This past Memorial Day weekend I was able to go to the US Soccer Development Academy Spring Showcase held in Sarasota, Florida. Some observations:
-I don't think I have seen better coverage of a Development Academy Event, or any other youth soccer event. US Soccer had a huge amount of coverage, as did TopDrawerSoccer.com. Also several people were using Twitter to post highlights. (follow USSoccer, DallasCup, Topdrawersoccer and Ohioelite for regular updates amongst many interesting Tweeters) I Twittered the play by play of the Ohio Elite Soccer Academy matches for the benefit of the parents who weren't able to attend.
-I am impressed with the way many clubs travel to these events. Ohio Elite, for example, books all the travel for their teams. They boys, coaches and chaperone's fly together with a very specific and coordinated itinerary. Everyone eats together, stays at the same hotel and travels to the fields together. Very professional approach, but in addition the boys were able to go to the beach on their day off and the movies one of the evenings. As a parent I really like this approach, and I understand many of the other clubs travel the same way.
-The exposure these young men had to the US National Staff, college coaches and scouts from professional clubs was unbelievable. Every game had a US National Staff coach observing it. And after each game the US Coaches spent a great deal of time with the club coaches reviewing the match. I personally counted 19 college coaches at our U16's first match versus PDA out of New Jersey.
-All of the boys went through a Nike Sparq Training session. They were tested again and received their results so they could compare them with the testing they went through at the Winter Showcase in December.
-US Soccer also had two matches where a team of Development Academy Players were chosen to play against the U17 National staff. In addition, the U20 National Team played Costa Rican National Team. These matches were free to everyone to watch.
-Lastly, I have to admit I had a pretty good time in the Tampa/Sarasota area. Two other fathers and I made the 14 hour drive from Cincinnati and rented a condo at Indian Rocks Beach. Went to Ybor City one evening, ate at PJ's in Indian Rocks beach three times (might seem extreme, but the seafood was great, and they had Landshark Lager on tap). We also ate dinner at Crabby Bill's in Indian Rocks beach and made good friends with some folks from Bristol, England who had been at the bar since 11am that morning having watched the last of the EPL matches of the season. I am amazed at their stamina!
As I have blogged before, if you have an opportunity to tryout for a Development Academy team in your area, do so!
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