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2013-14 Development Academy U-15/16 Preview: Real Salt Lake AZ Benefit From Residency Setup

Real Salt Lake AZ U-15/16 coach Freddy Juarez has steadfastly believed in the club’s Development Academy setup. The team’s 2012-13 Academy title simply reaffirmed that its development process has been working to the fullest at Grande Sports Academy in Casa Grande, Ariz.

“You always know you have a good team, and when you’re competitive and doing the right thing, it makes everyone else believe,” Juarez said. “The players came close in our first year when we got third, and you hope the players buy into it. You don’t have to be a residency program to win, but it’s been a huge part of our success. The training five times a week, the locker room camaraderie, it makes a difference.”

Real Salt Lake AZ’s U-15/16s rallied past Solar Chelsea SC for a 4-2 victory in the U-15/16 Academy Finals Week Championship at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. Finals Week included multiple programs with a residency system in place, and RSL’s stood standing at the end. On the U-17/18 side, residency program Shattuck St. Mary’s surged to a runner-up finish at Finals Week, falling to New York Red Bulls in a 2-1 overtime loss.

The byproduct of RSL AZ earning the title brought national attention both to the team and to several individual players. Four RSL AZ players from the U-15/16 championship squad recently earned an invitation to the National Combine at Nike’s Headquarters in Portland: Brooks Lennon, Justen Glad, Josh Doughty and Sebastian Saucedo.

“They enjoyed it, and they all came back and said it was a very good experience,” Juarez said. “The first team takes notice of that, as well. Justen Glad was training with the first team for about a week and a half. It’s good that they’re getting the recognition and opportunities.”

Now the focus turns toward a mix of U-15/16 newcomers and some returnees, including forward Sebastian Saucedo who led the team with 19 goals in 2012-13 and scored a key game-tying goal in the title game at Finals Week.

“Preseason has been going really well for the past two weeks now,” Juarez said of this season’s group. “We’re a little different from other programs in that we don’t have a full (pre-Academy) club where the teams are joining from underneath. We teach them to know our style as we produce a new base. It’s been positive, and seeing a good core of the U-15/16s moving up to the U-17/18s is always good to see. Overall, it should be a good year.” 

Baltimore Bays Chelsea at D.C. United (Sept. 7, 2013):
Two playoff teams from a year ago that finished second and third respectively in the Atlantic Division will rekindle their rivalry in week one of the Academy season. The two teams split the season series in the 2012-13 campaign with D.C. United winning 1-0 at home, and Bays Chelsea taking the second meeting 4-1 in Baltimore.

Real Salt Lake AZ at San Juan Soccer Club (Sept. 21, 2013):
Reigning national champions Real Salt Lake AZ will take the first step in defending their title against San Juan Soccer Club. RSL AZ coach Freddy Juarez is welcoming back a talented roster that figures to once again be a force in the Southwest Division.

Solar Chelsea SC at FC Dallas (Sept. 28, 2013): The Dallas derby is always an intriguing matchup. This game represents the season opener for FC Dallas and is Solar Chelsea’s third match of the new season. These two Frontier Division powerhouses do not meet again until the regular-season finale on May 31, 2014, so each side wants to gain the upper hand early.

Charlotte Soccer Academy at Capital Area RailHawks Academy (Oct. 19, 2013): The RailHawks enter the 2013-14 campaign with hopes of defending their Southeast Division championship from a year ago. The local derby against Charlotte Soccer Academy will be a key fixture for the RailHawks to retain Southeast supremacy. The RailHawks took all the points in both meetings last year with CSA by scores of 2-1 and 2-0.

Bethesda-Olney, Philadelphia Union Make Debuts: The Development Academy announced the addition of Bethesda-Olney and the Philadelphia Union, which will make their Academy debuts in 2013-14. The partnership of Bethesda and Olney’s clubs brings together two organizations that kicked off in the mid- to late-1970s. The addition of the Union signifies the 18th Major League Soccer organization to be a part of the Academy system. Both clubs are playing in the Atlantic Division.

2012-13 RECAP:
Real Salt Lake AZ’s U-15/16 squad overcame an early deficit to beat Solar Chelsea SC 4-2 to earn the 2012-13 Academy Finals crown on July 20 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. Justen Glad’s header goal in the 75th minute broke a 2-2 deadlock as the MLS-affiliated residency program earned its first national title. Among the other Finals Week competition, the Colorado Rapids U-15/16s won their third-place match 2-0 against Albertson, with Quinn Liebmann’s seventh-minute tally proving to be the game-winner. De Anza Force defeated the host Houston Dynamo in a shootout to take fifth and Texans SC Houston defeated Crew Soccer Academy Wolves in penalties to earn seventh.

2007-08: Carmel United (now Indiana United)
2008-09: Derby County Wolves (now Crew Soccer Academy Wolves)
2009-10: Chicago Fire
2010-11: LA Galaxy
2011-12: New York Red Bulls
2012-13: Real Salt Lake AZ

2013-14 ACADEMY U-15/16 FIELD:
Atlantic Division (12 teams): Baltimore Bays Chelsea, Bethesda-Olney, Continental FC DELCO, D.C. United, Match Fit Academy FC, NJSA 04, PA Classics, Philadelphia Union, Players Development Academy, Richmond Kickers, Richmond Strikers, Virginia Rush
Northeast Division (11 teams): Albertson SC, BW Gottschee Academy, Everton FC Westchester, FC Bolts Celtic, Montreal Impact FC, New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, Oakwood Soccer Club, Revolution Empire, Seacoast United, South Central Premier
Southeast Division (12 teams): Capital Area RailHawks Academy – CASL, Chargers Soccer Club, Charlotte Soccer Academy, Concorde Fire, Georgia United, IMG Academy, Kendall SC, North Carolina Fusion, North Meck SC, Orlando City, South Carolina United Battery Academy, Weston FC

Frontier Division (13 teams): Andromeda FC, Classics Elite, Colorado Rapids, Colorado Rush, Dallas Texans, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Lonestar SC Academy, Real Colorado, Solar Chelsea SC, Sporting Kansas City, Texans SC Houston, Texas Rush
Mid-America Division (13 teams): Chicago Fire, Chicago Magic PSG, Crew Soccer Academy, Crew Soccer Academy Wolves, FC Wisconsin Nationals, Indiana Fire Academy, Internationals, Minnesota Thunder Academy, Shattuck-Saint Mary’s Soccer Academy, Sockers FC, St. Louis Scott Gallagher Metro, St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri, Vardar SC Freiburg
Northwest Division (9 teams): Cal Odyssey, Crossfire Premier, De Anza Force, Portland Timbers, San Jose Earthquakes, San Juan Soccer Club, Santa Cruz Breakers Academy, Seattle Sounders FC, Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Southwest Division (9 teams): Arsenal FC, Chivas USA, LA Galaxy, Nomads SC, Pateadores, Real Salt Lake AZ, Real So Cal, San Diego Surf, Strikers FC