Rick Yeatts

SUM U-17 Cup: Group B preview

The 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.

HoustonDynamo.com is previewing each of the four groups, which include the youth teams from four MLS clubs.

Group B offers to be one of the more intriguing groups of the tournament. It features last year’s SUM U-17 Cup runner-up, FC Dallas; the Columbus Crew, whose U-15/16 squad fell a point shy of advancing to the USSF Development Academy finals; and two teams, the Seattle Sounders and the Philadelphia Union, who have yet to compete in the USSF Development Academy league.

Heading into the tournament, FC Dallas looks to be the favorite of the four squads in Group B. In last year’s SUM U-17 Cup, Dallas reached the final but fell in a shootout to D.C. United, leaving its players hungry for more. This past season, the Dallas U-16 and U-18 squads won their respective divisions and advanced to the USSF Developmental Academy playoffs in Greensboro, N.C., with the U-18s finishing sixth overall.

This weekend’s squad will feature Samuel Coleman, who scored eight goals in USSF play last year, was the 2009 Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year, and has previously trained with the U.S. U-17 and U-18 national teams.

One player whose name might look familiar to fans is 14-year-old Emerson Hyndman, the grandson of FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman. The youngest player in this year’s tournament, it will be interesting to see how Hyndman handles himself against the strong youth competition.

Like Dallas, the Columbus Crew are coming off a strong Academy campaign. Eleven players from the Crew’s U-16 squad will represent Columbus in the SUM U-17 Cup, where they finished a surprising fourth last year.

Chris Davis, who scored nine goals last season and four in last year’s tournament alone, will be among those looking to improve on last year’s fourth-place finish. Another key player to watch will be midfielder William Trapp, an all-USSF selection at the U-16 level this year who has already committed to the University of Akron and has previously trained with the U-15 and U-18 national teams.

The wildcard of this year’s tournament, the Philadelphia Union will play its first competitive tournament this weekend. Having only joined Major League Soccer this year, the Union did not already have an academy program in the USSF Developmental league. That does not mean, though, that the cupboard is bare in Philadelphia.

Headlining the squad is Alex Shinsky, a crafty forward from York, Pa., who scored for the U-17 U.S. national team against Malawi in last year’s U-17 World Cup in Nigeria. The Union also feature Mike Gonzalez and James McLaughlin, who combined for 11 goals for FC Delco in league play last season. With two other players, Zach Pfeffer and Darius Madison, currently in the U-17 residency camp, the upstart Union could be a dark-horse pick to advance deep into the tournament.

Similar to Philadelphia, the Seattle Sounders are new to the academy scene. Seattle officially became a U.S. Soccer Development Academy program for 2010-11 after taking the previous membership held by the Washington Premier Football Club. The bad news for Seattle is they have not had the opportunity to develop their own players. The good news for Seattle is that the Washington Premier Football Club has some strong players that will be able to step in right away and help.

First and foremost is Dominique Dismuke, a 5-foot-11 forward who scored nine goals in league play last season. Dismuke will rely on former WPFC teammate Troy Peterson to find him in space and create chances. Peterson will also be relied upon to find the back of the net after scoring six goals of his own last season. Look for Seattle to remain competitive in its first tournament against other MLS academies, but in this strong a group, they appear unlikely to advance.

Group B schedule
Centennial Park, 2200 South Friendswood Drive, Friendswood TX
July 23, 6:30 p.m.  FC Dallas vs. Seattle Sounders
July 23, 8:00 p.m.  Columbus Crew vs. Philadelphia Union
July 24, 6:30 p.m.  FC Dallas vs. Columbus Crew
July 24, 8:00 p.m.  Seattle Sounders vs. Philadelphia Union
July 26, 6:30 p.m.  Seattle Sounders vs. Columbus Crew
July 26, 8:00 p.m.  Philadelphia Union vs. FC Dallas