March 5, 2013 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - D.C. United
Washington D.C. (March 5, 2013) - After announcing its third youth soccer affiliate, Beach FC, last week, D.C. United Academy's U-18 and U-16 teams commenced the spring portions of their 2012-2013 USSDA seasons this weekend, while seven U-13 Pre-Academy players competed at the Philadelphia Invitational. Additionally, U-14 Pre-Academy member Jose Carranza (Manassas, Va.; Northern Virginia Soccer Club) continued his trip in Spain with U.S. Cub Soccer's 2013 id2 National Selection International Tour.
The third place U-18s (9-4-1) took on regional rivals Baltimore Bays (10-3-1) on Saturday and captured a 3-2 victory over the second place side. Ian Harkes (Fairfax, Va.; Herndon Youth Soccer) put the Black-and-Red up early after he was taken down in the box with a converted penalty kick in the 5th minute. After quite a bit of back-and-forth, United would not score its second goal until the 50th minute, when Lars Eckenrode (Springfield, Va.; Annandale Boys and Girls Club) nodded down a header off of a Jorge Calix (Alexandria, Va.; Team America Premier) set piece from 35 yards out. Four minutes later, the U-18s sealed its fate with a well-placed finish from Kennedy O'Shea (South Riding, Va.; Herndon Youth Soccer), after he combined nicely with Nigel Robinson (Woodbrige, Va.; Prince William Soccer Inc.). Additionally, goalkeeper Braden Horton made several key saves to help secure the squad's favorable result.
"The boys showed up with an excellent mentality and work rate," said U-16 Head Coach Tom Torres, who also led the U-18s this weekend. "It was a solid statement for the group to open up the spring season with a great performance versus a quality opponent."
The first-place U-16s did not fare as well against the Baltimore Bays (9-3-2) side in its age division, as the team fell 4-1 in its first match of the spring. Gerson Umana (Lorton, Va.; Prince William Soccer Inc.), the fall season's leading scorer, opened the scoring - the team's lone strike - for the Black-and-Red in the 19th minute off of an Austin Pelto (Vienna, Va.; Vienna Youth Soccer) cross. As the first half wore on, the Bays scored two to lead 2-1 at the interval. After the break, the game opened up even more and Baltimore recorded two more goals. United could not re-develop a good rhythm of possession as the Bays' midfield corps and dangerous forwards dictated the pace of the rest of the match. The loss was the U-16s first defeat of the 2012-13 season, but the squad remains in first place with an 11-1-2 record.
"We learned a lot about the current state of the group and were exposed in several aspects," said Torres. "It's important not to take anything away from the Bays as they were the better group on the day and deserved the result with their solid attack and defensive motivation for an entire match. Most important for our group is that they realized that every game will be a tough one and they have much work to do this spring."
Meanwhile, seven members of the U-13 Pre-Academy team participated in a U.S. Soccer youth futsal event called the Philadelphia Invitation in King of Prussia, Pa. The squad defeated the Boston Bolts and Premier Development Academy with a pair of 2-1 scorelines, but fell in its final match to eventual finalists Blau Weiss Gottschee of New York City.
Lastly, U-14 Pre-Academy player Jose Carranza is in Spain, after spending time with the U.S. U-14 Boy's National Team, for U.S. Cub Soccer's 2013 id2 National Selection International Tour. The team will be there until March 11 and will scrimmage against youth academy squads from Real Madrid today and FC Barcelona on Thursday.