With youth clubs from across the country flocking to the Sarasota Polo Grounds for the prestigious U.S. Soccer Development Academy Spring Showcase, the IMG Academy soccer program had a chance to shine in its backyard this past weekend.
Here's a recap:
U-18s- The boys gave a comprehensive display of the values of full-time training and the integration of the core components that the Soccer Academy offers in winning both matches against Northeast opponents with flair and diligence.
Luis Ocejo had a pair of goals against Oakwood SC in a 4-0 win. Martin Ontiveros and Fernando Mares completed the scoring. Reinaldo Brenes, Mares and Diego Rodriguez scored in a 3-0 win against the Boston Bolts.
The midfield was in particularly good form and the 1-3-5-2 formation was a good fit against opponents. Brenes was fantastic and impressed U.S. scouts and college coaches alike. Ontiveros was at another level on day one, demonstrating qualities that few other players at the event possess. Ocejo was outstanding after a slow start and became a force over the course of the event.Tyler Currence and Jorge Risquez did all of the dirty work and played their roles to a tee.
Much credit goes to the back three in both matches. Alex Walters anchored a makeshift defensive line that, with the outstanding play of goalkeeper Larry Jackson, combined for two shutouts. Thomas MacFarland barely put a foot in the wrong place, and John Eckford played his best match of the year the following day. Brad Doliner was solid on Sunday as well.
The strike partners of Benny Barshai and Luis Calzadilla deserve much credit for wearing down opposing defenses with their movement and pressing.Both played the role of provider on several occasions against stubborn compact back lines.The subs also played their part and Mares came off the bench to score within minutes of his introduction in both games.
College coaches, U.S. scouts and officials were all very impressed with this group in terms of organization, style of play, individual flare and tactical discipline.
After the trials and tribulations of a long Academy year and season these boys deserve all the credit. Thank you to the parents and players from other teams who came out to support them at this event.
U-16s- Top Drawer Soccer summed up the U-16s first game perfectly in naming it the Match of the Day for day two. The scoreless draw doesn't indicate the intensity and excitement of the game. On Sunday, the U-16s lost 2-1 to FC Boston after a last-second goal.
Upcoming events- The U-18s and U-16s both won their Academy League division and will compete in the playoffs June 26-29 in Greensboro, NC.