CARSON, Calif. (Friday, June 22, 2012) – After having plenty of time to enjoy both of their SoCal Division titles and train, the week of the US Development Academy Playoffs have finally arrived for the Galaxy U-16 and U-18 teams. The 32-team playoffs begin on Monday in Dallas and both Galaxy teams are top seeds in their groups. The winners of the eight groups at each age level move on to the finals which will be played at the brand new BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
The U-16’s enter the tournament as defending National Champions and riding an 18-game unbeaten streak that dates back to January. Group 6 is made up of the Galaxy U-16’s along with Atlanta-based Concord Fire, Colorado Rush and D.C. United. The group presents plenty of challenging matchups including: a D.C. team that won its division and enters the playoffs on a seven-game unbeaten streak of its own; a Colorado Rush club with a history of MLS talent, including Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant and Colorado forward Conor Casey; as well as a rematch of LA and the Concord Fire, who handed the U-16’s their last loss, 3-1 in December.
The Galaxy U-16’s run at a repeat championship begins on Tuesday against Colorado at 5 p.m. CT. They are back in action on Wednesday night against D.C. United at 8:30 p.m. CT before wrapping up play in Group 6 on Thursday morning with an 11 a.m. CT game against Concord Fire.
The U-18 team is the top seed in Group 3 one year after finishing last in the SoCal Division and missing the playoffs entirely. Joining LA in Group 3 is North Carolina-based CASL Chelsea, De Anza Force of Saratoga, Calif. and Vardar SC Freiburg of Rochester Hills, Mich. CASL Chelsea is a high caliber wild card team; they came within one point of winning the Atlantic Division on the season’s final day. Vardar SC Freiburg enters the postseason on an impressive run of form, winning each of its last five games. The matchup with De Anza Force will be a rematch of the season-opener for the Galaxy U-18’s who pulled out a 1-0 victory back on September 17 thanks to a Jack McBean goal.
The U-18’s are the first to kick off, beginning postseason play on Monday at 6:30 p.m. CT against Vardar SC Freiburg. They then face De Anza Force on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. CT and then finish up their group play early on Thursday morning against CASL Chelsea with kick off scheduled for 9 a.m. CT.
Out of each age division’s 32-team field, eight teams will advance to the 2011-12 Development Academy Finals, which will be played July 16-23 in Houston, Texas. The U-16 and U-18 Championships will take place July 22 and 23 at the new BBVA Compass Stadium.
GALAXY U-12 ADVANCE TO REGIONAL SEMIS: The LA Galaxy Academy U-12 team advanced to the semifinals of the US Youth Far West Regionals today with a 4-0 win over Heat FC from Nevada. On Saturday, the club will face the Utah Rangers at 8 a.m. for the right to advance to the finals, which will be played Sunday at 8:30 a.m. The team rebounded from a 5-1 lost in its first game of the Preliminary Round, with wins of 10-0 and 5-0, to advance to the Quarterfinals. If they advance to the finals, the club would face the winner of the semifinal game between Burlingame Gold and Pateadores LA, who beat the Galaxy in the first game of the tournament. There is history between Pateadores and Galaxy that goes beyond this tournament, as the Galaxy beat Pateadores, 1-0, back in March in the National Cup finals, which serve as the qualifying tournament for the Far West Regionals. If U-12’s win in Arizona, they will participate in the US Youth Soccer National Championships in Rock Hill, S.C., on July 25-29.
MUÑOZ READY FOR COPA SAPRISSA: LA Galaxy U-16 midfielder Rolando Muñoz has been training with the U.S. U-17 National Team this week ahead of the start of the Copa Saprissa Internacional tournament in San Jose, Costa Rica. The U.S. are scheduled to play up to seven matches during the 12-team tournament, beginning June 23 against Linafa U-17 Select, a club team from Costa Rica. The U.S. will also face the Honduras, Costa Rica and Mexico U-17 National Teams, as well as a U-17 side from Panamanian club, Chorrillo FC and two possible playoff or friendly matches on June 29 and July 1.
A native of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Muñoz is the captain of the Galaxy U-16 team. He has appeared in 21 games in Development Academy play this season, scoring four times, including once in the U-18’s 5-0 win over Nomads SC last weekend as they clinched the SoCal Division title.
ROMERO COMES UP BIG FOR U.S. U-15, BUT NOT ENOUGH TO MOVE ON: LA Galaxy U-15 goalkeeper Abraham Romero and midfielder Alejandro Vergara saw their time in Mexico with the U.S. U-15 Boys National Team come to an end Wednesday with a 0-0 draw with Colombia in the team’s third and final group game of the Copa Mexico de Naciones. The U.S. started tournament play with a 1-0 loss to Spain, but rebounded with a 3-1 win over Costa Rica. The U.S. finished group play tied in points with Colombia, but Los Cafeteros advanced with a better goal differential.
Romero, who was born in 1998 and was the youngest player on the team, kept the U.S. in the game against Colombia by making penalty save and then a point-blank save on the ensuing rebound.
THE WEEK AHEAD
LA Galaxy U-18 vs. Vardar SC Freiburg U-18 Monday, June 25
Game will be played at FC Dallas Sports Park – Field 4, in Frisco, TX. at 6:30 p.m.
LA Galaxy U-16 vs. Colorado Rush U-16 Tuesday, June 26
Game will be played at FC Dallas Sports Park – Field 13, in Frisco, TX. at 5 p.m.
LA Galaxy U-18 vs. De Anza Force U-18 Tuesday, June 26
Game will be played at FC Dallas Sports Park – Field 4, in Frisco, TX. at 8 p.m.
LA Galaxy U-16 vs. D.C. United U-16 Wednesday, June 27
Game will be played at FC Dallas Sports Park – Field 7, in Frisco, TX. at 8:30 p.m.
LA Galaxy U-18 vs. CASL Chelsea FC Academy U-18 Thursday, June 28
Game will be played at FC Dallas Sports Park – Field 12, in Frisco, TX. at 9 a.m.
LA Galaxy U-16 vs. Concord Fire U-16 Friday, June 29
Game will be played at FC Dallas Sports Park – Field 9, in Frisco, TX. at 11 a.m.
Times and locations for all games are correct as of Thursday, June 22. Click here for a complete schedule of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy playoffs. All times included schedule are local time.