Academy Club News

Vardar Soccer  •  U.S. Development Academy News


Academy Schedule to Run from September through June Beginning in the Fall of 2012
  • Over 200 Training Center Sessions in 2012 Uncovered Additional Players for Youth National Teams
  • New Format includes Three-Day Local Combines in Seven Cities
  • National Combine to be Held at Nike's World Headquarters in Portland, Ore., in August

June 2013 -- CHICAGO (June 7, 2013) - U.S. Soccer's successful Training Center Program will be getting a makeover this summer as U.S. Soccer and Nike are partnering to enhance the nation's premier player identification program.

The expanded Training Center Program will consist of three types of invitational events for elite youth players: Sessions, Local Combines and a National Combine. In an effort to reduce the barriers for the best players to represent the national teams, all Training Center events are free for players.

"The Training Center Program provides our scouting network with more opportunities to evaluate and track the country's most talented players," said Director of Scouting Tony Lepore. "Since we launched the program in 2008, our youth national team scouts have worked with youth clubs, associations, ODP programs and other soccer leaders to identify the best local players who should be invited into a session. Performance at these sessions has opened doors at the collegiate, Academy, Youth National Team and professional level for many players."
Training Center Sessions are held regularly across the country and involve 25 players in an age group participating in one training session run by a member of U.S. Soccer's Scouting Network. In 2012, U.S. Soccer held over 200 sessions for boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 18, providing over 6,000 opportunities for players to be seen directly by U.S. Soccer scouts.

Training Center Local Combines are a new addition to the Training Center Program. Each Local Combine includes five training sessions conducted by a member of U.S. Soccer's Scouting Network over three days for the 36 most talented players in a local area. Players spend the day with U.S. Soccer staff, participating in training sessions and classroom sessions similar to a Youth National Team camp. In 2013, Local Combines are focused on boys between the ages of 15 and 17.

2013 Schedule of U.S. Soccer Local Combines
Los Angeles Combine - Jun. 7-9 at U.S. Soccer's National Training Center (Carson, Calif.)
Chicago Combine - Jun. 10-11 at Olympic Park (Schaumburg, Ill.)
Dallas Combine - Jun. 14-16 at Ross Stewart Park (Dallas, Texas)
Philadelphia Combine - Jun. 14-16 at YSC (King of Prussia, Pa.)
NY/NJ Combine - Jul. 5-7 at Rutgers University (New Brunswick, N.J.)
Washington, DC Combine - Jul. 8-10 at SAC United Covenant Park (Elliott City, Md.)
San Francisco Combine - Details to come

The National Combine is a premier opportunity for the nation's top 60 high school age boys to be evaluated by National Team staff and leading scouts from around the country. The five-day National Combine will be held at Nike's World Headquarters in Portland, Ore., with a format similar to a Youth National Team camp.
Players will be selected for the National Combine based on performance in Youth National Team camps, Training Center Sessions, Training Center Local Combines, Development Academy games and other events attended by U.S. Soccer's vast scouting network.

Select coaches will also be invited to attend a U.S. Soccer Scout Development Course to be held in conjunction with the National Combine. Coaches will attend lectures from leading youth scouts, participate in working groups and assist with the National Combine.

You can follow this summer's Training Center Program activity on, the YNT Twitter, YNT Facebook page and Scout, U.S. Soccer's new digital magazine dedicated to covering elite youth soccer. The digital magazine is available to download for free on iTunes (download here).

About the Training Center Program
ALaunched in 2008, the Training Center Program is designed to increase the amount of youth players evaluated directly by U.S. Soccer technical staff. U.S. Soccer staff work closely with local coaches to identify the best local players and invite them to participate in a local training session conducted by members of U.S. Soccer's scouting network. Participation in the Training Center Program is free for the players, enabling the best players to attend the session regardless of club affiliation or financial background. Previous performances at a Training Center Session have led directly to invites into Youth National Team camps.

About U.S. Soccer's Scouting Network
U.S. Soccer centralized its scouting networks for the boy's and girl's youth national teams overseen by Tony Lepore (boys) and April Kater (girls). The network includes over 100 scouts trained in U.S. Soccer's standardized player evaluation process. Scouts assist with Youth National teams, Training Center Program and Development Academy evaluations as well as evaluate key events, such as ODP tournaments, Dallas Cup, Surf Cup, Disney Showcase and many other elite tournaments. Scouts also work closely with local organizations, particularly in urban areas to identify players outside of the elite youth clubs.


MARCH 2012


Academy Schedule to Run from September through June Beginning in the Fall of 2012

March 2012 -- The U.S. Soccer Development Academy has announced it is moving to a 10-month season starting with the 2012-13 season.

After receiving overwhelming support from the Development Academy membership, the Academy is moving to a schedule beginning in the fall of 2012 that runs from September through June (or July based on postseason play). This creates a format that is similar to those followed by the elite soccer playing nations around the world as the Development Academy and U.S. Soccer continue their goal of closing the performance gap with the top soccer nations.

“If we want our players to someday compete against the best in the world, it is critical for their development that they train and play as much as possible and in the right environment,” said U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “The Development Academy 10-month season is the right formula and provides a good balance between training time and playing competitive matches. This is the model that the best countries around the world use for their programs, and I think it makes perfect sense that we do as well.”

A number of clubs already have switched to the 10-month season and have seen substantial improvement (Western Conference, Texas Division). U.S. Soccer recognizes there might be challenges during the transition process and will work with individual clubs to make this swift transition as easy as possible.

Moving to a 10-month season means players can focus on training together three or four times per week and play meaningful games on the weekend nearly year-round. Fewer games and an extended season will allow for the addition of a substantial number of extra training sessions, which are the primary vehicle for player development.

The 10-month season allows for a greater opportunity to institute a style of play and implement a system according to U.S. Soccer’s Curriculum as well as build team chemistry. It also gives teams increased opportunities for younger kids in their club to “play up” against older players in both training and matches, thereby accelerating their development.

“Going to a 10-month season is an important step in the evolution of elite player development,” said U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director Claudio Reyna. “The format provides the ideal platform to place an increased emphasis on the value of training on a regular basis, and offers the opportunity to play in quality, competitive games throughout an extended season. This schedule puts our elite players in line with kids in their age group internationally, and places the appropriate physical demands at this stage in their development.

“The addition of a significant number of training sessions per year will enhance the ability of players to develop,” said Reyna. “Along with the support of our membership, this move has been greeted with enthusiasm from leading soccer nations around the world.”

U.S. Soccer created the Development Academy in 2007 to improve the everyday environment for the elite youth player. The Development Academy is a partnership between U.S. Soccer and the top youth clubs around the country to provide the best youth players in the U.S. with an everyday environment designed to produce the next generation of National Team players.  



EXACT Sports to Monitor & Train the Psychological Readiness of Development Academy Players

February 24, 2012 -- In an effort to continue to provide the elite youth soccer players in the Development Academy with unique opportunities to improve their development, U.S. Soccer has partnered with EXACT Sports, an expert in behavioral assessments and sport psychology tools.

During 2012, Exact Sports will monitor and train the more than 4,000 players and coaches across the 78 Development Academy clubs using the Mental Achievement Program (MAP). The MAP tool will provide a detailed behavioral profile to every athlete in the Academy and provide them with the tools to increase characteristics such as motivation, confidence, competitiveness, leadership and mental toughness.

“The MAP has been successfully utilized by our National Teams and will be another exclusive opportunity for the players in the Development Academy to improve their overall development,” said U.S. Development Academy Director of Scouting Tony Lepore. “Along with the physical and technical tools, mental preparation is an essential component for success in soccer. The MAP should help players better understand the mental attributes required of them to maximize performance on and off-field.”

EXACT’s Mental Achievement Program was developed by a team of scientists that have expertise in the monitoring of athlete development. Development Academy clubs join over 60 professional teams such as the Minnesota Twins, Pittsburgh Penguins, and New York Red Bull, and more than 100 NCAA soccer teams including University of North Carolina, Wake Forest University, and Indiana University, in using the MAP to aid coaching staff and elevate player performance. “There are many elements within soccer that are mental, such as managing adversity during a corner kick, being confident in goal, showing leadership on the field and interacting with coaches and teammates,” said Executive Director of EXACT Sports Barry Tarter.

Each Academy player will have the ability to annually update his MAP behavioral profile. The program will be utilized by his club coaches to assist in Academy training and preparation.

“Development Academy clubs will get unrestricted access to EXACT’s team of mental experts,” said Tarter. Our priority is to assist each club’s coaching staff in better preparing their team and players for success at the highest level.”


Member of the Vardar U15/16 Academy Team, invited to the U.S. residency camp in Bradenton, FL

August 31, 2011 -- Matt Nance, a member of the Vardar U15/16 Academy Team, was recently invited to attend the U.S. U-17 residency camp in Bradenton, FL.

Nance is one of 33 boys and the only player from Region 2 invited to participate in the semester-long camp that could include an international trip to Spain and France. This U-17 cycle that just began this August will represent the U.S. in the next U-17 World Cup in 2013 in the United Arab Emirates.

Vardar congratulates Matt and wishes him luck in Bradenton.



Vardar's Carroll to Play With U17MNT on Live TV

JUNE 2011 -- Vardar's Carroll to Play With U17MNT on Live TV

Zach Carroll continues to shine on the U17 Men's National Team. Zach has earned a starting spot at centerback for the upcoming 2011 FIFA Under 17 World Cup tournament. All games will be televised (see schedule). And look for #2!

  • Sunday, June 19, 7PM vs Czech Rep - ESPNU
  • Wednesday, June 22, 4PM vs Uzbekistan - Galavision
  • Saturday, June 25, 7PM vs New Zealand - ESPNU

All three group games will also be shown live-streamed on


Vardar U16s make run at first in U.S. Soccer Development Academy division
Vardar is 4-0-1 with four shutouts in last five Great Lakes Division Central Conference games

Tariq Akeel has helped Vardar Academy U16s to a 4-0-1 in their last five matches.

Photo By: Vardar soccer

ESPN.RISE.COM -- June 1, 2011 -- Vardar U16 has been on a tear in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.

The Detroit-based squad has gone 4-0-1 against five of its Great Lakes Division Central Conference rivals, posting four shutouts. It surpassed Crew Soccer Academy (8-2-2, 10-5-4) for first place in the nine-team division.

Jeffery Adkins leads the team with seven goals, followed by Youseff Bjaidar and Tyler Jugon with five each. Tariq Akeel has four and Zachary Pagani has three.

In succession, Vardar vanquished seventh-place Chicago Magic (4-5-3, 5-10-4), second-place Crew, ninth-place Internationals (2-8-2, 7-10-2) and fifth-place Sockers FC (4-2-5, 6-3-9). Vardar battled to a scoreless tie Sunday against eighth-place FC Milwaukee (2-7-3, 2-14-3).

What makes Vardar's position more daunting for opponents is 6-foot-3 defender defender Mahamoudou Kaba, who'd been playing up with the under-18 squad, could return to the U16s, according to coach Mike Lupenec.

"We're going to bring Mo down to play with the younger academy," Lupenec said. "We're sitting in a good position to make the playoffs, and that was our main goal. Last year, our older academy actually won the national championship. Our younger academy has made the playoffs the last two years."

Kaba, who plans to graduate early this year, has verbally committed to South Carolina.

Lupenec credits the defense of Phillip Soong, Mike Leone, Jeffrey Robbins and Sean Hasen, as well as goalie Matt Smolinski, for limiting scoring chances, particularly during the toughest match of the run -- the 2-1 win over the Crew on May 21.

"They've been steady in the last few games," Lupenec said. "Our center backs (Leone and Soong) have done an excellent job."

After losing consecutive 1-0 matches to Derby County Wolves (5-4-7, 8-6-9) and Chicago Fire (6-3-4, 10-4-6), Lupenec made a change in the offensive rotation after May 14.

"Right after the Fire game, we decided that we were going to put our best best offensive players in a 4-3-3," Lupenec said. "Youseff, Tariq and Jeffery have been clicking and putting pressure on back lines.

"Their roles have been basically to score goals, and I think that changing the system helped. Yousseff is very athletic; Jeff's very technical; and then Tariq is a good offensive man who likes to get forward."  READ MORE......

Vardar Player Earns Golden Boot Award

JUNE 2011 -- Nash Popovic, a member of Vardar's U14 Academy Team, earned the Golden Boot Trophy for the six goals he scored during the recent Manchester United Premier Cup held Memorial Day Weekend in Beaverton, OR.

The Manchester United Premier Cup (MUPC) is the largest international youth football tournament in the world, involving over 6,000 teams from over 40 countries. Teams from around the globe compete in regional or national qualifying tournaments, all with the ultimate goal to reach the MUPC World Finals for boys, and the Gothia Cup tournament for the girls U.S. winner. Once again, Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton hosted the U.S. Finals for the MUPC. The tournament saw 20 of the top U14 and U15 boys and girls teams each in the nation come together to play for the crown.

Vardar's boys earned a sixth place finish with a three win, 1 loss and 1 tie record. Vardar girls went 1-2-1 for the weekend


U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team and Vardar defender Zach Carroll interview

February 2011 —  ACADEMY IN THE NEWS: Get to know U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team and Vardar defender Zach Carroll

CONCAF game featuring Zach Carroll on the U.S. U17 MNT will air on ESPN Desportes and live-streamed on

Look for the quarterfinal against El Salvador on Tuesday, Feb. 22 at 3 p.m

Vardar Academy Player selected for U17 World Cup qualifying and CONCACAF championship

February 2011 —  Vardar Academy player Zach Carroll has been selected to travel with the U.S. U17 MNT squad to Jamaica for U17 World Cup qualifying and CONCACAF championship. Coach Cabrerra took 20 boys and Zach is one of three centerbacks on the trip.

The CONCACAF website will live stream stats and highlights at,,12813,00.html

The U17 squad will play games against Cuba and Panama. More info can be found on the U17 website within U.S. Soccer at

Vardar Academy players named as top 20 players in the Midwest Region

February 2011 —  Vardar Academy players Zach Caroll, Jeff Adkins, Phillip Soong, Mike Moscone, Matt Meldrum and Tariq Akeel were named by Top Drawer Soccer as a top 20 player in the Midwest Region.

The Regional Top 20 Rankings (for the 2011 – 2015 classes) were based on input from Top Drawer Soccer staff, scouts and coaches at various levels. Both the numerical rankings and the star ratings are subject to update at least once per week. Read more:


U.S. Soccer Names 36 players for Training Camp at The Home Depot Center

December 1, 2010 —  U.S. U-18 MNT head coach Mike Matkovich has finalized a 36-player roster for a training camp at The Home Depot Center from Nov. 20-28. The training camp will include friendly games against local men’s teams, including Ventura County Fusion, FC Hasental, Hollywood United and Orange County Blue Star.

The roster includes 31 players who are currently part of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, plus a former Academy player in Victor Pineda who signed a Homegrown Player contract with the Chicago Fire earlier this year. Midfielder Caleb Stanko played up last season with the U-17/18 Vardar squad that captured the 2009-10 championship.    Read More...

Vardar Player picked for Academy Select Team

November 22, 2010 —  Zach Carroll, a member of the Vardar U18 Academy Team, has been invited to participate in a U.S. Academy Select Team game during the Dec. 2-6 Winter Showcase to be held in Phoenix, AZ. The game between two groups of players born in 1994 and 1995 will be played at 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 4.

Select Teams are made up of Academy players chosen by youth national team coaches and U.S. Soccer Technical Advisors. They will have the opportunity to play alongside some of the top players in their age group in front of youth national team coaches, Technical Advisors, national team scouting network and hundreds of college coaches from across the country. In the past, professional scouts from Major League Soccer and foreign clubs have also been in attendance. All of the players are age-eligible to compete in the 2011 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in April, and players born on or after Jan. 1, 1994, are eligible for the 2011 CONCACAF U-17 Championship in February



Vardar Defeats Crossfire 3-1 To Win U-17/18 National Title

CARSON, Calif. (July 17, 2010) — Two second half goals by Vardar’s Derek Schrauben helped the Michigan side come from behind to defeat Crossfire Premier and win the 2009-10 Development Academy U-17/18 national championship at The Home Depot Center. Liam Kelly lit up the scoreboard in the 12th minute for Crossfire, but Vardar recovered and tied it in the 29th minute before winning with Schrauben’s heroics late in the game.

“We were confident that there were things we could do better in the second half and get back to doing things the way we know how,” said Vardar head coach Demir Muftari. “The boys really responded well and had a really good second half. It was good not only to get the second one, but also to get that third one and put them away.”

The championship match was the first for both teams in their first appearances at Finals Week. Vardar earned a spot in the final through offensive fireworks, scoring seven times in group matches—with one of those goals being the difference between them and Real So Cal that got them into the championship match. Crossfire Premiere went the other way, rebounding from an opening game loss to FC Dallas to respond with two straight shutout wins to finish at the top of Group 1.

Under a setting sun, the match began rather slowly as both teams attempted to probe for weaknesses. With the exception of some long passes over the top by Crossfire, few chances looked close to appearing in the first ten minutes.

But as they’ve done all week, Crossfire Premier strikers Liam Kelly and Kelyn Rowe made something out of nothing, and suddenly put the Washington-based side on top in the 12th minute.
On a counter attack starting just inside midfield, Rowe took a pass in the center of the park and turned towards goal. Rowe slipped a ball into the box between the center and left backs that Kelly ran onto diagonally from the right side. With the well-weighted ball at his feet and nobody to hold off, Kelly calmly looked up and fired to the left, past an advancing Jonathan Jebson.

Despite the goal, momentum seemed to stay level, and Vardar got back to work playing their game, patiently working for a chance to tie. But it was Crossfire again who got the next chance, capitalizing on an intercepted pass at midfield.

U17/18 National Champions - 2010
US Soccer Development Academy
After stepping in front of a Vardar midfielder, Bryce Bacic passed to Rowe who was advancing down the center of the park alongside Kelly. Using the three against two advantage to stretch the defense, Rowe laid the ball off to the right channel upon reaching the box, and Kelly ran onto it and fired his first time shot over the crossbar.

Not a minute later Vardar got their break, and it was indeed a fortuitous bounce that allowed them back in the match. Using the right sideline, forward Ezekiel Harris took the ball towards the endline. Though he won’t get onto the scoresheet with an assist, Harris set up the goal by sending a low cross through the box that was reached by striker Peter Jacobsen just to the left of the spot. His one touch pass went right back towards the right post to Rob Dolot, whose side foot shot skipped up and hit the crossbar—falling back across the goal to Jacobsen who had only to tap in the ball for a 1-1 game.

Crossfire made one change at halftime, bringing on Haakon Taylor for Jordan Zogg. The Washington club came out firing to start the second half. In the 49th minute, Rowe was given space to dribble in the middle of the Vardar half, and went forward towards goal. Approaching the box, Rowe stepped up and fired with the outside of his right foot, but the swerving ball rose just over the goal.

The 67th minute brought out the best chance of the second half for Crossfire Premier, as Rowe turned his man along the right sideline and ran onto a long ball from the defense. Lofting a cross towards the box, the ball bounced past a defender and found the open head of Kelly. The striker put the ball towards the roof of the net, but Jebson made his best reaction save of the night to push the ball up and off the crossbar.

Upon weathering the repeated Crossfire attacks, Vardar began to mount some of their own in hopes of completing the comeback.

The 74th minute brought the first goal, when a through ball from Schrauben for Harris was sent into the left side of the box behind the Crossfire defense. Coming off his line, Weakly was just a step too slow and Harris managed to touch the ball to the left around the goalkeeper’s hands. Shooting from the now-sharp angle, Harris’ effort appeared goalbound before getting cleared off by a defender. The rebound fell right to the feet of Schrauben who had continued his run into the box, and the midfielder finished the play he started for his first goal of the night and a 2-1 lead.

Five minutes later Schrauben provided all the insurance they needed, again finding himself in the right place at the right time. From a Caleb Stanko free kick just inside the half, Vardar headed back in the clearance towards the back left post. Going up for the ball was Weakly and Joseph Dillon, and when the goalkeeper was unable to hold onto the ball Dillon sent a soft cross through the center. Jacobson got a foot to it but only served to move it a step more to the right, where the wide open Schrauben side-footed it into the right side of the goal for the 3-1 lead.

In the final ten minutes Crossfire reduced their attacks to long balls up to Rowe and Kelly, but the Vardar defense cleared each and every effort. A red card shown to Jack Ryan in the 4th minute of stoppage time did little to help Crossfire’s cause, and with the final whistle Vardar’s bench exploded in celebration. 
Click on the following links to the Academy game reports:

Development Academy Finals Week Match Report

Match: Crossfire Premier U-17/18 vs. Vardar U-17/18
Date: July 17, 2010
Competition: Development Academy Finals Week
Venue: The Home Depot Center; Carson, Calif.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. local time

Scoring Summary:     1     2     F
Crossfire Premier          1     0     1
Vardar                         1     2     3

CRO – Liam Kelly (Kelyn Rowe)                  12th minute
VAR – Peter Jacobson                               29
VAR – Derek Schrauben                            74
VAR – Derek Schrauben                            79

CRO: 0-Andrew Weakly; 58-Jose Ocampo (4-Parker Powell, 88), 8-Jack Ryan, 7-Joshua Smith, 1-Jordan Zogg (14-Haakon Taylor, 46); 12-Jose Garibay (26-Quinn Grisham, 72), 31-Louis Schott, 10-Brooks Kochman, 21-Jim Oganga; 2-Kelyn Rowe (capt.), 17-Liam Kelly
Subs not used: 5-Niccolo Piacentini, 15-John Krueger, 16-John Monroy, 30-Bryce Bacic
Head Coach: Bernie James

VAR: 0-Jonathan Jebson; 23-Zach Schewee, 2-Zachary Carroll, 4-Joseph Dillon (capt.), 18-Mario Teixeira; 20-Garth McClellan (19-Miche’le Lipari, 30, 12-Ugochuwku Uche, 85)), 5-Derek Schrauben, 8-Rob Dolot, 21-Caleb Stanko; 11-Ezekiel Harris, 10-Peter Jacobson
Subs not used: 1-Dean Dziewit, 7-Blake Skamiera, 14-Dario Folino, 15-Mahamoudou Kaba, 22-Fatai Alashe
Head Coach: Demir Muftari

Stats Summary: CRO / VAR
Shots: 16 / 9
Shots on Goal: 7 / 5
Saves: 2 / 6
Corner Kicks: 7 / 5
Fouls: 13 / 9
Offside: 1 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
CRO – Jack Ryan         (caution)         90th minute
CRO – Jack Ryan         (caution)         90+4
CRO – Jack Ryan         (sent off)         90+4

Referee: Fotis Bazakos
Assistant Referee 1: Corey Parker
Assistant Referee 2: Matthew Nelson
Fourth Official: Sorin Stoica


Vardar 17/18 Academy to play for National Championship

July 16, 2010 --   The Vardar U17/18 Academy team, coached by Demir Muftari, has advanced to play in the Academy National Championship after posting a 2-0-1 record in preliminary games.  The championship game, pitting Vardar against Crossfire Premier, will be played Saturday, July 17 at 7 p.m. PT (10 p.m. ET).  The game will be streamed online on Sunday, July 18 at 4 p.m. PT (7 p.m. ET).   Crossfire Premier is based out of Seattle, WA.

By beating Baltimore Bays 3-0 in its third preliminary game, Vardar had a +1 goal differential over Real So Cal who also had a 2-0-1 record and had tied Vardar 1-1 in the first bracket game earlier this week. 

Click on the following link to watch the game streamed online by Hi-Pod:

Congratulations to the Vardar boys for their well-deserved berth in the National Final!

The U17/18 team is comprised of Joey Dillon, Rob Dolot, Dean Dziewit, Carlos Folino, Zeke Harris, Peter Jacobson, Jon Jebson, Miche'le Lipari, Garth McClellan, Michael Pugh, Zach Schewee, Derek Schrauben, Caleb Stanko, Mario Teixeira, Ugo Uche, Fatai Alashe, Zachary Carroll, Mohamadou Kaba and Blake Skamiera.  Eric Pogue is the team's assistant coach



ONE GOAL CHANGES EVERYTHING: Thursday night saw exciting finishes in the U-17/18 age group at Development Academy Finals Week, with just one goal separating first and second place in both groups. Vardar and Crossfire Premier will meet in the Finals Week championship match on Saturday, July 18, at 7 p.m. PT at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

In Group 1, Vardar and Real So Cal, playing simultaneously on adjacent fields, exchanged goals in a pair of wild games that came down to the wire. At halftime, Real So Cal needed a goal to clinch the group, but Vardar quickly scored and forced Real So Cal to score two to stay ahead of the Michigan club in the standings. The local team was up to the task, and went ahead 5-1 in the 76th minute, seemingly sealing a place in the final. But Vardar answered back with a goal in the second minute of added time to go ahead 3-0 and take the top place in Group 1.

Group 2 also featured late goals and surprise endings, as FC Dallas started the day in first place in their group, but finished in third place after a thriller that saw CASL FC Chelsea take the lead twice before scoring the game-winning goal with 10 men in the fifth minute of stoppage time. Though that goal gave CASL six points on the week, on the next field over, Crossfire Premier scored a 90th minute goal of their own to make it 2-0 and gave them the goal differential tiebreaker.

U-17/18 Placement Matchups

Kickoff (PT)


7th Place Game

Concorde Fire vs. Derby County Wolves

1 p.m.
Field 2

5th Place Game

Baltimore Bays Chelsea FC vs. FC Dallas

3 p.m.
Field 3

3rd Place Game

Real So Cal vs. CASL Chelsea FC

5 p.m.
Field 2
1st Place Game
Vardar vs. Crossfire Premier

7 p.m.

Field 1

Final U-17/18 Group 1 Standings


Final U-17/18 Group 2 Standings


Complete U-17/18 Results and Standings

A LOOK AT THE U-15/16 PAIRINGS: The younger age group will wrap up their Finals Week with four placement matches on Friday evening. The day will start with CASL FC Chelsea taking on D.C. United and conclude with the championship game, slated for 7 p.m. PT on the Glenn “Mooch” Myernick Field at The Home Depot Center.

U-15/16 Placement Games Schedule

Kickoff (PT)

7th Place Game

CASL Chelsea FC vs. D.C. United

1 p.m.
Field 2

5th Place Game

Internationals vs. Sockers FC

3 p.m.
Field 3

3rd Place Game

Baltimore Bays Chelsea vs. DeAnza Force

5 p.m.
Field 2
1st Place Game

Cal Odyssey vs Chicago Fire

7 p.m.

Field 1

Full U-15/16 Results and Standings

Chicago Fire
Chicago Fire came through a tough Frontier Division and a competitive Playoff group to reach Finals Week, and continued their streak of impressive play at The Home Depot Center. In Carson, the Fire bested local rival Sockers FC 2-1 to take control of Group 1. On Monday evening, Larry Sunderland’s club topped D.C. United 2-0, and with Sockers FC and Baltimore Bays Chelsea playing to a tie, the Fire were assured of a place in the championship game.

Larry Sunderland and Captain Peter Beasley Preview Friday Night’s Game

Chicago Fire Finals Week Results

Chicago Fire Goalscorer(s)
July 10
Sockers FC
2-1 W
Pineda, Albert
July 12
D.C. United
2-0 W

L. Medina, J. Medina

July 14
DeAnza Force
0-2 L

THEY SAID IT: “We’ve had our ups and downs but we’ve come through and started to play well when it matters. We support each other on and off the field. We’re like a family, so we play well together.” – Peter Beasley, Chicago Fire Captain

Cal Odyssey
Last year’s runners up Cal Odyssey returned six players to the 2010 squad, and will be looking to build on its championship experience Friday night. JJ Wozniak’s team opened Finals Week with a 4-2 victory against CASL Chelsea FC behind two goals from team captain Villyan Bijev. Two days later, the Oxnard, Calif.-side overcame a 1-0 deficit to clinch the top place in Group 2 with a 2-1 win and a game to spare.

JJ Wozniak and Co-Captain Daniel Flores Preview Friday Night’s Game

Cal Odyssey Finals Week Results


Cal Odyssey Goalscorer(s)

July 10
CASL Chelsea FC
4-2 W

Bijev (2), Rodarte, Flores

July 12
2-1 W

Antognolli, Flores

July 14

Baltimore Bays Chelsea

0-2 L

THEY SAID IT: “It’s not going to be easy, but we just have to go out and play hard. I still don’t think we’ve played our best game yet, but we’ll get there. We have to play hard and stay focused and do what we do.” –Daniel Flores, Cal Odyssey Forward

SEASON FINALE: The Development Academy playoff system was created to add to the number of meaningful games for Academy athletes, further enhancing the player development process. Since its launch in the fall of 2007, the Academy has improved the training environment, provided relevant, high-level matches on a consistent basis, increased the level and efficiency of scouting for the national teams and provided players, coaches and referees with structured programming.


Academy Update from the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Staff
- Friday, July 2, 2010 -

2009-10 Development Academy Playoff Results

Congratulations to the sixteen teams moving onto the Development Academy Finals Week in Los Angeles. More information on qualifiers can be found at

YNT Blog

Please visit the YNT Blog for behind the scenes coverage of the Development Academy Playoffs in Greensboro, NC.

Hi-Pod Streaming of Playoff Games

Select Playoff games were streamed on delay on The schedule of games streamed appears on  The Finals Week Streaming schedule will be posted next week on 

Coverage from Other Media

Ordering Videos from Academy Playoffs

Please visit to download an order form for Playoff videos.  


Development Academy U18 headed to Nationals!

July 1, 2010 --   U18 boys as Champions headed to Nationals!  All expenses paid trip to Home Depot Center in LA from July 10-18th to fight for the National Championship vs. Real So Cal (CA-S), Baltimore Bays (MD), Crossfire Premier (WA), Concorde Fire (GA), FC Dallas (TX), CASL (NC), and Wolves (MI)


July 1, 2010 --  

U-15/16 Teams Kick Off Finals Week July 10 and Crown Champion July 16

U-17/18 Teams Begin Group Play July 11 With Final Set for July 17

GREENSBORO, N.C. (June 29, 2010) – Every group during Academy Playoffs came down to the final day, but all 16 teams across two age groups have been set for the 2010 Development Academy Finals Week that will take place from July 10-17 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

In Carson, the eight teams in each age group will be split into two groups, with the winners of each group advancing to the championship match. The U-15/16 championship will be played on July 16 and the U-17/18 championship game will be July 17. Second place teams will meet for a third place match, following down into a seventh place match between the two fourth place teams from each group.

In the U-15/16 age group, top-seeded Baltimore Bays Chelsea earned three wins in Greensboro to advance to Finals Week. They will be joined in Group 2 by 2009 runner-up Cal Odyssey, CASL FC Chelsea and Finals Week newcomers, Internationals.

Group 1 includes a pair of Chicago-area teams as both Sockers FC and the Chicago Fire will do battle in the early stage. They will be joined by another member of the Central Conference, Internationals and the lone member of the West Conference, DeAnza Force.

The U-17/18 age groups feature last year’s U-15/16 champion Derby County Wolves, who are looking to repeat in 2010. They will be in Group 1 alongside Crossfire Premier, FC Dallas and CASL Chelsea FC Academy.

Group 2 for the older teams includes Real So Cal, the only representative of Southern California that will be at The Home Depot Center. Concorde Fire, Baltimore Bays Chelsea and Vardar round out the U-17/18 teams.

The Development Academy playoff system was created to add to the number of meaningful games for Academy athletes, further enhancing the player development process. Since its launch in the fall of 2007, the Academy has improved the training environment, provided relevant, high-level matches on a consistent basis, increased the level and efficiency of scouting for the national teams and provided players, coaches and referees with structured programming.

Zachary Carroll training with the U.S. U17 National Team
- Vardar U15/16 Academy -

April 28, 2010 -- Zachary Carroll, a member of the Vardar U15/16 Academy team, will be spending the rest of his sophomore year at the IGM Academy in Bradenton, FL, training with the U.S. Men's U17 National Team.

Zach came to the attention of the national coaching squad during a US Development Academy Training Session in early April at the Columbus Crew Stadium. He was noticed by Gerson Echeverry, U17 assistant coach, and was asked to play with the U17 National Team the following weekend in Chicago.  From there Zach was asked to attend an April 18-24 mini-camp in Florida.   At the camp's conclusion, Zach was approached by Wilmer Caberra, head coach of the U17s, and was offered a spot in the residency program.

Zach is one of 40 U17 players who live on campus at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, and train in the morning under the guidance of Cabrera and assistant coaches  Paul Caffrey, Echeverry, Keith Fulk and Paul Grafer. In the afternoon, the players attend classes at Bradenton Preparatory Academy. While in the full-time residency program, the players not only train daily under Cabrera, but also have access to the IMG Academy’s spacious facilities. The team regularly uses IMG’s state-of-the-art strength-training facilities, as well as some of the nation’s best sports psychologists that work at the Academy. The IMG Academy includes top-of-the-line soccer equipment, three Bermuda grass fields, an indoor dome with artificial turf, two swimming pools, newly renovated student housing and dining facilities.

Zach is a student at Grand Blanc High School and will graduate in 2012.



ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” aired a feature this past week covering U.S. Soccer’s player development initiative leading up to the World Cup this summer.  The short feature includes footage from Development Academy events and has interviews from the L.A. based Academy club, LAFC Chelsea.




Vardar Academy Winter Showcase Photos - December 2009



From the U.S. Soccer Communications Center - Dec. 5, 2009
•    Everyday Training Theme in Full Effect with Individual Training on Display

PHOENIX (Dec. 5, 2009) - As the 2009 Development Academy Winter Showcase gets underway, the overall theme for the year is in full effect, as Everyday Training is being incorporated into player and coaching education surrounding games as well as in the matches themselves. 

Technical advisor Louis Mateus, who has seen hundreds of players rise from the club ranks to various youth national teams, explains that along with the Academy-mandated three training sessions per week, players have to train individually to reach the highest levels of the game. Training, he says, incorporates more than ball work.

“(Every day training) becomes important because in order to be competitive in a world market, in order for the players to be better, we have to get better in what we do,” said Mateus.  “That has to come not just on game day or practice day, but in everything we do. Physical fitness, the way we eat, sleep, rest, all those things become much more important in order for us to be successful. I think first of all, it has to come from the players.”

Tony Lepore, who has seen the Academy mature into its third season, agrees players in the United States must adapt to meet the high technical standards set by top-level players around the world.  “If you look at all the top players and skill development, it wasn’t taught by the coach,” said Lepore. “It was spent through a relationship the player had with the ball on his own. I think young players especially need to know that they’re training only through the time spent at practice, it’s just not enough.”

For more on individual training from the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Technical Advisors, be sure to check out the full-length feature from Tony Lepore, Louis Matues and Hugo Perez at

JULY 2009


Soony Saad joins SuperElite® Discover Europe™ Tour

Written by ESNN (Elite Soccer News Network) -- July 22, 2009 --  The U.S.F.C. SuperElite® Discover Europe™ International Showcase, which comes via the Orange County Blue Star, begins tomorrow.

Eighteen of the top players in the country set off on a voyage that will include tours through Austria, Germany and Belgium.

And as eye-opening as the tour will be for some players, for others it won’t be their first brush with playing internationally.

Soony Saad, one of the final two players that we’ll spotlight for the event, has had much of the world opened up to him through his enormous talent. Having competed in the likes of England and Italy, Saad has the rare combination of veteran experience and newcomer enthusiasm.

“I’m very excited,” Saad said. “I’ve never played in any of the countries where we’ll be but I know that playing overseas is a lot different than playing here at home. I always try to watch a lot of soccer from the countries I visit so that I pick up a couple tendencies and styles of the way they play.”  

To even the playing field a little, it might be wise for a few of the international teams to brush up on some of Saad’s moves as well.

Soony SaadDearborn, Michigan

Saad has been a standout talent since the first day he touched a soccer ball. A natural, Saad is one of the top young strikers in the world, is dynamic with the ball and has a nose for scoring. He seemingly always puts himself in good position to convert chances.

He’s received great experience through the U.S. Soccer U17 Residency Program, and was the 2008 U.S. Soccer Development Academy U16 Player of the Year during his time with Vardar Soccer Club.   CONTINUED...............





Soony Saad and Jose Perez Are Among Many Youth National Team Players to Benefit from Academy System

CHICAGO (Feb. 4, 2009) – The U.S. Soccer Development Academy has to look no further than the Under-17 Men’s National Team to find stories of successful player development and scouting. Members of U.S. Soccer’s Residency Program, former Vardar standout Soony Saad and FC Dallas’ Jose Perez both credit their time in the Academy in providing opportunities with the U-17 MNT. Both are part of a 22-player roster that is currently participating in the La Serena Cup in Chile.

Saad, who at age 15 earned Development Academy Player of the Year honors in the combined U-15/16 age group, is taking full advantage of his time with the U-17 MNT Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla. Since joining the program in the Fall 2008 semester, he has scored three goals in 12 international appearances to date.

Though he was part of the Under-14 National Developmental Program, National Team coaches believe that his time with Vardar, specifically in the inaugural year of the Academy, helped aid his player development immensely. With more training and more consistent games against better competition, Saad began to realize his potential.

“I was part of U-14 and U-15s,” Saad said. “I was probably on the fringe with those teams to be honest, but with the Academy and all of the opportunities that came along with it, I had new incentive to work harder.”

He also reaped the benefits of a growing network of U.S. Soccer scouts, first catching the eye of National Staff Coach Roberto Lopez early in the inaugural Academy season and eventually other members of the scouting network, including Development Academy Director of Scouting Tony Lepore.




“When Vardar started in the full Academy program, Soony was playing up a year in those games,” said Lepore. “He was a U-15 player but was playing in the U-15/16 combined age group. We were able to see him pretty regularly in good games and we had a few different sets of eyes that saw him. He was also scoring a ton of goals for Vardar, so when (U-17 head coach) Wilmer Cabrera held a mini-camp last spring he was one of many Academy players in attendance. During that camp he proved that he belonged.”

Saad was brought into a U-17 MNT training camp in April 2008 alongside other Development Academy players. Cabrera liked what he saw from the Dearborn, Mich. native and continued to keep an eye on him. Eventually, he traveled to Central America with the U-17s and it wasn’t long before Cabrera offered him a place in Residency for the Fall 2008 semester.

“To a certain extent, Residency is set-up similarly to the way we’d been playing with Vardar,” said Saad. “We trained four times a week, which was more than we’d been training before. The level of play wasn’t quite what I have now in Residency, but it was definitely competitive. That made the step I was taking seem a little smaller.”

Perez, one of the Residency Program’s most recent additions, saw immediate rewards from FC Dallas’ first year as part of the Academy. Benefiting from the fall games played by the Texas Division, Perez was noticed early on by U.S. Under-20 assistant coach Dave Dir, the National Team scout assigned to the Dallas area.

Working closely with former Under-17 assistant and now FC Dallas Director of Player Development Oscar Pareja, Dir knew Perez was a player that was worth a second look. Now Perez, after just a few weeks in Residency, is on his first international trip and has appeared in his first international game, coming on in the second half of a 2-0 win against Chile.

“I always wanted to go to Residency,” said Perez, on the phone from Chile. “One of my teammates went there before and I just wanted to get up there with him. I just really wanted it, so I worked really hard to get there and playing with FC Dallas for Chris Hayden and Oscar Pareja really helped me a lot in developing both my skills and fitness level. These are my first international games and there was definitely a different level of play than I’m used to. It’s been fun though.”

Lepore says that Perez, and other youth national team players like him, are signs that the scouting process is starting to work.

“Every week we hold a conference call with a representative from every youth National Team,” said Lepore. “On a typical week we talk about upwards of 40-50 players. It’s really exciting when players come through and have success on a national team and we can remember when they were first talked about on a call and who spotted them first. It’s a sign that the system is beginning to work.”

As the U-17 MNT builds toward the 2009 CONCACAF Under-17 Championship that will qualify four regional teams to the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in October, Saad and Perez are among 21 players from Development Academy clubs currently on the 40-player Residency roster and are vying for a spot on the 21 player World Cup Qualifying roster.

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team will open its CONCACAF Championship campaign against Cuba on April 21 at Estadio Caliente in Tijuana, Mexico. They will play Canada on April 23 and round out Group A play against Honduras on April 25. Should the U.S. advance out of their group, they will cross over to play one of the top two teams from Group B, which is made up of Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago, in the semifinals. Semifinalists will also earn a berth to the 2009 FIFA Under-17 World Cup, slated for Nigeria from Oct. 24-Nov. 16.

Cabrera will be at the helm of his first qualifying tournament, and will attempt to continue the U.S. streak of being the only team to qualify for every FIFA event at this age level, dating back to 1985. At the biennial event in 2007, the U.S. advanced to the Round of 16 in South Korea. The USA's best-ever finish at the event was fourth place in 1999.

MORE INFO:       Development Academy - Vardar

JULY 2008


Soony Saad named the 15/16 Boys Academy Player of the Year

(July 18, 2008) – The U.S. Soccer Development Academy announced the 2007-08 Academy Player of the Year for the Under 15/16 age group at the Development Academy Finals Week at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

The U-15/16 Player of the Year is Soony Saad from Vardar. Soony has parlayed his impressive performance into call-ups to the U.S. U-17 Men's National Team.

The recipients of the honors were voted upon by U.S. Soccer's Development Academy coaches and National Team scouts. Already, 13 of the 22 players on the Starting XI have been in camp with a U.S. Youth National Team, and the 10 players from the Starting XI have one more chance to impress the National Team scouts.



JUNE 2008



Another Vardar Player Joins the U.S Soccer National Residency Program

(June 12, 2008) – Soony Saad, a member of the U-16 Vardar Academy League, has been selected among the nation's top players to join the U.S National Residency Roster for the Fall of 2008 in Bradenton Florida. 

Soony & his older brother Hamoody Saad  recently joined  Vardar Soccer Club this past year and since have helped bring the team to many victories. The U-16 Academy record is 16-2-3. The Saad brothers' goal is to win their league and represent their new club at the National Championship in July, which will be held in California.

Soony  attributes their recent success to the great coaching staff: Morris and Mike Lupenec as well as their fellow teammates. Soony will miss his team and coaches as he bids farewell this fall. "It will be sad to say goodbye, but I'm excited for my team-mates who look to have an awesome finish this year and a bright fresh team next year in the U-18 Academy. Thanks to all!!




Vardar Selected For U.S. Soccer's Development Academy

64 clubs from 24 States and the District of Columbia Represented in Program's Inaugural Year with Clubs Focused on Improving Development Environment

The 64 teams will be divided into eight conferences, each comprised of eight teams based largely on geographic proximity. Each team will play approximately 30 matches during an eight-month season, with the winner of each conference playing in the Academy Finals at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Additional Development Academy program elements such as a Technical Workshop and Best Practices seminars are being finalized.

“The clubs participating in the inaugural Academy season represent a shared vision of player development and the desire to change the current landscape,” said U.S. Soccer’s Director of Coaching Education Bob Jenkins. “These clubs were selected because of their ability to implement the best development environment for our elite youth players.”