2013-14 Development Academy U-17/18 Preview: Defending Champion NYRB Brings Another Wave of Talent
The New York Red Bulls Academy system has been a stomping ground for the country’s top-level player development season after season. From the days of Juan Agudelo, to the player depth that produced a 2011-12 U-15/16 crown and a 2012-13 U-17/18 championship, to the influx of players to represent the National Team squads, the Red Bulls have produced and maintained high standards in the Development Academy.
With not even a handful of players returning from the U-17/18 title team from just a couple months ago, it will be another wave of Red Bulls looking to make an impact for the 2013-14 Academy season.
“Even though we only return a few players who were at Finals Week, it should be a seamless transition,” Red Bulls U-17/18 head coach Paul O’Donnell said. “Wes Wade has been a National Team player, Alex Tejera had a good year, and Evan Louro will be a big factor. Last season we had Santiago Castaño in the goal for Finals Week – otherwise Evan would have been the main guy. He’s played a high level of games at Residency against some strong competition.”
The New York Red Bulls’ Academy contingent hopes to do something that has never been accomplished in six previous seasons: earn a third straight crown. On only one previous occasion, Carmel United (now Indiana Fire) earned back-to-back titles with the U-15/16s winning the inaugural season’s Finals Week in 2007-08 and the U-17/18s winning in 2008-09.
The Red Bulls’ U-17/18s won the 2012-13 title with a 4-2 victory against Shattuck-Saint Mary’s, and that was preceded by the U-15/16 team’s 2011-12 championship win against St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri.
Several players were a part of both championship teams, including Arun Basuljevic, Chris Lema and Kevin Politz.
“Arun Basuljevic led the U-17/18s in minutes played, and we featured Chris Lema near the end of the season,” O’Donnell said. “Kevin Politz played at Finals Week and had four 90-minute games, and that was a key for us that he stepped up because we didn’t have Matt Miazga.”
The success at the Academy Playoffs and Finals Week have made the Red Bulls’ seasons a nearly year-round process, and that is a good thing.
“We’ve been in training for about two weeks now and we’re fine-tuning things so they get in match fitness before the season starts,” O’Donnell said. “Our U-17/18s scrimmaged our U-15/16s and I think the players are recharged for the season.”
Colorado Rush at Real Colorado (Sept. 13, 2013): The Colorado Rush and Real Colorado kick off their seasons with their in-state derby hosted by Real on the first Friday night fixture of the season. Both teams will look to work their way into the Frontier Division’s playoff picture in 2013-14. Real Colorado finished in fifth place a season ago, one spot shy of a wildcard spot, and the Rush finished in the middle of the pack at seventh place.
New England Revolution at New York Red Bulls (Sept. 29, 2013): The defending champion Red Bulls had only one loss during the 2012-13 season, and that was a 4-2 road defeat against the Revolution on April 21, 2013. This is the first meeting between the two sides since that match. For the Red Bulls, it will be their third match of the 2013-14 season and for the Revolution it will be its fourth fixture of the new campaign.
Philadelphia Union at Bethesda-Olney (Nov. 16, 2013): The Development Academy’s two new teams for the 2013-14 season square off at Rockville, Md., in this Atlantic Division fixture.
Bethesda-Olney, Philadelphia Union Make Debuts: The Development Academy announced the addition of Bethesda-Olney and the Philadelphia Union, which will make their Academy debuts in 2013-14. The partnership of Bethesda and Olney’s clubs brings together two organizations that kicked off in the mid- to late-1970s. The addition of the Union signifies the 18th Major League Soccer organization to be a part of the Academy system. Both clubs are playing in the Atlantic Division.
The New York Red Bulls U-17/18s defeated Shattuck-Saint Mary’s Soccer Academy 2-1 in overtime to win the 2012-13 Academy Finals Championship on July 20 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. Jhon Estama scored the game-winner in the 115th minute to lead the Red Bulls to their second national crown in as many years. Among the rest of the field, Long Island-based Albertson SC posted a 4-2 victory against De Anza Force to win its third-place match. Jeongho Ahn tallied a brace for Albertson. St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri’s Zachary Kavanaugh scored the lone goal during his team’s 1-0 win against the Vancouver Whitecaps in the fifth-place match, and the New England Revolution’s Peguy Ngatcha tallied two first-half goals to earn a 3-1 win against the Seattle Sounders in the seventh-place game.
PREVIOUS U-17/18 ACADEMY CHAMPIONS:
2007-08: Baltimore Bays (now Baltimore Bays Chelsea)
2008-09: Carmel United (now Indiana United)
2009-10: Vardar SC (now Vardar SC Freiburg)
2011-12: FC Dallas
2012-13: New York Red Bulls
2013-14 ACADEMY U-17/18 FIELD:
EAST CONFERENCE (35 teams):
Atlantic Division (12 teams): Baltimore Bays Chelsea, Bethesda-Olney, Continental FC DELCO, D.C. United, Match Fit Academy FC, NJSA 04, PA Classics, Philadelphia Union, Players Development Academy, Richmond Kickers, Richmond Strikers, Virginia Rush
Northeast Division (11 teams): Albertson SC, BW Gottschee Academy, Everton FC Westchester, FC Bolts Celtic, Montreal Impact FC, New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, Oakwood Soccer Club, Revolution Empire, Seacoast United, South Central Premier
Southeast Division (12 teams): Capital Area RailHawks Academy – CASL, Chargers Soccer Club, Charlotte Soccer Academy, Concorde Fire, Georgia United, IMG Academy, Kendall SC, North Carolina Fusion, North Meck SC, Orlando City, South Carolina United Battery Academy, Weston FC
CENTRAL CONFERENCE (26 teams)
Frontier Division (13 teams): Andromeda FC, Classics Elite, Colorado Rapids, Colorado Rush, Dallas Texans, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Lonestar SC Academy, Real Colorado, Solar Chelsea SC, Sporting Kansas City, Texans SC Houston, Texas Rush
Mid-America Division (13 teams): Chicago Fire, Chicago Magic PSG, Crew Soccer Academy, Crew Soccer Academy Wolves, FC Wisconsin Nationals, Indiana Fire Academy, Internationals, Minnesota Thunder Academy, Shattuck-Saint Mary’s Soccer Academy, Sockers FC, St. Louis Scott Gallagher Metro, St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri, Vardar SC Freiburg
WEST CONFERENCE (18 teams)
Northwest Division (9 teams): 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 teams): Arsenal FC, Chivas USA, LA Galaxy, Nomads SC, Pateadores, Real Salt Lake AZ, Real So Cal, San Diego Surf, Strikers FC