DMV NCAA Tournament Guide

The 2017 NCAA Men’s Tournament bracket was announced on Monday, with SEVEN teams from DC, MD, or Virginia participating in this year’s tournament.

Below you will find the 2017 NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament bracket, each DMV team’s matchup,  links to purchase tickets for home games, as well as live stream links for each team.

2017 NCAA Tournament Bracket

NCAA Tourney Bracket

Thursday DMV Home Games

University of Maryland

Ludwig Field- College Park, MD

vs Albany, 7pm

University of Maryland soccer

 

Tickets:  $10 for adults, $5 for youth

Watch Live: BTNPlus

William and Mary

Martin Family Stadium at Albert-Daly Field- Williamsport, VA

7pm vs Columbia

William and Mary Soccer

Buy Tickets $8 for adults, $3 for youth

Watch Live: N/A

Virginia Tech

Thompson Field, Blacksburg, VA

6pm vs Air Force

VA Tech Soccer

 $10 for adults, $5 for youth

Watch Live: N/A

Old Dominion University

ODU Soccer Complex, Norfolk VA

vs NC State, 7pm

ODU Soccer

Buy Tickets $8 for adults, $3 for youth

Watch Live: N/A

Sunday DMV Home Games

Georgetown Hoyas

Shaw Field, Washington, DC

vs winner of SMU and Central Arkansas, 1pm

georgetown soccer

Buy Tickets $10 for adults, $5 for youth

Watch Live: N/A

VCU

Sports Backer Stadium- Richmond, VA

vs winner of Butler and Lipscomb, 5pm

VCU Soccer

Buy Tickets $10 adult $8 youth

Watch Live: N/A

University of Virginia

Klockner Stadium, Charlottesville, VA

vs winner of Fordham and St Francis, 5pm

UVA Soccer

Buy Tickets $7 for adults, $5 for youth

Watch Live: N/A

 

Youth Soccer Development in the United States

When I decided to write a piece on youth development, I immediately started focusing on the same questions that many of us have been debating and discussing since Bruce Arena and the US Men’s National Team were eliminated from World Cup Qualifying:

  • Why don’t we have promotion/relegation yet?
  • How can we make youth development academy programs more affordable?
  • Are kids better off going to college and MLS, or going to Europe at a younger age?

And so on.

But after spending countless hours reading articles online, listening to podcasts, reading Tweets, and listening to others debate the same questions over, and over, and over again, it made me wonder if it’s actually possible for me to sit here and write a piece that says “here’s what’s wrong with US Soccer, and here’s how we fix it”…. nor would I want to come off as, in the words of Claudio Reyna, “arrogant” enough to actually think that I know more than the fine coaches, scouts, and administrators throughout the country who dedicate a large portion of their day-to-day lives to help kids get better at playing the beautiful game.

So what I decided to do was ask the opinion of those who are involved with youth development efforts on a day-to-day basis, as well as those who have actually lived it as a coach and/or player.

Thanks to the following contributors who were nice enough to give us a few opinions on youth soccer development in the United States, in alphabetical order:

  • John Ellinger– Former U-17 US Youth National Team Head Coach, former Real Salt Lake Head Coach, currently Director of Technical Operations at the Soccer Association of Columbia and Baltimore Armour.
  • John Harkes- Former US Men’s National team captain. Won 2 MLS Cups with DC United, also played in England for Sheffield Wednesday, Derby County, West Ham, and Nottingham Forest. 90 Caps for the USMNT. Still actively coaching with Mclean Youth Club.
  • Ryan Martin– Former Wake Forest and FC Cincinnati Scouting Director, currently DC United Academy Director.
  • Bill Moravek– “A”-License coach who has previously served as an assistant for the Jamaican National Team, former academy coach and scout for Southampton and currently a head coach in Bethesda Soccer Club’s Development Academy, as well as a current scout for Fulham FC in England where he and his sons spent 5 years abroad before returning to the United States.
  • Matt Ney– “A”-License Head Coach of Bethesda Academy U17 Team who has been involved with the Development Academy for a number of seasons. Coach Ney’s U-15/16 team made it to the quarterfinals of USSDA playoffs last season, only to be eliminated by a very talented Atlanta United team 4-1.

Each of these coaches bring a unique perspective to the youth development conversation, and I’d like to thank each of them personally for taking the time to participate.

It should also be noted that I spoke to John Harkes on a number of these topics. His responses were dictated and sent to him for review, we hope to add his contributions once his official responses are received.

I interviewed each coach, and the first question I asked each of them was:

More kids are playing soccer in the United States than ever before. Do you believe some of them are falling through the cracks?

Ryan Martin, DC United Academy Director

Ryan Martin DCU Academy

“Yeah, definitely. Some of the best players we’ve been able to bring over to DC United we found playing on a middle school team or in some sort of rec program. One of the biggest responsibilities that we have at DC United as an MLS Academy is to discover and develop the best talent in the area, but it isn’t always the players who are playing in organized travel programs.

So since I came on board, Ben Olsen, Dave Kasper, and myself have made it a priority to improve our scouting network. We’ve scouted over 700 players between the ages of 11-15 so far this year. We’ve promoted John Bello to Full-Time Scouting Director, and we’ve added 8 part-time scouts to the program who are out there helping us to identify more talent in the DMV.

Our goal is to discover and develop the next Andy Najar (who DCU discovered at a tryout). We plan to constantly improve our scouting network, as well as our relationship with other local youth clubs by continuing to establish partnerships.”

John Harkes:

John Harkes USMNT

“Yes I do, but this does happen around the world. It just happens at a slightly higher rate in the US, due to our size as a country. I think we need more scouts, and more organized opportunities and sessions for top players.

Also, what is the criteria for a scout in the US? I don’t think it should be based on someone taking a low salary or per diem just to fill the role.”

I went on to ask John about how scouting played a role in his success as manager at FC Cincinnati:

harkes fc cincy

“I had been fortunate to have coached at all levels in the US, so I had a massive network of players from youth, PDL, college, USL, NASL, and MLS that, when combined with Ryan Martin, we knew what we wanted when we were scouting players. Ryan’s experience and the conversations we had while he coached Ian with Jay Vidovich at Wake Forest were great. We were on the same page.

The final decision on many talented players came down to character. We discuss technical ability for a possesion-style attack, physicality, speed of thought, and pure speed, but the deciding factor was character.”

Matt Ney, Bethesda Academy Head Coach:

Matt Ney Bethesda

“Oh, I don’t think there’s any question that there are masses falling through the cracks. I think this will continue to be the case until we have more clubs. I think we have to get to the point where there is a youth club in practically every neighborhood, and in every different pocket of the DMV. I’m talking about a kid in Bailey’s Crossroads not having to go play for Alexandria or Arlington, but a home club in his actual neighborhood. A kid from a Baltimore suburb not having to travel to play for Armour or one of the traditional Baltimore-area clubs, but they have an organized and competitive club in their actual neighborhood or general area.

I think we need more clubs popping up, either under their local YMCA or through other means. And as more clubs develop, it benefits the USSDA clubs like Arlington, Bethesda, Baltimore Armour because they’ll develop partnerships with more local clubs and improve their scouting network as a result. But I don’t think there are enough clubs offering kids the option for competitive club soccer. Take Gabriel Jersus, for example. Started off in a small, tiny youth club in Brazil, and is now playing for Manchester City and the Brazilian National Team.

So as more clubs begin to form, and the bigger clubs like DC United and other MLS Academies start going after their talent, the question becomes….what incentives do these smaller clubs actually have to develop players from ages, say 8-14, and then just let them leave for DC United or Philly Union? They get nothing. The players play in a youth club for however many years, DC United comes in and offers them the chance, but then what do the clubs get in return?

That’s what we have to start figuring out.”

(We’ll expand on this below)

John Ellinger, Former USYNT Coach and Current Baltimore Armour Director of Technical Operations

Baltimore Armour

“I don’t know if it’s a case where players are falling through the cracks. US Soccer’s youth scouting system is very good.

The only thing I would add is that I feel that more players who are scouted as potential National Team players should be given the chance to participate in camps with current National Team players, instead of just saying ‘well, they are close, but not there yet.'”

Bill Moravek, Current Bethesda USSDA Coach

bill moravek

“I think the obvious answer is, yes. Between the costs usually associated with playing USSDA, and even competitive USYSA travel programs, as well as the amount of travel involved, it’s a huge commitment that isn’t affordable for everyone. There are scholarships available for some players, but the amount of paperwork and the overall process that’s involved can be rigorous, at best.

And it isn’t just an inner-city or lower-income problem, either. It has to do with the landscape of our country.

In London, you could have 10 youth clubs within walking distance. Here in the States, everything is more spread out. There is a lot of travel involved just to make it to your training sessions every night. And in terms of cost…growing up, all you had to pay was a small fee to cover insurance, you got your kit, and you’re off. But now it’s a lot more of a business. Clubs have to cover field rental fees, referee fees, lighting, uniforms, coaches, etc. the list goes on.”

“One of the biggest issues in the USA, and Reyna touched on this, is perhaps the arrogance and smug demeanor of so many in high level coach/admin. positions. We cannot go on speaking about developing players in this country and comparing non-USSDA to MLS USSDA or even worse, comparing either of those to top academy programs in Europe, as there is no comparison or overall frame of reference.

It just isn’t possible.

And unfortunately, there in lies the problem. We need more ‘cultured’ coaches/scouts who have a broader spectrum, a realistic perspective of just how different the environments are, and how best to gather methods to catch up with more advanced footballing nations.

How may we do that when none of our top has experienced anything of the sort from a coaching or scouting perspective outside the USA?

For me, unless you have lived that side of it, it is impossible to know. Granted, these opportunities are hard to come by, but we have many capable coaches/scouts here in the USA who would really benefit from more than just a 1-2 weeks trip to a club overseas. I don’t have all the answers, but do believe this would be of benefit to so many. We have so much potential and talent in this country, we are on a good path but the system needs some fresh ideas and implementation.”

My Conclusion, after speaking to everyone:

My conclusion to this question is going to basically summarize what I think about youth development conversations, in general, over the past week… and that is that everyone has a different opinion, and everyone has a different point of view.

This is why I was excited to get so many different opinions, from so many different viewpoints.

Ryan Martin is an MLS Academy Director. His job is to do whatever he can to identify and develop the best players he can, and to help DC United become the top youth development club in the region.

John Ellinger is a non-MLS Academy Director who has experience coaching one of the country’s most successful youth national teams ever.

1999 U17 YNT

He’s also been a head coach in MLS. I know, from my experience as a former volunteer assistant at Baltimore Armour, that Coach Ellinger is extremely involved in the US Soccer landscape, participating in National coaching seminars and attending USSDA Showcases. His opinion, as both a coach and USSDA administrator, hold a lot of weight for me, because his day-to-day activity revolve around youth development.

John Harkes, who has made 90 appearances for the USMNT during his playing career, has played in Europe and also has a son coming through MLS, believes (based on his past experiences in the overall US Soccer landscape) that we are hiring scouts who are affordable, versus US Soccer having a set procedure when it comes to hiring scouts.

Bill Moravek, currently a head coach of a non-MLS USSDA program who has experience in the youth soccer landscape in Europe, also brought an interesting perspective to the conversation.

But what resonated with me the most was my conversation with Matt Ney, and here’s why:

I was lucky enough to be involved in the US Soccer Development Academy for 3 seasons: Baltimore Bays USSDA U13/14 for 2 seasons, and Baltimore Armour U15/16 for one season. In fact, here’s the first ever post on the site from 2013, Bays U14 vs Richmond Strikers, Brady O’Conner (now playing at GW) with one of the goals.

There is a lot of pressure to succeed when you’re a player or coach in USSDA, and the term “succeed” isn’t necessarily defined as “developing promising youth talent”. Making the playoffs, winning records, and style of play are three things, from my experience, that many define being a “successful” player or coach in the Development Academy.

Is USSDA too results-oriented? In my opinion, yes. But it’s hard for me to say this when I’ll be Tweeting out two weeks later that a club is struggling because it’s lost it’s past 2 matches, so there ya go.

The point of my story is this. As a coach of a non-MLS Academy Club, it’s hard enough to compete week in, week out…keeping all of the players’ start percentages as high as they should be, keeping all of the parents happy, four training sessions a night, countless hours of travel, late night training sessions, etc. without also having to worry about losing your best players to another club like DC United.

When you’re coaching kids in the Development Academy, you’re spending a LOT of time with them to help them develop. So I understand if it’s a bitter pill to swallow if you’re Matt Ney or any other USSDA coach, you’ve spent years coaching the kid (4 sessions/week, traveling every other weekend, etc.), you’re helping to develop the player, and when DC United approaches the player and convinces him to switch teams, the developing club has lost their best player, and has received nothing in return.

This can be especially frustrating when you look at how much youth players are worth in England and other European countries, and you wonder how big of a problem it is that our youth players hold practically zero value in the way things are currently structured.

This is from the England FA’s website:

fa

If a 12 year-old who is being developed at a Category 3 club is sold to another English club, the training club is entitled to £12,500.

Now obviously this sparks the debate, do we want to be selling kids to and from youth clubs? US Soccer will inevitably say “absolutely not”, and I can’t say that I blame them. Here’s an interesting article from the Telegraph in England:

How youth players are being left on the scrapheap thanks to exorbitant compensation fees

But we do need to figure out, in my humble opinion, how our youth players can build and maintain some sort of value, and how we can give youth clubs the INCENTIVES to develop players who will later go on to play college or professional soccer. I’ll come back to this later in the article, I want to go through a few more questions first.

The next question I asked everyone was related to how US Soccer can help non-MLS USSDA clubs evolve and thrive, a conversation which came up in my interview with Philly Union U-18 head coach Jeff Cook this past summer.

Does US Soccer or MLS need to do a better job helping USSDA clubs, especially non-MLS clubs, financially?

Ryan Martin, DC United:

Ryan Martin FC Cincinnati

Ryan Martin was at Wake Forest before going on to work with Harkes at FC Cincinnati. He later would later take over at DCU Academy.

“I think MLS has done a lot to help expand youth development efforts. The Generation Adidas Cup, the partnership with Liga MX, I think MLS is doing a great job.

But I think US Soccer needs to follow suit.

I think different clubs need different scouting, and I think we need more scouts, to be honest. There are too many kids slipping through the cracks, and our country is so big, geographically, that one Academy Technical Adviser can’t be expected to cover a territory as large as ours- from Richmond to Southern NJ, among all clubs and all different age groups- and not expect kids to slip through the cracks. I think if anything, US Soccer needs to start adding more scouts.

You look at Germany, and I bring this up because we’re completing our second round of evaluations from DoublePass, but a country like Germany has over 300 scouts who are evaluating youth talent on a daily basis.

I think that adding incentives to the Academy setup would make sense, similar to Germany and other countries. Each club gets a rating based on different criteria, and maybe US Soccer adds a financial incentive for each club who are able to meet different standards, but also penalize clubs who fail to measure up.

In terms of facilities, you look at Atlanta, Salt Lake, LA FC, obviously our new training facility which is being constructed….all of these clubs are all pushing the envelope when it comes to building world-class training facilities. Improving facilities is an obligation for every MLS USSDA club, but it takes money.”

 

Matt Ney, Bethesda Soccer Club 

Bethesda Academy

Matt Ney’s Bethesda U-16 team made it to Quarterfinals of USSDA playoffs last season, before losing to Atlanta United 4-1. Atlanta United brought a number of players down from their U18 team for the game, after that squad was eliminated.

“Do I think US Soccer should be helping Non-USSDA clubs more, financially? Absolutely.

Do I think it will ever happen? Not really.

A lot of people believe that the best players should be playing for MLS USSDA clubs. But if you look at some of the current U-17 players- Josh Sargent isn’t playing for an MLS USSDA club, nor is Timothy Weah. There are tons of players out there who have the quality, but it would be silly to say that a player isn’t good enough if he doesn’t play for an MLS youth club.

You could look at our result in the USSDA Playoffs last season- we lost 4-1 to Atlanta United- and say ‘well that’s why our best kids should be playing for an MLS Academy’, but tell that to Jeremy Ebobisse (who played for Bethesda-Olney) or Gedion Zelalem, or Joe Gyau, or Chris Odoi-Atsem, or Jalen Robinson, or Bill Hamid, all of whom developed at our club.

I always compare it to Chelsea, how many youth players who they develop or young players who they purchase actually crack the first team at first? Not many. De Bruyne ends up being sold, Lukaku, Matt Miazga had to go out on loan, the list goes on. So if an MLS youth club dangles the chance of playing for the first team in front of the parents, and then the club ends up with 33 kids on each USSDA side, isn’t that a little stifling for their development?

As DC United and other MLS clubs pursue players that we and other Non-MLS youth clubs have developed, I think tensions will continue to rise. If US Soccer had a compensation plan in place for acquiring players, it becomes a different conversation.

But there isn’t a plan, so tensions are extremely high between clubs, as we all believe that we’re the best option for the player to develop. It’s arrogant to think that a club helps develop players at a higher rate just because the club has a professional title. If the system is open, and everyone is on an equal playing field, then development becomes more competitive, the best will rise, and those who can’t compete will fail. Just like in any other business sector today.”

John Harkes:

John and Ian Harkes

Father and Son- John and Ian Harkes

“Youth clubs are generally doing a good job developing players. It is vitally important for the youth club to provide opportunities for all players to have the opportunity to be included. Our country is massive, we need clubs in every community if possible. If a club develops a player to pro level, the club should be compensated. That compensation can be used to lower costs for families, and pay coaches. Discussions with US Soccer regarding a proper business structure are needed.”

John Ellinger:

John Ellinger

“There is no question that supplements from US Soccer would help the non-MLS DA Academies.

The pay-to-play v. free play model in the older DA age groups is a difference maker.”

My Conclusion, after speaking to everyone:

I don’t think that we need an open market where youth players can be sold to other clubs. There’s enough pressure on our youth players as it is, what happens when they find out they’re worth a few thousand dollars if they’re sold?

But I do believe, in my humble opinion, that US Soccer could consider implementing an incentive-based structure where all clubs (not necessarily only USSDA clubs) are rewarded for developing a player and helping to funnel them into the College/MLS pipeline, or if the player goes on to play professionally elsewhere. If DC United goes after a Bethesda player, and the player makes the switch, then Bethesda is awarded some type of financial incentive as a reward for developing the player.

I, personally, in my humble opinion, believe that this could be a way for clubs to reduce the astronomical fees associated with competitive travel soccer. They can charge less if they know that they will be compensated for developing players who will later go on to play professionally or at a competitive collegiate level. Instead, what seems like the short-term solution to a long-term equation…clubs have to charge parents thousands of dollars each season to cover field rental fees, insurance, etc.

I also believe that an incentive-based structure could be a way for more coaches to become interested in getting involved with youth development efforts. If a coach makes $6k per season, that seems to be the short-term solution.

But if the clubs and coaches are compensated based on how many NCAA division one-caliber players they’re developing, or if they’re able to help develop a player who later goes on to play professionally, the coaches then have the ability to earn more money based on their performance, and are more invested in the player’s development process. Would the youth coaches put more effort into helping introduce players to potential college programs? I believe so.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be cash that is awarded to the clubs based on meeting certain incentives, either. The impression I got from Matt Ney, and the impression that I’ve gotten from many within the USSDA landscape, is that they want to expand their clubs. They want to eventually be able to offer a professional option to their youth players, which would almost certainly benefit the overall youth development efforts in our country. It might be possible that US Soccer could help these clubs reach their goals, but the constant question of US Soccer’s relationship with MLS might make this a more difficult conversation than we think.

The next question which we asked everyone was about coaching education. Currently, US Soccer and the State Youth Associations are responsible for hosting and offering coaching courses.

Philly Union U-18 head coach Jeff Cook told us this summer that he believed that the MLS clubs in each market could eventually evolve into the federation-figures that help out with coaching education efforts in their markets.

Should US Soccer be responsible for all coaching education, or should MLS clubs become more involved?

Ryan Martin, DC United

ryan martin dcu academy

“As an MLS Academy, it’s our duty to help improve coaching education efforts. Ben Olsen, Dave Kasper, and myself make an effort to put an emphasis on coaching education, and we’ll continue to improve and expand those efforts.

We currently have partnerships with 17 different clubs in our area who we help offer coaching education courses to. We have 9 DC United players working on their ‘B’ Licenses, and are actually serving as assistants in the youth development training sessions. 2 of our guys are in the French Federation UEFA class, and we’ve been working with coaches from clubs like Inter Milan and Benfica to learn even more.”

John Ellinger:

“US Soccer is doing a great job at the moment with coaching education. They are currently running some B License courses for MLS players at the club level, which is a fantastic opportunity for those players.”

 

Matt Ney:

“I think we do a pretty good job educating our coaches. We have 2 outside coaching consultants who help us with continuing education courses and we make an effort to get more of our current players involved in coaching education courses.

I think the bigger issue is, can US Soccer bring in more scouts, and can we do a better job working together? We need to do a better job improving the number of players that US Soccer is actually scouting.”

Bill Moravek:

“Yeah, coaching education can always improve, but the bigger issue is scouting.

I’ve said this for years, US Soccer isn’t scouting enough players. You might see some guys getting looks at the USSDA games, but US Soccer sends practically zero scouts to some of these bigger USYSA tournaments and events, which is a shame. There is still a lot of quality talent at the USYSA level, but US Soccer seems to only be focusing on the USSDA clubs and players.”

My Conclusion, after speaking to everyone:

Scouting seems to be a big void when it comes to developing youth players in our country. It’s an issue which has come up across the board, with everyone I’ve spoken to.

I agree 100% with Bill Moravek’s comments regarding USYSA players not getting enough attention.

I’ve heard one local Division 1 assistant coach who is very active in the local recruiting scene imply that, while USSDA programs do a good job teaching kids how to “play”…aka play out of the back, keep possession, stretch the field and play a more attractive brand of soccer, it’s the USYSA players who are actually becoming more accustomed to the physical style of play that is similar to that found in a lot of Division 1 college soccer.

Which brings me to my next topic: youth players moving overseas at an early age, versus the college and MLS track.

If you’re a youth player, are you better off overseas at a younger age, or playing in college?

John Ellinger:

“I feel experience has shown us that it depends on the individual player. Everyone jumps on the go to Europe bandwagon when our players are actually getting useful minutes in first team games, but the moment they stop playing, you hear that they should have signed in the MLS. College v Home Grown, again it depends on the individual. Some players are not mature enough to deal with the demands of being a young professional player and then should make the decision to play in college.”

Bill Moravek:

“I think that a change of scenery is great for any youth player. If you play in the same environment your entire youth career, you’ll only know what you’re familiar with. We were in Europe at Fulham, and I thought it would be a good move for the boys to come back home and play for a few seasons in the States. That being said, it’s not the same for everyone. You have to be ready to learn a new culture, learn a new language at times, be away from your family and friends. I don’t think there is one right or wrong answer, it depends on the individual player and what’s best for him.”

 

Conclusion:

While it’s true that Pulisic, Tim Howard, Landon Donovan, and others have found success at younger ages playing in Europe and other countries, the majority of our best USMNT players have come up through the college and MLS system. These include:

  • Brian Mcbride
  • John Harkes
  • Clint Dempsey
  • Geoff Cameron
  • Carlos Bocanegra
  • Tab Ramos
  • Claudio Reyna

So I tend to agree with Coach Ellinger that the “Move to Europe early” bandwagon is easy to jump on when a player like Pulisic is thriving in Germany, but are we looking to develop one world-class player (a needle in the haystack), or a USMNT team of guys that compete in World Cup Qualifying?

The college game can still improve. I’ve watched countless NCAA soccer games this past season, and there’s no question that it’s making progress. But let’s not just assume that we need to send all of our kids over to Europe for our country to succeed as a soccer-playing nation, in my humble opinion.

The last question I asked each participant was about promotion/relegation.

Many think that a structured second and third division of MLS would help offer younger players more first-team matches. Do you believe in promotion/relegation?

Ryan Martin:

“Yeah, I think it would be a good thing. But I don’t think it’ll ever happen. When you look at the MLS franchise fees and what some of these MLS owners are paying, versus the USL franchise fees, there’s a huge gap there.

We have a USL team coming soon, and I’m excited about our younger guys getting some first-team matches. But do I see promotion/relegation happening in the US anytime soon? Probably not.”

John Ellinger:

“Personally, I like the addition of USL clubs like Red Bulls II, Monarchs (RSL II), etc. It allows the MLS clubs the opportunity to sign their young players to pro contracts, so foreign clubs cannot get away with signing American players for zero development fee.”

Overall Conclusion

So, as I mentioned in the beginning of the piece, there isn’t one overall consensus or solution to the question “how do you improve youth development in US Soccer.”

Many believe that we’re developing the talent, but US Soccer isn’t doing a good enough job hiring and developing scouts who will go out to the USYSA events and non-USSDA games to identify potential talent. Scouting was something that almost every participant mentioned as something that US Soccer needs to improve, whether it be hiring more scouts, or reviewing the process that is currently in place for training and developing current scouts.

Many believe that US Soccer should do a better job when it comes to helping our youth players become more valuable, versus allowing them to pick and choose their clubs, free transfers, etc.

When someone says “youth travel soccer is too expensive”, that may be the case. But if club fees are lowered, and US Soccer helps us to transition into a system where youth players are being sold for large fees, are we adding pressure on the youth players when a 14 year-old finds out he was sold for thousands of dollars? Do we want an open market where teenagers are being bought and sold? Probably not.

I do believe, personally….in my HUMBLE opinion….that US Soccer could consider implementing an incentive-based program where clubs are rewarded for developing players who go on to MLS Academies, professional clubs both domestically and Internationally, and competitive Division 1 NCAA programs. While many would say that “NCAA soccer is not a revenue-generating sport, why should US Soccer reward clubs who go on to play NCAA soccer?”, it’s hard for coaches to develop players who go on to compete at the NCAA level, which is what US Soccer seems to be hoping for (players who play a few seasons of college and enter the MLS Draft), without the clubs receiving any type of incentive for developing the talent.

Another huge issue which seems to be ignored is the amount of money that clubs spend every season on field rentals and facility fees. If we’re comparing youth academies here in the US to those overseas, and we look at facilities…the idea of a Category One or Category Two youth club in England playing their home games at a local high school or State Park would probably be laughable.

If I really wanted to get carried away with a radical idea, it would be that US Soccer needs to partner with top youth clubs on a long-term basis to help improve facilities nationwide, versus offering grants to local municipalities and organizations to build more fields or improve current fields.

You can build all of the fields you want, and these programs are an amazing solution when you talk about making the game available to everyone.

But are we really doing a good enough job helping youth clubs who have a track record of developing our country’s top talent develop club facilities that our youth players are excited about every night on their way to training, and that are comparable to the facilities in other countries?

“If only I knew a millionaire”….is that what top club administrators should have to think to themselves when they’re trying to improve their facilities, applying for a number of grants and still having to organize additional fundraising efforts on top of it all?

Again, if we were talking about radical ideas…US Soccer has partnerships with some of the country’s top corporations.

Taken from their 2016 Guides to Grants document on the USSF Website, they have partnerships with:

Hellas Construction:

hellas construction

 

Musco Lighting:

Musco Lighting

Hunter Irrigation:

Hunter Irrigation

And hundreds of other corporations.

If we were talking about radical ideas, why can’t US Soccer purchase land in certain areas? They can help introduce the clubs to potential sponsors, who would want to be involved with improving each club’s facilities based on the projects being backed by US Soccer.

US Soccer owns the land, and helps the club build more fields. US Soccer offers financial incentives at the end of each season to the clubs based on the players they are developing, who go on to play for MLS Academies, college or professional programs, etc. Each season, with these incentive funds, the clubs can increase the amount of stake that they own in the land, help develop facilities by building additional fields, clubhouses, training centers, etc. and everyone is working together to improve development efforts.

Clubs can eventually offer professional first-team options as they secure additional corporate sponsorship, and the youth coaches now have incentives to focus on developing players who will be prepared for the next level, whether it be professionally or at the collegiate level.

Again, this is a dream world, radical idea.

But one of the main messages that I’ve come away with, between Claudio Reyna’s “we’re too arrogant” statement, and John Harkes saying when I spoke to him that “we need to do a better job working together” is this: while it may be true that competitive travel soccer in the United States may be too expensive, and while club administrators and coaches may become nervous that parents will be hesitant to continue to invest thousands of dollars every season in their child’s soccer development, it appears to me….in my HUMBLE OPINION…that we can all work together to make youth development efforts more profitable for top clubs to expand, top coaches to continue to develop talent, and top players to play in an atmosphere that prepares them for that next level. As clubs continue to expand, similar to franchises, they can partner with additional youth clubs in their area, or even help to launch more clubs in additional neighborhoods, with those clubs’ coaches having incentives to develop talent and introduce them to a higher level of soccer.

But no matter what that answer is, can we ALL….US Soccer, youth clubs, parents, and players….work together to come up with a long-term solution to a LONG-TERM problem.

Because, as it appears in the current landscape, all that we’re offering right now are short-term solutions.

 

We’re Still Not Even Close

For anyone who watched ESPN FC last night, Craig Burley’s statement “I’m done hearing about pay-to-play, promotion/relegation, etc.” was pretty much spot on for me. The main topics which have come up since the US Men’s National team crashed out of World Cup 2018 qualifying, finishing FIFTH place in CONCACAF, are youth development, pay-to-play youth soccer, and promotion/relegation.

But what if the players that we had representing the United States National Team for this cycle just weren’t good enough?

Did we actually give some of the younger guys a chance to succeed throughout the qualifying process, or did we rely on the same old players (as US Soccer tends to do for literally EVERY World Cup cycle) once again?

Say what you want about Jurgen Klinsmann, but when he came on board as US Men’s National Team manager, he did the one thing that US Soccer was in desperate need of- he expanded the player pool for National team selection.

Bruce Arena said after Tuesday’s loss to Trinidad and Tobago that, even if the United States did qualify, the roster would have needed an overhaul for the Yanks to actually be competitive in the World Cup. This seems obvious to anyone who watched the game.

Michael Bradley jogged around the pitch as if it was a Sunday pub league match. Our two starting center backs, Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler, were forced to step up and make a number of tackles, constantly being stretched from each other and out of position. Jozy Altidore, recently voted as the worst striker in Premier League history after scoring only 2 goals in 70 appearances for Hull and Sunderland, could be seen at midfield literally stopping and throwing his arms up in the air when he lost the ball, with his touch constantly letting him down and struggling to get into the game. The same could be said for Bobby Wood, whose name you barely heard throughout the entire match. Arriola and Nagbe struggled in unfamiliar central midfield positions, and in a 4-4-2 diamond system which relies on outside backs to get up the field to provide width in the attack, both Deandre Yedlin and Jorge Villafana seemed so overwhelmed with their defensive duties that they weren’t able to provide much to the Yanks’ efforts moving forward.

But what stood out to me, with Bruce Arena’s side down 2-1 with 3/4 of an hour left in the match to find the equalizer, was the lack of options off of the bench that were available to provide a spark.

Clint Dempsey came on at halftime, and probably had the best chance to make it 2-2 with his shot going just wide of the post.

Kellyn Acosta came on for Villafana at left back, although you began to wonder why Fabian Johnson wasn’t out there.

Benny Feilhaber, who seemed to be in USMNT exile in recent years, was the third substitute, but didn’t provide much.

Are you telling me that the hopes of US Soccer were rested on a 34 year-old Clint Dempsey, Kellyn Acosta out of position, and Benny Feilhaber?

Lack of Depth

The lack of depth at basically every position for the US Men’s National Team was a concern for many early on in the qualifying process.

In Klinsmann’s last match in charge, a 4-0 loss at home to Panama, there were younger players available on the bench such as Sunderland’s Lynden Gooch, Cameron Carter-Vickers, and Julian Green, but the starting XI was very similar to Bruce Arena’s Tuesday night squad (Michael Bradley, Matt Besler, Jozy Altidore, Bobby Wood, Omar Gonzalez, Christian Pulisic).

Relying heavily on veteran players is nothing new for the US Men’s National Team, coming from someone who has watched them religiously for 30+ years and who has covered them as a journalist.

One of the biggest problems we have is that we rely heavily on players like Clint Dempsey, who has bailed us out with big goals time after time after time, Landon Donovan, and Brian McBride. We always have 1 or 2 guys who can provide a moment of brilliance, but when you compare our roster to the depth that’s available at some of the “hot shot” European countries, Bruce Arena’s statement becomes laughable.

When Spain beat Italy in early September, a few of the substitutes coming off of the bench:

  • Pedro, Azpilicueta, and Morata from Chelsea
  • Saul from Atletico Madrid
  • Deulofeu from Barcelona
  • Thiago from Bayern Munich

Again, those are their SUBS.

When France beat Netherlands 4-0 back in late August, here’s who they had coming off of the bench:

  • Blaise Matuidi from Juventus
  • Kylian Mbappe from PSG
  • Alexandre Lacazette from Arsenal

And England’s subs for Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Lithuania:

  • Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Liverpool
  • Raheem Sterling from Manchester City
  • Daniel Sturridge, Jermaine Defoe, Chris Smalling, the list goes on.

England bring three center backs off of their bench in Smalling, Gary Cahill, and Eric Dier that the United States would kill to have, but Bruce Arena thinks that their team would have a hard time qualifying in CONCACAF?!

Sorry, but it just seems like we’re all becoming a bit delusional when it comes to how much progress US Soccer has actually made over the years. We don’t even have a legit second division in place yet, while England has this many:

english_league_pyramid

Read David Beckham or Zlatan’s book and realize how many pro clubs in European countries will go after a young player with talent. Zlatan was only 18 when he was already starting for Swedish Allsvenskan side Malmo, going on to play for Ajax at age 20 and starting for Juventus at the age of 23.

We have kids over in Europe, which is great, but when it comes to being discovered by a local professional club here in the United States, the options are as follows:

  • MLS.

We’ll get to why MLS is actually part of the problem in a minute, but first:

Same OLD Story

I took the time to do the math. For the entire United States roster during Qualification, the average age was 28.56.

  • Spain’s average age for their World Cup Qualifying roster, even with older players like David Villa, Pepe Reina, Iniesta and Sergio Ramos, was only 27.46.
  • France’s average age among their entire Qualifying roster was 25.69.
  • England’s average age among their entire Qualifying roster was 25.30.

Like I said earlier, we decided to rely on older veteran players throughout the ENTIRE Qualifying process, instead of trying to introduce younger players into the fold.

This isn’t anything new.

Klinsmann’s 2014 World Cup side, which made it out of the group of death (Ghana, Portugal, and Germany), was one of the younger rosters that we’ve had since 1994, with the average age being 27.30. The team who won it, Germany, had an average age of only 25.73.

The average age for the 2010 US World Cup roster (we advanced to second round, losing to Ghana) was actually lower, with the average age being 26.86. Jozy was 21, Bradley was 23, Jose Torres was 23 and the rest of the squad was 25+. The team that won it that year, Spain…their average age was 25.91

The average age for the 2006 US World Cup roster (didn’t advance out of our group) was up there, at 28.26. The three teams in our group that year- Czech Republic was 28.56, but Ghana was only 24.60 and Italy was 28.30.

In 2002, with a 20 year-old Landon Donovan who won the 2002 World Cup Best Young Player and a 20-year old Damarcus Beasley, our average age was still up there at 28.26 thanks to the inclusions of 34 year-old Jeff Agoos, David Regis and Earnie Stewart who were both 33 at the time, etc.

In 1998, when the United States lost all three group games to Germany, Iran, and Yugoslavia, the average age was 28.27 and included a 34 year-old Roy Wegerle, Thomas Dooley at captain at the age of 36, and Preki who was also 34.

In 1994, when we made it to the second round losing to Brazil on 4th of July 1-0, our average age was 26.36. This included a 20 year-old Claudio Reyna, Brad Friedel was only 23 at the time, and a number of other players under the age of 25.

World Cup Year Average Age of US Roster Did they advance? Average age of WC winners/
others
2018 Qualifying 28.56 Did not qualify Spain- 27.46
France- 25.69
England- 25.30
2014 27.30 Yes Germany- 25.73
2010 26.86 Yes Spain- 25.91
2006 28.26 No Italy- 28.30
Ghana (advanced from group)- 24.60
2002 28.26 Yes Brazil- 26.17
1998 28.27 No France- 26.72
1994 26.36 Yes Brazil- 27.41

US Soccer’s historical hesitancy to name younger players to World Cup squads, and tendency to instead rely on older, more established veterans, could be related to lack of quality young players available for selection, but I personally believe that part of the problem is not trusting our young players enough, because the MLS career path results in players turning professional at later ages when compared to European talent.

The 2017 Gold Cup would have been a perfect opportunity to get some of the younger guys involved, but once we made it out of the group stages, what did Bruce Arena do? He called in Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Tim Howard, Nagbe, and Clint Dempsey. As a result, we sent Dom Dwyer and Kelyn Rowe, both of whom were impressive throughout the tournament, home. Neither, of course, were involved in World Cup Qualifying.

That being said, it’s kind of hard to develop younger players and introduce them to the National Team fold when we CONSTANTLY rely on older veterans, even for a practically meaningless tournament like the Gold Cup.

So Who’s Fault Is It That Younger Guys Aren’t Getting a Chance?

In Part, Ours.

Between the Twitter tirades and debates between US Men’s National Team supporters, constant media scrutiny surrounding US Soccer for every match/tournament, and practically everyone suddenly having an opinion on US Soccer and why we’re so much better than the other CONCACAF teams in our region, the fact of the matter is that the position of United States Men’s National Soccer coach comes with more pressure to succeed than ever before. Klinsmann became extremely frustrated with our “the sky is falling” approach every time we draw or lose a match, and he’s one of the managers we’ve had in recent years that actually tried to give some younger guys a shot.

What I’m trying to say is, it’s harder for a manager to sacrifice results by introducing younger guys when the media is constantly pressuring them over every result. We, as a country, need to do a better job having patience when we play these friendlies and Gold Cup tournaments trying to build the player pool out by playing younger guys. We have to get younger.

US Soccer shares a picture from their Twitter account of some rain around the track in Trinidad and Tobago, and all of sudden “it’s an embarrassment if we can’t beat a third-world country like T&T”. A reporter asks Bruce Arena if it’s below some of the European-based guys to have to play in that type of atmosphere, triggering his “European hotshots” remark, and all of a sudden a few journalists and bloggers have turned it into a National fiasco. The lead-up to the T&T game was nothing short of everyone looking for the story lines, and whoever takes over as next USMNT manager will need to have experience dealing with a media base which will always be looking to Tweet the big headlines.

United States Soccer’s culture has gone from the underdogs who want to work hard to prove everyone wrong, to the team who can’t lose based on us being “MERRCA!!”. Have we made progress? Of course. But the rest of the world hasn’t exactly gotten worse.

How Is MLS To Blame?

Maybe the problem isn’t that the National Team manager isn’t giving the younger guys a chance. Maybe the younger phenoms like Landon Donovans and Damarcus Beasleys just don’t exist, with the exception of Pulisic who made an early move to Europe.

Think about the path of a normal MLS player. Jordan Morris- plays 2 years of college soccer, gets drafted by Seattle Sounders and becomes a professional at the age of 22.

Paul Pogba, who’s only a year older, made his Manchester United debut at 18. He was playing Champions League soccer for Juventus when he was 20, the same age as when Jordan’s taking chemistry finals.

Some other players who were born in 1994, the same birth year as Morris:

  • Aymeric Laporte, made professional debut at 17
  • Raheem Sterling, made professional debut at 18
  • Saul (Atletico), made professional debut at 16

MLS players don’t usually turn pro until later in their careers, which means our young talent is 4 or 5 years behind the rest of the world. That might be a problem.

So let’s say they’re a quality player like Clint Dempsey or Michael Bradley, maybe they make a move to Europe eventually. But now MLS comes in with these ridiculous amounts of money for our best players, bring them back home, are playing at an MLS level, and our National Team program has suffered as a result.

I have a hard time believing that Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, and Clint Dempsey are getting the same level of training and competition at the MLS level as they were in Europe. I’m sorry, but to watch Michael Bradley’s quality continue to drop off since he made his move to Toronto FC is disheartening. This was a guy who was, at one point, starting for Roma, but on Tuesday night he looked like he should have been playing for Christos. He’s jogging around the pitch, cant make a tackle, and his overall pace of play was just slow and lethargic.

Another issue I have with MLS is the fact that they continue to expand and accept new MLS teams, collecting the $200 million franchise fee and continuing to head down the same path which saw the NASL become diluted and, as a result, lead to its failure as a league. They refuse to accept a second division, yet continue adding teams to the league.

There are currently 22 MLS teams, with Don Garber announcing additional franchises being added over the years.

There are 20 EPL teams, 20 La Liga teams, 18 Bundesliga teams and 20 Serie A teams. So when the MLS gets up to 26 teams, a new league which doesn’t even come close to the quality of any of the other 4 leagues that I mentioned, we’re not going to see a diluted level of competition?

MLS needs to seriously consider how the quick $200 million franchise fee is a short-term answer, with promotion/relegation being the long-term answer to improving the quality of our domestic league. A second tier under MLS will give younger guys a chance to turn pro at an earlier age, and advance their careers. Currently, if a kid is 16 or 17, they might be scouted by their local MLS club if they’re playing USSDA, but even then they typical roadmap is the kid will go to college, play for a few seasons, get drafted by MLS, and maybe play in his first season if he’s quality. By then the player is 20-22, versus in Europe when clubs develop their youth players and introduce them to first-team professional action at a lot younger age.

We need more kids who want to go pro at younger ages, and we need to get them professional experience as soon as possible. If we continue to introduce players to the professional ranks at 20+ we will continue to be years behind.

This means that MLS needs to work together with US Soccer and USL/NASL to develop second and third divisions, and eventually introduce promotion/relegation. As we add more clubs to the second and third divisions, these are also new youth academies which can help to develop local talent, and younger guys can get a chance to play professionally at 17 or 18 versus 21 or 22.

Youth Development

When I talked to John Doolan from Everton and Genk u16 coach Peter Reynders this past summer about youth development, the idea of the kids in their academies having to pay money made both of them laugh. If you’re a decent youth player in England, you might have 4 or 5 clubs trying to sign you. Here, you might be recognized by a local MLS or USSDA club, but the gap between MLS USSDA clubs and those outside of MLS is still a pretty big one.

Each USSDA club are on their own, financially. US Soccer and MLS need to figure out how to fix this problem. The fact that kids and parents are still paying for Academy soccer should tell you how far behind we are, when you look at the training facilities that top English, German, Belgian, and other European clubs have available for their youth players. We still have USSDA clubs playing home games at local state parks, having to nickel and dime parents to cover field rental fees and to cover travel expenses. The fact that youth soccer is still all about the money should tell you all that you need to know. Imagine Sir Alex going to Paul Pogba’s mom with “hey, um, you were late paying Paul’s club dues last month, the credit card didn’t go through”.

Wake-Up Call

Ring ring. We’re not as good as we thought we were, and still have a long way to go.

 

The three biggest US Soccer disappointments of my lifetime

I’m not writing this post as a Bruce Arena bashing. I grew up a DC United fan and what he did for the club in the early days is beyond words, but the fact remains that he was the manager of the US Men’s National Team for 2 of the 3 most disappointing USMNT events that I can remember.

3. 2006 World Cup in Germany

bruce arena 2006

USA loses to Ghana and Czech Republic, draw eventual World Cup Champions Italy to finish dead last in their group without a win. Coached by none other than Bruce himself, the team featured a young Landon Donovan who was voted as the 2002 World Cup best young player, Kasey Keller in goal during his prime, Captain America Claudio Reyna, Clint Dempsey before he went to Fulham, and Brian McBride who was in London for 2 seasons already.

Here’s how the US lined up against Italy:

USA: 18-Kasey Keller; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 23-Eddie Pope, 22-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra; 4-Pablo Mastroeni, 8-Clint Dempsey (17-DaMarcus Beasley, 62), 10-Claudio Reyna (capt), 15-Bobby Convey (13-Jimmy Conrad, 52), 21-Landon Donovan; 20-Brian McBride

It was a tough group, but starting the tournament with a 3-0 loss to a Czech Republic side which featured Pavel Nedved, who won a Ballon D’Or in 2003 and was voted to three consecutive UEFA Teams of the Year in 2003, 2004, and 2005, partnered with Tomas Rosicky, who scored a belter from distance for the Czech’s second goal:

 

Meant the US started the tournament with work to do. A 1-1 draw with Italy despite being down to NINE men was seen as a success, but the following 2-1 loss to Ghana (Dempsey with the goal, but Appiah with the winning penalty) saw the US crash out of the tournament. 4 years later in South Africa, with Deuce finding his way in Europe and Landon continuing his winning ways, the US was able to come out of a group with England, Slovenia, and Algeria.

2. 1998 World Cup in France

Steve Sampson

In 1998, under head coach Steve Sampson, the United States were drawn into a favorable group which included Germany, Yugoslavia, and Iran. Sampson’s squad fell to Germany in the opening match 2-0, with Jurgen Klinnsman among the goal scorers for Ze Germans. Sampson was questioned by many when he decided to line up in a 3-6-1 formation against a German side which was #3 in FIFA World Rankings, including the following players as his Starting XI:

STARTING XI

John Harkes was 31 at the time and was looked at as one of our best players, captaining DC United to MLS Cups in 1996 and 1997, but he was surprisingly left off of the 1998 World Cup roster when Sampson announced his squad.

What was also curious was the surprise inclusion of David Regis into the squad, seeing as he had only become eligible to play for the USMNT in May of 1998. When the US dropped the first game against Germany, many assumed they would rebound against Iran and Yugoslavia.

usa iran 1998 world cup

But in what many believe to be the most politically-fueled soccer match in recent history, the United States LOST TO IRAN by a score of 2-1. Iran was ranked 37th in FIFA World Rankings, and many believed the Yanks would have no problem getting their first win despite all of the political storylines leading into the game.

They were wrong.

The United States went on to lose their third match vs Yugoslavia 1-0, and Sampson was fired before eventually taking over as LA Galaxy manager in 2004 after managing Costa Rica.

Number One: Failure to Qualify for 2018 World Cup

ELIMINATED

Whether Sunil Gulati, the players, Jurgen Klinnsman, or Bruce Arena is to blame for the Red White and Blue failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup after an embarrassing 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago, the fact remains that we just didn’t get it done.

Listening to Tim Howard’s post-game interview talking about T&T manager Dennis Lawrence, who was an assistant at Everton under Roberto Martinez, the USA shot-stopper does seem to suggest that the United States was possibly out-managed on this particular occasion, with the United States not doing a good enough job trying to break down the Trini defense.

Trinidad & Tobago dropped 10 and sometimes 11 behind the ball, stayed compact, and when they got the ball they were able to exploit the lack of width that Arena’s preferred 4-4-2 diamond left open.

The first own goal from Omar Gonzalez was kind of a fluke, but then when he went sliding in and almost giving up a penalty a few minutes later, the United States were lucky that the scoreline wasn’t worse.

Playing a 4-4-2 diamond with two players at the 8 who seem more comfortable out wide in Darlington Nagbe and Paul Arriola, along with Michael Bradley’s sub-par performance defensively, did not help the United States’ chances, and it becomes clearly obvious that USA Soccer is in desperate need of a 6 who can protect the back line in the near future.

Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones were serviceable through the years at the position, but with so many players like Dempsey, Jones, Beckerman, Howard, Beasley, and others coming to the ends of their careers, one position that we have practically no depth at currently is in the middle of the field at 6 or 8. Hopefully that will change before 2022 World Cup Qualifying, which is a frustrating FIVE YEARS AWAY.

We’ve waited since the 2014 World Cup in Brazil which saw the United States finish in second place in a difficult group made up of Germany, Portugal, and Ghana, only to be knocked out by Belgium but holding our own. We were all hoping that US Soccer was progressing, and could one day possibly challenge for a World Cup, but the fact remains that…. even though we are still making progress, it’s not like the rest of the world is sitting on their thumbs not getting any better.

In the above two examples, the following World Cup was a success for the United States. Hopefully this epic failure will see some changes made, and we can field a team that we can all be proud of as a country moving forward.

 

Maryland vs UMBC: Two Coaches Who Live and Breathe Soccer

umbc vs maryland soccer

For anyone who has grown up in Maryland as a soccer fan, if you don’t get excited about UMBC vs Maryland then you probably need to check this out.

Two local programs rich in history.

Two long-tenured, successful head coaches who love the game and recruit top local talent.

Two coaching staffs who have worked so hard to develop a close-knit, family atmosphere over the years, helping these young men develop both on and off the field, all while assuring them that they will forever be part of a special Terp or Retriever family.

The University of Maryland Terps, currently ranked number three in the country and yet to lose a game this season, take a short bus ride to Baltimore County tonight to take on UMBC at Retriever Park at 7pm.

I could tell you about Hermann Trophy-hopeful Gordon Wild and the Terps’ talented offense, made up of guys like Eryk Williamson and Jake Rozhansky.

Or we could talk about UMBC’s 1-0 victory over Maryland in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament.

But you can read about all of that stuff on each school’s website:

UMBC: Retriever Men’s Soccer Hosts Maryland in Tuesday Night Showdown

UMD: NO. 3 MARYLAND AND UMBC CLASH TUESDAY NIGHT

I want to talk about the two guys at the helm of each program…head coaches Sasho Cirovski of Maryland and Pete Caringi of UMBC, two head coaches who are extremely involved in the local soccer community who paid their dues before finding success.

Two Head Coaches who LIVE The Game

Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski and UMBC head coach Pete Caringi both started their collegiate head coaching careers in 1991, 26 years ago… meaning they’ve been coaching for a lot longer than any of their current players have been alive. Two of the best coaches in the Nation who have been coaching Division 1 soccer for a combined 52 years, but both men have been students of the beautiful game for even longer than that.

Pete Caringi, Baltimore

Coach Caringi had a successful collegiate playing career at local University of Baltimore, earning All-American accolades twice at the Division II school where he is the all-time leading scorer and, to this day, is ranked 21st all-time in Division II goals scored with 70. Coach Caringi won a Division 2 National Championship with University of Baltimore in 1975, and later went on to play for the Washington Diplomats in 1978.

Pete Caringi Washington Diplomats

The Diplomats made the playoffs that year, before getting knocked out in the first round by a Portland Timbers side which made it to the Conference Finals before losing to eventual NASL Champions the New York Cosmos, who went on to win their third of five NASL Championships despite losing Pele the season prior.

How about this for a few names, the NASL All-Star team that season included:

  • The late great Giorgio Chinaglia, as polarizing figure off of the field as he was on it. The Italian scored 193 goals in 213 Cosmos games, not a bad strike rate.
  • Rodney Marsh, one of the best NASL players of all time (Tampa Bay Rowdies) and a former Manchester City legend, making 188 appearances for the club, and 211 appearances for QPR prior to that, scoring 106 goals in 6 seasons for the London club.
  • Carlos Alberto, who captained Brazil in 1970, winning a World Cup.
  • Franz Beckenbauer, who needs no introduction….Der Kaiser won 5 Bundesliga titles, 3 European Cups (aka Champions League), 2 Ballon d’Ors, four German Player of the Year awards, a World Cup in 1974, and a Euro Title in 1972 as a player… before going on as a manager to help Germany win the 1990 World Cup, a Bundesliga title with Bayern in 1993-94, along with a European Cup in 1995-96.
  • George Best was an All-Star Honorable Mention
  • Former DC United manager and current legendary soccer commentator Ray Hudson was second-team NASL All-Star that season.
(l-r) New York Cosmos players Johan Cruyff, Giorgio Chinaglia, Franz Beckenbauer  circa 1978

(l-r) New York Cosmos players Johan Cruyff, Giorgio Chinaglia, Franz Beckenbauer circa 1978

After his season with the Diplomats, Coach Caringi laced up his boots in the Maryland Majors Soccer League, which makes you think about his son Pete III currently helping Christos become a Nationally-recognized name. He later went on to be the assistant coach of the Maryland Bays professional side, eventually taking over head coaching duties in 1990 and then taking over at UMBC in 1991 at the age of 36, still considered young for a Division 1 head coach.

Spend 10 minutes speaking to Coach Caringi and you’ll realize how passionate he is about the game, especially when it comes to soccer in Charm City. The Baltimore native is more than happy to tell you about the old days of Highlandtown and Patterson Park Soccer, and how many former USMNT players grew up in his old stomping grounds of Southeast Baltimore (from a 2011 interview):

“Every Sunday at Patterson Park,” Pete Caringi said. “It was neighborhood against neighborhood and a lot of times friend against friend.”

Caringi played for Pompei and Perrella on the Baltimore Kickers. The Mangione brothers, Nick and Dino, played for La Dolce Vita and Ernie Cox for Casa Bianco. There were Dnipro and Tom’s Produce, Tommy’s Lounge and Post 38, the Baltimore Bays and Baltimore Comets.

There was passion and pride, talent and tradition.

“You come in here and see the love everyone has for Pep,” Caringi said, “and it takes you back to those days. And it’s not just a Curley thing or a Calvert Hall thing. They’re from everywhere — Patterson, Mount St. Joe, Dundalk — all the club players from years ago. It just says a lot about the soccer community in general.”

A quick personal story…I grew up in PG County, played in the DC-area WISL adult amateur league for a few seasons before moving to Baltimore. I ended up playing a few seasons in the Maryland Majors league for a Baltimore Colts team which competed for the US Open Cup, a few years before Christos was making all of the headlines, and here’s what I’ll tell you about Baltimore amateur soccer (compared to DC)…tackles are coming in, and you’re going to be sore on Monday mornings at work.

Guys take pride in the soccer-rich heritage here in the Baltimore area, from the Baltimore Kickers clubhouse that could always be seen on Broadway Street in the heart of Fells Point, to the Italy World Cup posters hanging on the walls at the local favorite deli here in Highlandtown, Di Pasquale’s. There’s the Maryland Soccer Hall of Fame in nearby DuBurns Arena, which includes a number of old Baltimore names, along with a game ball from Christos’ US Open Cup run last season.

A few random old school Baltimore soccer pics

htown

 

 

 

 

1930's Police Athletic League Soccer at Patterson Park

1930’s Police Athletic League Soccer at Patterson Park

 

 

bmore soccerCoach Caringi has a .610 win percentage over a 26-year career.  His 276 wins makes him the 26th-winningest active coach in the country, turning the small Baltimore-area school with only 13,640 students (compared to Maryland with 38,140) and somewhat meager resources (when compared to coaches of other National powerhouse programs on that list) into a Nationally-recognized program which has made 5 NCAA Tournament appearances, including the recent Cinderella Final Four run in 2014.

A local coach who came up living, breathing, and eating Baltimore soccer, who still pays respect to the greats before him and has managed to build a program by recruiting local players who will take as much pride as he does in seeing Baltimore soccer continue to flourish.

Sasho Cirovski, College Park

Sasho Cirovski

University of Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski is the fifth-winningest active head coach in NCAA Division 1 soccer, with a 390-144 record leading up to this season. His .710 win percentage over 26 seasons is ahead of programs who seem to be nationally-ranked every season, such as UVA, Notre Dame, UCLA, and other powerhouse programs. But if you think that Coach Cirovski started his winning ways as soon as he arrived in College Park back in 1993, you’re sorely mistaken.

Sasho Cirovski Youth

A young Sasho Cirovski (right foreground) in his native Macedonia in about 1969 with brother Vancho, mother, Ljubica, and sister Diana. (Handout photo, from same Sun article)

Before the Macedonian-Canadian soccer coach took the reigns for the Terps, the University of Maryland’s men’s soccer program only made ONE NCAA Tournament appearance since 1976. ONE NCAA Tournament appearance (in 1986) in 17 seasons, so it would be hard to say that he inherited a competitive program.

Coach Cirovski didn’t grow up in the DMV. He grew up on the borderline of poverty, living in a small Balctic town called Vratnica in Macedonia, where he used the beautiful game to escape some of the harsh reality surrounding him.

From a 2009 Baltimore Sun article:

Cirovski’s ambition was forged early, those who know him say, during his hardscrabble youth in the sleepy Balkan town of Vratnica.

There, Cirovski and his family lived in several rooms atop a barn filled with livestock: chickens, pigs, cows and horses.

“We had no bathrooms, hot water or refrigerator,” he said. “We took baths in a small tub in the kitchen, by the wood stove. But we probably grew up healthy. There was no candy in our lives.”

His parents were factory workers, poorly-educated but proud of what little they could give their three children.

Cirovski’s father, Trpemir – friends called him “Terp” – slogged around Europe in search of work. In better times, he would scrape to buy a soccer ball and send it home to his sons, Sasho and Vancho. “The whole village would play with that ball for a month, until it wore out,” Cirovski said. After that, they made do with substitutes. “Whenever a pig was slaughtered, we’d save the bladder, blow it up like a balloon and kick it around,” recalled Vancho Cirovski, 49.

We’d play soccer wherever we were – on a hill, in the forest or on a riverbank,” the Maryland coach said. “We never saw games on TV because there were no TVs, but we heard older people talk about the great players. You developed an embedded love for the game. It became part of my DNA.”
Cirovski was 8 when his family emigrated to Windsor, Ontario. There, his father toiled long hours in a factory making car bumpers until being laid off for 22 months during the recession of the mid-1970s.”We were poorer than dirt and always in debt,” said Cirovski, by then a fast-rising player. “But if I needed to make a soccer trip, he would find a way to borrow $20.People trusted him to pay it back.”

For two summers, Cirovski labored beside his dad in the factory.”You came home from work with junk up your nose and dust all over your body, like in a coal mine,” he said. And he thought: The clock is ticking.

His father’s death at 52 upped the ante. “Life is the race for happiness,” Cirovski said, “I knew then that all I wanted to do was to live, eat and breathe soccer.” He has gone full tilt ever since.

“Sash works extra hard because he’s afraid of going backward,” said Vancho Cirovski, a self-employed entrepreneur in Windsor. “He remembers not having things. It’s always ‘go forward’ with him.”

Coach Cirovski’s desire to succeed can obviously be traced back to his days as a boy, where he had to endure hardships that would later in life make him the father of a Terps’ soccer family that has produced a countless number of professional soccer players.

Always remembering these experiences allowed him to continue to power through early struggles in his first few seasons in College Park… the feeling when you’re in a tough spot, but you know you’ve been through a HECK of a lot worse. He has since been able to successfully build the University of Maryland men’s soccer program into a National Powerhouse, despite going 3-14-1 in his first season, followed by four consecutive NCAA Tournament second round eliminations: University of Virginia in 1994, James Madison in 1995 via penalty kick shootout (a game my father drove me all the way to Harrisonburg to watch), William and Mary in 1996, and American University in 1997.

Since then, Coach Cirovski and The Terps have:

  • Won NINE Conference Tournament Championships
  • Won Four regular season Conference Championships
  • Made EIGHTEEN NCAA Tournament Appearances, with Coach Cirovski’s first season and 2000 the only two seasons when they didn’t make it.
  • Made it to the NCAA College Cup (NCAA Tournament Semifinals/Final Four) EIGHT times
  • Made it to the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals ELEVEN times
  • Finished as NCAA Tournament Runners-Up once, in 2013
  • Won a National Championship twice, in 2005 and 2008

All while producing a long list of professional players, including a number of consistent USMNT players:

Retired:

  • Taylor Twellman
  • Jason Garey
  • Abe Thompson
  • Michael Dellorusso
  • Domenic Mediate
  • Danny Califf

Still Playing:

  • Omar Gonzalez
  • Mikey Ambrose (Atlanta United FC)
  • Marc Burch (Minnesota United FC)
  • A. J. DeLaGarza (LA Galaxy) *
  • Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union) *
  • Tsubasa Endoh (Toronto FC)
  • Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes) *
  • Taylor Kemp (D.C. United)
  • Zac MacMath (Colorado Rapids)
  • Dan Metzger (New York Red Bulls)
  • Patrick Mullins (D.C. United)
  • Chris Odoi-Atsem (D.C. United)
  • Robbie Rogers (LA Galaxy) *
  • Chris Seitz (FC Dallas)
  • Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew)
  • John Stertzer (New York City FC)
  • Rodney Wallace (New York City FC)
  • Ethan White (New York City FC)
  • London Woodberry (New England Revolution)
  • Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

While Coach Cirovski didn’t grow up in the DMV area, he has established himself as one of the most respected coaches in the country, bringing a sense of pride to Maryland soccer. He can be seen at a number of local USSDA, USYSA, and high school games, recruiting the area’s best talent. He and assistant coach Brian Roland have an incoming class next season which includes DMV locals Nick Richardson and Justin Gielen who both look to be the real deal, to add to the Terps’ long list of nationally-ranked youth prospects that they are able to lure to College Park year, after year, after year.

Love of the Game, something both coaches (and a lot of us) have in common

Coach Cirovski’s humble upbringing, work ethic, and early mindset that saw him eat, breath, and live soccer…. from his early days in a barn with roosters and no working bathroom or hot water, all the way through adulthood where he’s now the head coach of one of the Nation’s top men’s soccer programs….combined with Coach Caringi’s local upbringing and identical passion for the beautiful game, makes this matchup more than just two local programs playing under the lights tonight at Retriever Park. Both coaches bring unique life experiences to their coaching careers, both coaches run successful programs, both coaches have developed professional players.

But more importantly, both coaches STILL love the game as much as everyone that will be in the stands or watching from the live feed tonight, which is to be commended. We’re lucky to have them here in the DMV.

 

 

 

College Soccer Preview: Week 4

NCAA DMV Soccer Schedule

There are some big games for DMV-area college programs this week, including the following:

Tuesday, September 19

GW @ #8 UNC 

Chapel Hill, 7pm

Watch live via stream

GW (2-3-1) Head Coach Craig Jones and team head to Chapel Hill to take on nationally-ranked UNC on Tuesday night. The Tarheels are 6-1 this season, coming off of wins this week against William and Mary (3-2) and Duke (2-1), and are currently second in the Coastal Division of the ACC.

GW comes into the match riding a streak of results as well, defeating Navy on Wednesday night 3-1 in Annapolis, followed by a double-overtime draw with UMBC on Saturday 1-1. Coach Jones seems to have found a bonafide starting forward in freshman Oscar Haynes-Brown, who scored in both matches and has scored 3 goals in his last 3 matches. Fellow freshman Brady O’Connor has started every GW match this season, scoring the game-winning penalty against Navy. This will be GW’s third match in 6 days, a difficult stretch for the Colonials who are 2-3-1 on the season.

ODU vs VCU

ODU, 7pm

ODU (3-1-2) Head Coach Alan Dawson and the Monarchs host VCU on Tuesday in a Virginia derby matchup. ODU is currently fourth in Conference USA standings, coming off of a 3-0 victory to open conference play against Florida Atlantic this past weekend. Freshman midfielder Brandon Perdue, who played for Richmond United USSDA, leads the team in scoring with four goals and an assist on the season, followed by Junior Max Wilschrey with 3 goals and an assist. Tuesday’s match will be the third in 7 days for ODU, defeating FAU and also earning a draw against a tough Campbell side last week, 1-1.

Virginia Tech vs Davidson

VT, 7pm

Watch live via stream

Virginia Tech (2-4) is coming off of two straight losses to ACC opponents: a 3-1 loss to Duke last weekend, followed by a 2-1 loss this past weekend to 12th-ranked Virginia. Head coach Mike Brizendine is hoping to get closer to a winning record after Tuesday’s match vs Davidson, who are 5-0-1 on the season and currently on top of the Atlantic 10 Conference.

American vs WVU

American, 3pm

American host a WVU side who is completing their third of three matches in the DMV area, coming off of a 3-1 victory over George Mason this past weekend, losing their first DMV match 3-1 vs UMBC this past week, American is 1-5-1 on the season, looking to turn things around against nationally-ranked WVU at home.

Wednesday September 20

 

UMBC vs Navy

UMBC, 7pm

Watch live via stream

A big DMV derby match on Wednesday night as UMBC hosts Navy at Retriever Park. UMBC (4-1-1) head coach Pete Caringi won his 450th collegiate game last Wednesday night, in a 3-1 victory against Nationally-ranked WVU, behind two goals from junior center back Kyle Saunderson and two assists from freshman Matt Bailey. This past weekend, the Retrievers came back from a 1-0 deficit at halftime to earn a 1-1 draw away against GW.

For Navy (1-5-1), head coach Tim O’Donohue continues to work with a younger squad, starting four freshmen and bringing a fifth off of the bench. The Midshipmen have lost their past 2 matches, a 3-1 home defeat to GW last week followed by a 2-1 loss at Duquesne on Saturday. Things don’t get any easier for Coach O’Donohue and company, with the UMBC match being the first of three games in a week for the Midshipmen.

JMU vs Radford

Radford, 7pm

Watch live via stream

JMU (3-2-1) head coach Tom Foley takes his Dukes’ side to Radford on Wednesday in another local DMV derby matchup. JMU defeated Niagra this past weekend 3-0 at home, Ben Dao scoring the first and leading the team in scoring with 3 goals.

Radford (coached by Bryheem Hancock) is also 3-2-1 on the season, coming off of a 2-0 victory against Howard this past weekend.

Georgetown vs Stony Brook

Georgetown, 4pm

Watch live via steam

Ninth-ranked Georgetown lost their first match of the season this past weekend, a 1-0 away loss to Xavier. Hoyas head coach Brian Wiese will look to get his side back to winning ways on Wednesday as they host Stony Brook who is 5-1-1 on the season and currently second in America East Conference standings.

For Georgetown, despite being 4-1-1 on the season and ranked ninth in the country, they are currently in seventh place in Big East standings, following their first conference loss this past weekend. Sophomore striker Achara leads the Hoyas in goals with five on the season, he also leads the team in shots with 12.

William and Mary vs Longwood

William and Mary, 6pm

Watch live via stream

William and Mary (3-2-2) is coming off of a 2-0 home victory against Campbell this past weekend, after dropping a close 3-2 away match against UNC last week. Head Coach Chris Norris’ Tribe team is currently fourth in CAA Conference standings, taking on a Longwood side which is 0-4-1 on the season. Antonio Bustamante, Ryder Bell, and William Eskay are all tied for leading goal scorers for William and Mary, with two goals a piece.

George Mason vs East Tennessee State

George Mason, 7pm

Watch live via stream

Mason head coach Greg Andrulis and company are currently in fourth place in Atlantic 10 Conference standings, with a 3-2-1 overall record. The teams above them: UMass and Fordham, are 4-2-1, so a win on Wednesday night at home could see the Patriots climb the conference standings as they host East Tennessee State.

East Tennessee State is 3-1-2 on the season, defeating Virginia Tech in preseason and also losing a closely-contested match against Nationally-ranked Kentucky 2-1.

For Mason, senior striker Henning Dirks leads the team in points with 4 goals and 5 assists, as well as in shots with 16 on the season. Sophomore Ryan Mingachos also has four goals, to go with Sophomore Tunde Akinlosotu‘s 2 goals and 2 assists on the season.

 

DMV USSDA Recap: Week 2

DMV USSDA

While many local USSDA clubs opened up their season last weekend, the majority of local Academy teams kicked off their campaigns this past weekend to mark the beginning of a long and strenuous year-round Academy season.

Here is a quick recap of how each local USSDA side fared, in alphabetical order:

(note: results are not showing up on U-12 team pages, so we will only cover u-13 and up for the time being.)

Arlington Soccer Association

Arlington ussda

U-13’s: Head Coach Wes Windsor. Beat VDA last Saturday 1-0. Lost to Bethesda the following day 4-0. This past Saturday, defeated Richmond United 4-1. Next match vs Baltimore Armour, 9/23 at 1:00pm.

U-14’s: Head Coach Oscar Feliu. Lost to VDA 2-1, lost to Bethesda 7-0. Defeated Richmond Kickers this past weekend 1-0. Next match vs Baltimore Armour, 9/23 at 4:30pm.

Baltimore Armour

Baltimore Armour USSDA

U-13’s: Head coach Oscar Sancho-Davilla‘s Baltimore Armour U-13’s played Bethesda U-13’s last Saturday and won 2-0. This past weekend, they beat Lehigh Valley away 2-0 to start the season 2-0. Host PA Classics this Saturday, 1:00pm at Centennial Park.

U-14’s: Head coach Dave Kelley‘s Baltimore Armour U-14’s lost to Bethesda last weekend 6-2, defeated Lehigh Valley 3-2 this past weekend. PA Classics at home on Saturday.

U-15’s: Head Coach Machel Millwood‘s Baltimore Armour U-15’s tied Bethesda 0-0 last Saturday, lost to Westchester Armour 4-0 this past Saturday and dropped another on Sunday to BW Gottschee 1-0. Have yet to score a goal this season. PA Classics at home on Sunday, 11am.

U-16/17’s: Head Coach Mike Lookingland‘s U-16/17 side lost to FC Westchester 2-0 on Saturday. Sunday’s result vs BW Gottschee not yet reported. PA Classics Sunday at home, 1pm.

U-18/19’s: Head Coach Santino Quaranta‘s U-18/19’s tied FC Westchester 1-1 on Saturday, defeated BW Gottschee 2-1 on Sunday. PA Classics on Sunday, 3pm.

Bethesda SC

Bethesda USSDA

 

U-13’s: Head Coach Bill Moravek. U-13’s dropped their first game to Baltimore Armour last Saturday 2-0, but have since rebounded beating Arlington Soccer Association 4-0 last Sunday and posting another big scoreline this past weekend, an 8-0 victory versus VDA. Midfielder Kristian Fletcher has scored 5 goals in 3 games. Play New York Red Bulls away next Sunday.

U-14’s: Head Coach Derek Biss. Defeated Baltimore Armour 6-2 last Saturday, and beat Arlington 7-0 on Sunday. This past weekend, defeated VDA 4-1. Leading goal scorers are Adrien Wheaton-Schopp (4 goals in 3 games) and Nicholas Bray (3 goals in 3 games). Travel to New York Red Bulls on Sunday, 1:30pm.

U-15’s: Head Coach Trevor Martin. Tied Baltimore Armour U-15’s 0-0 last Saturday. This past weekend, lost to BW Gottschee 3-1. Played FC Westchester on Sunday but no result reported. Travel to NYRB on Sunday. 3:30pm.

U-16/17’s: Head Coach Matt Ney. Tied BWG 0-0 on Saturday, tied FC Westchester 1-1 on Sunday. Travel to NYRB Sunday, 10am.

U18/19’s: Head Coach Brett Colton. Tied BWG 1-1 on Saturday, Sunday result vs FCW not reported. NYRB away on Sunday, 12:15pm.

DC United Academy

DC United USSDA

U-13’s: Head Coach Dave Sanford. Defeated FC Delco last Saturday 3-0. Forward Isaac Espinal with the hat trick. Next match vs Loudon Soccer, Saturday at RFK 12:30pm.

U-14’s: Head Coach Gus Teren. Defeated FC Delco last Saturday 5-0. All 5 goals scored by forward Augustin Paul. Next match vs Loudon Soccer, Saturday at RFK, 2:30pm.

U-15’s: Head Coach John Bello. Defeated FC Delco last Saturday 6-0. This past weekend, beat Beachside 6-1 and Oakwood 3-1. Jeremy Garay, Kevin Paredes, Jonathan Valladares all have 3 goals this season. Next match vs Players Development Academy Saturday, 12:00pm in NJ.

U-16/17’s: Defeated FC Delco last weekend 3-1. This past weekend, defeated Beachside 5-0 and lost to Oakwoord 1-0. Leading goal scorer is Iker Bustamante with 3 goals. Next match vs PDA Saturday, 2:00pm in NJ.

U-18/19’s: Head Coach Nate Kish. Defeated FC Delco last weekend 4-0. This past weekend, 3-1 victory against Beachside, lost to Oakwood 3-1. Take on PDA Saturday in NJ, 4:15pm.

Loudoun Soccer

Loudoun USSDA

(worth noting: U-12 player Myles Mercer has scored 5 goals in 3 games)

U-13’s: Head Coach Phillip Liversedge. Tied Lehigh Valley 1-1 and lost to Richmond United 3-2 last weekend. This weekend, defeated PA Classics 3-1. Take on DC United at RFK Saturday, 12:30pm.

U-14’s: Head Coach Phillip Liversedge. Tied vs Lehigh Valley 1-1, beat Richmond United 3-1. This weekend, defeated PA Classics 1-0. Take on DCU on Saturday, 2:30pm at RFK.

Richmond United

Richmond USSDA

U-13’s: Head Coach Sascha Goerres. Beat Loudoun 5-2 last weekend. Lost to Arlington 4-1 this past weekend. Forward Ryan Londeree has 3 goals this season, followed by fellow forward Beckett Howell. Host Philly Union Saturday at 10am, followed by PA Classics on Sunday, 12:15pm.

U-14’s: Head Coach Sascha Goerres. Lost to Loudoun 3-1 last weekend. Lost to Arlington 1-0 this weekend. Host Philly Union on Saturday, 12:15pm, and PA Classics on Sunday at 2:30pm.

U-15’s: Head Coach David Bulow. Lost to Oakwood 6-2 this past weekend. Lost to Beachside 6-1. Philly Union on Saturday, 10am.

U-16/17’s: Head Coach David Bulow4-2 victory vs Oakwood this past Saturday, followed by another big scoreline victory against Beachside 5-1. Forward Key White has 4 goals in 2 games, followed by Jacob Thomas with 3 goals. Next match vs Philly Union at home, Saturday at 12:30pm.

U-18/19’s: Head Coach Ihor Dotsenko. 1-0 loss to Oakwood, 0-0 draw against Beachside. Host Philly Union on Saturday, 3:00pm.

Virginia Development Academy (VDA)

VDA USSDA

U-13’s: Head Coach Jeff Carroll. Lost 1-0 to Arlington last weekend, lost to Bethesda 8-0 this past weekend. Host Lehigh Valley Saturday at 12:30pm.

U-14’s: Head Coach Jeff Carroll. Defeated Arlington last weekend 2-1. This past weekend, lost to Bethesda 4-1. Host Lehigh Valley this Saturday, 2:30pm.

U-15’s: Head Coach Matthew Lacey. 1-0 Loss to PDA last weekend. This past weekend, 3-0 loss vs Philly Union on Saturday. Rebounded to beat FC Delco on Sunday, 3-0. Next match vs Cedar Stars Academy, 9/30.

U-16/17’s:  Head Coach Joe Soos. 2-1 loss to PDA last weekend. This past weekend, 1-1 tie against Philly Union on Saturday, followed by a 4-3 loss to FC Delco on Sunday. Next match vs Cedar Stars Academy, 9/30.

 

Week 3: College Soccer Recap

navy

With Week 3 of the NCAA College Soccer in the books, a number of local D1 programs put together impressive results. Here’s our weekly college soccer recap for week 3, and of course follow us on Twitter for more up-to-date announcements like conference players of the week, coaches’ poll updates, and more.

Loyola

Greyhounds Keeps Rollin’

Loyola defeated Villanova on Saturday night in front of their home crowd, 1-0. Goal was scored by sophomore Barry Sharifi.

Freshman goalkeeper Chase Vosvick earns his third clean-sheet of the season, as Loyola remains on top of the Patriot League standings.

patriot league soccer standings week 3

Up next for Loyola: 3 straight away games against SMU (9/15), Colgate (9/22, a Patriot League match), and Cleveland State (9/25) before returning home to face Navy on 9/30.

Speaking of Patriot League….

Navy Soccer

navy beat jmu

Midshipmen Close Out Win Vs. JMU

In Navy’s prior match vs Campbell, Coach Tim O’Donohue’s side went up 1-0 in the first half but was unable to hold on, losing the match in double OT.

On Saturday at home against a quality JMU side, Navy took another first-half lead thanks to a goal from Daniel Zaremba. It looked like a possible case of deja vu for Navy as JMU equalized in the second half, Tim Estermann scoring the goal for JMU in the 55th minute. However, Coach O’Donohue’s young side which started 4 freshmen continued to battle, taking a 2-1 lead in the 85th minute thanks to a goal by senior Aubrey Jones, assisted by freshman playmaker Jarvian Wigfall. 3 minutes later, freshman Nicko West who provided a spark off of the bench tucked home a beautiful header from fellow freshman Toni Adewole to give the Midshipmen their first win of the season.

Navy will host George Washington on Wednesday night, 7:00pm at Navy with GW coming off of 8 days’ rest. Should be a good one.

JMU drop to 2-2-1 and will host Niagra on Friday night before taking on Radford at home next Wednesday.

Maryland

Terps Tie 

Maryland played 4th-ranked Indiana on Friday night at home in College Park, with the Terps battling to a 0-0 tie. They take on Rutgers at home on Tuesday night before traveling to Penn State on Sunday to start a three-game road trip. Maryland is currently ranked #5 in the Nation and are undefeated.

Georgetown

Hoyas Tie UConn

Georgetown hosted UConn on Saturday, battling to a 2OT 1-1 draw. Senior Christopher Lema scoring the goal for the Hoyas, who remain undefeated heading into their away match at Xavier next Saturday at 7pm.

UMBC

Dawgs Down Monmouth

UMBC rebounded from a 5-2 Loss at Villanova by defeating Monmouth 2-1 in an overtime thriller on Saturday night. Monmouth took the lead early in the second half, but senior Cormac Noel was able to equalize for the Retrievers with DMV Freshman Matthew Bailey recording his first collegiate assist.

In overtime, senior Gregg Hauck scored the game winner after only 1:34 of overtime action to give Coach Caringi and squad an enjoyable bus ride home from New Jersey following the win.

Up Next for UMBC: They host undefeated WVU at home on Wednesday night, 7pm at Retrievers Park before taking on GW on Saturday in DC, 2:00pm.

George Mason

Patriots Score Four in Win

George Mason improved to 3-1-1 this season following their entertaining 4-3 Overtime victory against Binghamnton Friday night in Fairfax, VA. Goalscorers for GMU: Henning Dirks, Ryan Mingachos, Noah Kemble, and Ryan Mingachos again, grabbing his brace and the game-winner in the 97th minute.

Up next for George Mason: They host WVY next Saturday, 7:00pm in Fairfax.

D3 and JuCo Update

Stevenson Soccer Tariq Lee

We are going to try our best to also cover some local D3 and Junior College programs moving forward as well. This is a guest post from Shobha Kondragunta, Ph.D, a local soccer enthusiast.

Stevenson University

A new start

 

Graeme Millar, the newly-appointed head coach of the men’s soccer program, is not new to coaching. He successfully oversaw the women’s program at Stevenson for 10 years with multiple post-season tournament appearances, including two conference titles in 2010 and 2014.  Millar was also a fixture in the Maryland Olympic Development Program in the 2000s, contributing to the growth of youth soccer in the state.
Millar takes over the losing men’s program (2-6 in Middle Atlantic Conference last year) with expectations to bring immediate success.

Stevenson Mustangs incoming freshmen class boasts high-caliber players who have begun to make an immediate impact, after former head coach Andrew Bordelon (currently an assistant at D1 program Northern Illinois) and staff hit the recruiting circuit hard last season.

The Mustangs are 1-2-1 in the season so far, following a draw against York on Sunday and a competitive 3-2 loss to Gettsyburg the day prior, but the number of goals the team is scoring is already progress from last season.  DMV freshmen Tariq Lee (Baltimore Armour and Pipeline), Dylan Holly (Archbishop Curley),Jordan Fields (Pipeline) combined well to find the back of the net in a tough away match versus Gettysburg on Friday 9/8.  While Lee’s goal was unassisted, Holly scored off a corner kick from Fields.

Fields’ first goal of the season came in a tough overtime 3-2 loss to Hampden-Sydney on September 3rd.

Mustangs started their season with a 2-1 win over Washington and are away at York on Saturday 9/9 which ended in a 0-0 draw despite two over time periods.

They play Randolph-Macon at home on Wednesday 9/13.

Goucher College

A program on the rise

Goucher College Gophers are 3-2 so far this season, with Landmark Conference games yet to be played.  Coached by Bryan Laut (in his 8th season), they are a program that relies heavily on the two senior center backs, Drew Philips (all conference second team last season) and Scott Mt. Pleasant (Clifton Park, New York), not only to defend but also be the attacking duo during set pieces.

Gophers started the season with a tough game against top-ranked cross-town rivals Johns Hopkins Blue Jays, losing 2-0.  The following game against Mt. Aloysius (Allegheny Mountain College Conference) was a tough 2-1 loss in an overtime thriller.  The Gophers mounted a comeback this week with a tough schedule of three games in four days.  After beating Cairn (2-0) at home on Wednesday 9/6, they traveled to Gwynedd Valley, PA to play Gwynedd Mercy for a 1-0 win on Friday 9/8.  On Saturday, the Gophers defeated Rosemont 3-0 with goals scored by Brandon CohenLuke Newsome, and Konrad Bulanowski.

DMV player Vinay Chandra (Baltimore Celtic and Baltimore Armour) got his first start of the season Friday 9/8, and was a nemesis for Gwynedd defense drawing fouls and free kick opportunities for Gophers.

Gophers travel to Reading, PA to play Alvernia on Wednesday 9/13.  The first conference game for Gophers is at home vs Juanita on September 23rd.  Key conference matches versus Catholic, Scranton, and Moravian will dictate if Gophers will be contenders for post season play or remain on the outside.

Frostburg University

A slow start

Frostburg soccer was very active for over a year hitting the recruitment circuit hard.  Former assistant coach Kevin Mccarthy (now at D2 California State San Marcos) managed to recruit 13 players for this year’s incoming freshmen class, mostly from the DMV area.  Notable recruits include Randy Putnam (Baltimore Celtic) and others who have not yet cut into the starting lineup or earned significant game minutes yet.

Coming off a 4-4-1 record in Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) in 2016, Frostburg started the season by hosting a tournament and participating in the Rutgers-Camden tournament in New Jersey.  Bobcats fell to The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) 1-0, tied the game vs Mount St. Joseph 0-0, and lost to the Johns Hopkins 3-0.  Bobcats traveled to New Jersey on Saturday 9/9 to play Rutgers-Camden to a 3-3 draw in double overtime; two goals from freshman Logan Imbraguglio (Westminister, MD) and sophomore Josh McRobie (Gambrils, MD).  Unfortunately, in Sunday action, the Bobcats lost a 7-0 match against #17 Rowan, They’ll travel to Altoona, PA on Wednesday to take on Penn State Altoona.

Catholic University

Growing pains

Catholic University Cardinals opened the 2017 season with a 2-1 win (vs Caroll), a 5-2 loss (vs. York), and a 0-0 draw (vs. Mary Washington).  DMV players Nick Battaglia (Pipeline) and Franco Caltabiano (Baltimore Celtic) are both freshmen who saw match minutes in the games with Battaglia making the starting lineup in all three games.

The Cardinals, coached by Travis Beauchamp (in his 11th season), struggled last year in their conference play (1-6) which included a 2-0 loss to local rival Goucher.  It is unclear if the nine freshmen recruited will have an impact and boost performance.  Freshmen Battaglia and Caltabiano are both defenders from top club programs who can fortify the defenses but do the Cardinals have the offensive power?  Last season, Cardinals posted the least number of goals (19 compared to title winner Elizabethtown’s 46) in the Landmark conference.
Pre-season poll places Catholic in the 4th place in Landmark conference clearing the way for post season play but the early 5-2 loss to York doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season.

CCBC-Essex

Knights Clip the Owls

CCBC-Essex posted an impressive 5-2 win on Saturday night in a dominating performance against Nationally-ranked PG Community College. Goal scorers were Edwin Navas, Carols Guzman-Hernan, and Logan Funk in the first half. In the second-half, CB Jake Dengler pitched in for two more goals, including a belter of a free kick from distance:


Other DMV Area Schools in D3 Conferences:

Johns Hopkins Blue Jays 4-0-0 and have yet to let up a goal this season. They take on York on Wednesday, 7:00pm at home.

Mary Washington 2-1-1

St. Mary’s College of Maryland 3-2, play Catolic at home on Thursday, 4:00pm

Hood College 3-2-0 take on Rowan on Wednesday, 6:00pm at home

DMV COLLEGE RECAP: WEEK 2

Week 2 Top 25 College Soccer

We’ve reached the end of Week 2 of the 2017 NCAA Men’s College Soccer season, with two DMV-area teams (University of Maryland, #5 in the country in the most recent United Soccer Coaches’ Poll, and Georgetown, #18) remaining undefeated and nationally-ranked.

Also included in the most recent coaches’ poll is University of Virginia, with Loyola and Virginia Tech also receiving votes. Old Dominion dropped out of the Top 25 following Friday’s 5-3 home loss to Saint Francis (PA), and Sunday’s 1-1 Overtime draw against Iona.

Here’s a recap of some of last week’s DMV College Soccer results:

University of Maryland

Terps Keep Rollin’

maryland terps

Since our first NCAA College Soccer recap last week, Sasho Cirovski’s #5 Nationally-ranked University of Maryland side have posted three straight home victories: a 2-0 win vs Hofstra on Monday 8/28, a 3-2 overtime-thriller against a UCLA side which came into College Park ranked #15 in the country, and on Monday a 1-0 victory against Cal Poly.

Terps’ junior striker Gordon Wild, who came into the season on the shortlist of Hermann Trophy candidates, scored in all three matches: a free kick against Hofstra, a penalty kick against UCLA, and another penalty on Monday night vs Cal Poly.

Also continuing his impressive season was senior Jake Rozhansky, who looks as creative in midfield as he does clinical when in front of goal. Rozhansky served up a picture-perfect assist for Maryland’s game-winning goal vs UCLA, scored by junior Sebastian Elney:

And continued to pull the strings on Monday vs Cal Poly:

Coach Cirovski was forced to test the depth of his team this past week, with the Terps playing 3 games in only 7 days. Three players: defenders Johannes Bergmann, George Campbell (Baltimore, MD, went to Mcdonogh), and Chase Gasper (Alexnadria, VA, played at Gonzaga and also played at Bethesda-Olney along with Jake Rozhansky) played all 188 minutes of the Terps’ first two games. In the overtime win against UCLA, Gordon Wild also played all 98 minutes, along with Jake Rozhansky and Gordon Wild. Maryland starting Goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair was in goal for the entirety of all three matches.

That being said, on Monday against Cal Poly, Coach Cirovski was forced to give some guys a rest. Freshman defender Ben Di Rosa (Bethesda Academy) got the start against Cal Poly, and sophomore defender Miles Stray (Real Salt Lake Academy player and former U17 USYNT residency program player) also stepped up, starting the match and playing 73 minutes.

Eryk Williamson also logged big minutes in all three matches, and assisted on the second goal vs UCLA which was scored by Eric Matzelevich.

The most impressive part of this University of Maryland side is the depth at the coaching staff’s disposal, with a handful of nationally-coveted former youth players still not seeing much time.

Up next for University of Maryland: a Friday night lights showdown with University of Indiana, currently undefeated and ranked number 4 in the country (one above Maryland). The two teams will battle for top spot in Big Ten standings.

big ten soccer standings

Georgetown

Unbeaten Hoyas

georgetown soccer

Georgetown head coach Brian Wiese must be delighted with the way his team has started the season, posting an impressive 3-1 win versus Cal Poly on Friday before defeating nationally-ranked UCLA at Shaw Field on Monday.

Georgetown’s impressive 4-0-0 record to start the season sees them ranked #18 in the country, scoring 9 goals and only allowing 1 goal thus far. Junior standout goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski was named Big East Goalkeeper of the Week, with fellow junior Peter Schropp also named to the Big East team of the week as a defender.

Sophomore forward Ifunanyachi Achara, who is originally from Nigeria but has an impressive youth soccer background from his days in Massachusetts, sat out most of last season with an injury after being named preseason all-freshman team by TDS.

How’s this for a comeback season so far?

In Georgetown’s first match, against American (Georgetown win 2-0), he comes on as a sub in the first half and scores. In the Hoyas’ second match against #19-ranked Coastal Carolina at home, he gets the start and scores again, late in the second half in a 3-0 victory.

On Friday, against Cal Poly, he scores the first two goals in a 3-1 victory, before turning around three days later and registering six shots, five on goal, and scoring the lone goal in the Hoyas’ 1-0 victory against the Nationally-ranked Bruins.

Achara has scored in every game so far this season, and is currently tied for most goals in the country with 5. When you look at Georgetown’s stats, he consistently leads both teams in shots and shots on goal, and appears to be a force to be reckoned with for the Hoyas, who currently sit on top of the Big East standings.

big east soccer standings

Up Next for Georgetown: at Uconn on Saturday night, 7pm

Navy Soccer

Midshipmen Making Progress

navy vs campbell

When we were at Navy’s soccer camp this summer, I was impressed with the atmosphere that second-year Navy head coach Tim O’Donohue was building. With a summer coaching staff that included coaches from Everton, Genk, Rangers, and Philadelphia Union, along with an impressive young Navy coaching staff that includes Alex Yi, Paul Killian, and Zach Bowman, it’s obvious that the Navy program is making progress, but nothing happens overnight. O’Donohue’s coaching staff has hit the recruiting trail HARD since coming on board, making appearances at practically every major USSDA event.

As a result, Coach “OD” is attempting to re-build the Navy Soccer program from the ground up, starting 4 freshmen Thursday night when I went to Annapolis to watch them take on a Campbell side which is currently #1 in the Big South conference.

The Midshipmen got on the board early, freshman Phillip Gustafson with a quality finish in the 7th minute to put Navy up 1-0. However, they were unable to hold on in the second half, dropping to a Campbell team with a host of attacking options 2-1 in overtime.

Navy has been forced to make a number of adjustments early on in the season, with senior captain Brock Dudley being forced to play center back (versus his preferred CDM position) due to injury.

But what really stood out, to me, was that five freshmen were on the field at one time in the first half vs Campbell, with Coach OD starting 4 freshmen in a 4-4-2 diamond formation.

The freshman include:

  • Toni Adewole– LB- an athletic, pacy defender who competed in track and field in HS. All-American soccer player in High School, played club ball for OBGC.
  • Wyatt Millard– CM- Gatorade player of the year in South Carolina, South Carolina Battery Academy player, scored tons of goals in High School. 
  • Jarvian Wigfall– CAM- Coveted FC Dallas player, creative attacking talent.
  • Phillip Gustafson– Colorado Rapid USSDA player- Scored 24 goals in two seasons with club, spent time training with pro team, scored the goal with a great finish
  • Nicko West– F- USYSA Standout with Solar Chelsea FC where he was captain…Dallas Cup Finalist, USYSA National League and Disney Showcase Best XI team, USSDA experience with Dallas Texans. Energetic presence up top off of the bench,

These young freshmen, along with two nationally-ranked local recruits coming in next season, could make Navy an exciting young team to watch in coming seasons.

Up Next for Navy: A DMV Matchup against a tough JMU side on Saturday morning, 11am at Annapolis.

Also in Week 2:

UMBC beat Howard 3-0 in front of a record crowd at Retriever park. Lost to Villanova away this past weekend, 5-2. Nova was 3-2 up until 80th minute when they got two late goals on the counter. UMBC will play Monmouth away on Saturday, 7pm.

Loyola tied William and Mary 0-0, lost to Pitt 1-0 in a hard-fought match at home. Currently 2nd in Patriot League standings, take on Villanova on Saturday at home, 7pm. In last week’s college recap, we may have singled out Loyola CB Mickey Watson after watching him play vs St John’s. Watson had an outstanding match against Pitt, looking much more composed on the ball and making a number of quality tackles and interceptions. Congrats to Watson for being named to Patriot League team of the week, along with Freshman goalkeeper Chase Vosvick. Congrats to both players.

GW lost to St Francis Brooklyn 3-1 on Friday night. It looked like they might have bounced back against a quality William and Mary side yesterday, going up 1-0 in the 69th minute (goal scored by Oscar Haynes Brown), but were unable to hold on in a 2-1 defeat. Will face off against Navy in Annapolis next Wednesday (9/13) at 7pm.

JMU and William and Mary are both in the hunt in the CAA. JMU has only lost one game this season (Sunday, 2-1 loss to Pacific). William and Mary’s only loss was a 1-0 away defeat to Michigan.

JMU takes on Navy (at Navy) Saturday at 11am, which should be a great match to go watch. JMU has looked very balanced when I’ve had the privilege of watching them this season.

W&M travel to Philadelphia on Saturday for their first taste of conference league action against Drexel, 7pm.

caa soccer

 

 

 

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