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Academy Weekend Preview: March 24-25

Published: March 23, 2012

At times in the center of the country, it’s hard to establish and foster rivalries at the Development Academy level.

Distance plays a large role in hampering that, but this weekend, Sporting KC and St. Louis Scott Gallagher (Missouri) go against the grain when they play on Saturday.

“They’re obviously a big rival, it’s always a usually very good game,” Sporting KC Academy Director Jon Parry told TopDrawerSoccer.com. “The teams are always organized and I think their 16s are off to a pretty good start.”

Not only is it a rivalry game, but it’s also a Frontier Division game with massive implications, as Sporting KC’s U18 and U16 teams looking to build on opening weekend wins against Scott Gallagher’s Metro side.

{mosimage:214}It’s not going to be an easy task for Sporting KC, however.

“With the 16s I think it’ll be a very competitive game, and I think the 18s they have a pretty good record as well,” Parry said.

Both sides are stocked with talent – Sporting KC entering with on Erik Palmer-Brown, Steven Enna and Cole Stevenson providing a formidable foundation, while Scott Gallagher has a high-scoring pair of Mark Segbers and Austin Panchot.

At the U18 age level, St. Louis’ Louis Berra is a threat KC will have to handle, while at the same time counting on the offense of Eduardo Moreno to make it a successful trip to St. Louis for the away side, and win this chapter in the rivalry.

“There’s always been a rivalry between the two cities in all the sports,” Parry said. “And with soccer, for sure – St. Louis has developed hundreds of great players, they’ve kind of been the soccer center for the Midwest.”

West Conference

This weekend, a pair of Pacific Northwest teams make the trip to California, as both the Seattle Sounders and Crossfire Premier are jumping on a plane to take on Strikers FC and Pateadores.

Points are especially crucial for Crossfire’s U18s, who are at the moment outside the points per game total needed for a Wild Card, while Seattle’s U18s have a strong grip on second place in the Northwest.

Elsewhere out west, both Cal Odyssey and San Jose Earthquakes are badly in need of all three points to have any chance of competing in either the Northwest Division or the Wild Card when they square off Saturday.

Central Conference

It’s the battle of two Colorado clubs as the Rapids take on Real Colorado this weekend. Dillon Serna and the U18 Rapids have yet to lose a game this season with a 4-0-3 record so far and will look to open up its Frontier Division slate with a positive result.

The Chicago Fire U18s have a chance to extend its winning streak on the weekend. Currently winners of five straight, the Fire travel to play Vardar and Crew Soccer Academy Wolves. Andrew Oliver, Drew Conner and Kellen Gulley will all look to feature prominently for Chicago.

Down in Texas, FC Dallas U18s can increase its Divisional lead going up against Lonestar SC. FCD’s nearest rivals Texans SC Houston don’t play this weekend, while Solar Chelsea SC takes on Texas Rush and the Dallas Texans go up against bottom of the division Classics Elite.

East Conference

One of the prominent battles in the Northeast pits Albertson SC and FC Delco against each other. While not a division match, it’s a big test nonetheless as both programs get to see how they stack up against each other.

“They have such a good coaching staff and they always have good players,” Albertson Technical Director Adrian Gaitan told TopDrawerSoccer.com. “It’s going to be a good test for us at the 16 level to see where we’re at and with the 18s I think both teams are two of the better teams up and down the East Coast.”

At the U16 level, Albertson is going to have to slow down Delco’s high-scoring George Tsirukis, who’s bagged 10 goals in nine games so far. Albertson defender Mark Romanowski will need to step up and help slow down Delco’s attack.

Division play in the East has yet to get started, but competition isn’t diminished as the Northeast hits its stride. Baltimore Bays Chelsea hosts FC Greater Boston, who also plays Potomac on the weekend. D.C. United travels to the New York area to play both the Cosmos and Met Oval, while the New York Red Bulls host nearby Match Fit Chelsea and NJSA 04.

South Conference

The battle for Florida continues this weekend, as all four Florida-based Development Academy sides play this weekend. Kendall SC travels to face Clearwater Chargers and IMG Soccer Academy, with Weston FC, led by leading scorer Danny Jensen, also tackling that pair of Florida sides.

IMG head coach Scott Dean knows facing Kendall and Weston this weekend is going to be a big challenge.

“They’ll both be technical, both be very good,” he told TopDrawerSoccer.com. “They always produce really quality players down there and the level of competition will be very, very good. It’s always a really strong battle between us and them.”

Also joining the fray are clubs in the Atlantic Division. It’s an all-North Carolina affair, as Charlotte Soccer Academy plays North Meck, and CASL Chelsea takes on the North Carolina Fusion.
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