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240 Games at Development Academy Winter Showcase Provide Platform for Player Development

PHOENIX (Dec. 8, 2009) -- As games at the 2009 Development Academy Winter Showcase continue through Tuesday, teams have tested their everyday preparation against other Academy clubs from across the country in inter-conference matchups.

With every division game throughout the year, teams have an opportunity to boost their standings and qualify for the Academy Playoffs as the top two teams in each division automatically earn a place. Every game between Academy teams at the Winter Showcase counts toward the season standings, which will determine the final 12 teams with the best points per game that will also advance to the 2010 playoffs.

The four Under-17 international teams who participated in the Nike International Friendlies – Brazil, Portugal, Netherlands and the United States - know a bit about competitive games. Three of the four teams were part of the recent 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria and know that competitive games are the best way for a team to grow.

“It is an excellent experience for our young players to be able to come here and play in competitive matches,” said Brazil head coach Leandro Simpson. “To play against different teams and travel to different places brings out the best in our players. We have played in South America, but now we have to play against different teams and have good tests for our players in order to get better. This has been a great event and a great experience for our boys.”

Wilmer Cabrera, head coach of the U.S. team, was leading a group of players who had never played an international match at the U-17 level. Though disappointed with allowing two early goals against Portugal in the team’s opening match on Friday, he knows that experience will ultimately become a learning experience.

“For our guys, it was important to play games like this and to relieve some of that pressure from training,” said Cabrera. “After giving some a couple of soft goals [against Portugal] our players realize that they have to do a better job early in our next game.”

The way an athlete performs in a game is of utmost importance for the hundreds of college and professional scouts who use the Development Academy as a primary source of recruiting. Without seeing a player every day in training, scouts rely on performance in important games to judge a player’s potential.

At the highest level, the Academy Showcases provide a marquee stage for players to perform – and allow national team scouts to evaluate players that could expand the YNT pool.

“It’s important to see how players perform under a little bit of pressure,” said U.S. U-20 MNT head coach Thomas Rongen. “As players progress to the highest level, the games become more and more pressure packed and that’s what separates good players from great players. We definitely need to continue to grow that kind of environment in the United States in order to breed that type of player.”

More from Phoenix

  • The U.S. U-17 team fell to Netherlands by a 3-0 score in its third game in Phoenix on a windy and rainy Monday evening. Highlights from the game will be available later today on Brazil rounded out its time at the Nike International Friendlies with a 4-0 win against Portugal.
  • Games are wrapping up on Tuesday, including two more Development Academy Select Teams matching up against some of the top clubs in the Academy. Full schedule, results and rosters for the Select Teams are available at
  • Monday’s weather required a few schedule changes for Tuesday. An updated schedule, as well as results from the weekend can be found in our comprehensive schedule page.
  • The YNT Blog is rounding out its exclusive coverage of the Winter Showcase from Phoenix. Check out what’s going on around the Reach 11 Sports Complex.