Dev. Academy Notes: Cosmos measure up vs. LA, New York

Sounders product wins state honor; Finals Week to be held in WI

Over the weekend, as the LA Galaxy and New York Red Bulls tussled in one of the best MLS matches of the young season, each side’s academy faced off against a similar name — Cosmos West and Cosmos East — in USSF Development Academy play.

While the prospective return of the Cosmos brand is a well-known development of the past year, the program has made strides at the youth level. Former MLS players Giovanni Savarese and Teddy Chronopoulos oversee operations at the East and West Coast academies, respectively, and each had the chance to test their young programs against established MLS academies.

With the Cosmos holding aspirations to play as an MLS club one day, Sunday’s meeting with New York’s academy gave a glimpse of a possible derby several years down the road, with the Red Bulls U-18s erasing a one-goal deficit to beat Cosmos East 2-1.

“The Cosmos made it very difficult for us today, especially in the first half,” Red Bulls U-18 head coach Paul O’Donnell told NewYorkRedBulls.com. "They worked very hard collectively and were a very organized, well-coached team."

The Red Bulls couldn’t make it two-for-two, though, as the U-16s fell to the Cosmos 4-0. The two sides also played outside of the Dev. Academy League, with New York’s U-14s and U-15s victors in both.

Out west, the Cosmos enjoyed success against the LA Galaxy Academy, with the U-16s winning 1-0, and the U-18s defeating LA 2-0.

Chris Klein, now serving as the LA Galaxy Academy’s senior director, downplayed the significance of playing Cosmos West, saying that his side approached it the same way as any other weekend. However, he did say that he’s interested in seeing how things unfold as the Cosmos try to build a club from the youth level all the way to a professional side.

“It is a brand, and one that I recognized as a kid growing up as the best team in the United States, where Pelé played and different things like that,” Klein told MLSsoccer.com over the phone. “They were the team that everyone watched. I think it’s very interesting what they’re trying to do, bringing the brand back.”

Sounders FC product wins state honor

Aaron Kovar, a midfielder on the Seattle Sounders FC U-18 Academy team, was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Washington earlier this week.

Given to the best high school player in each state, Kovar starred for Garfield High School in Seattle, scoring 11 goals and chipping in 16 assists to lead his school to a state tournament berth.

Because of conflicts with high school soccer, Sounders Academy hasn’t played since late February. Kovar has played in 16 games so far in the USSF Development Academy league, and will return to action with the rest of the Sounders in June. He’s also a member of the US U-18 player pool.

“Aaron brings a lot of flash,” Sounders FC Academy coach Jimmy McAlister said in a press release. “He’s got a good ability with both feet and he’s a very good one-on-one player. Aaron can handle everyone.”

Kovar joins D.C. United Academy products Cody Albrecht (Maryland), Joey Wilkins (DC), Dan Metzger of the New York Red Bulls (New Jersey), and the Crew Academy’s Wil Trapp (Ohio) as MLS Academy prospects to earn the prestigious state honor this year. All are eligible for the National Player of the Year to be awarded later in May.

Finals Week headed to Milwaukee

As the USSF Dev. Academy season winds down, coaches and players across the country now know a location to target: Milwaukee.

Finals Week will be held from July 9-16 at Uihlein Soccer Park, Marquette University and Marquette University High School. Finals Week consists of the top eight finishers of each age group at the Development Academy Playoffs, to be held from June 24-28 in Frisco, Texas. That week, 32 teams at each age level will be reduced to eight.