In its final preparations for the upcoming United States Soccer Development Academy season, D.C. United’s academy squads hosted three Majoy League Soccer academy teams for friendlies at Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia over Labor Day weekend.
Along with D.C. United’s academy squads (U-13; U-14; U-15; U-16; U-18), academy teams from across Major League Soccer, including the New York Red Bulls (U-13; U-14; U-15), the Columbus Crew (U-12; U-13; U-14; U-16; U-18), and the Chicago Fire (U-13; U-14; U-15; U-16; U-18) played this weekend in what was valuable in-game experience for the upcoming USSDA season.
In its first game, D.C. United fell 3-2 to the Columbus Crew academy squad. While all three of the Crew’s goals were conceded on set pieces, Patrick Foss and Nigel Robinson were able to keep the game close by finding the back of the net. Foss scored on a penalty kick and Robinson scored from open play.
Looking to bounce back from the Saturday loss to Columbus, the Black-and-Red U-18’s hosted the Chicago Fire Academy on Sunday, September 2nd. Behind two goals from Kennedy O’Shea, United and the Fire remained deadlocked at two until the final minutes of the game. Lars Eckenrode found the back of the net in the 85th minute in what ended up being the game-winning header off of a corner kick. The 85th minute header from the Burke, Virginia native sealed the victory for D.C. United.
Sitting at 1-1 coming into the final friendly of the weekend, the academy squad looked to keep the form that helped them to a win against the Fire. In a second match with the Crew, United fell 4-0 as preparations for the USSDA season loomed near.
"Overall, this weekend was great preparation for the Academy season,” said Nolan Sheldon, head coach of D.C. United’s U-18 academy team. “We're excited about what this group is capable of, and look forward to Saturday's season opener versus NJSA."
With the squad being split because a team dropped out, many players were able to log extra minutes and valuable playing time in three friendlies over the weekend. The Black-and-Red turned in a very strong first performance against the Chicago Fire with a 3-1 win.
The second match against the Fire was a tight 2-0 loss. There was a lot of back and forth throughout the game. The Fire managed to capitalize, while the Black-and-Red did not.
The remaining two games, both against the Crew turned out to be a 2-1 loss and a 1-1 draw. The squad finished up 1-1-1 over the Labor Day weekend in its final preparations for the USSDA season.
“This weekend was a great opportunity to see how our new group matched up against other MLS academies,” said Tom Torres, head coach of D.C. United’s U-16 academy team. “The tough competition will prepare us for the upcoming season openers as we jump into the 10 month season.”