Two Teams Clinch in First Day of Opening Games in Greensboro
GREENSBORO, N.C. (June 27, 2008) – U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy kicked off the Summer Showcase on Friday in Greensboro, N.C., with all 126 teams together for the final round of games as they attempt to earn a spot at Finals Week next month.
With teams playing their final games of the inaugural season, the soccer has been action-packed – even despite a short torrential downpour that delayed games – as the majority of top spots in conferences are still up for grabs.
Almost every team in the Under-15/16 and Under-17/18 age group is scheduled to play their final three matches over the course of the four-day event at Bryan Park, meaning throughout the weekend Conference champions will be crowned.
The Conference champions, a total of 16 teams, will reunite at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., from July 12-19 for the Development Academy Finals Week. The top team from each conference will advance to the event to wrap-up the inaugural Academy season.
“The first day of games at the Summer Showcase have been as competitive as ever with spots at Finals Week on the line,” said Development Academy Technical Director John Hackworth. “We are extremely pleased with the improvement that has been made in the performances on the field throughout the first season of the Development Academy. It’s satisfying to how much these teams have progressed, and we’re excited to see how the conference championships will be decided this weekend.”
Heading into the Development Academy’s fourth showcase of the 2007-08 campaign, two teams had already clinched a berth in Finals Week. The U-18 Baltimore Bays (Baltimore, Md.) hold a lock on the Mid-Atlantic Conference with a 23-2-3 record, while North Carolina locals CASL (Raleigh, N.C.) captured the inaugural title in U-18 Division of the Atlantic Conference by entering the weekend with a record of 21-1-5.
Two more teams booked passage to Los Angeles on the opening day of the Summer Showcase, with LAFC (La Canada, Calif.) winning the West Conference following their 2-1 victory against Seacoast United (Hampton, N.H.) this morning. Prior to stepping on the field this afternoon, FC Westchester claimed the Northeast Conference crown when the Irvine Strikers (Irvine, Calif.) downed B/W Gottschee (Rego Park, N.Y.), thereby eliminating the second-place side from contention.
The eight placement matches will be broadcast live on ESPN networks. The U-17/18 championship match will be live on ESPN 2 on Friday, July 18, at 8 p.m. PT, while the remaining seven matches, including the U-15/16 championship match, will be broadcast on ESPNU.
The draw for Finals Week took place at noon, determining which conferences will be matched up for the first six days of quarterfinal matches at The Home Depot next month.
Along with the action on the field, there was a flood of activity inside the gigantic Athletes’ Lounge tent at the center of the field complex. A meeting, information and entertainment area all rolled into one, players could relax by snagging free 16 ounce bottles at the Gatorade bar, watching ussoccer.com’s all_access videos on the 30-foot screen or play EURO 2008 on video consoles. Players and coaches could also learn more about the benefits of SPARQ training and have a ProZone representative explain the video statistical breakdown of their very own team’s matches.