Jefferson Cup 2019 Championship Division Preview: U-17 Boys
With the 2019 Jefferson Cup coming up fast, SoccerWire.com continues its article series previewing the top divisions for the showcase age groups. In this edition, we take a look at the teams competing in the U-17 Boys Championship Division.
Arlington SA 02 Red (VA)
Coach: Eduardo de Souza
Reigning US Youth Soccer national champion Arlington SA 02 Red will be among the favorites to finish atop the 16-team table in a talented Championship Division this spring. The Northern Virginia side won it all at the US Youth Soccer National Championships during Summer 2018 in Frisco, Texas, culminating with an overtime win in the title match against North Carolina FC Elite. Arlington also captured the 2018 US Youth Soccer Region I title, placed 2nd in the Virginia State Cup. In league play, they claimed division titles in the Club Champions League (CCL) and the EDP League 1st Division South.
Baltimore Celtic SC 02 (MD)
Coach: David Nesbitt
Maryland State Cup semifinalist Baltimore Celtic SC 02 is coming off a 2018 season highlighted by overwhelming success in both the US Youth Soccer National League and the Region I Eastern Regional League. Celtic finished 2nd in the National League’s 16U Black Division last season, scoring a division-high 17 goals in six games. They also posted a perfect 7-0-0 record, winning the US Youth Soccer Eastern Regional League title in the U-16 Premier Blue Division. In showcase competition, Celtic captured a division championship at the United Soccer Coaches Baltimore Showcase over Thanksgiving weekend.
Brausa United FC 02 Blue (MD)
Coach: Adauto Neto
One of several 2018 US Youth Soccer State Cup champion teams featured in the Jefferson Cup’s top U-17 bracket is Maryland’s Brausa United FC 02 Blue. In addition to Brausa’s Maryland State Cup title in 2018 at the U-16 level, the team earned a 1st place finish in the US Youth Soccer Eastern Regional League’s U-16 Elite Red Division. Brausa had a perfect 7-0-0 record on the season, scoring a division-high 27 goals, while conceding only six. Last spring, they also claimed the EDP Open Cup title, and finished as semifinalists in the Potomac Memorial Tournament.
CES Strikers Blue (FL)
Coach: Diego Rios
US Club Soccer Florida Cup champion CES Strikers Blue will be the Sunshine State’s lone representative in the U-17 Championship Division. On top of their state championship run, the Strikers have piled up four division title at showcase tournaments over the past year at the IMG College Showcase, Disney Soccer Showcase Qualifier, West Pines Kickoff Classic and the IMG Cup Boys Invitational. In league play, CES finished 2nd in the Florida State Premier League’s U-17 Premier Division this fall, competing in a challenging 9-team group. The team also nearly won both of Florida’s State Cup titles in 2018, finishing 2nd on the US Youth Soccer side.
Delaware FC 02 (DE)
Coach: Erik Temple
The 2nd-highest scoring team in the 2018 Jefferson Cup’s U-16 Championship Division, Delaware FC returns to the top bracket again in 2019. DFC netted 8 goals during group play at last year’s event, winning two of their three games to finish in the top half of the division. Earlier this winter, DFC finished in the top 6 of a loaded 16-team group at the Disney Soccer Showcase. Most recently, the team traveled to Arizona for the SC Del Sol Presidents’ Day Tournament, where they posted an unbeaten 2-0-1 record in their bracket, and placed 2nd overall in the U-17 Showcase Red Division.
GPS MA Elite Red 02 (MA)
Coach: Andy Prosser
Last year’s runner-up in the Jeff Cup’s top bracket in the 2002 age group, GPS MA Elite Red is poised for another strong performance this year. GPS has spent the past year piling up their trophy case with 1st place hardware from the Disney Soccer Showcase, Potomac Memorial Tournament, NEFC Spring Showcase and the GPS March Madness College Showcase. They also won the 2018 Massachusetts US Club State Cup title last spring, and earned a perfect 6-0-0 record – racking up 37 goals along the way – to finish at the top of the table in the New England Premiership.
Levittown Gunners 02 (NY)
Coach: Gary Book
Eastern New York powerhouse Levittown Gunners 02 proved dominant across several high-profile competitions during the 2017-2018 season. Most notably Levittown had a perfect run at the EDP Cup Spring Showcase last June, winning four straight games without conceding a single goal. In March 2018, Levittown captured a division title at the Manhattan Kickoff Classic, compiling an unbeaten 2-0-1 record in the U-16 Showcase Division. The team also had an undefeated season last spring in the EDP Spring League’s 1st Division North, posting a 7-0-1 record and outscoring opponents by a staggering 26-4 margin.
Loudoun Soccer 02 Red (VA)
Coach: John O’Hara
Northern Virginia’s Loudoun Soccer 02 Red is in the midst of a hot streak in tournament play, highlighted by championship runs in the 2018 OBGC Capital Cup and the Potomac Memorial Tournament. Loudoun is the reigning US Youth Soccer Virginia State Cup champion as well, winning the U-17 title during the fall.
Manhattan SC Titans (NY)
Coach: Freddy Fuentes
Representing one of New York City’s top youth soccer clubs, Manhattan SC Titans will travel to Richmond this March aiming to secure another division title from a premier level showcase tournament. Last spring, Manhattan won the U-16 Chesapeake West Division at the prestigious Potomac Memorial Tournament in Maryland, going unbeaten in four games. They went 2-0-1 in group play, before going on to shut out Rochester FC 1-0 in the title match. They conceded only one goal the entire event. The Titans earned a 2nd place finish in June at the EDP Cup Spring Showcase, and they finished 2nd in the EDP League last spring, posting a strong 7-2-2 record in the U-16 NPL Division.
NJ Stallions Academy 02 Juve (NJ)
Coach: Marcelo Fracchia
One of two New Jersey squads competing in the top U-17 bracket, NJ Stallions Academy 02 Juve has collected multiple showcase tournament and league championships over the past year. Juve is the reigning champion of the EDP Spring League’s 2002 1st Division Central, in which they outscored opponents 33-7 during their 6-1-0 run through the 2018 season. In showcase play, the team captured division titles at the 2018 EDP Easter Showcase, FC DELCO Players Cup and the Massapequa Winter College Showcase.
North Carolina FC 02 ECNL (NC)
Coach: Rich Flaim
The Jeff Cup’s top U-17 bracket will feature both the reigning US Youth Soccer national champion (Arlington) and the 2018 runner-up, North Carolina FC. Last summer’s National Championships in Frisco, Texas saw NCFC push the U-16 Boys title match all the way in to overtime, as they wrapped up their remarkable 2017-2018 campaign with the titles of North Carolina State Cup champions, US Youth Soccer Southern Regional champions, and US Youth Soccer national finalists. NCFC continued its strong play this fall, winning their division in the visitRaleigh.com College Showcase.
Penn Fusion SA ECNL 02 (PA)
Coach: Jamie Scott
Returning champion Penn Fusion SA ECNL 02 will seek to repeat in 2019 after finishing with an unblemished record in the 2018 Jefferson Cup’s U-16 Championship Division. Fusion scored a division-high 10 goals during their three-game sweep at last year’s event, edging out GPS Massachusetts for the top spot in the table. During the fall, Fusion continued their dominant play in showcase competition, capturing a division title at the PDA Boys College Showcase. The team piled up 14 goals and didn’t allow a single one during their perfect three-game run.
Salvo REV Academy (MN)
Coach: Jamie Johnson
Midwest Regional League and Minnesota State Cup champion Salvo REV Academy will challenge itself in the Jefferson Cup after rising to numerous tests in showcase play during the past year. Over the summer, Salvo REV Academy earned a 2nd place finish in the US Youth Soccer Midwest Regional Championships, and they won a division title at the Schwan’s USA CUP. The team has continued its success during the fall and winter, as they placed 2nd at the Disney Boys Soccer Showcase and most recently won their bracket in Arizona at the SC Del Sol Presidents’ Day Tournament.
SJEB Rush 02 Academy (NJ)
Coach: Don Dambra
US Youth Soccer New Jersey State Cup champion SJEB Rush 02 Academy have made the leap from the Jefferson Cup’s U-16 Elite Division up to the top bracket at the U-17 level this year. SJEB Rush earned the step up with their title run in one of the most competitive State Cup tournaments on the East Coast, in addition to their top flight 1st place finish in the Potomac Memorial Tournament last May. The squad only gave up two goals during their unbeaten four-game run at the prestigious Maryland tournament, which culminated with a 2-1 victory in the final over West-Mont United.
West Ottawa SS Warriors 02 (CND)
Coach: Russell Shaw
Canadian side West Ottawa SS Warriors 02 is looking forward to a rigorous test against American opponents this March, as they head to Richmond, Va. for the 2019 Jeff Cup. The Warriors represent Canada’s second-largest youth soccer program, West Ottawa Soccer Club. They are a perennial favorite in the Ontario Player Development League (OPDL), and have substantial experience traveling to compete internationally, both in the U.S. and in Europe.
West-Mont United SA Premier (PA)
Coach: Ian Dawson
After winning the US Club Soccer Mid-Atlantic Regional championship over the summer, Pennsylvania side West-Mont United SA Premier has jumped into the 2002 age group’s top bracket for this year’s Jeff Cup. West-Mont is also coming off a 1st place finish in the US Youth Soccer Eastern Regional League and a 2nd place finish in the 2018 EDP Spring League. In tournament play, the team placed second in one of the top flights of the 2018 Potomac Memorial Tournament, and they recently finished within the top half of the table in a challenging 16-team bracket at the Disney Soccer Showcase.