CARSON, Calif. — The road to the U.S. Development Academy championship became a little bit clearer today as U.S. Soccer held their draw for the 2011-12 Playoffs.
The playoff field this year consists of 20 teams that qualified as one of the top two in their respective divisions and 12 teams that advanced through the wild card based on overall points per game. All 32 teams were ranked based on overall points per game and placed into four pods. Each of the eight groups were selected by random draw from the four pods. Both LA Galaxy Academy teams won their division and were placed in the first pod, which means they head into the playoffs as the top seed of their group.
The eight group winners will advance from the Academy Playoffs to Finals Week in Houston from July 16-23. The U-16 and U-18 Championships will be held July 22 and 23, respectively, at the newly built BBVA Compass Stadium.
The LA Galaxy U-16’s, last year’s Development Academy champion at this age level, were drawn into Group 6 with Atlanta-based Concord Fire, Colorado Rush and D.C. United. No group is easy at this level of the competition, and this is no exception.
D.C United (15-7-5 overall, 6-2-4 conference) won the Mid-Atlantic Division with a stingy defense that only allowed six goals during league play. They enter the playoffs riding a seven-game unbeaten streak that includes six wins and five shutouts. Colorado Rush (10-5-6 overall, 5-5-4 conference) is one of two wild-cards in the group, but they are not to be taken lightly. The Rush have produced MLS players like the Galaxy’s very own Todd Dunivant and Colorado Rapids forward Connor Casey.
The fourth member of the group is Atlanta-based Concord Fire (15-6-4 overall, 6-5-3 conference). The Fire finished the season having won seven of its last nine games, outscoring their opponents 17- 5 during that stretch, which included a 3-1 against the Galaxy back in December in the Development Academy Winter Showcase. Following that loss, the Galaxy (17-3-4 overall, 11-1-4 conference) went on an 18-game unbeaten streak that culminated with a SoCal Division championship.
The Galaxy U-18’s were drawn into Group 3 with North Carolina-based CASL Chelsea, De Anza Force of Saratoga, Calif. and Vardar SC Freiburg of Rochester Hills, Mich.
CASL Chelsea (16-4-5 overall, 9-2-3 conference) is a team that will not be happy to have landed in this group. Chelsea, even though it had a strong season, lost the Atlantic Division championship on the last day of the season by one overall point. The club could have won the title outright on Saturday, but gained a 1-1 draw instead, opening the door for Charlotte Soccer Academy, which won their game, 8-0, and the championship.
The Galaxy faced De Anza (15-9-2 overall, 9-4-1 conference) in the season opener back on Sep. 17. Forward Jack McBean led the club to a 1-0 win that day with a goal in the 63rd minute and goalkeeper Juan Cervantes got the shutout. Vardar SC (11-8-4 overall, 10-3-3 conference) comes into the playoffs riding the hot play of Butler-bound Jeffrey Adkins (eight goals) and a five-game winning streak.
The U-18 group kicks off the playoffs on Monday, June 25 while the U-16 teams open postseason-play the next day on Tuesday, June 26. The full schedule, with dates and time, for the Academy Playoffs will be announced on Tuesday, June 18.