Affiliate program, a success story for D.C. United's Academy
The D.C. United Academy has several affiliate clubs that actively help identify, develop and monitor players in the Maryland, Virginia and D.C. area. These affiliate clubs assist D.C. United in developing high quality players that are ready to perform at premier college programs and potentially play for D.C. United’s first team. Six clubs are affiliate members with the D.C. United Academy including, Annandale Boys and Girls Soccer Club, Arlington Soccer Association, Beach FC, Maryland United, Northern Virginia Soccer Club and Stafford Soccer.
“We are crossing into new and exciting territory with our Affiliate club members,” said D.C. United U-16 Head Coach and Head Scout Tom Torres, who is managing the Affiliate Program’s implementation. “Affiliate players are attending academy training and friendly matches are being played. D.C. United and affiliate coaches are also sharing ideas and collaborating to develop players. It’s a huge asset to D.C. United to work with the affiliate clubs.”
Lucas Mendes is an excellent example of the symbiotic relationship between D.C. United and their affiliate club member, Arlington Soccer Association. Mendes played for Arlington since he was in the third grade and accomplished several prestigious feats with the Arlington Impact Red. He is now a member of the D.C. United U-16 team and looks forward to continuing the winning ways he had with Arlington.
“Arlington gave me everything,” said Mendes. “They prepared me really well and gave me the opportunity to come play at D.C. United. I can’t think of a better situation.”
Mendes has won the Virginia State Cup three times, been a Region I Finalist twice and participated in high profile tournaments like Dallas Cup with Arlington. Mendes was also a key player in the Virginia State 1997 ODP team that won the Region I ODP Championship and was a semifinalist at ODP Nationals in 2013. His addition to the D.C. United U-16s will bring another talented and highly rated midfielder into the D.C. United program.
“Lucas joining the Academy is a testament to the relationships being built in the affiliate program,” said Torres. “Several affiliate players joined the academy program last year, but Lucas is a player that our scouts have been tracking for three years. We have worked together with Arlington on Lucas’s transition into our club.”
“I’m really excited about getting started here at D.C. United,” said Mendes after one of his first training sessions with the United 16s. “Playing here will really help me improve and be seen by college and national team coaches. The competitive and professional environment that D.C. United provides gives me more opportunities to improve. Everyone here is a competitor and I hope to fit into the lineup soon.”
The addition of Mendes into the D.C. United U-16 midfield will add more talent to an already physical and speedy roster. Torres said, “Arlington’s player development model deserves all the credit for where Lucas is at this point in his playing career. They do amazing work with their players and we look forward to providing Lucas with a competitive environment and to help him achieve his goals.”