Last week, the D.C. United U-15 and U-14 Pre-Academy teams traveled to Orlando, Fla., to participate in the prestigious Disney Soccer Showcase, a tournament that spanned five days of elite youth play. While the U-14’s played in a string of tough, competitive matches, the U-15’s captured third place, compiling an overall record of 3-1-0.
Over a four-game tournament stretch, the U-15’s tallied seven goals and, impressively, finished in third place in its division. In the team’s first game against Weston FC, Brandon Orozco (Bristow, Va.; Herndon Youth Soccer) and Cheick Traore (Bowie, Md.; Team America Premier) knocked in a goal apiece to lead the side to a 2-1 opening win. The second match saw a repeat result against the Dallas Texans, with Orozco striking goal again along with teammate Donovan Pines (Clarksville, Md.; Soccer Association of Columbia). In the third and final group match, United faced the OSU Spirit (Canada) and lost a close contest by a score of 1-0. With a 2-1-0 mark, the Black-and-Red qualified for the third-place match, a dominant 3-1 victory over the Houston Texans. Brandon Williamson (Gainesville, Va.; Virginia Soccer Association) opened the scoring account off of an Orozco assist, and Orozco hammered home two more goals to finish the showcase as the team’s leading scorer.
“Being able to play teams from around the country, and seeing that there is still work to do, was great,” said U-15 Head Coach Kris Ward. “It was good to see that the players are doing the right things on the field. Overall, it was a good experience for this group and a great way to cap off the year.”
Despite not recording a win in the tournament, the U-14’s showed their grit in three challenging and valuable matches. In the first game of the entire event, the Black-and-Red faced the Chicago Fire U-14’s in a ragged opening contest. Although United dominated possession in the second half, the Fire defeated the U-14’s 2-0. Against the reigning National Premier League champions – and eventual tournament winner – Dallas Texans in the following match, the U-14’s could not come back from three first-half goals from the Dallas club. Jordan Dove (Gambrills, Md.; Crofton Soccer Club) led United with five shots – none, unluckily, finding net – and goalkeeper Zach McMurrer (Woodbridge, Va.; Prince William Soccer, Inc.) kept a second-half clean sheet. The Black-and-Red’s closing match saw the side play even with Solar Chelsea, but an own goal in the 25th minute and two strikes after the interval proved to be the difference in a 3-0 loss. Idrissa Barrie (Woodbridge, Va.; Northern Virginia Soccer Club) had several shots to put the pressure on early, but his chances were not converted.
“There were many lessons learned in this tournament,” said U-13/U-14 Head Coach Jonny Frias. “Group defending mistakes proved to be very costly for a squad with seven players playing up. However, there were some solid individual performances against arguably three of the top U-14 teams in the country. We knew coming into this event we were coming in young, and we feel this experience will help the development for many of the players here.”
The Pre-Academy teams will take a break until the end of January, and will resume league play in March.