ROCKFORD, Ill. (May 23, 2008) - The U.S. Soccer Development Academy kicked off Memorial Day weekend with all 126 Academy Teams in the same place for the first time at the 2008 Spring Showcase.
A total of 116 of the 126 teams that will play this weekend in the U-15/16 and U-17/18 age groups took the field on Friday, with fast-paced action that saw more than 200 goals scored across 58 games at the Rockford Sportscore 2 Complex in Northern Illinois.
Teams will play three games throughout the weekend in front of 20 U.S. National Team scouts and more than 150 scouts from colleges and universities across the country. Approximately 100 referees, including two of U.S. Soccer’s full-time FIFA referees, will officiate the weekend’s games under the watch of the U.S. Soccer Referee Education Department and other assessors.
Two of the participating teams are from the U.S. Under-17 Residency Program. Led by head coach Wilmer Cabrera, the U.S. posted a pair of victories over teams from the New York Red Bulls. In the U-17/18 age group, a Marlon Duran free kick gave the U.S. a 3-2 victory, and in the U-15/16 age group the U.S. opened the showcase with a 3-0 win.
While the soccer on the field is what has drawn all the teams to Rockford, there are plenty of educational and entertaining off-the-field activities for the athletes.
Each team will take part in Nike SPARQ (Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction, Quickness) testing. SPARQ is a training resource that uses a standardized method of testing to provide the athletes with an assessment as well as the tools needed to improve on-field performance.
In addition to the fitness training, U.S. Soccer’s partnership with ProZone provides each team with video analysis from each of their showcase games through the course of the year. A ProZone representative will be on hand to demonstrate how the program can provide coaches insight to improve both team and individual tactical play.
When taking a break, athletes can enjoy a massive indoor lounge that features a 40-foot wide large screen as well as two flat-screen 42’ Panasonic Viera televisions playing highlights from the Winter Showcase, live games on Fox Soccer Channel and ussoccer.com’s all_access video. An additional 12 screens are devoted to EA Sports’ newest soccer games, and teams will participate in EA Sports Academy Challenges. (Check out the Showcase Lounge.)
For refreshment, complimentary Gatorade product and fresh fruit are available in the nutrition center which includes an educational video on maximizing game performance via pre- and post-match nutrition. Gatorade will also be conducting sweat loss testing so athletes can continue to develop their own fluid-replacement plan.
Launched in the fall of 2007 after a detailed review of player development systems in the U.S. and across the world, the Development Academy provides players, coaches and referees a nationally-coordinated program designed to enhance their development environment. 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. For more information on the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, visit the Development Academy homepage at ussoccer.com.