A total of 64 sides were whittled down to 16 over the past weekend as the 2011 USSF Development Academy playoffs were held in Frisco, Texas.
The 16 group winners—eight at the U-16 level and eight at the U-18 level—advanced to Finals Week, which begins July 9 in Milwaukee.
Five MLS academies will send teams to Wisconsin next week. Seattle Sounders FC, LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake will all be represented at the U-16 level, while the New York Red Bulls and FC Dallas won their respective U-18s group.
New York’s rampage through Group 2 was particularly impressive and they defeated Real Salt Lake, 3-0, to clinch the group in their third game of the playoffs. Leading U-18 goal-scorer Brandon Allen continues to excel, and New York also got contributions from top prospects Brian Gallego and Dan Metzger.
Development Academy Group winners
|1||Seattle Sounders FC||Pateadores (California)|
|2||Dallas Texans||New York Red Bulls|
|3||LA Galaxy||Players Development Academy (New Jersey)|
|4||Real So Cal||Dallas Texans|
|5||North Carolina Fusion||FC Dallas|
|6||Real Salt Lake AZ||Baltimore Bays Chelsea|
|7||PA Classics (Pennsylvania)||Weston FC (Florida)|
|8||CASL Chelsea FC Academy (North Carolina)||
CASL Chelsea FC Academy
FC Dallas were also among the standouts. Using a few of their age eligible Home Grown signings, Dallas won two of three games to win Group 5. Bryan Leyva and Jonathan Top each scored three goals apiece, while Moises Hernandez and Victor Ulloa also stepped up.
Plenty of other non-MLS youth clubs dominated throughout the weekend as well. Dallas Texans and CASL Chelsea FC topped their groups for both the U-16 and U-18 age groups and will be well represented at Finals Week.
Perhaps the story of the playoffs was Pateadores’ U-18 squad. The California-based club had to forfeit 11 regular-season games in the Development Academy during the season for using two ineligible players.
As a result, at the end of April, the club had to win almost every single game remaining just to make the playoffs — and they did that, rattling off eight wins in their last nine games to make it to Frisco, where they won all three group matches to make it to Finals Week.
Philadelphia academy side to play Everton U-18s
The Philadelphia Union will give their academy setup a big test in mid-July, as the club announced last week they’ll face Everton’s U-18 team. The two sides will play in advance of their parent clubs' friendly on July 20 at PPL Park.
“It's an honor to host such a successful youth team and continue to reinforce our commitment to youth development in the region," Philadelphia Union CEO and operating partner Nick Sakiewicz said in a press release.
Without a traditional academy side, the Union will assemble a roster of top players ages 16-18 from local clubs FC Delco, PA Classics, PDA and Penn Fusion, who are all part of Philadelphia’s youth affiliation program.
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, college and youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @travismclark.