CARSON, Calif. – This weekend, the LA Galaxy first team may be off, but the club’s Academy side will kick into full swing this Saturday in U.S. Soccer Development Academy play.
LA’s Academy returns after both clubs won the USSDA SoCal division and qualified for the playoffs in the 2011-12 season. On Saturday, the club’s Under-16 and Under-18 sides take on the Seattle Sounders before facing the Portland Timbers a day later. Although each match and competition is important, the Galaxy stress that the goal of the Academy is developing future members of the team.
“They just have to do a good job; the job of the Academy program is to present some players to us at some point. That’s their job,” said head coach Bruce Arena. “But that’s the bare facts of it. We have three teams now and our goal is that we develop some of these kids to make the first team someday. That’s the job of the Academy team in all honesty.”
One of the players that expect to play a key role in LA’s U-18 season is 18-year-old right back Oscar Sorto. A native of South Central Los Angeles, Sorto has spent considerable time training with the Galaxy’s first team throughout the year, a development that he expects to be important heading into the Academy season.
“The first week was hard, but now I’m getting used to it. It’s a lot faster, more physical and you need to be more alert,” Sorto told LAGalaxy.com. “I’m adapting well, my touch is getting better, I’m thinking ahead faster so it’s good.”
However, due to his gradual integration with the first team, Sorto will likely see his time limited in this weekend’s Academy matches due to a Reserve League match on Monday against the Portland Timbers. But Reserve League coach Curt Onalfo—whose son Christian plays for LA’s U-16’s—admits that his minutes will be strictly monitored.
“It’s all about us developing players for the future and it’s something that we take very, very seriously,” Onalfo told LAGalaxy.com. “It’s all about getting them minutes and getting them situations where they can continue to develop. Whether that’s in a Reserve game or minutes with the Academy, it’s all part of it.”
As the Galaxy head into the Development Academy season, Sorto admits that the goal for the Academy teams is a simple one.
“We have a good team with a lot of good players and hopefully we’ll take it this year,” said Sorto. “We want to win. We have to take the title again”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider