Academy Winter Showcase: The D.C. United Academy teams continued their season by showing their skills in the Academy Winter Showcase in Phoenix, AZ this past weekend. The U16s swept all three of their games. The U18s played well, but could only muster a 1-2 record in the desert.
“This was another great step for our program as we finished up the weekend with decent results but more importantly grew as a club,” said United’s Director of Youth Development John Maessner. “We learned a lot about the things we need to continue to work on in order to get this group of players where want to be. Both teams represented D.C. United well and played good soccer for long stretches throughout most of the games this weekend.”
The U16s rode an impressive offensive weekend en route to a 3-0 record. The club dispatched Real SoCal in its weekend opener 3-2. Yaw Amankwa led the squad with a goal and two assists in the contest. Joey Wilkins and Marcus Salandy-Defour also finished for the Black-and-Red youth. The team defeated the Chicago Magic two days later, posting a 2-1 result. Salandy-Defour scored two goals (assists by Amankwa and Sebastian Cahe) to lead the team to victory. The U16s saved their most impressive performance of the weekend for a Monday mauling of the Columbus Crew. The pair of Salandy-Defour and Amankwa teamed up to get the team out to a 1-0 lead before two goals from Luiz Cartagena and another by Julian Griggs helped the U16s to a 4-0 win.
“It was a great weekend for our boys as they played very well, scored goals and defended as a team,” exclaimed Roberto DaSilva, U16 Head Coach. “This helped us to gain confidence and feel very good going into the winter break knowing that we have a lot of work to do in preparation for the South African trip planned for January.”
The U18s did not fare as well over the course of their Winter Showcase. The team lost their opening game to Real SoCal 2-1, as Connor Shanosky’s first minute goal was the only ball that found the back of the net for the U18s. Rebounding nicely, they gathered a 3-2 win against the Chicago Magic. Michael Burgos, Myles McGinley and KC Onyeador scored in the victory. The final game of the Showcase saw the club fall just short against the Columbus Crew. Dominick Yin knotted the game with a goal in the 75th minute, but the Crew rallied late to secure the 2-1 win. The U18s 1-2 record did not paint the proper picture of how well they played throughout the weekend.
“While not getting the results we were looking for, we are very excited about the way the 18s played and the remarks and feedback that we got from around the country,” noted Judah Cooks, U18 Head Coach. “We will work hard during the winter break to sharpen our mistakes and look forward to playing again in the new year.”
South Africa Tournament: The Academy teams will now turn its focus to the Gauteng Future Champions Tournament in South Africa where the U16s will face clubs from all over the world. The D.C. United Academy will join youth teams from clubs such as Boca Juniors, Inter Milan, Manchester United, Barcelona, Botafogo and others.
Special Recognition: Several D.C. United Academy players have been invited to the U15 National Team Camp on January 12-19. Collin Martin, Kainoa Bailey, Cody Niedermeier and Jalen Robinson will represent the Black-and-Red in Bradenton, Fla.
Additionally, four Academy players, Martin, Niedermeier, Robinson and Michael Funes, participated in the Academy Select matches while in Arizona. Eight teams comprised of the top players from different clubs in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy were formed to compete against each other or other Academy club teams.
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