Looking Back at Previous Four Academy Finals Weeks
Approximately five years ago, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy kicked off its inaugural Finals Week at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., with 32 games and more than 350 players, coaches and referees taking part in the excitement and emergence of the Development Academy. This week’s fifth installment of Academy Finals Week kicks off in Houston as eight teams from each age group square off for the right to be named a Development Academy champion.
Here is a look at the previous champions from the last four seasons:
2007-2008: THE BEGINNING
Carmel United took home the inaugural U-15/16 championship on a goal from A.J. Corrado, who is now entering his junior season at Indiana University. The Indiana-based club was unbeaten for 16 games entering 2007-08 Finals Week and continued the hot streak all the way through to the championship match. A day before the U-15/16 final, 2008 Gatorade Player of the Year Chris Agorsor, who now plays professionally for the Richmond Kickers of USL PRO, came off the bench to lead Baltimore Bays (now called Baltimore Bays Chelsea) to a thrilling 4-2 overtime victory against LAFC in the U-17/18 final.
2008-09: CARMEL UNITED DOES IT AGAIN
The boys from Indiana continued their success the following season at 2008-09 Finals Week with the U-17/18 team beating a D.C. United side that featured Homegrown players Bill Hamid, Andy Najar and Ethan White 1-0 on a goal from Nikita Kotlov. Like Corrado, Kotlov is also entering his junior season at IU. Carmel United’s team carried over 10 players from its U-15/16 championship team to the U-17/18 title-winning side, including Corrado and Kotlov.
In the U-15/16 final, an early strike by Dzenan Catic helped guide the Derby County Wolves (now called Crew Soccer Academy Wolves) to the title with a 1-0 win against Cal Odyssey at The Home Depot Center. The Wolves, whose U-15/16 team qualified for the 2011-12 Finals Week, were headlined by Sean Cunningham, now a defender for Molde FK in Norway.
2009-10: CHICAGO FIRE GETS MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER ON THE BOARD
Two years ago, an MLS-affiliated club finally claimed the first Development Academy trophy for the country’s top professional league as the Chicago Fire U-15/16 side defeated Cal Odyssey 5-3 on penalty kicks to decide the 2009-10 championship. It was the Fire’s second trip to Finals Week after appearing in the inaugural edition in 2007-08. The Chicago Fire U-15/16 team also qualified for the 2011-12 Finals Week.
In 2009-10, Cornell commitment Gregory Antognoli knotted the score at 1-1 with an equalizer for Cal Odyssey in the 56th minute, but Sam Euler (North Carolina) came up with a big save during penalty kicks to help lead the Fire to its first title.
Vardar SC Freiburg took home its first U-17/18 Academy title after a 3-1 win against Crossfire Premier of Kirkland, Wash. Vardar, a Michigan-based club, benefited from two second-half goals by Derek Schrauben (Western Michigan) to help offset an early Crossfire goal.
2010-11: PATEADORES, LA GALAXY BRING SILVERWARE HOME TO CALIFORNIA
Jose Villarreal, a 2011 Homegrown player signing for the LA Galaxy, came up big for Pateadores in the U-17/18 championship match last year at Valley Fields in Milwaukee. Villarreal scored both goals, including the 81st-minute game-winner in a 2-1 victory over a loaded FC Dallas squad. Pateadores became the first team from Southern California to win an Academy championship.
A second Southern California team quickly followed suit as the LA Galaxy scored three unanswered goals in a 4-1 championship win against PA Classics in the U-15/16 age division last year. With the score tied at 1-1 in the 49th minute, the Galaxy then bagged three straight goals between the 60th and 75th minutes for the club’s first Academy championship. William Raygoza, Justin Dhillon and Drew Murphy scored the consecutive goals for LA in the win.