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U.S. Soccer Development Academy Spring Showcase Kicks Off on May 22 in Sarasota, Fla.

CHICAGO (May 13, 2009) – The U.S. Soccer Development Academy Spring Showcase is set to kick off on May 22 and continue through May 26, with 218 games scheduled at the Sarasota Polo Grounds in Sarasota, Fla.

The Academy Showcase events are intended to provide players, coaches and referees with the latest U.S. Soccer resources. In addition to educational seminars and materials provided at the event, U.S. Soccer staff is on hand at all games to provide direct feedback to participants to enhance their educational experience.

The weekend will feature the largest amount of U.S. National Team activity ever to occur at a Development Academy event, including exhibition matches featuring the U-17 MNT and U-20 MNT and a spectrum of National Team Scouts representing every level of the Men’s National Team program.

Development Academy coaches and players will also be invited to watch the U.S. U-20s play an intra squad scrimmage on Sunday, March 24, that will be followed by a coaching workshop with U.S. head coach Thomas Rongen. After two days on-site, the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team will face Costa Rica in an international friendly on Monday, May 25, at 4 p.m. ET to close the event.

The U.S. Under-17 MNT will also participate in the Showcase and are slated to play two games against Development Academy Select Teams on May 22 and 23, with both games scheduled for 4:00 p.m. ET.

Alongside the Youth National Team events, all 146 teams representing 73 Academy clubs will each play three games over the course of the five days. The schedule is based on U.S. Best Practices with teams playing in no more than one game per day and no more than two days in a row. Professional scouts from around the world and hundreds of college scouts are anticipated to attend the games to view some of the nation’s top prospects in the Under-15/16 and Under-17/18 age groups. A full contingent of National Staff coaches and Academy scouts will also be observing every game throughout the weekend.

The Showcase games will be officiated by over 120 of the country’s best up-and-coming referees, traveling to the event from 28 states. These top officials will be mentored by sixteen National Assessors, six members of U.S. Soccer’s Referee Department staff and the four members of U.S. Soccer’s full-time referee program.

Between games, participants will have access to a two-story Athletes’ Lounge that features a Gatorade bar, EA Sports lounge with video games and an air-conditioned place to relax. The top floor of the lounge boasts a birds-eye view of the Showcase field, which will host the international matches and key Academy fixtures throughout the weekend.

SPARQ will once again be on hand to provide testing for every team in attendance for the second time this year. The results of the SPARQ tests will provide every coach with an objective measure of speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness to compare against scores from the 2008 Winter Showcase that was held in December.

The event will also provide an orientation for representatives from the six clubs admitted into the Academy program for the 2009-10. Coaches and administrators from California Development Academy (Sacramento, Calif.), Houston Dynamo (Houston, Texas), Kansas City Wizards Juniors (Kansas City, Mo.), McLean Youth Soccer (McLean, Va.), Weston SC (Weston, FL) and NJSA 04 (Holmdel, N.J.) will meet with Academy officials, observe games, meet with scouts and National Staff coaches and take in some of the weekend’s educational opportunities.

The Spring Showcase is the second event of the 2008-09 Development Academy season following the Winter Showcase, which was held from Dec. 5-8 in Lancaster, Calif. Academy Playoffs will be held at Bryan Park in Greensboro, N.C. from June 26-29 and Academy Finals Week will be held from July 10-17 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.