Academy teams to compete in Winter Showcase

U-16, U-18 squads will take on Chivas USA, Pateadores and Richmond Kickers

After a slow start to the 2011-2012 USSF Development Academy season, the Dynamo Academy will hit the road this weekend for U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase, which will be held Friday, Dec. 2 through Tuesday, Dec. 6, at the Premier Sports Complex in Sarasota, Fla. The U-16s and U-18s will each play three games against Pateadores (CA), Richmond Kickers (VA) and MLS club Chivas USA. Although these results do not count toward the Dynamo’s conference record, Dynamo Director of Youth Development James Clarkson believe these matches are of equal importance in the long run.

“These games are what get you into the playoffs,” he said. “Only the top two from each division automatically qualify so these games are very important in securing one of the wild card berths. In addition, there will be college coaches and national team coaches on hand to watch the games, so it is a great opportunity for players to be seen.”

Through the first three months of the Academy season, the Dynamo U-18s are in fifth place in their division and the U-16s in sixth place. Red cards and inconsistent play have hurt the U-18 team, while the U-16s are still trying to find their footing after much of the squad moved up from the U-15 age group last year.

“I think the 16s have hit a bit of a wall,” said Clarkson. “It is a big adjustment for those kids that are now training with the Dynamo four times a week and playing competitive games with us on weekends.”

This season is the first that the Dynamo have fielded competitive teams at the U-13, U-14 and U-15 levels. Previously, select players trained with the Dynamo once a week, but continued to play with other Houston-area clubs during the rest of the week and on weekends. Now, kids in all age groups – from U-13 through U-18 – train full-time with the Dynamo Academy and play competitive games with the club on weekends, allowing the kids the experience of training in a professional environment at an earlier age.

This weekend will be another tough test for the Dynamo squads, as they will step out of their conference once again and take on some of the top Developmental Academy teams in the country. With the U-16s having lost their last three games and the U-18s struggling to find their form, Clarkson hopes the trip to Florida will help bring the kids together.

“We will be there for four days and with the amount of time they will be spending together off the field we expect them to become a much tighter group,” Clarkson said. “Winning the games would certainly help that and any time we step on the field we strive to win. In the end, we want to be competitive and play a good style of soccer and this is a good chance to show people outside our conference what we are really about.”

U-16 schedule Home Team Away Team Location
Friday, Dec. 2 - 10:15 a.m. CT Houston Dynamo Pateadores Field 5
Saturday, Dec. 3 - 2:30 p.m. CT Richmond Kickers Houston Dynamo Field 22
Monday, Dec. 5 - 10:15 a.m. CT Chivas USA Houston Dynamo Field 2
U-18 schedule Home Team Away Team Location
Friday, Dec. 2 - 8 a.m. CT Houston Dynamo Pateadores Field 5
Saturday, Dec. 3 - 12:15 p.m. CT Richmond Kickers Houston Dynamo Field 22
Monday, Dec. 5 - 10:15 a.m. CT Chivas USA Houston Dynamo Field 1

Dorsey named to Select team at Winter Showcase

Dynamo U-16 defender Matt Dorsey has been chosen to play in the Winter Showcase select games, to be held on Dec. 3 at the Premier Sports complex in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. Dorsey is one of 78 players that will be divided into four teams and compete in two games. The Dynamo Academy defender will play on the 1996 blue team roster at 6 p.m. CT on Friday.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for him,” Clarkson said of Dorsey’s selection. “This is the next group being looked at for the residency program. We have had players in there before and if he does well, and gets a chance, we certainly want him to succeed.”