The end of the road for the 2014-2015 Development Academy U14 season is in Westfield, Indiana. The final showcase event kicks off on Friday and wraps up on Monday, June 22. Every team from the U14 age group plus a couple of special guest teams will be on hand for the the four-day event.
Take a look at some of the marquee games from the youngest age of the Development Academy as well as some of the players to watch. Check back with TopDrawerSoccer at the end of the week for exclusive content from the U14 Showcase.
One of the top games of the opening day is between MLS Academy powerhouses New York Red Bulls and LA Galaxy. New York has only lost once this season while the Galaxy have three defeats on the record. The Southern California squad is full of youth national team players, but defender Ignacio Licea has been perhaps the most important. The defender leads the team in starts and appearances. New York will definitely test that Galaxy defense with a talented front line led by Jack Valderrabano, who has 15 goals this season. Red Bulls also take on Vardar and San Jose Earthquakes in Indiana. Galaxy face Georgia United and Vardar.
New England Revolution is also on the short list of teams to watch in Indiana. The MLS Academy only has one loss on the record for the season in Development Academy play. Gary Hall’s side has relied on a stout defense with over 10 shutouts this season as well as good balance to the roster with a number of contributors. The biggest test for New England Revolution in Indiana will likely be on Sunday when they take on one of the best teams from California in FC Golden State, which ended its campaign on a 12-game unbeaten run. U.S. U14 Boys National Team defender Ian Murphy is one of the stars of the team with 34 starts to his name this season.
Chivas USA also enters the final event of the season on a long unbeaten run following an eight-game streak without suffering a defeat. Chives USA is playing against Chicago Fire, Match Fit Academy, and Orlando City. The Southern California team has a number of youth national team players on the roster, but Chivas USA qualified for the playoffs in the U16 age group so some of the may be pulled up to that squad, which kicks off play on June 23.
Toronto FC joins the Development Academy for the showcase event in Indiana. Toronto FC is scheduled to play against D.C. United, Seattle Sounders, and BW Gottschee Academy. The Canadian youth team has a bit of U.S.-flavor with promising prospect Ayo Akinola already becoming a fixture with the U.S. youth national teams.
There is another race to watch at the U14 showcase beyond just the results of the games. There are three players in the U14 age group with 35 or more goals scored this season. Orlando City’s Alejandro Pereira leads the way with 36 goals. San Mateo County Star’s Justin Dionisio and Tampa Bay United’s Andres Ojeda each have 35. Who will finish the season as the top scorer?