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US Youth Soccer National League clubs continue to develop players for the next level

 

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Girls commitments: U-18 | U-17
Boys commitments: 
U-18 | U-17

FRISCO, Texas (Jan. 18, 2012) - US Youth Soccer would like to congratulate those that qualified for the 2011-2012 National League on their success in developing future collegiate, professional and National Team players. The National League season is at the halfway point and to date, club teams in the U-17 and U-18 National League have produced 276 girls and 119 boys who have committed to play for collegiate soccer programs throughout the country.

The National League is an extension of the highly successful US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues (US Youth Soccer Region I Premier League, Midwest Regional League, Region III Premier League and Far West Regional League). The National League provides an avenue for teams to play in meaningful matches against top competition from across the country for continued development. In addition to recruiting opportunities, National League teams compete for the league title and one slot per division to the annual US Youth Soccer National Championships for the U-15 through U-17 age groups.

Unlike other leagues, the National League is comprised of club teams that each earn their spot based on development and success, regardless of location or club affiliation. The National League is set up to field the highest quality teams possible rather than a large quantity of teams, and only the top 16 teams per age group are accepted.

Of the 207 girls playing in the U-18 National League this season, 184 will go on to play in college, about 89 percent. According to the final 2011 NSCAA rankings, National League Girls will go on to join 20 of the top 30 collegiate programs in the country, including perennial powers such as Boston College, Duke, Florida State, North Carolina, UCLA, Virginia and Wake Forest.

"I've never seen so many college coaches," remarked Grand Rapids Crew Juniors coach Remco Bergsma this past December in Atlanta. "I have a dad that gives out the profile books and he made 150 copies. After two games we are almost out, so more than 50 coaches a game. That is a benefit for these girls."

More than 500 coaches registered to attend each of the first two weekends of National League Girls play in December and over 300 coaches attended the opening weekend of Boys play last month in Birmingham, Ala.

"As a college coach, you always go to look at the greatest events and the most competitive events to find the best players that you can find, so definitely the National League is an opportunity to see that. You see really competitive games and players really challenged and tested, and you want to see them in that environment to know if they can play at the Division I level," said Tracy Leone, current Northeastern University Head Coach and former Olympic and World Champion coach with the U.S. Women's National Team program. "It's awesome to come to a National League event to see the players work so hard for placement in the league the following year and also a chance to compete for a National Championship. What you see is an urgency; the games mean something, there's something on the line, there's an elimination factor to it. So you see who responds to that challenge and it brings out the best in players for sure."

The National League Boys teams are sending players on to some of the most prestigious programs in the nation as well, including Indiana, Maryland, New Mexico, Stanford, St. John's, St. Louis and Virginia. Of the final top 30 men's rankings, National League Boys will join nine of those rosters, with more expected as boys typically commit during their senior year while many girls commit during their junior year.

"Playing in the National League gives you the chance to compete against the best but not only that, if you're a college coach, what you want is to be in a position to evaluate, look at players and measure them against the very best. So we've put ourselves in a position to really showcase our athletes in this league," said GSA Phoenix (GA) Boys Director Nuno Piteira. "There are college coaches out of the Northeast, Midwest and so-forth who don't have the chance to see kids out of our region every day and they have a chance with the National League to watch the best of the best and say 'There's someone that might make a difference in our program'."

While the opportunity to play collegiately is a main focus for many players, National League clubs are also developing future professional and National Team players. As of the most recent call-ups, 17 National League boys and 13 National League girls are currently a part of U.S. National Teams, along with numerous US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (US Youth Soccer ODP) State and Regional Team players.

The U-15 Boys group boasts six players in Youth National Team pools with Guillermo Bermudez and Pablo Paez of Albion SC (CA-S), Cameron Keys of Lehigh Valley United (E-PA), Josef Samuel of GSA Phoenix (GA), Jean Orvil Jr. of West Pines United (FL) and Logan Panchot of St. Louis Scott Gallagher (MO).

Under-16 Olney Rangers' (MD) have three players participating with National Teams. Gedion Zelalem is a member of both the U.S. and German U-15 national pools, Jeremy Ebobisse has been included in the U-15 U.S. pool, and defender Bruno Scodari spent last fall as a member of U.S. Soccer's U-17 Residency program.

A host of U-17 National League players have spent time with U.S. National Teams, including Nicholas Corriveau of AC Bethesda who was invited to the most recent U-18 camp, but had to withdraw due to injury. Bethesda teammates Freddy Nzekele and Patrick Tshiani are part of National Team pools, as are CESA (SC) goalkeeper Arthur Eggers, Downtown Rapids' (NV) Michael Gray and Raiders' (IL) Ricardo Aldape. Downtown Rapids' Antonio Murrillo and Everest SC's (OH-N) James Haupt were also members of the Residency program in 2010.

U-18 Florida Rush's Nico Melo returned to the team this year after honing his skills in Bradenton as a Residency member.

On the Girls' side, nine U-15 National League players are currently a part of Youth National Teams. Alana Cook, Kayla Jennings and Penelope Edmonds of Match Fit Chelsea Colchesters' (NJ), Bridgette Andrzejewski and Samantha Scaffidi of PSC Baltimore (MD), Katie Murray of Kings SA (OH-S), Peyton Perea of Legends FC (CA-S), Hope Quinonez of Farmingdale United (E-NY) and Caroline Kearns of PWSI Courage (VA) are all in U-14 or U-15 pools.

Under-16 AHFC's (S-TX) Michaela Abam continues to be a rising star, and has been a part of numerous Youth National Team camps. U-18 Coral Springs Utd FC Lady Renegades' (FL) Miranda Freeman and Yulie Lopez, and U-18 NASA's (GA) Emily Sonnett and Abby Lutzenkirchen are also Youth National Team members.

Several National League boys also have the chance to progress to the professional ranks and have already trained with pro clubs, particularly Zelalem of U-16 Olney Rangers (MD), who has been invited to join the youth side for Arsenal FC of the English Premier League and is set to leave for London in 2013.

U-17 AC Bethesda (MD) boasts several players with professional opportunities, most notably Tshiani, who has been splitting time with Bethesda and Belgian top division side Anderlecht FC. Corriveau is also looking abroad, having successful trials with Bordeaux FC of France and Frieburg FC of Germany, and Cwa Rugumayo joined the team from Danish pro club Brondby FC and will embark on a training stint with Fulham FC of England.

Numerous other National League boys have trained locally with MLS clubs and would love to follow in the footsteps of several National League players to turn pro in the past, such as Jack McInerney, a forward for Cobb FC (GA) in the 06-07 and 07-08 National League seasons before joining the Residency program and then signing a professional contract with the Philadelphia Union at age 17.

The 2011-2012 National League season resumes next month with the second weekend of Boys play, Feb. 18-20 in Weston, Fla., and the final standings will be concluded March 23-25 in Las Vegas.

Keep up with the US Youth Soccer National League all season:
Sign up for News: https://www.usyouthsoccer.org/members/register.asp
National League Home: USYouthSoccer.org/National_League
Schedule and results: Tournaments.usyouthsoccer.org/events/2011-2012-National-League/
Twitter: @nationalleague
Facebook: Facebook.com/usyouthsoccer
You Tube: YouTube.com/usyouth
 

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