U.S. U-20 MNT Tops Costa Rica to Conclude Final Full Day of 2009 Development Academy Spring Showcase
SARASOTA, Fla. (May 25, 2009) – The final full day of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Spring Showcase concluded with nearly 70 interconference Academy matches. The Sarasota Polo Grounds also played host to an international match, as the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team defeated Costa Rica 2-1 in the day’s Showcase Game.
Every Academy club played three matches over the course of four days at the Showcase. Between games, participants spent time in the two-story athletes’ lounge that features a free Gatorade Drink Bar and the EA Sports lounge equipped with FIFA ‘09.
On Saturday and Sunday, teams went through the SPARQ testing for the second time this season. The teams were tested back in December at the Winter Showcase in Lancaster, Calif., and this second round of testing provides the teams with benchmarks for the players to continue improvement over time.
The event also gave six new clubs, set to join the Academy for the 2009-10 season, the chance to go through an orientation process that included meeting with program administrators and taking in one of the top youth events in the country.
On Monday, hundreds were on hand to watch as Michael Stephens and Jared Jeffrey lifted the U.S. to a come-from-behind win against Costa Rica. The reigning CONCACAF U-20 Champions netted their goal just minutes into the second half when Josue Martinez ripped a high shot that slipped just under the crossbar from close range.
In the 60th minute, the home side equalized to the delight of a spirited crowd on hand at the Showcase field. Forward Peri Marosevic ripped a free kick from 20 yards out that Costa Rica goalkeeper did well to make a play on, but Stephens pounced on a huge rebound and tapped it into the goal. Two minutes before the final whistle, Jeffrey, who plays for Club Brugge in Belgium, finished a cross from substitute Tony Taylor to give the U.S. a win.
The U-20 match was one of three games throughout the weekend that featured U.S. youth national teams, as the U-17 Men’s National Team took on two separate Development Academy Select Teams on Friday and Saturday. Many of the participating teams stayed to support their fellow Development Academy athletes, who were getting a chance to display their skills against the national team with the chance to impress the onlooking national coaching staff. The Select Team, chosen by the U-17 staff and the DA Technical Advisors, held their own against the U-17s, despite falling by 3-1 and 5-3 scores.
On Saturday, U-20 Men’s National Team coach Thomas Rongen addressed scores of coaches, scouts, fans and Academy players leading up to the training session, disclosing some of his tactics and objectives for the ensuing intra squad scrimmage. As the game kicked off, Rongen analyzed his team’s performance and continued to talk through his coaching methods.
Prior to Monday’s international friendly nearly 70 Development Academy games were played at the Sarasota Polo Grounds on Memorial Day. As the end of the Academy season quickly approaches, teams took full advantage of one of the final opportunities to play in front of nearly 250 college and professional coaches and scouts in one of the most visible youth soccer events in the country.
The U.S. Soccer Scouting Network utilizes specific evaluation criteria including technical ability, tactical knowledge and athleticism to classify players in the Academy. Scouts watched every game throughout the weekend to identify players for various national team camps throughout the summer.
Studio 90 has been on hand throughout the weekend, covering Academy teams and off-the-field events surrounding the Showcase. Popular host Michael Kammarman has been on site throughout the weekend to provide exclusive footage from Sarasota. To watch Monday’s episode of Studio 90 visit ussoccer.com.
Only five games remain in the event, with the final matches kicking off on Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. Once they leave Sarasota, teams will return to their respective hometowns to finish up their regular season action and build toward Academy Playoffs in June. The top three teams in each division, along with the top five fourth-place teams, will qualify for the 32-team Academy Playoffs at Bryan Park in Greensboro, N.C. from June 26-29. The top eight teams from each age group will then qualify to compete at the Academy Finals Week at the National Training Center at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. in July.