The draw for the 2014 United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) playoffs took place this afternoon and the fate of all 64 competing teams is now known.
Vancouver Whitecaps’ U18s and U16s have both made the postseason again and will have a tricky time ahead of them in Westfield, Indiana in two week’s time.
All games will take place at Grand Park from June 23rd to 27th and, as always, AFTN will be bringing you full playoff coverage for both sides.
The Whitecaps’ U18s head into the postseason for the third straight year, looking to make it to Finals Week once again, following their Championship game loss in 2012 and a sixth placed finish in 2013.
The young Caps finished runners up in the USSDA West Conference Northwest Division, finishing four points behind Seattle Sounders. The Whitecaps ended with a 16 win, 5 draw and 6 defeats record and a 1.96 points per game average after their 27 game regular season. That was good enough to clinch a 15th place seeding in the playoffs and a place in pot 2 for the draw.
It was a testing season for the U18s who had players missing on a number of occasions due to players being away with Canada at the U17 World Cup in October and numerous national team training camps.
To still be so strong shows the depth of those who will be taking up the mantle next season, but a number of familiar names will be moving on from the Residency program after the playoffs are finished.
Marco Bustos led the goalscoring charts for the Caps, with 17 goals in 21 appearances, with Kianze Froese next with 11 goals.
The Whitecaps were drawn in Group F and if they are going to make Finals Week once again, then they are going to have to do it by beating the number one seeds, Bethesda-Olney.
They may not be a name known to many, but the Rockville, Maryland side were dominant in USSDA play this season, recording 23 wins, no draws and just two losses in their 25 game season. That gave them a staggering 2.76 points per game total and the top seeding.
They won the Atlantic Division of the East Conference by nine points from the Players Development Academy, who gained the overall second seeding, showing what a strong division Bethesda-Olney came through to reach the playoffs.
Bethesda-Olney scored 92 goals along the way and look to be a real, potent attacking threat. Jeremy Ebobisse Ebolo led the way with 29 goals in just 21 matches, whilst Sam Schmidt with 20 goals and Matthew Ledder with 18, weren’t far behind.
At the other end of the pitch they only conceded 22 goals and kept nine clean sheets.
Nine seemed to be a favourite number for the team. They scored it three times during the season, with their biggest win being a 9-0 hammering of Virginia Rush in October.
The Caps game against Bethesda-Olney looks like it will be the group decider, but it could still come down to goals and the games against the other two sides, Oakwood Soccer Club and Georgia United, both wildcard teams.
Oakwood SC are second in the list of wildcard sides, having finished fourth in the Northeast Division of the East Conference behind three MLS academy teams – New York Red Bulls, New England Revolution and Montreal Impact.
Oakwood hail from Glastonbury, Connecticut and had a 13 win, 6 draws and 4 defeats regular season record on the way to the same 1.96 point per game tally that the Caps had. With 52 goals for and 27 against, Logan Gdula led their goalscoring with 13 goals.
Eleventh placed wildcard side Georgia United come from Marietta and finished 5th in the Southeast Division of the East Conference with a 1.64 goals per game and a 18 win, 5 draw and 13 loss record. They ended with 59 points from their 36 games, scoring 61 goals and conceding 42. Jad Elkhalil lead their scoring with 12 goals.
It’s going to be tough for the Caps U18s, but if they want to make Finals Week and land their first USSDA championship then they have to beat the best sides along the way, so they may as well get some of those wins out of the way early.
The Whitecaps’ U16s head into the postseason again after missing out last season during a rebuilding year.
The U16s won the USSDA West Conference Northwest Division title, ahead of San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders. The Caps finished with a 1.93 points per game played record, which was good enough to be ranked 13th in the playoff seedings and be included with the second ranked group of teams.
The Caps’ final regular season record read won 15, drew 7 and lost 5, for a total of 52 points from their 27 games. They scored 61 goals along the way and let in 35. Their two biggest wins came by 5 goal margins, beating Cal Odyssey 5-0 in the second game of the season and thrashing Santa Cruz Breakers 7-2 at the end of April. Both of those wins came on the road.
The Whitecaps’ top scorer at the U16 level was Dario Zanatta, with 21 goals in 24 games, although some of those did come in some games with the U18s. Aymar Sigue had 10 goals from his 21 games, and Daniel Sagno, 8 from his.
The Caps’ U16s have been drawn in Group C, alongside top seeds Weston FC, Match Fit Academy and Houston Dynamo.
Weston are seeded 7th overall and won the 12 team East Conference Southeast Division with a 2.11 points per game average, racking up 74 points from their 35 games. They had a regular season record of 23 wins, 5 draws and 7 losses, scoring 57 goals and letting in 32.
That record does indicate that Vancouver may have the better firepower than Weston, with the Florida side sharing the goals amongst Ricardo Oliveros (12 goals), Alessandro Campo (11) and Tomas Garcia-Morillo (10).
Match Fit Academy hail from Bayonne, New Jersey and are the fifth ranked wildcard side. Match Fit made the playoffs by finishing in fifth place in the 12 team Atlantic Division of the East Conference with 1.84 points per game.
Their regular season record reads 14 wins, 4 draws and 7 defeats from their 25 games, with 38 goals for and just 22 against. Robert Gillin and Benjamin Muzekari led their scoring with 8 goals each.
Interestingly, the Players Development Academy won their division and are seeded 4th overall. The Caps’ U16s beat the PDA 2-0 in Florida in December.
Houston Dynamo U16s were the last team drawn to make up the group. They are not another wildcard team, however, and are actually ranked 18th in the main playoff qualifiers.
Houston finished a long 16 points back from FC Dallas U16s in their Frontier Division of the Central Conference, with a record of 11 wins, 11 draws and 5 defeats from their 27 matches and 1.63 points per game.
The Dynamo scored 46 goals and conceded 38, with Juan Flores looking to be their dangerman with 25 goals and Christian Lucatero adding a further 14.
It’s going to be a tough week of competition for both of the Whitecaps’ young sides, but the U18s and U16s have shown this season what good teams they are and a place in Finals Week in July for both sides is a very realistic proposition.
AFTN will bring you full coverage of the playoffs during our third annual Residency Week series, along with features, interviews and our ‘Ones To Watch’ countdown.