The U.S. Soccer Development Academy League is a partnership between U.S. Soccer and the top youth clubs around the country to provide the best youth players in the U.S. with an every day environment designed to produce the next generation of National Team players. The IMG Academy soccer program U-18 boys' team finished 3rd in the nation in 2009.
The U-18 Academy Boys team did what they had to do over the long weekend at the Winter Showcase in Phoenix . With exception of a first game tie versus Potomac of Maryland, which ended in a scoreless draw, the team was superior to the scheduled opponents in all areas. Rotating 20 players over 3 matches, the squad looked fresh and full of fight in all three contests and at times played some really good stuff.
The first match saw the IMG team dominate in both buildup and scoring chances throughout the first half, however we failed to convert on several occasions. Goalkeeper Mark Bixler was rarely tested over the 90 minutes but a more spirited effort on the part of Potomac was cause for concern over the first 20 minutes of the 2nd half. After that initial onslaught the game was wide open and we created more chance than in the first half but failed to find the winning touch. Atticus Desprospo came the closes after a tidy move down the left flank. The mainstays of John Eckford, Fillippo Bardin, Desprospo, Jorge Risquez, Martin Ontiveros, Reinaldo Brennes and Fernando Mares all impressed and caught the eyes of the College Coaches in attendance.
In a landside 5-1 victory over the highly touted Chivas USA side the squad played a near perfect Match. Andres Acevedo stepped up his game and played some of his best soccer of the year. Newcomer Brett Jankouskas played Hero with 2 extraordinary goals while Martin Ontiveros netted a hat-trick as his finishing and approach play dominated the match. Brennes was also outstanding and Mares feisty throughout was a handful for the Chivas left side. Sweeping movements from the back initiated by the composure of Bardin and the overlapping of Eckford and Desprospo saw the Squad create and finish with precision. Risquez was solid in the contention midfield position and the comprehensive effort gave keeper Alfredo Malaret little to do after an early goal tied the game 1-1. This performance had people talking about the IMG team and its prospects.
A game change spoiled the scouting efforts of our staff, but the boys made short work of New Jersey Soccer Academy with a 6-0 victory. The NJSA could not break the IMGA press and Trevor Lamb put us up 1-0 after he intercepted a stray pass just yards outside the box. After dribbling twice, he finished nicely with his right foot low and to the corner. Jankowski than scored twice in similar fashion to make it 3-0 just minutes into the first half. The opponent resorted to off side tactics and the IMG boys seemed first frustrated and then disinterested in killing off the game. After a terse half time lecture the boys rallied for 3 more goals. Milain Fayulu provided the necessary spark up front scoring 2 well taken goals. While Ontiveros joined Jankowsi on the highlight reel . The defense held fast over the 3 games and the efforts of Matt Glodak and Raymond Sturrup in marking should not go unmentioned. Niko Close played his best match to date as a marker and sweeper both in the final match.
We have to be satisfied with the attitude, concentration and effort of the team to rebound from the tough loss in the last game leading up to the showcase.