SUM U-17 Cup: Group C preview

Wide-open group includes host Houston


Photo Credit: 
Houston Dynamo

Dynamo, Soccer United Marketing, and adidas are hosting the 2010 SUM
U-17 Cup in the Greater Houston Area, with group stage matches at
Centennial Park in Friendswood.

Throughout the tournament, updated information will be available at the SUM Cup homepage. is previewing each of the four groups, which include the youth teams from four MLS clubs.

Group C figures to be one of the more wide-open in the tournament. The host Dynamo finished fifth in 2009, but last year’s
tournament did not include Chivas USA
or New England, who join Houston and Toronto
FC (8th in 2009) in Group C.

The Houston Dynamo struggled at the U-16 level in league play last year, finishing last in the
Texas Division, but the Dynamo had many of their talented 1993 birthdays and
even some 94s playing up at the U-18 level. When they all came together at the
Dallas Cup in March, Houston
ran off a 4-0-1 streak and took the U-16 title.

The Dynamo have the added benefit of one of the U-17
national team’s top goalkeepers, Fernando Piña, who is expected to start in
goal, but Houston’s other U.S. national team player, midfielder Bryan Celis, will
miss the tournament due to injury.

Two veterans of Houston’s
U-18 squad, Sebastian Karpen and Leo Ayala, should lead the way in midfield and
at the back, respectively. Up front, the Dynamo will rely on the talented trio
of Manuel Chavez, Isaiah Noreiga (a Trinidad & Tobago U-17 prospect and
hero of the Dallas Cup run), and Bryan Salazar. The three forwards combined for
14 of Houston’s
24 goals in league play.

Toronto FC is
somewhat of an unknown because its teams do not participate in the USSF Development
Academy league, but the
Reds participated in the Dynamo Academy College Combine in February and should
be familiar with the surroundings.

One player who will not be intimidated by the pressure of
the tournament is 15-year-old Sergio Camargo, who dressed for the senior team’s
Canadian Championship match against Vancouver
on June 2. A dual Colombian-Canadian citizen, Camargo has earned praise for his
quickness and creativity and scored in last year’s tournament.

Another player worth watching is goalkeeper Chad Bush, a
native of Ottawa, who is living in Toronto in order to train
with TFC. Eric Ngo scored twice in last year’s tournament and is another of the
experienced Toronto

The New England
had a great season at the U-16 level of the USSF Development
Academy last year, going
8-2 in their division and going unbeaten in their playoff group but failing to
advance after notching only one win.

The Revolution had not one, but two players who notched 20
goals apiece for their U-16 team. Midfielder Diego Fagundez was named to the
national best 11 at the U-16 age group, while forward Felix DeBona was named to
the all-Eastern Conference team.

15-year-old defenders Christian Sady and Mitchell Taintor,
who stands 6-foot-2, are two of the stalwarts at the back. Both Fagundez and
Sady have been called to national team camps. Goalkeeper Ryan Simpson, born on
New Year’s Day 1993, is tied for being the oldest player in the tournament.

Rounding out the group is Chivas USA, whose U-16 team qualified for the USSF postseason but
went winless in Greensboro.
The team seems to be built from the back, led by Alexis Flores, honored as part
of the national best 11 at the U-16 age level. He is joined by all-Western
Conference defender Marcial Cazares, sizable Ivan Delgado, and Nicholas
Ledesma, among others.

Elsewhere, midfielders Jake McGuire (went to Copa
Chivas with the U-18s as a 15-year-old), Steve Palacios (U-18 national team
camp), and Chayanne Santiago (dynamic playmaker, second leading U-16 scorer)
will try to control the tempo of games. Newcomer Kevin Lichtenwalter arrives
from LAFC, where he was named to one of the select teams at the 2009 USSF
Winter Showcase. Another select player, Sergio Cervantes, is one of the go-to
options up front.

Group C schedule
Centennial Park, 2200 South Friendswood Drive, Friendswood TX
July 23, 6:30 p.m.  New England Revolution vs. Chivas USA
July 23, 8:00 p.m.  Houston Dynamo vs. Toronto FC
July 24, 6:30 p.m.  Houston Dynamo vs. New England Revolution
July 24, 8:00 p.m.  Chivas USA vs. Toronto FC
July 26, 6:30 p.m.  Houston Dynamo vs. Chivas USA
July 26, 8:00 p.m.  Toronto FC vs. New England Revolution