LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. (Nov. 30, 2012) – Following the lead of the Nike International Friendlies, the 2012 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase kicks off on Friday, Nov. 30, with games in the U-17/18 age group as 80 teams hit the field for 40 matches at Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
The competition begins at 10 a.m. ET as all 80 Academy clubs from around the country will come together in one location to showcase their talents over the course of three games in front a plethora of college coaches, scouts and fans on one of nearly 20 fields at the complex.
Featuring some of the best players in the country, the talent level throughout the five-day event will feature a high level of play with teams pushing for the goal of earning a perfect record during the competition and leaving a positive impression on scouts and coaches.
Here’s a quick look at some of the more intriguing matchups on the first day of competition in the U-17/18 age group:
FC Dallas vs. New York Red Bulls – 10 a.m. ET, Field 6 – FC Dallas is the defending U-17/18 champion and currently leads the Frontier Division with a 5-2-0 record and 2.14 points per game. Midfielder Kellyn Acosta, who signed a professional contract with FC Dallas as a 16-year-old on July 12, is second on the team with five goals while Bobby Edet – a Furman commitment – leads the club with seven goals in seven games. The Red Bulls are undefeated at 6-0-2 overall and feature several players from the U-15/16 champion squad from last season. Goal scoring leader Izzy Tandir (eight goals) was part of the U-15/16 championship squad that beat St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri in the U-15/16 final on July 23 in Houston. Also moving up from that team are Matt Miazga and Amando Moreno – both of whom recently earned calls to U-18 Men’s National Team camp – as well as Adam Najem and Alex Muyl.
Indiana Fire Academy vs. Match Fit Chelsea – 1:15 p.m. ET, Field 22 – Indiana Fire Academy enters the match riding a nine-game unbeaten streak. Joey Bastian leads the team with five goals in 11 games, but U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team member Travis Wannemuehler is also a dangerous target up front for the club. Match Fit Chelsea has struggled early this season, winning just two of its first eight matches for a 2-6-0 record. Malcolm Murphy’s squad has won two of its past three games, however, and it enters the Showcase coming off a 1-0 win on Nov. 18 against the Richmond Kickers U-17/18 squad. Loyola University Maryland commitment Jake Heroux, a 6-foot defender, leads the team with two goals.
Weston FC vs. De Anza Force – 1:15 p.m. ET, Field 9 – They aren’t local, but they are close enough to have a home field advantage. Weston FC, from the Atlantic coast of Florida, leads the Southeast Division with a 7-1-2 overall record. Weston FC has conceded just six goals in 10 games, while scoring a whopping 30 goals. Led by an eye-popping 12 goals in 10 matches by Nicholas Pappacena, Weston FC has benefited from plenty of offensive firepower as 10 players have scored goals this season. De Anza Force comes all the way from Northern California where it has accumulated a 5-3-1 overall record. Eric Yamamoto’s squad features its own goal-scoring machine in Jason Romero who has 10 goals in nine appearances.
LA Galaxy vs. Crew Soccer Academy Wolves – 12:15 p.m. ET, Field 19 – The Galaxy is undefeated at 6-0-1 overall and is led by forward Jack McBean, who signed a pro contract with the first team in January of 2011. With the first team set to contest the 2012 MLS Cup on Dec. 1, the U-17/18 side could be without the services of its co-leading scorer. McBean and Justin Dhillon lead the team with five goals each. Even without several key players, the Galaxy is always a strong side. Crew Soccer Academy Wolves are 6-3-2 overall and are led by Oakland University (Mich.) commitment Matt Wilson with three goals.