The Houston Dynamo Academy U-18 team opened the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoffs on Monday with a 4-1 victory over the New England Revolution in Westfield, Indiana.
The Dynamo Academy came out firing and Zach Jackson opened the scoring. Defender Matt Dorsey doubled the lead before forwards Elochukwu Ozumba and Emmanuel Usen added goals, as Jackson also notched an assist.
The Dynamo Academy U-18s are in Group A, which features three MLS Development Academies, the most of any playoff group, where a strong start is vital.
“I thought we played absolutely outstanding today,” said Dynamo director of youth development James Clarkson. “(Zach) Jackson’s goal was really outstanding to set the tone. We went out and showed what we are capable of. It was big for us to be able to do what we did. Today’s win was without question a benchmark for this academy. Last year during the playoffs we didn’t get the results we wanted. This year we’ve come in expecting to win, but I think others view us as sort of a darkhorse in these playoffs.”
The Dynamo Academy will have little time to enjoy Monday’s win, as it will continue group play Tuesday afternoon against the Capital Area RailHawks (North Carolina). The RailHawks finished the regular season with an impressive 81 points (24-3-9) but opened the playoffs on Monday with a 2-1 loss, as Chivas USA scored the winner in stoppage time.
“I’m actually watching the film from their game as we speak,” Clarkson declared, preparing for Tuesday’s opponent. “They played at the same time we did, so I’m just getting to see what they did. I can tell you they are a hard working team, and we’ll have to be ready tomorrow.”
The Dynamo Academy U-18 will wrap up group play on Thursday morning when they take on Chivas USA.
The Dynamo Academy U-16s begin the playoffs on Tuesday. They finished the season with 44 points (11-5-11) and were drawn into Group C along with Match Fit Academy FC (New Jersey), Vancouver Whitecaps FC, and Weston FC (Florida). Match Fit FC finished fifth in the Atlantic Division with 46 points (14-7-4), Vancouver Whitecaps FC topped the Northwest Division with 52 points (15-5-7) and Weston FC won with the Southwest Division with 74 points (23-7-5).
The top team in each of the eight groups (for both age groups) qualifies for the knockout rounds of the Academy playoffs, seeded based on their regular-season points-per-game average. The higher-seeded team will host a knockout-round game on July 7 or 9, with the winners advancing to the semifinals and final on July 17 and 19, respectively, in Carson, California.