D.C. United’s Academy U-18s and U-16s both played top-ranked Players Development Academy (PDA) teams over the weekend, seeing United’s U-18s victorious and the U-16s go down. However, both sides are still well-positioned in the Atlantic Division of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) league and will head to FC Dallas Park on June 24-28 for the 2013 USSDA Academy playoffs.
The U-18s (16-6-2) battled second-ranked PDA (17-3-3) on Saturday; United getting the 1-0 win after Michael Sauers (Glen Arm, Md.; Baltimore Bays Chelsea) – assisted by Jimmy Doll (Bethesda, Md.; Pachuca) – dribbled past the PDA goalkeeper and slotted his chance into the far corner to put his team up 1-0 in the 33rd minute. The two sides played a physical, hard-fought match, and despite PDA’s multiple chances on goal, the U-18s were able to keep the clean sheet thanks to strong performances by United’s goalkeeper Braden Horton (Springfield, Va.; McLean Academy) and center back Cristhyan Najar (Alexandria, Va.). The third-ranked U-18s handed PDA just its third loss on the season and is now five points clear of fourth place.
“Matches versus PDA are always very competitive and this one was no different,” said D.C. United Academy U-18 head coach Nolan Sheldon. “Both sides created good chances and competed throughout the 90 minutes. Michael Sauers did well to finish his chance on goal and the team held strong to keep the clean sheet. This was a good team result.”
Meanwhile, the U-16s (15-4-5) fell 0-2 to the first-placed PDA (18-4-1). A lot of chances from both teams saw several quality saves from United goalkeeper Arie Ammann (Round Hill, Va.), however, the U-16s would become stretched and conceded a goal early in the second half. As United was pushing to find an equalizer, the team got caught on a PDA counter attack, seeing the U-16s give up a second goal. The U-16s are still in third place and is 10 points clear of the fourth place team.
“We had some good moments of play, but unfortunately we got a little unraveled at times versus a couple of [PDA’s] quality attackers,” said D.C. United Academy U-16 head coach Tom Torres. “Defensively, we did not stay organized in some key moments, which led to a few quality scoring chances in which [PDA] were able to finish. Overall, it was a great match to evaluate as we move towards the playoffs in Dallas.”
Both the U-18s and U-16s sit in third place in the USSDA East Conference, Atlantic division of the teams’ respective age groups. The top three teams in the division are guaranteed playoff spots, while the fourth and fifth placed squads are entered into a wildcard pool. Fortunately, the U-18s and U-16s have guaranteed playoff spots regardless of the next match result.
The squads will take the week off before preparations begin to take on the McLean Academy at Spring Hill Park (Spring Hill, Va.) on Saturday, June 1 for the final match of the regular season.