US Youth Soccer National League Season Preview: 18U Boys
(Via US Youth Soccer) – The US Youth Soccer National League 2017-2018 boys season kicks off December 7 in North Carolina. Continue reading for a season preview of the 18U boys age group.
One of the top contenders to win the 18U Boys Black Division is McLean 00 Green (VA), which is aiming to repeat its success from last season. The Virginia side went 5-0-2 last year to win the Black Division and did so while having a target on its back as the 2016 US Youth Soccer National Champion.
McLean managed to earn points in every National League game last year, despite five of seven contests being decided by a goal or less. It encountered similar games at Nationals in 2017, but the team came away with two ties and a one-goal defeat as its title defense came up short. McLean has a shot to get back to Nationals by winning a second straight Black Division title, but it won’t be easy.
Michigan Jaguars 00 Green (MI) will be a top challenger to win the division, as it carries momentum from a National Championships semifinal run into this season. Michigan handed McLean its lone defeat at Nationals, as the Jaguars won Group A before falling in a semifinal penalty kick shootout. With plenty of success at the US Youth Soccer Region II Championships and in the US Youth Soccer Midwest Regional League, the Jaguars have shown they have what it takes to finish on top in the National League.
NCFC Elite 00 (NC) and Ohio Premier (OH-S) each finished on top of their respective US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues. Both sides could make a run at the Black Division title after showing they can thrive in league play.
The Cal South side won the Blue Division last season with a 6-1-0 record, as it outscored opponents 17-to-4. That finish allowed West Coast to advance to Nationals, where it narrowly missed out on a semifinal berth. A 3-2 loss on the final day of group play left West Coast on the wrong side of a tiebreaker, and it settled for a third-place finish in its group. With the motivation to earn its way back to Nationals, West coast should be a dangerous team this season.
Coming off a 7-0-0 campaign in the US Youth Soccer Eastern Regional League, LMSC Rats (PA-E) are aiming to carry that success into the National League. The Eastern Pennsylvania side will hope to improve on its performance in the league from a year ago, and two straight years of experience on the national stage should be a factor that helps.
FC Dallas 00 Che (TX-N) will be another team to watch out for after a strong showing in the National League in 2016-17. The North Texas side finished second in the White Division last year, and it will look to take the next step this season and win the Blue Division.
In order for Celtic to finish on top this year, it will need to get past a Raiders FC 2000 (IL) that has produced historical results over the last two National League seasons. The Illinois side has won the last two Red Division titles and has done so by putting together back-to-back 7-0-0 records — the first team in either gender to compile two straight perfect seasons in the National League. With that experience, Raiders should be in the hunt for a third consecutive Red Division crown.
Downtown LVSC 00 Academy (NV) has also displayed a knack for picking up wins in league play, as it went 8-0-1 to win the US Youth Soccer Far West Regional League Desert Premier Division. That fact, along with the advantage of playing its final three National League games close to home, makes Downtown LVSC a team to watch.
The Utah side won its National League division a year ago, as it went 5-1-1, with four of its five wins coming by a one-goal margin. That ability to come away with three points in highly competitive contests can prove to be the difference, and Sparta has already shown it can earn the tough victories.
FC Dallas 00 Premier (TX-N), which advanced to the 2017 National Championship final, will be another team to watch in the race for the White Division title. The North Texas side won several close matches at the US Youth Soccer Region III Championships before a couple decisive wins closed out its title run in Greensboro, N.C. It has one more shot to get back to Nationals and play on its home turf, so FC Dallas should be focused on finishing at the top of the White Division standings.
A couple of returning National League teams could also make some noise in the division. LVU 2000 Black (PA-E) showed well in the Eastern Regional League and won the Elite Division playoff. Meanwhile, Nationals Union 00 Black (MI) is coming off a National League season in which it was one point away from first place, and the Michigan side will aim to make up that ground and finish on top in the White Division this year.
Justin Gielen (Baltimore Celtic) – Golden Ball, Best XI and leading scorer (six goals) at the National Championships; Leading scorer at the Region I Championships with eight goals
Ryan Miller (Baltimore Celtic) – Golden Glove at the National Championships
Tyler Collins (Baltimore Celtic) – Best XI at the National Championships
Joseph Nelson (FC Dallas) – Best XI at the National Championships
Henry Koelling (Michigan Jaguars) – Best XI at the National Championships
Marcos Puga (FC Dallas) – Best XI at the National Championships
Julian Arroyo (Raiders FC) – Best XI at the National Championships
Jack Rosener (McLean) – Best XI at the National Championships
Kevyn Lopez (West Coast FC) – Best XI at the National Championships
Braydon Walker (Michigan Jaguars) – Best XI at the National Championships
Fernando Barragan (Raiders FC) – Tied for leading scorer at the Region II Championships with four goals
Alexander Dalou (Michigan Jaguars) – Tied for leading scorer at the Region II Championships with four goals
2017 US Youth Soccer ODP Boys Florida Interregional – 2001 Roster
East Region – Thomas Hoy (LMSC); Andrew Markopoulos (LMSC)
Midwest Region – Andrew Nicholsen (Michigan Jaguars)
West Region – Ethan Harris (Sparta JK)
2017 US Youth Soccer ODP Boys Florida Interregional – 2000 Roster
East Region – Patrick Adams (LVU); Craig Potts (HMMS); Pierre Richard (BRYC); Benjamin Romalis (Baltimore Bays)
Midwest Region – Micah Sonnenberg (Michigan Jaguars)
South Region – Luis Mora (Davie United Sharks)
West Region – Brandon Cervantes (Sparta JK); Luke Merrill (Sparta JK); Tanner Kennard (Sparta JK); Julian Herrera (Downtown LVSC); John Lynam (Downtown LVSC); CJ Neville (Downtown LVSC); Grant Smyth (Downtown LVSC)