Dev. Academy Playoffs: U16 preview

Dev. Academy Playoffs: U16 preview
by Travis Clark
June 23, 2014


Tuesday marks the beginning of the U16 portion of the USSF Development Academy Playoffs. Eight groups of four will duke it out to secure spots in the new Finals Week format.

Here’s a preview of the U16 groups, with all kick off times local.

Group A
FC Dallas
Orlando City
San Jose Earthquakes
Shattuck St. Mary’s

Group Preview

From a results perspective, the play of FC Dallas (18-2-7) continues to stand out in the Academy ranks, as the Frontier Division champs get the opportunity to compete in the Academy Playoffs away from the friendly confines of Frisco, Texas. Midfielder Ryan Barlow (nine goals) and Christian Ramirez (12 goals) have helped pace a balance attack. They’re two of 15 players on the team with at least one goal.

Luka prpa chicago magic soccerLuka Prpa

Punching its ticket to the playoffs with the last wild card spot, Shattuck St. Mary’s (12-8-7) is one of a handful of DA clubs to send both age groups to postseason play. It’ll take a strong three-game stretch for the team to emerge from its group, but Shattuck sides are always well prepared.

Orlando City (21-7-8), the soon-to-be MLS academy side, is an explosive side from an offensive perspective, scoring 86 goals in 36 games on the year. The concern is sure to be at the other end of the field as they conceded 51 times, and defensive success is sure to determine whether or not it’s possible to compete in the group.

Rounding out what should prove to be a competitive quartet is San Jose Earthquakes (14-5-7), a battle-tested side that finished second in the Northwest Division. While the team posted solid defensive numbers, conceding just a goal per game, they’ll need a big weekend from the attack, as Amir Bashti and Pablo Gervacio scored five total on the year, though the former spent time with the U18s at the tail end of the season.

Player to Watch: Martin Salas, M, FC Dallas: The No. 32 ranked recruit in the class of 2015, Salas has been in and out of the U.S. youth national team setup over the past couple of years, including a stint with the U.S. U18 MNT. One of many talented midfield conduits, he’ll get the chance to shine in front of scouts once again.


Tuesday, June 24
FC Dallas vs. Shattuck St. Mary’s – 4:30 p.m. – Field 29
Orlando City vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 4:30 p.m. – Field 30

Wednesday, June 25
Shattuck St. Mary’s vs. Orlando City – 4 p.m. – Field 14
San Jose Earthquakes vs. FC Dallas – 4 p.m. – Field 13 

Friday, June 26
FC Dallas vs. Orlando City – 11 a.m. – Field 29
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Shattuck St. Mary’s – 11 a.m. – Field 30

Group B
PA Classics
Montreal Impact FC
Seattle Sounders FC
Strikers FC

Group Preview

Finishing just off the pace in an extremely competitive Atlantic Division, PA Classics (17-6-2) boast one of the best defenses statistically, conceding just 17 goals across its 25 games. They can score goals too, as McKinley Curran (17), Austin Maloney (10) and Jonathan Polan (10) all represent double-digit scorers.

Winners of eight of its last ten games of the campaign, Montreal Impact (15-6-2) checked in at second place behind New York Red Bulls in their division. It’s a run they’ll hope to continue in Indiana as they look to navigate their way through the group. This week’s competition marks the club’s first foray into Dev. Academy playoff action.

MORE: U14 Showcase Best XI | Development Academy U18 playoff preview

Seattle Sounders FC (13-5-9) has put together a solid academy system in the Pacific Northwest, and usually presents a difficult challenge at any age group. Boosted by the goals of Victor Mansaray (18 from 20 games), the team failed to win any of its last six games of the season, though it is quite capable despite those struggles.

Coming to Group C from California is Strikers FC (13-7-7), traveling from Irvine to Indiana for this week. Attacking midfielder Shinya Kadono is the team’s dangerman, as he finished with a team high 18 goals on the season and played in all 27 games. The California recruit for 2015 will need to be on point, along with Robert Knight, who bagged 13 on the season.

Player to Watch: Kees Westra, D, Seattle Sounders FC: Left backs are always hard to find, so perhaps the Sounders can unleash the technically savvy and smart Westra as an added weapon. The defender can get forward into the attack as well as provide shutdown defense on his flank.


Tuesday, June 24
PA Classics vs. Strikers FC – 2:30 p.m. – Field 27
Montreal Impact FC vs. Seattle Sounders FC – 2:30 p.m. – Field 28

Wednesday, June 25
Seattle Sounders FC vs. PA Classics – 2 p.m. – Field 11
Strikers FC vs. Montreal Impact FC – 2 p.m. – Field 12

Friday, June 26
PA Classics vs. Montreal Impact FC – 9 a.m. – Field 27
Seattle Sounders FC vs. Strikers FC – 9 a.m. – Field 28

Group C
Weston FC
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Match Fit Academy FC
Houston Dynamo

Group Preview

A club that continues to make a name for itself within the Academy, Weston FC (23-7-5) captured the Southeast Division crown and is going to be an extremely tough out for the other three teams in the group. Defense was the team’s key, conceding only 32 goals from 35 games, an impressive total considering the number of games played. A trio of players offers goal-scoring threats, as Alessandro Campoy (11), Tomas Garcia-Morillo (10) and Ricardo Oliveros (12) each supplied double-digit goals this season.

The Vancouver Whitecaps (15-5-7) Residency squads have typically found success since jumping into the USSF-run program, and this squad is no different. They’ll be buoyed by one of the top scorers in the U16 age group, Dario Zanatta, who was recently named the squad’s Player of the Year. The Canadian U18 MNT player is sure to be the focus of defenses and college coaches, should he opt for that route.

This group actually features two of the top three scorers in the U16 age group, as the Houston Dynamo (11-5-11) counter with the age group’s top scorer Juan Flores, who has 25 on the year. Flores’ total is more than half of the team’s total of 46 on the year, meaning the rest of the team needs to raise its game in order to give the team a shot at advancing.

Rounding out the group is Match Fit Academy (14-7-4), which will look to lean on its defensive strength to make noise against its high-scoring opponents. They conceded under a goal per game with 22 in 25 games on the year, a feat that must be replicated in Indy.

Player to Watch: Dario Zanatta, F, Vancouver Whitecaps FC: Pick your high-scoring forward for this honor, either Zanatta or Flores in truth, as everyone loves a solid, consistent goal scorer.


Tuesday, June 24
Weston FC vs. Houston Dynamo – 2:30 p.m. – Field 11
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Match Fit Academy – 2:30 p.m. – Field 12

Wednesday, June 25
Match Fit Academy vs. Weston FC – 2 p.m. – Field 27
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Houston Dynamo – 2 p.m. – Field 28

Friday, June 26
Weston FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC – 9 a.m. – Field 11
Houston Dynamo vs. Match Fit Academy – 9 a.m. – Field 12

Group D
LA Galaxy
D.C. United
Concorde Fire
Sockers FC 

Group Preview

The Group of Death is a tiresome descriptor when it comes to any sort of group-based soccer tournament, though perhaps Group D is best shoehorned into that category. The LA Galaxy (18-3-6) coached by Mike Munoz features the usual bevy of talent – California recruits Rey Ortiz and Christian Segovia boss the midfield, while Dylan Smith (15 goals) and Ethan Zubak (14 tallies) offer consistent scoring options.

D.C. United (15-3-7) last lost a Development Academy game on November 17, and enter this week as slight favorites. Owen Marshall is the team’s top scorer with 15 goals, though he’s just ahead of future Maryland player Daniel Reeves, who has 14. The addition of Lucas Mendes earlier this year is another story to watch for, as the shifty attacker joined the team in January 2014 and has eight goals in just 10 games.

Making another appearance at this stage of the Dev. Academy season, Concorde Fire (18-7-11) is sure to be out for better results this time around, after exiting in 2013 without a win in the group stage. Boasting the second best defense in the Southeast Division, the back line is going to be thoroughly tested in Indy against teams with plenty of firepower.

Slowing down leading scorer and Michigan State commit Ryan Sierakowski is one of the keys to facing Sockers FC (12-8-7), which rounds out Group D. Jeff Montemayor and Brian Pfaff have been defensive stalwarts all season as well, starting and playing every single game of the year.

Player to Watch: Lucas Mendes, M, D.C. United: Recently committed to UCLA for the class of 2016, Mendes is a player with plenty of potential who has enjoyed a very strong transition to D.C. United’s setup. He’ll need to come up big to help the team make it out of the group.

Tuesday, June 24
LA Galaxy vs. Sockers FC – 2:30 p.m. – Field 14
D.C. United vs. Concorde Fire – 2:30 p.m. – Field 13

Wednesday, June 25
Concorde Fire vs. LA Galaxy – 2 p.m. – Field 29
Sockers FC vs. D.C. United – 2 p.m. – Field 30

Friday, June 26
LA Galaxy vs. D.C. United – 9 a.m. – Field 13
Concorde Fire vs. Sockers FC – 9 a.m. – Field 14

Group E
Kendall SC
Chicago Magic PSG
Albertson SC
Philadelphia Union

Group Preview

While Kendall SC (23-6-7) played plenty of games, they were also good for plenty of goals, scoring 77 throughout the course of the season, just over a two per game average. Gonzalo Marquez led the team in scoring with 12 tallies, and the offense will need to be firing on all cylinders this week.

One of a handful of strong clubs from Illinois, Chicago Magic SC (17-9-1) is another deep, talented side capable of competing for the top spot. Kendall Stork finished as the regular season top scorer with 18 goals on the year, though Marquette recruit Luka Prpa is an emerging option from midfield, while Stephen Payne accounted for 10 goals on the season.

Albertson SC (12-7-4) is no stranger to postseason play in the Academy, punching a ticket to last year’s Finals Week in Houston. So the other three teams certainly overlook the New York side at their own risk, as players like Barry Sharifi and Conrad Nowowlejski are capable of making this a hard team to beat.

Debutants in the Development Academy this season, Philadelphia Union (13-7-5) did enough to secure a wild card spot, and can now turn their focus on topping the group. Midfielder Morgan Hackworth, recently pledged to play at Syracuse in 2015, is sure to be one of the central figures for the team in Indy, while the pace and prowess of Isaiah Young in front of goal is also critical.

Player to Watch: Luka Prpa, M, Chicago Magic: The former U.S. youth international is a creative force in the midfield who can change games with his passing ability.

Tuesday, June 24
Kendall SC vs. Philadelphia Union – 4:30 p.m. – Field 11
Chicago Magic SC vs. Albertson SC – 4:30 p.m. – Field 12

Wednesday, June 25
Albertson SC vs. Kendall SC – 4 p.m. – Field 27
Philadelphia Union vs. Chicago Magic SC – 4 p.m. Field 28

Friday, June 26
Kendall SC vs. Chicago Magic SC – 11 a.m. – Field 11
Philadelphia Union vs. Albertson SC – 11 a.m. – Field 12

Group F
Real Salt Lake AZ
St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri
Georgia United

Group Preview

The defending champions at this age group, Real Salt Lake AZ (21-4-2) are ironclad contenders once again, and enter this quartet as the team to beat. Sebastian Saucedo, who scored 23 goals this season, is one of the best players in this age group and the U18 MNT player is a menace for opponents to deal with in Indy. 

One of the most acclaimed clubs in the country, St. Louis Scott Gallagher (15-5-7) is no stranger to postseason play in the Academy, finishing runners up in 2012. This year’s squad represents a team of defensive quality, conceding just 20 goals in 27 games. It will be the bedrock the team leans on this week in order to try and spring a surprise.

Another top defensive united, Georgia United (19-6-11) conceded just over a goal a game, while Chris Mikus topped the team’s scoring charts with 12 tallies on the season. Defender Matt Morgan has been one of the key figures in that, playing all but one of the team’s 36 games so far this year.

Rounding out the group is acclaimed New Jersey side NJSA 04 (12-9-4), the tenth placed wild card finisher. The team left it late, qualifying for playoffs the last weekend of the season, and will face a difficult test opening the week against Real Salt Lake AZ. 

Player to Watch: Sebastian Saucedo, F, Real Salt Lake AZ: A high-quality attacking option who has been a dominant force in the Development Academy, Saucedo is a critical figure for RSL as it searches to punch a ticket to yet another top spot in its group.

Tuesday, June 24
Real Salt Lake vs. NJSA – 4:30 p.m. – Field 13
St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri vs. Georgia United – 4:30 p.m. – Field 14

Wednesday, June 25
Georgia United vs. Real Salt Lake AZ – 4 p.m. – Field 29
NJSA 04 vs. St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri – 4 p.m. – Field 30

Friday, June 26
Real Salt Lake AZ vs. St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri – 11 a.m. – Field 13
Georgia United vs. NJSA 04 – 11 a.m. – Field 14

Group G
New York Red Bulls
Crew Soccer Academy Wolves
Colorado Rush

Group Preview

It’s difficult not to label the New York Red Bulls (18-3-1) as a contender to top this group, given the club’s accomplishments in the past. This team is obviously a different one, but the numbers are just as good. Ethan Lochner secured a team-best 15 goals this season, but the team’s defense has conceded the fewest goals in the U16 age group, letting in just 12 in 22 games.

Mid-America Division winners Crew Soccer Academy Wolves (15-5-7) produced a trio of double-digit goals scorers who will look to replicate that scoring form in Indianapolis this week. Bryan Prudil and Daniel Wright each bagged 13 on the season, while Kalenga Selemani notched 10 from just 15 games. If at least one can find his scoring touch this week, it bodes well for the acclaimed Michigan side.

Winners of five of its last seven games of the season, Bethesda-Olney (14-5-6) has shown more than deserving of a spot in the Dev. Academy this season. A number of different players have shown scoring capabilities, from Matthew Di Rosa, to Francisco Contreras, Ibrahima Kouyate and Eric Matzelevich, a balance that will be dangerous for other teams to slow down.

Heading into this week’s playoffs, Colorado Rush (12-8-7) knows it must keep games close in order to have a shot at advancing, having scored just 29 goals from 27 games this season. Defense obviously got them to this point, allowing only 25 goals, and Colorado’s key to surviving this group.

Player to Watch: Ethan Lochner, F, New York Red Bulls: The No. 9 for the team with one of the best records in this age group is one of many talented players on New York’s roster capable of delivering on a stage like this one. Lochner is sure to be one of many hoping to continue New York’s playoff success.

Tuesday, June 24
New York Red Bulls vs. Colorado Rush – 4:30 p.m. – Field 27
Bethesda-Olney vs. Crew Soccer Academy Wolves – 4:30 p.m. – Field 28

Wednesday, June 25
Bethesda-Olney vs. New York Red Bulls – 4 p.m. – Field 11
Crew Soccer Academy Wolves vs. Colorado Rush – 4 p.m. – Field 12

Friday, June 26
New York Red Bulls vs. Crew Soccer Academy Wolves – 11 a.m. – Field 27
Colorado Rush vs. Bethesda-Olney – 11 a.m. – Field 28

Group H
Players Development Academy
Crossfire Premier

Group Preview

The New Jersey powerhouse PDA (18-4-3) is a perennial contender and usually sends both of its clubs to this stage of the season. PDA enters the playoffs riding a ten-game unbeaten streak, conceding in just one game during that stretch. Two of those results were 0-0 draws, so in order to progress, finding offense at the right time will be key. One candidate to help the team’s cause in the final third is Cameron Harr, who knocked in 18 goals this season.

Slightly overshadowed by its MLS counterparts in the Southwest Division, Pateadores (17-4-6) shouldn’t be. The SoCal side is well known for its player production pipeline, sending players to both professional and college ranks on a regular basis. Eder Oliva, Luis Leon and Cesar Murillo are all capable of providing a scoring punch that is going to be necessary in order to compete in this group.

Michigan club Vardar (15-6-6) is going to be a formidable foe as well, as Nash Popovic and his 19 goals represent one of the top scorers in this group. Vardar has been tested against some quality sides in the Mid-America Division and will look to lean on that experience to try and snag the advantage.

The other Development Academy side in the Pacific Northwest, Crossfire Premier (13-10-4) snuck into the playoff field in a wild card spot by winning two of their final three games of the season back in May. They had ample time to prepare, and if 19-goal scorer Joey Parish is firing and in form, Crossfire could muscle their way to the top.

Player to Watch: Nash Popovic, F, Vardar: The Saint Louis-bound recruit is fresh off an impressive season, and finished the season by scoring five goals in his last five games of the year. The No. 116 ranked recruit in the class of 2015 can make a big impression this week.

Tuesday, June 24
Pateadores vs. Vardar – 2:30 p.m. – Field 30
Players Development Academy vs. Crossfire Premier – 2:30 p.m. – Field 29 

Wednesday, June 25
Vardar vs. Players Development Academy – 2 p.m. – Field 13
Pateadores vs. Crossfire Premier – 2 p.m. – Field 14

Friday, June 26
Players Development Academy vs. Pateadores – 9 a.m. – Field 29
Vardar vs. Crossfire Premier – 9 a.m. – Field 30

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