DIVISIONS: BLACK | BLUE | RED | WHITE
PLAYER NOTES | SCHEDULE | HISTORY & RECORDS
In a division full of teams from clubs with substantial National League experience, it’s one of the newcomers — Tuzos Academy 2002 (AZ) — who looks like a favorite to bring home the 16U Boys Black Division title.
The Arizona side is coming off an appearance in the 2017 US Youth Soccer National Championships final, where it came up just short in a 1-0 loss. Tuzos advanced to Nationals by winning the US Youth Soccer Region IV Championship, as it advanced out of a very tight group before hitting its stride in the knockout rounds — outscoring opponents 8-to-1 in its final three games in Seattle, Wash.
After going 6-0-0 to win its US Youth Soccer Midwest Regional League division, CUP 02 Gold (OH-S) will look to find that same form when it kicks off National League play in Wilson, N.C. The same can be said for Village of the Branch 02 Cosmos United (NY-E), which went 5-0-2 to take first place in the US Youth Soccer Eastern Regional League.
Many times, National League division titles aren’t decided until the last day of play, and no one knows that better than Boca OC 02 White (CA-S). The Cal South side didn’t just make a move into the top two with a win in its last game a season ago, it jumped to the top of the standings to claim the Blue Division title. That’s exactly where Boca wants to be when the dust settles on the 2017-18 season.
Boca allowed just three goals during the course of last year’s National League campaign, and a similar effort may be needed to finish on top of the division. That’s what is necessary to earn the automatic berth to the US Youth Soccer National Championships, where Boca narrowly missed out on a semifinal spot in 2017.
The Cal South side isn’t the only team in the Blue Division with past National League success, as St. Louis Scott Gallagher SC Elite (MO) finished second in the Red Division in 2016-17. The Missouri side advanced to the National Championship semifinals, and it will aim to get back to that stage with a Blue Division title.
US Youth Soccer Region IV Championships finalist Excel Soccer Academy 02 (AZ) will also be a tough opponent for all teams in the group, along with SC Waukesha 02 Blue (WI), which finished second in its MRL division and fourth in the National League last season.
After going 6-1-0 last season, Midwest United FC 02 Royal (MI) is out to repeat as a group winner and capture the 16U Boys Red Division title. The Michigan side provided the highest-scoring offense in its age group last year, as it netted 25 goals to help it win the division.
Midwest will be motivated to get back to Nationals after it barely missed out on the semifinals this past summer. Conceding a goal in the final minute of its last group play game caused the side to finish third in its group on a tiebreaker.
Another team in the Red Division that brings some experience from the National Championships is Club Division 02 (TX-S), which played several tight matches in Frisco, Texas, and during its finalist run at the US Youth Soccer Region III Championships. NCFC Elite (NC), which fell to Club Division in the Region III semifinals, will be another team to watch.
And FLEQ Earthquakes Premier 02 (CA-N) could make some noise after showing it can excel in league play — as it went 10-0-1 in US Youth Soccer Far West Regional League CRL action.
The headliner in the 16U Boys White Division is defending National Champion Solar 02 Stricker (TX-N). The North Texas side defended its home turf in Frisco, as it conceded just one goal in five games to win the National title.
Looking ahead to the 2017-18 season, Solar will be aiming to get its first National League division crown. It was in position to do so a year ago, but a loss on the final day of play in Las Vegas saw Solar advance to Nationals as the runner-up in the Blue Division. With just one berth to Nationals available in the White Division, the North Texas side knows it can’t afford a similar conclusion this year.
US Youth Soccer Region II Champion NFC 02 Blue (NE) is another side to keep an eye on in the White Division. While it came up short at Nationals, the Nebraska side showed a knack for earning results in close games during its run to the Region II title.
A team that NFC defeated in Sioux Falls, S.D., Club Ohio Green 1 (OH-S), presents another challenge to the White Division. The Ohio South side finished first in its MRL division and outscored opponents 12-to-0 in group play at the Region II Championships.
Riley O’Donnell (Solar Chelsea) – Golden Ball, Best XI and leading scorer (five goals) at the National Championships; Leading scorer at the Region III Championships with nine goals
Abdillahi Adan (NFC) – Best XI at the National Championships
Kidd Avery (Midwest United) – Best XI at the National Championships
Richard Garcia (Solar Chelsea) – Best XI at the National Championships
Joshua De Velder (Midwest United) – Best XI at the National Championships
Haden Biering (Solar Chelsea) – Best XI at the National Championships
Adam Lucas (St. Louis Scott Gallagher) – Best XI at the National Championships
Theo Ruppert (St. Louis Scott Gallagher) – Best XI at the National Championships
Michael Sedano (Boca OC) – Best XI at the National Championships
Noah Brumels (Midwest United) – Leading scorer in the 2016-17 National League season with 15 goals; Tied for leading scorer at the Region II Championships with four goals
Christopher Guerra (Club Ohio) – Tied for leading scorer at the Region II Championships with four goals
Charles Howard (NFC) – Tied for leading scorer at the Region II Championships with four goals
2017 US Youth Soccer ODP Boys Thanksgiving Interregional – 2003 Roster
Midwest Region – Alexandru Diac (Michigan Jaguars)
2017 US Youth Soccer ODP Boys Florida Interregional – 2002 Roster
East Region – Ian Whitfield (Loudoun)
Midwest Region – Ryan Webb (Michigan Jaguars); Ethan Jansen (Midwest United); Joshua de Velder (Midwest United)
South Region – Aaron Marquez (OK Energy FC); Matthew Howard (OK Energy FC); Abraham Covarrubias (OK Energy FC); Damon Williams (SCUFC); Evan Kleiser (Lobos Rush)
West Region – Hudson Bodily (La Roca); Dyson Clapier (La Roca); Andrew Resendiz (Boca OC); Michael Sedano (Boca OC)