D.C. United Academy Update: June 11, 2009

First Team Training: Three D.C. United Academy U18 players have been training with the first team this week. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid and forwards Paul Torres and Chris Hegngi all got a taste of the professional ranks when they trained with D.C. United.

“All three players showed very well today at training and have the potential to play professionally if they continue to develop,” said United’s Director of Youth Development John Maessner. “We will be bringing in our Academy players throughout the summer in with the first team. It is a special opportunity for our Academy players to get a feeling for what it is like to train and play as a professional. The environment is critical for these players to measure themselves, learn from each moment and use it to help them grow.”

Academy Affiliate Program: In order to develop strong relationships between United and its affiliate soccer clubs, the Youth Academy is attempting to work with those programs to identify and develop the area’s most talented players. The team’s intention is to ensure that these relationships will be mutually beneficial for United’s affiliate clubs and for the Youth Academy.

Initiatives planned to help achieve this goal include promoting better communication between the Academy staff and affiliate clubs, extending United coaching philosophies and curriculums to the affiliate club through clinics and specialized training sessions, and providing a direct link for top players from affiliate clubs to the U16 and U18 Academy teams, U15 Academy Developmental Program and other youth programming.

Season Update: Following the first team’s Atlantic Cup-clinching win against the New York Red Bulls on Thursday, the D.C. United youth teams renewed the rivalry on Saturday, with the U18 side defeating New York 2-0 and the U16 squad falling 3-0. The U20s, meanwhile, got off to a hot start in the USL Super-20 League, downing Super Nova FC 3-0 on Saturday and PDA Cruyff 5-0 on Sunday.

The U18s struck in the 27th minute against the Red Bulls when University of Maryland-bound forward Paul Torres scored off a Michael Funes corner kick. Just as the first team did on Thursday, the U18 defense then held New York off the scoreboard for the rest of the match before adding a late insurance tally. Finishing off a pass from Chris Hegngi, it was substitute striker Peabo Doue who scored in the 90th minute to put the Red Bulls away.

With a shorthanded roster after having its top players called up to the U18 squad, the U16s could not keep pace with New York’s attack en route to dropping a 3-0 result. After falling behind 1-0 early, the Black-and-Red squandered a chance to equalize by missing a first half penalty kick.

“It was a great day for our 18s, who are preparing for the Academy Playoffs,” said Maessner. “We were able to once again mix in some of our younger players - Miles McGinley, Andy Najar and Dominick Yin, who are proving to be top players in our program.”

A trio of braces during the weekend paced the U20s to a plus-eight goal differential as United made short work of its two opponents. UMBC striker Levi Houapeu recorded a pair of goals on Saturday while Dan Ankrah added one. On Sunday, Houapeu added two more, with Michael Worden adding two of his own and Parnell Hegngi also finding the net for the Black-and-Red.

“This is a very strong group that has huge potential to be very successful,” Maessner said. “Most players are either our former U18 Academy boys who are home from school for the summer, the best college players in the area or have moved to the area to play for our team. There are several prospects that will certainly draw interest from our first team.”

College Commitments: Two former United Academy players who are currently with the U17 National Team have announced their college commitments. Shaquille Phillips will be attending Duke in the Fall of 2010 and Julio Arjona will be going to West Virginia University in the Spring of 2010.

Upcoming Tournaments: The D.C. United U17 team will compete in this year’s MLS U17 Cup from July 3-8 in Denver, CO. The Black-and-Red is looking to reclaim the title after winning the 2007 championship but falling in the 2008 final.

The U18s, currently ranked eighth nationally the U.S. Soccer Development Academy in overall points, are preparing for the Academy playoffs later this month from June 25-29 in Greensboro, NC. Should they advance, they would travel to the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA for the finals from July 10-17.

U16 and U18 Academy Tryouts: In an effort to identify the best youth players in the Washington D.C. area, the D.C. United Academy will be holding tryouts for the U16 and U18 Academy teams in June. Tryout dates are scheduled for June 8, 12, 15, and 19, July 28-30, and August 11-13. Sessions will be held at RFK Stadium’s Auxiliary Turf Field. Further details are available at .

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