D.C. United’s Academy U-18s and U-16s concluded the teams’ U.S. Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) seasons with the League playoffs held in Frisco, TX against other top USSDA sides from around the country from June 24-27 and June 25-28, respectively. Also, United’s U-23s topped Chesterfield United FC 5-1 on Saturday in their latest National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) match.
The U-18s (16-6-2) traveled to FC Dallas Sports Park, facing CASL Chelsea, St. Louis Scott Gallagher and Real Salt Lake in its three playoff games after a very successful USSDA regular season. The Black-and-Red faced CASL Chelsea in its first playoff match June 24, dropping the result 1-0. The team was back in action just a day later against St. Louis Scott Gallagher. The U-18s took a 2-0 lead in the first half, thanks to goals from Denis Najar (Alexandria, Va.) and Jorge Calix (Alexandria, Va.; Team American Premier), but was pegged back by a goal in each half from Austin Panchot and Jeffrey Hopson, the latter scoring in the 89th minute to secure the draw for St. Louis. In its final game, June 27, the U-18s earned a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake (RSL). United went behind in the 67th minute via a goal from RSL’s Jose Navarro, but the U-18’s rebounded, thanks to an own goal in the 86th minute and a game-winner in the 92nd minute from Michael Sauers (Glen Arm, Md.; Baltimore Bays Chelsea).
D.C. United’s U-16s (16-4-5) also traveled to Texas for its USSDA playoffs, where the team faced FC Bolts, Chicago Magic and Solar Chelsea in its three games in the tournament. The Black-and-Red opened against FC Bolts on June 25, losing the match 4-2 with goals coming from Nathan Abraham (Arlington, Va.) and Christophe Koffi (Potomac, Md.). The following day, the U-16’s faced the Chicago Magic, dropping the match 3-0 after a brace from the Magic’s Andrija Novakovich and another from Elijah Rice. The Black-and-Red concluded its campaign June 28 against Solar Chelsea, losing 2-1 with Gerson Umana (Lorton, Va.; Prince William Soccer Inc.) scoring United’s only goal.
“Our program is working well, because we are making all our players better,” said D.C. United Director of Youth Development Sonny Silooy. “The system we play is working and our job in the Academy is to bring players to the First Team. This is the best way to bring young players into the First Team for D.C. United.
“In the tournament, winning was not a priority. We wanted to play nice soccer and gain more experience and, of course, there are areas to improve on. We need to be slightly smarter in our play, especially against teams who played a very dense style. We needed to find solutions to that and to other problems that we came up against. It is a learning process for the young players and we need to learn how to handle things.
Meanwhile, D.C. United’s Under-23s (3-1-2) got back on track after back-to-back losses with a 5-1 away win over Chesterfield United FC (2-2-3) June 29 in the side’s latest NPSL fixture. The Black-and-Red was victorious just once in the month of June, slipping to fourth place in the South Region, Mid Atlantic Division before this game. However, with the victory over Chesterfield, the U-23s move up to third place, three points behind second-placed Myrtle Beach Mutiny with two games in hand. Both of the U-23s remaining two fixtures will be away against RVA Football Club (Fredericksburg, Va.) on Tuesday, July 2 and against CASL Elite (Raleigh, NC) on Sunday, July 7.