2012-13 Season Preview: West Conference
The West Conference will see the debut of the Portland Timbers and San Juan Soccer Club in the Development Academy for the 2012-13 season. Both teams will compete in the Northwest Division against the likes of 2011-12 U-17/18 runner-up Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
The formerly named SoCal Division has also changed to the Southwest Division. All nine teams are the same in this grouping.
- Northwest Division (9): 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): Arsenal FC, Chivas USA, LA Galaxy, Nomads SC, Pateadores, Real Salt Lake AZ, Real So Cal, San Diego Surf, Strikers FC
2011-12 Development Academy Rewind: Vancouver Whitecaps FC, playing in its first Finals Week at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, took second place to FC Dallas at the U-17/18 age group. Within the U-15/16 age group, Pateadores had a noteworthy campaign that capped off with a 2-0 win against PA Classics to take fifth place at Finals Week.
Technical Advisor’s Take
Development Academy technical advisor Rob Becerra covers the Southwest Region and he provides his insight within the West Conference:
Returning a strong core of players:
- Becerra: “The Arsenal team is a year older and it will be exciting to see the Surf continue to build upon last year’s successful campaign. The LA Galaxy roster is full of players with YNT experience. Another team with an experienced roster is Chivas USA.”
Overcoming some significant roster changes:
- Becerra: “Real Salt Lake AZ will be interesting because they had a really good team last year at the U-17/18s but have lost quite a few players. They have a different model with their residency program. I still expect them to be strong, but it’s going to be a different team without Julio Alarcon in the back or Maikon Orrellana up top.”
How training four days per week instead of three will help improve their play:
- Becerra: “For the teams in this market, this will mark the second season they have been training within a 10-month season, so they’ve got a jumpstart on the process. Some teams have done pre-training or would add a day of weights, but to have four days focused on soccer training will improve the style of play and mirror what professional teams do across the world.”
The benefits of one-game weekends versus two-game weekends in past seasons:
- Becerra: “Teams will be able to practice for one game and gear things toward one opponent. If you are off for a week, teams are looking for reserve games and friendlies. So it’s good for the teams and the coaches to find the proper model for how to prepare for a game. It will also be good for the players to balance their rest to work ratios.”
Academy teams that have a good base of YNT players and how they adjust to call-ups:
- Becerra: “In my market, Chivas USA and the LA Galaxy have a number of Youth National Team players. Many of those players also train with their club’s first team.”
Academy teams that benefit from players playing up:
- Becerra: “There is a trend in the SoCal market where one year a group will play a lot of young players up and then deal with bruises and hard knocks for the next year. We saw with Chivas USA, they played with a lot of kids up. Their U-15/16s still had a good year, but they did not make the playoffs. However, that developed a lot of the players for the older group and they should be very strong.”