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2011-12 Development Academy Finals Week Preview


U.S. Soccer Development Academy
2011-12 Finals Week
Houston Amateur Sports Park; BBVA Compass Stadium
July 16, 2012

FINAL ROAD TO NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP KICKS OFF MONDAY: Monday marks the first day of the 2011-12 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Finals Week in Houston as all eight teams in the U-17/18 age division kick off group play at Houston Amateur Sports Park. Teams in the U-15/16 age group begin play Tuesday night. The Finals Week participants began arriving in Houston as early as Saturday and started getting settled in at the University of Houston while preparing for the upcoming week of games. Only three teams – Baltimore Bays Chelsea FC in the U-17/18 division and the Chicago Fire and Crew Soccer Academy Wolves in the U-15/16 division – have the chance to be repeat champions.

BIG-TIME ATMOSPHERE: Among many educational opportunities in Finals Week is the chance to be a part of a professional tournament environment, which includes experiences both on and off the field. Players are expected to behave like “pros,” and the Development Academy Finals Week seeks to treat them like it. Oftentimes, that comes down to details. One of the first things to greet the players upon check-in at the complex are the two championship trophies (one for each age group) flanked by 16, eight-foot-tall boards featuring information about each club’s history, previous Finals Week appearances, roster and schedule. As a special gift, players on teams that qualified for Finals Week received customized Nike backpacks with the U.S. Soccer Development Academy insignia, a player handbook that includes competition information, a game guide, details on the facilities and surrounding area and a Development Academy Finals Week pin.

2011-12 ACADEMY FINALS WEEK IN FOCUS: The “Final Eight” in each division followed different paths to reach Houston, some leading the pack throughout the campaign while others needing a late surge in form to qualify. There are return participants, first time entrants, teams that coasted through the playoffs and some still that needed last-minute goals to win their group and have a chance at the national championship. In the days leading up to Finals Week, the 16 participating teams (eight in each age group) were featured on ussoccer.com:

U-17/18 Academy Finals Week Field:
Group 1: North Carolina Fusion | Vancouver Whitecaps FC | De Anza Force | Colorado Rapids
Group 2: FC Dallas | Chivas USA | Solar Chelsea SC | Baltimore Bays Chelsea

U-15/16 Academy Finals Week Field:
Group 1: New York Red Bulls | Pateadores | Charlotte Soccer Academy | Chicago Fire
Group 2: Crew Soccer Academy Wolves | D.C. United | PA Classics | St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri

FINALS WEEK HISTORY: As the Development Academy enters the fifth anniversary edition of Finals Week, relive the previous championship matches with a rundown of the history and former champions.

ACADEMY PLAYOFFS RECAP: The 2011-12 Development Academy Playoffs at the FC Dallas Stadium Complex in Frisco, Texas, featured some exciting matches and down-to-the-wire finishes deciding the 16 teams that qualified for Finals Week. Here is a refresher on what went down a couple weeks ago at the Academy Playoffs, as well as links to the background and history of the Academy Playoffs:

FINALS WEEK SCHEDULE (home team listed first; times CT)
All games at Houston Amateur Sports Park
MONDAY’S GAMES:
U-17/18 age group:
North Carolina Fusion vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 8 p.m.
De Anza Force vs. Colorado Rapids, 8 p.m.
FC Dallas vs. Chivas USA, 9 p.m.
Solar Chelsea SC vs. Baltimore Bays Chelsea, 9 p.m.

TUESDAY’S GAMES:
U-15/16 age group:
New York Red Bulls vs. Pateadores, 8 p.m.
Charlotte Soccer Academy vs. Chicago Fire, 8 p.m.
Crew Soccer Academy Wolves vs. D.C. United, 9 p.m.
PA Classics vs. St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri, 9 p.m.

SOCIAL CONNECTION: Follow the U.S. Soccer Development Academy on the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Facebook page, Twitter @ussoccer_ynt and The YNT Blog.

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