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Academy Preview: Best in Southwest meet

Article Written by J.R. Eskilson
Published: March 7, 2013

Since its arrival in the USSF’s Development Academy, Real Salt Lake Arizona has been one of the most dominant teams in the country. The residential academy in the Grand Canyon state has permanently taken over the top spots in the Southwest Division.

Collin Liberty club soccerReal So Cal's Collin Liberty

Although some teams have put up a challenge, RSL-AZ has been firmly in the playoff picture for the past two seasons in both age groups.

This year has been no different, but there is a new challenger to the crown that is closing in on the MLS Academy. Real So Cal is only two points behind RSL-AZ in the U18 age group with the two teams set to meet on Saturday at Oak Park High School.

Real So Cal is undefeated in its last 11 games and scored 30 goals over that period. New Mexico-bound winger Steve Manios and Stanford-bound striker Mark Verso have combined to score 19 goals this season for the decorated youth club.

The Real So Cal defense will have to contend with Marquette-bound striker Jose Navarro who has 19 goals in 15 games this season. Navarro, the Los Angeles-native, has found quite a bit of success in his past homecomings with four goals in the two games from the City of Angels this season.

In the U16 age group, the gap between the teams is even closer with RSL-AZ only holding a one-point advantage. Real So Cal U16 is riding an eight-game unbeaten run into this clash.

The two clubs will be again at the end of April in Arizona for the return fixture of the two-leg series.

West Conference

In the only other games from the West Conference, Arsenal FC takes on San Juan Soccer Club and RSL-AZ on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. San Juan Soccer Club also plays Real So Cal during its swing through Southern California.

East Conference

One week after destroying Virginia Rush and Richmond Kickers, Players Development Academy heads back to Virginia for a game against McLean Youth Soccer. PDA is the top team in the Atlantic Division for the U18 age group, and sits in second place in the division for the younger age group.

In the Southeast Division, Georgia United is looking to get the season back on the tracks with two home games against CASL Chelsea FC Academy and North Carolina Fusion. Georgia United U16 has lost three of its last four games after starting the season on a ten-game unbeaten run.

Orlando City is also in action this weekend in the Southeast Division. Orlando City holds the top spot in the division for the U16 age group with an 11-3-1 record. OCYS lost its last two games though, and the chase pack is slowly closing in on the first year team.

Central Conference

The Dallas Derby is the big game of the weekend in Texas. FC Dallas takes on the Dallas Texans on Sunday at FC Dallas Sports Park. The MLS Academy is in first in the Frontier Division U18 age group while the Texans sit seven points back in third place. This is the first meeting of the season between the clubs.

In the Mid-America Division, it is a matchup between affiliates on Sunday as Chicago Fire takes on Indiana Fire Academy at IUPUI on Sunday. Indiana Fire U18 sits in first place in the division thanks to a 13-game unbeaten run. The two clubs played to a 1-1 draw earlier this season with Jeffrey Farina scoring the opener for Fire before Joey Bastian answered in the final moments with the game-tying goal.

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