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DC Academy coaches reflect on Generation adidas Cup

Switch to 4-3-3 key change; Robinson, Martin, Foss show potential

FRISCO, Texas — A long year for D.C. United’s Academy finally came to an end last weekend with the conclusion of the Generation adidas Cup.

From a results perspective, there was mixed news: DC’s U-17s finished fourth, wrapping up the week with a tough 6-0 loss against Chivas USA, while the U-15s managed their only win of the week on Sunday, defeating Houston 2-1.

One of the biggest goals of the past week — and the entire season — was to continue to implement the 4-3-3 system at the academy levels, a process that will be overseen by former Ajax player and DC assistant coach Sonny Silooy.

“It’s better for the players — I know that because I played it all my life,” Silooy said. “It’s more fun to watch more attacking soccer. We want to be dominant, to play in the half of the opponent.”

Of course, this is a plan that can’t be put in place overnight, and in the last half of the Development Academy season, DC made the switch. It led to a rather successful run for both the U-16s and U-18s that came to an end in the Academy playoffs, before attention switched to the Generation adidas Cup last week.

There, DC advanced to the semifinals thanks to winning their group against other MLS academies. And while they couldn’t make a second straight run to the final, it was still a success, as the coaches got a chance to see candidates for the U-18 team next year as well as candidates for the U-16 Development Academy side.

One player who stood out during the week was Nigel Robinson, who only started playing with the DC Academy team this summer.

“He’s a big winger who’s come to us this past summer and shown great signs of being able to run by people and things like that,” U-18 coach Judah Cooks said.

The week was also a test for two of DC’s most promising youngsters: attacking midfielder Collin Martin, who has played a couple of reserve matches, and US Residency player Patrick Foss.

“The one thing I’ve noticed is [opponents] know about Collin Martin and that he has basically been man-marked throughout all games that I’ve seen,” Cooks said. “It’s interesting because he’s coming from an age where that might not happen, but it is probably going to happen, so he’s going to have to deal with it.”

That pair is one of many reasons Cooks is excited for the immediate future of DC’s Academy teams.

“I like Patrick a lot. I think he’s an exciting player,” Cooks said. “He has two more years as well as Collin, so it’s a lot to look forward to as far as good players coming up and having time to grow in our system, in our program and see where they can go.”

Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @travismclark.