year, we made a conscious effort to select more younger players that we felt would develop into highly capable players over time. The group last year struggled for results and missed out on Playoffs, but that experience has served this group well in becoming more focused and proficient.”  

The plan worked for Railhawks, but the journey is far from over. Bradford is counting on his squad to continue to play the way they have this season in order to be successful in Indiana. “If we control the things that we can control and don’t worry about the things that we can’t – we’ll give ourselves the best chance to be successful,” Bradford said. 

New England Revolution (12-5-9)

Résumé: Third place in the Northeast Division

Scoop: The U16 New England Revolution team has been a point of pride for the Academy. With success in the Development Academy and Generation adidas Cup, the Revolution are rolling into Indiana with a ton of confidence. “We have a U16 team that has progressed well this season, both in the USSDA and through the MLS Generation Adidas Cup,” New England Revolution U16 head coach Bryan Scales told TopDrawerSoccer. “They have put together some good performances throughout the year and we hope that the players will enjoy their experience in Indianapolis.”

Seattle Sounders (16-11-5)

Résumé: Fourth place in Northwest Division, No. 6 wildcard

Scoop: Better late than never for the Sounders. The Seattle Academy won five of its last six games to jump into a spot for the playoffs. “Our U16s have been unpredictable but have really put it together for the last 6 matches in order to make the play-offs,” Sounders Academy Technical Director Marc Nicholls told TopDrawerSoccer. The Sounders are hoping that run of form will continue into the playoffs for Group A. 

Group B

FC Dallas (19-3-5)

Résumé: Frontier Division Champions, No. 5 overall seed

Scoop: Depth has been the key to FC Dallas this season. Defender Brandon Terwege is the only player on the roster to start more than 80% of the games. U.S. U17 Men’s National Team midfielder Devin Vega leads the team in goals with 20 in 25 appearances. 

LA Galaxy (22-7-10)

Résumé: Southwest Division Champions

Scoop: The LA Galaxy missed out on a seed due to a lackluster finish to the season. An 0-3 loss to Chivas USA and an 2-2 draw against Real So Cal pushed Galaxy into the second pool of teams and made the journey to return as defending champions that much more difficult. The carryover from last year’s championship side is minimal, but Mike Munoz is still in charge of the group and looking to add to his already impressive resume as a coach. 

Saint Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri (13-6-8)

Résumé: Third place in the Mid-America Division

Scoop: Out of the 32 teams to make the U16 playoffs, Saint Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri was 31st in goals scored this season. With only 41 tallies this campaign, the SLSG Missouri offense never really lit up the scoreboard. But the Mid-America squad prevailed in a number of tight games, which could be the key to success in Indiana. 

SC United Battery (17-10-9)

Résumé: Fifth place in the Southeast Division, No. 4 wildcard

Scoop: The Battery weathered the storm this year and made it into the playoffs thanks to the toughness they showed through those stretches. “The key to our success this season has been the mental toughness and work ethic of our players,” SC United Battery U16 head coach Dusty Hudock told TopDrawerSoccer. “They have persevered through tough stretches of the season, focused, worked hard, and earned their playoff spot.”

Group C

Sockers FC (17-5-5)

Résumé: Second place in Mid-America Division, No. 8 overall seed

Scoop: Sockers claimed the last seed in the playoffs thanks to an 11-game unbeaten run to end the season. The Illinois club was strong defensively with six shutouts in the last seven games. The unforgiving defense helped pave the way for the team to reach the playoffs as one of the eight seeded teams. 

Real Colorado (15-5-7)

Résumé: Second place in Frontier Division

Scoop: For Real Colorado, the connectivity of the team has been a highlight of the season. “I feel the key to our success this season has been the collective, concentrated effort from each and every player and the daily accountability that goes hand and hand with this,” Real Colorado U16 head coach Chris Martinez told TopDrawerSoccer. “Each player understands and has embraced his role within the team, which has created an extremely competitive and challenging environment. The players have all bought into our system and are willing to do whatever necessary for the success of the team.”

San Jose Earthquakes (17-10-6)

Résumé: Third place in Northwest Division 

Scoop: The San Jose Earthquakes were one of four MLS academies to make the playoffs from the Northwest Division. Earthquakes relied on a number of contributors with only Diego Alonso-Rodriguez and Armon Ojuola appearing in more than 80% of the games this seaason.

Chivas USA (19-13-7)

Résumé: Third place in Southwest Division

Scoop: Team before individaul was the key for Chivas USA in this tumultuous season. The baby Goats are trying to end the Academy’s existence with a bang. “Chivas USA will cease to exist next year but that hasn't stopped or deterred these players from achieving their goals,” Chivas USA U16 head coach Andrew May told TopDrawerSoccer. “The key to the team's success so far this season has been a ‘team first mentality.’ We have moved players up from our U14 team to play and at times moved a couple players down from our U18 team. It has always been about the team's success, not their individual agenda.”

Group D

BW Gottschee (19-2-5)

Résumé: Northeast Division Champions, No. 3 overall seed

Scoop: With only 15 goals conceded this season, BW Gottschee is tied for the statistically in best defense from the U16 age group in the Development Academy. That defense helped BW Gottschee lock up the No. 3 overall seed for the playoffs despite not having a player with more than 12 goals this season. 

Georgia United (21-8-7)

Résumé: Second place in Southeast Division 

Scoop: Georgia United is one of the wildcards of the U16 playoffs. Not in terms of how they qualify, but in terms of what type of team will show. The Southeast Division squad is stacked at the U14 age group and could push up a number of those players to help fill out the roster in the U16 age group for this event. 

PDA (12-6-8)

Résumé: Third place in Atlantic Division 

Scoop: PDA is one of the most successful and consistent clubs in the Development Academy so the coaching staff from the powerhouse academy has a pretty good idea of what they need to do to be successful in Indiana. “We are working hard to be a the peak of our abilities for Indiana both mentally and physically,” PDA coach Sam Nellins told TopDrawerSoccer. “If we stay healthy we will be very competitive in all games. Fitness and desire will be the key components to our success.”

Real So Cal (17-11-11)

Résumé: Fourth place in Southwest Division, No. 9 wildcard

Scoop: Real So Cal’s drive carried them into the postseason and the coaching staff is hoping that it can carry them through this challenging group. “This group is the most resilient team I have ever worked with,” Real So Cal U16 head coach Zachary Feldman told TopDrawerSoccer. “They have a 'never give up' attitude and their work rate is just off the charts. That is what has kept us in the hunt for playoffs the entire year in what is probably the most balanced league in the country.”

Group E

Orlando City (23-5-8)

Résumé: Southeast Division Champions, No. 6 overall seed

Scoop: Orlando City made a splash with its introduction to the Development Academy. With a talented group of coaches, the club continues to exceed expectations. This season’s U16 squad captured the division crown and now has their eyes on a much bigger prize. “I think winning the league is due in part to the competitive commitment level of the players,” Orlando City U16 head coach Jeff Negalha told TopDrawerSoccer. “Their ambition to achieve success personally and for Orlando City has been very good. Ultimately, we need to continue with the process and progress players to the next level and be very good with our teams.”

Beachside (13-5-8)

Résumé: Second place in Northeast Division

Scoop: Successful teams understand that it takes commitment in every facet of the game to reach the highest levels. Beachside has definitely bought into that approach his season. Head coach Mickey Kydes said there were three keys to the season for his group. “One: Playing as a collective unit within our style of play. Two: Transferring our training in to games. Three: Trusting our style of play, technical confidence, and our ability to attack  from any part of the field regardless of our opponent.”

Dallas Texans (13-7-7)

Résumé: Fifth place in Frontier Division, No. 3 wildcard

Scoop: While Dallas Texans won’t use it as an excuse, this team is young, but what Texans lack in experience, they more than make up for in talent and quality in the attack. “The team is a young group, many of the starting lineup are 1999 birth years so in many respects a number have exceeded expectations,” Texans coach David Hudgell told TopDrawerSoccer. “The key for the group is going to be having the maturity to manage the key moments in each game.”

Bethesda-Olney (12-8-6)

Résumé: Fourth place in Atlantic Division, No. 7 wildcard 

Scoop: It’s all in the details for Bethesda-Olney and it’s new crop of talented players. “We have a big core of players that understand what it takes to compete at this level,” Bethesda-Olney U16 head coach Matt Ney told TopDrawerSoccer. “Our training is extremely specific and detailed which force players to be mentally sharp every day. This attentiveness to detail shows in the style we play and in the individual development of each player, which has been key to our success.”

Group F

Philadelphia Union (21-3-2)

Résumé: Second place in Atlantic Division, No. 2 overall seed

Scoop: Union’s 21-3-2 record is even more impressive when considered how few games the first team of the group actually played together. There is no player on the Union U16 roster who appeared in more than 70% of the games this season. The byproduct of the success of the academy is additional opportunities for the players at the international level. The playoffs should provide the platform for the Union to show how good they are when everyone is available.

Houston Dynamo (14-7-6)

Résumé: Third place in the Frontier Division  

Scoop: “The commitment from the players has been outstanding this year and we have a great team spirit in both groups,” Dynamo Academy Director James Clarkson told TopDrawerSoccer about the season for his teams. The Dynamo 16s finished first in the Frontier Division in goals conceded with only 27 let in this season. The strong defense could be the difference in Indiana.

Weston FC (18-10-8) 

Résumé: Fourth in the Southeast Division, No. 2 wildcard 

Scoop: Weston FC has done a great job of identifying players who could help and then cultivated in environment to help them flourish. This season’s U16 team is another example of the successful approach from the Florida Academy. “Every player has played an important role,” Weston FC U16 head coach Victor Pastora told TopDrawerSoccer. “Most of the young (99's and 00's) and new players to the academy environment have done a good job adapting to the demands of training and the competition. The older players have been encouraging and lead the team in games with character. The special players have consistently made a difference and impact weekend after weekend.”

Everton FC Westchester (12-9-5)

Résumé: Fourth in the Northeast Division, No. 10 wildcard

Scoop: Dantae Greer’s 18-goal season helped Everton FC Westchester qualify for the playoffs. The dynamic attacking talent scored nearly half of the goals this season for the Northeast squad. Westchester is counting on him to keep that going in order to move on from the group play in the playoffs.

Group G

New York Red Bulls (23-1-2)

Résumé: Atlantic Division Champions, No. 1 overall seed

Scoop: Another season and another Atlantic Division title for the New York Red Bulls. New York rolled to the title with only one loss to its name. The top overall seed has a loaded roster that looks to be one of the favorites to advance from group play and clinch a spot at Finals Week.

Portland Timbers (16-8-8)

Résumé: Second in Northwest Division

Scoop: The Portland Timbers have been one of the more exciting teams this season with an attractive style of play and a number of promising prospects in the U16 age group. Jose Perez is the leading scorer of the squad with 17 goals to his name this season.

Solar Chelsea (14-8-5)

Résumé: Fourth in the Frontier Division, No. 1 wildcard

Scoop: Solar Chelsea’s season ended on a sour note with a 5-1 loss to Real Colorado on May 31st. However, that should not take away from the body of work that Solar put together this season. The Texas team enjoyed some great wins over the course of the season and rightfully earned passage to the playoffs. If the defense holds, Solar is a squad capable of pulling off some upsets. 

IMG Academy (18-14-4)

Résumé: Sixth in Southeast Division, No. 8 wildcard

Scoop: “Our U16 Academy team has experienced a great deal of growth this year,” IMG Academy Executive Director Rusty Scarborough told TopDrawerSoccer. “This is due to the leadership of coach and the determination and work ethic of all players. The group has the ability to compete each and every day and the confidence that they can play with any team in the league.”

Group H

Vancouver Whitecaps (20-5-7)

Résumé: Second in Northwest Division, No. 7 overall seed

Scoop: While the Whitecaps head into Indiana as one of the eight seeds, the MLS academy is not taking anything for granted. “Always the first game is vital in any tournament play and I think if we get that positive from the match, that will kick us for the rest of the week,” Vancouver Whitecaps U16 head coach Adam Day told TopDrawerSoccer.

Arsenal FC (21-12-6)

Résumé: Second in Southwest Division

Scoop: In a very difficult Southwest Division, Arsenal FC snagged the second spot and earned the automatic passage to the promise land. Arsenal FC’s 34 goals conceded was the best in the division. Goalkeepers Christopher Gomez and Antonio Lozano-Banuelos helped lead the way for Arsenal FC against a number of talented attackers.

Chicago Magic PSG (12-6-9)

Résumé: Fourth in Mid-America Division, No. 5 wildcard

Scoop: Chicago Magic is back in the hunt for a shot at the National Championship after losing out in Finals Week last year. This year’s team is not quite the same, but it offers similar parts of the puzzle. Youth national team players Elijah Rice and Luka Prpa should be back and ready to help this squad in a difficult playoff group.

Concorde Fire (16-12-8)

Résumé: Seventh in Southeast Division, No. 11 wildcard

Scoop: Michael Ille and Noahh Thomas have combined to score 47 goals this season, which gives Concorde Fire one of the most lethal attacking duos in the Development Academy. The Atlanta club snuck into the playoffs as the last wildcard, but the talented attack could be the ticket for Fire to pull off some upsets in Indiana. 

Related Topics: Development Academy
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