D.C. United’s U-16 team wrapped up a successful 2011-2012 USSDA season last weekend in the National Championship held in Houston, Texas. The U-16’s finished the tournament with a 1-2-1 record, scoring five goals and allowing four, as well as securing the seventh place in the nation’s Academy ranking.
D.C. United kicked off the Championship week with a tough match against the Crew Soccer Academy Wolves. The U-16’s took the lead in the 26th minute thanks to a goal by Nigel Robinson (Woodbridge, Va./Forest Park HS), assisted by Rafael Fagundo (Herndon, Va./Paul VI HS), but the Crew found the equalizer in the 80th minute, sealing the final result to 1-1.
The next match saw the U-16’s take on PA Classics in a game that would prove to be decisive for the Black-and-Red. With both teams tied at 1-1 and ten minutes to go, United pushed numbers forward in search of a win that would allow them to advance to the next round. Unfortunately, the U-16’s were caught off guard on a counter attack and PA Classics were able to score a late tally to secure a 2-1 win. United’s goal was scored by Jorge Calix (Ft. Washington, Md./St Stephens Episcopal HS) with an assist from Ian Harkes (Fairfax, Va./Gonzaga HS).
United’s third match was against St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri on Saturday, July 21. Despite dominating possession, the U-16’s were beaten on a long throw-in and ultimately fell 1-0 to the Missouri side.
On Monday, July 23, D.C. United faced the Charlotte Soccer Academy in a match to decide the seventh and eight-ranked teams in the nation. With a dominating performance, the U-16’s gave their last effort of the season to earn a 3-0 win and secure the seventh place in the nation’s Academy ranking. Jorge Calix scored United’s first goal, seizing a rebound in the box after a powerful free kick by Cristhyan Najar (Alexandria, Va.). Mike Sauers (Glen Arm, Md.) followed with a chest finish off a cross from Abdi Yusuf (Herndon, Va./Herndon HS), while Robert Palmer (Bethesda, Md.) sealed the final result with an individual effort in the box.
Results aside, United’s U-16’s gained valuable experience on and off the pitch, participating in several sponsored events as well as meeting with sports psychologists. In addition, U.S. Youth National Team staff and scouts provided match analysis and insight to assist the D.C. United coaching staff with player development aspects.
“To be one of the top eight Academy teams in the country is a strong achievement that came from a year-long commitment from the players, staff and club,” said U-16 Head Coach Tom Torres. “We were proud that the boys showed their quality style and approach to soccer to the other teams and the U.S. Soccer staff. Playing in the final was certainly the goal, but regardless of where we ended, all the boys enhanced their growth and development as players and people.”
“This experience also helped to prepare players for their next level of competition,” added Torres. “From here, we will get a short break and then head to Seattle for the Generation Adidas Cup. A quick turnaround, but the goal is for the boys to be ready for a very similar environment.”