Orlando City SC were the highest seeds in the U18s category to emerge from the Development Academy Playoffs, ranked at number two. Their run to the Academy Championships was halted last Friday by the team seeded 30, Colorado Rapids.
Liam Johnson and Rhys De Sota were on the scoresheet for the Rapids, after Orlando had taken the lead with 16 minutes gone. Orlando struck early, but the dogged determination of the Rapids allowed them to book their trip to Carson, California with less than two minutes left.
Having beaten Orlando in Florida, the Rapids will fancy their chances of going all the way, as they take on Texans SC Houston this Friday on neutral territory in the semifinals of the Development Academy Championships.
“I’m very proud of the boys,” said U18s head coach, Chris Martinez. “(They) never give up. We have a saying that we live by ‘you win it in 90, you lose it in one’ so, regardless of whether we go up, we go down, we have that mentality where if there’s time on the clock then we can figure things out.”
Among current players to have emerged from the Development Academy program are Matt Miazga, DeAndre Yedlin, Christian Pulisic, Jordan Morris, Kellyn Acosta, Aron Jóhannsson, and Rapids’ midfielder Joshua Gatt (Crew SC Academy Wolves).
“This weekend will be as good as it gets, as far as exposure goes,” Martinez explained. “All the US national team staff, college coaches, scouts, representatives from MLS will be on hand, and it’ll be a great crowd, and a great opportunity for our boys collectively - and individually - to shine.”
FC Dallas claimed both the U16 and U18 titles last season. They have won the U16 Academy Championships the past two years. Other winners of the U18 equivalent include Chicago Fire, and New York Red Bulls. The Rapids are two games away from adding their name to the list.
“We can’t get ahead of ourselves,” Martinez stressed. “We’ll just focus on Friday night right now.”
U-17/18 Development Academy Champions:
2007-08: Baltimore Bays
2008-09: Carmel United (now Indiana Fire)
2011-12: FC Dallas
2012-13: New York Red Bulls
2013-14: Players Development Academy
2014-15: Chicago Fire Academy
2015-16: FC Dallas
You can watch the match live at ColoradoRapids.com/live, from 6:30 p.m. MT this Friday, as the Rapids tackle Texans SC Houston on Field 1 (Mooch Field - named after former Rapids’ head coach, Glenn ‘Mooch’ Myernick) of the U.S. Soccer National Training Center in Carson, California.
The second semifinal involves Seattle Sounders FC and LA Galaxy. Championship games are scheduled for Sunday (July 16).
Kainoa Likewise: great presence, confident, and organizes the team well. Spent time on loan at Charlotte Independnence.
Sean Roberts (U16): solid GK, great shot stopper.
Evan Austin: anticipates very well, very solid defender.
Desmond Cole: versatile, sees the game well.
David Garcia: good 1-v-1 defender, gets into the attack well.
Bailey Heller: Very hard in the tackle, strong in the air, natural leader.
Samuel Vines: very good left foot, excellent passer of the ball, skillful, gets into the attack very well.
Milo Garvanian (U16): solid in possession, great range of passing, good field awareness.
Liam Johnson: great center of gravity, very gritty, wears his heart on his sleeve.
Damen Marcu: skillful, great in 1-v-1 attacking, strikes a great ball.
Aaron Martinez: great handle, very technical, dangerous when combining or 1-v-1 attacking situations. Twin brother of Moises.
Moises Martinez: crafty, skillful, deceptively quick with the ball.
Enoch Mushagalusa: very fast on the dribble, skillful, strong on the ball. Has 13 goals.
Tennyson Stevens: solid defensively, covers ground in the middle well.
Gregory Tracey: good soccer IQ, connects the game well.
Carlos Vasquez (U14): technically sound, good left foot. Youngest player on the roster.
Rhys De Sota: powerful, tireless worker, handful for the opposing CB’s. Leading scorer with 16 goals.
Mason Shortt (U16): good when posting up, hides the ball well, dangerous when going to goal.