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Seeds and Schedule Set for U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoffs, June 26-29, in Greensboro, N.C.

CHICAGO (June 26, 2009) – The seeds and schedule have been finalized for the first ever U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoffs, which are set to kick off at Bryan Park in Greensboro, N.C. and continue through Monday, June 29. The top 32 teams from each age group will compete for eight spots in the Development Academy Finals Week at The Home Depot Center next month.

The 32 teams in each age group are broken up into eight groups of four, with the top eight overall seeds being placed as the highest seed in each of the eight groups. Every team will play three matches in round-robin group play in Greensboro, with the eight group winners securing a berth to Finals Week, which takes place from July 10-17 in Carson, Calif.

The Derby County Wolves lead the field in both age groups as the U-15/16 and U-17/18 teams each earned the No. 1 overall seed. The Wolves teams were placed in groups with the 16th, 17th and 32nd-ranked teams in each age group.

In the U-15/16s, Arsenal FC earned the second seed, followed by a pair of Chicago-area clubs in Sockers FC and Chicago Magic AS Monaco. FC Dallas Juniors, Greensboro Youth Soccer, Washington Premier FC and the New York Red Bulls Academy round out the top eight, which are the highest-ranked teams in each group.

In the U-17/18s, CASL Chelsea FC Academy will be playing close to home as the second-seeded team. Rounding out the top seeds in each of the eight groups are Albertson SC, Carmel United SC, FC DELCO, D.C. United Academy, Crossfire Premier and Colorado Rush AS Monaco.

Overall, 18 clubs qualified in both age groups: Albertson, Andromeda, Arsenal FC, Carmel United, CASL Chelsea FC Academy, Columbus Crew Juniors, Crossfire Premier, Derby County Wolves, FC Dallas Juniors, FC DELCO, FC Westchester, IMG Soccer Academy, LAFC Chelsea, Miami FC Kendall, PDA, Real So Cal, Sockers FC and Vardar.

U.S. Soccer implemented the Academy Playoff system to create more meaningful matches at the end of each season. The top three teams in each of the nine Academy divisions, based on divisional games only, received an automatic berth to the Academy Playoffs. Additionally, the top five fourth-place finishers in each division, based on overall record, earned wild card spots. The 64 teams were then seeded by overall points per game.

Once again, will be on hand in Greensboro to provide the most up-to-date information from the Playoffs, including highlights, video and photo galleries as well as keeping tabs on who will qualify for Finals Week.

Members of the U.S. Soccer National Team Scouting Network will be on-site to scout every game in the Playoffs. National Team scouts will identify players for inclusion in upcoming Youth National Teams as well as provide Academy coaches with post-game feedback on their performances. All games will be video-taped by Hi-Pod and analyzed by ProZone, so coaches, players and scouts can review previous performances. Interplay will also be on-site to provide live analysis of select matches.

U.S. Soccer’s Referee Department will also be on-site to provide instruction for over 80 of the top up-and-coming referees in the country. The pool of referees will work directly with U.S. Soccer’s full-time Referees and National Assessors to review their performances and be identified for future progression up the professional referee development track.

Since its launch in the fall of 2007, the Academy has improved the training environment, provided relevant, high-level matches on a consistent basis, increased the level and efficiency of scouting for the national teams and provided players, coaches and referees with structured programming.

The Academy program was created to enhance the player development environment for elite youth players in the United States, according to U.S. Soccer Best Practices, with specific focus on increasing the number of training sessions, decreasing the total number of games while increasing the number of quality games and maintaining the highest level of coaching, refereeing and competition available in an everyday environment.

For the complete listing of teams, groups and games schedules for Development Academy Playoffs, click here: