Commerce City, Colo. - Just as Colorado Rapids first-team's season has ended, the Rapids Development Academy teams are getting into the swing of things. Just four weeks into their season, the Rapids U-16s and U-18s are preparing for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase this weekend in Arizona.
Both Rapids youth teams play in the Frontier Division of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, along with two teams each from Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri,and one from Illinois. The 30-game season runs from November to May of 2011.
The U-16 team, coached by former Rapids star Steve Trittschuh, has started out the 2011-2012 season with a 0-3-1 record. The team has been faced with many early injuries during this season, including a broken ankle on SUM Cup standout Avery Ball, and Oscar Montes’ broken jaw. Forward Geno Bigelow leads the team with two goals in four appearances early in the year.
The Rapids U-18 team has also started out slowly, starting with a record of 1-3-0 under the guidance of Mike Haas. Their victory came during a home match against the Houston Dynamo's U-18s. James Rogers and Karsten Hanlin have netted the two goals for the U-18s thus far.
Both teams will travel to Arizona this weekend to participate in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase, where they will face Empire United (New York), Player Development Academy (New Jersey) and the South Central Premier (Connecticut).
Participation in the showcase will count towards the Academy teams’ 30-game regular season record in the US Soccer Development Academy League. The top eight teams in the league win a spot to participate in the Development Academy National Championship at Home Depot Center in July 2011.
The annual Development Academy Showcases provide a national platform for Academy teams to play league matches against non-conference opponents. The Showcases also provide Academy players with exposure to U.S. Soccer Best Practices and additional educational programming, such as SPARQ testing, Gatorade Hydration Guidelines, Interplay and Prozone match analysis. Each team receives footage of all of their games from each Showcase.
The Showcase events have also proven to be successful platforms for player identification, with U.S. Soccer National Team scouts overserving every match. As a result of the scouting, players have been invited to U.S. U-17 and U-20 camps, as well as offered opportunities to continue playing at the collegiate level.