For the third straight year, the Chicago Magic is first in the Soccer America Top 20 boys rankings, edging the Dallas Texans. Arsenal FC of Southern California is the third team on the podium.
2007 Soccer AmericaÆs Top 20 Boys Clubs
1 Chicago Magic (Ill.)
2 Dallas Texans (Texas)
3 Arsenal FC (Calif.)
4 Real So Cal (Calif.)
5 Sockers FC (Ill.)
6 FC Delco (Pa.)
7 Baltimore Bays (Md.)
8 Scott Gallagher (Mo.)
9 Vardar Stars (Mich.)
10 Solar FC (Texas)
11 CASL Elite (N.C.)
12 FC Greater Boston (Mass.)
13 Bethesda SC (Md.)
14 PDA (N.J.)
15 Nomads SC (Calif.)
16 Irvine Strikers SC (Calif.)
17 Texas SC (Texas)
18 Colorado Rush (Colo.)
19 Schulz Academy (Fla.)
20 Real Colorado (Colo.)
Soccer America selects the top 20 clubs, based on success of their teams in national youth championships over the last three years and national recognition for players (including U.S. national youth team selections and U.S. Youth Soccer ODP Interregional All-Stars) from these clubs in 2006.
CHICAGO MAGIC.While the MagicÆs two finalists came up short at the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships last summer, it captured two boys titles ù and a girls title ù at the Super Y-LeagueÆs North American Finals for its third boys double in of the last four years. U-17 residents Josh Lambo (one of the nationÆs top goalie prospects) and Brendan King (son of U.S. Soccer executive Tom King) were among five Magic NSCAA/adidas Youth All-Americans. Rising Star: Jesse Ortiz, U-14 MVP at the Super Y-League finals.
DALLAS TEXANS.The æ88 Red team may be the best U.S. boys team ever assembled: the first to win the Dallas CupÆs Super Group and repeat U.S. Youth Soccer winners. Jonathan Villanueva (Virginia) and Andre Akpan (Harvard) earned spots on the U.S. U-20s. The TexansÆ only blemish in three years is a barren Æ04 campaign. On the horizon: the six-field Ross Stewart Soccer Complex in suburban Farmers Branch. Rising Star: Conor Doyle (son of former Dallas Sidekicks David Doyle) scored two goals at the æ06 USYS U-14 finals.
ARSENAL FC.The Southern California club became the first boys team to win three consecutive U.S. Youth Soccer championships. The æ89s beat Solar of Dallas in the final for the second straight year, winning, 3-1, in the 2006 U-17 final. Arsenal was a minute away from winning the U-19 final before falling to Javanon on two late goals. Arsenal had six players attend a U-18 national mega-camp in 2006. Rising Star: Alan Mota attended the 2006 U.S. Soccer U-14 national identification camp in Concord, Mass.
REAL SO CAL.Formerly known as Samba and So Cal United soccer clubs, Real So Cal has won back-to-back U.S. Youth Soccer national championships at the U-14 (2005) and U-15 (2006) levels. What Coach Alberto Bru liked most about his team: ôThey listen to me and their parents and they respect their opponents.ö After last yearÆs finals, star Evan Raynr earned a place in U-17 residency. Rising Star: George Pantelic scored three goals at the U.S. under-14 boys national teamÆs 2006 camp in Guadalajara, Mexico.
SOCKERS FC.The Sockers won their third U.S. Youth Soccer national title in 2005, capturing the McGuire Cup, giving them one more than their Chicago rival Magic. Last year, they sent 12 players on to Division I soccer programs, and Mike Cklamovski on to play football at Illinois. Sockers alums include Jonathan Spector, the youngest American to start in the English Premier League, and Mike Fisher, the former Hermann Trophy winner. Rising Stars: Keaton Albert and Alex Wetterman, Æ93 Thanksgiving Interregional all-stars.
FC DELCO.The Pennsylvania club was No. 1 in Soccer AmericaÆs first Best Clubs rankings in 2004 and was on the rebound in 2006, producing three Region I champions (U-19s, U-18s and U-15s). Perseverance paid off for the U-18 Crunch, which earned its first trip to the National Championships after seven regional appearances. Delco teams looks to be strong again in 2007 after going 6-2-1 at DecemberÆs Nike Friendlies. Rising Star: Max Kurtzman, goalie for U-14 regional power FC Delco (formerly Lower Merion) Roadkill.
BALTIMORE BAYS.Steve Nichols, the boys coach at MarylandÆs McDonogh High School, won two national titles with the Casa MiaÆs Bay before moving under the Bays umbrella. His Baltimore Casa Mia Bays won the 2006 U-16 U.S. Youth Soccer championship. Keeper Dan Louisignau from Delaware attended the recent U-18 national team training camp. The Bays are named after one of American soccerÆs original pro teams.
SCOTT GALLAGHER.The St. Louis-based club is one of the nationÆs longest established superclubs, founded in 1976-77 by Jim Scott and named after his sheet-metal company. ItÆs won 11 national titles at the youth and amateur levels. The 2006 season saw the Scott Gallagher U-17s finish third at the U.S. Youth Soccer nationals. The club has launched a fundraising drive to build a soccer facility. Rising Star: Zambian-born Charles Renken is at only 13 the youngest player at U.S. SoccerÆs residency program in Bradenton, Fla.
VARDARSTARS.No. 14 in 2004 and No. 20 in 2005 but absent from the 2006 Soccer America rankings, VardarStars return in 2007. The Michigan club was formed in 1982 and named after Macedonian club Vardar Skopje. TheyÆve won three national titles and 82 state finals. Vardar had seven players who had been through the program named to the 2006 Michigan ôDream Team.ö Alumni include former MLS stars Brian Maisonneuve and Mike Clark. Rising Star: Interregional all-star Sean Cunningham, captain of the Æ93 Region III team.
SOLAR FC.The Dallas clubÆs current U-18 team is one of the great teams in the youth ranks. Too bad itÆs in the same division as Arsenal FC. Solar has won the Region III title the last three years and finished second twice and third once at the USYS national championships. The U-18s, who feature Youth All-Americans Corben Bone, Cameron Brown and Kaoru Forbess, won the 2006 U-17 Dallas Cup title and are one of two American teams to qualify for the Æ07 Super Group. Rising Star: Sophomore Alexei Reyes has played on U-15 national team.
CASL ELITE.The depth of talent coming out of the Raleigh, N.C., program was evident at the 2007 SuperDraft, where four former CASL players, including No. 3 pick Michael Harrington, were taken by MLS clubs. CASL Elite produced two regional champions and three regional runners-up in the last three years. It also won the inaugural U.S. Club Soccer Champions Cup competition in 2006. Established in 1974, CASL now has more than 20,000 members. Rising Star: Nick Millington, a member of the Super Y-League U-16 select team.
FC GREATER BOSTON.The Greater Boston Bolts have emerged one as of Region IÆs best clubs, winning a national title in 2005 and sending two teams to the regional finals in 2006. Sheanon Williams, who is expected to represent the USA in U-17 CONCACAF qualifying, came out of the Bolts program. Harvard coach and former U.S. international John Kerr Jr. is the coaching director and his father, John Kerr Sr., is now technical director. Rising Star: William Packwood, who played for the U.S. U-14s at the Thanksgiving Interregionals.
BETHESDA SC.The Maryland club returns to the Boys Top 20 after a one-year absence and has been a fixture in the Girls Top 20 since the inception of Soccer AmericaÆs Best Club rankings in 2004. BethesdaÆs United and Roadrunner teams won Region I titles in 2006. The Roadrunners captured the U-15 showcase division at the Æ06 DisneyÆs Soccer Showcase. Three United players ù Kevin Huang, Nirav Kadam and Jesse Rodriguez ù went to the adidas ESP camp. Rising Star: Jordan Manley was picked to the æ93 Thanksgiving Interregional all-stars.
PDA.The Players Development Academy of New Jersey returns to the Boys Top 20 after a yearÆs absence. The Conquistadors led the resurgence, finishing second in the 2005 USYSA U-18 national championships and losing in overtime in the 2006 U-19 regional final. PDAÆs most famous product is Giuseppe Rossi, who has returned to Manchester United after a loan spell at Newcastle. Rising Stars: Robert Barrera and Alex Bramall from the deep Æ92 PDA (Henrik) Larsson played for the U.S. U-15s at the Nike Friendlies.
NOMADS.The La Jolla (Calif.) club was a pioneer in youth soccer, developing top youth talent in the San Diego for more than 30 years. It has been producing national team players, beginning with goalie Jeff DuBack in the mid-1980s, up to the present with U.S. World Cup defender Steve Cherundolo. The Nomads U-14s captured a U.S. Club Soccer title in 2004, and two Nomads teams (U-19s and U-15s) won U.S. Youth Soccer regional titles in 2005. Rising Star: Earl Edwards is one of the top goalkeeper prospects at the U-15 level.
IRVINE STRIKERS SC.The Strikers emerged as one of the power clubs in Southern CaliforniaÆs Orange County in the 1990s and remained a local power despite increasing competition from upstart programs. ISC won the U.S. Club SoccerÆs U-14 Super Group at the 2006 National Cup V Championships. The Strikers continue to feed players to the U-17 residency program, where Jesse Paredes and Dersu Abolfathi trained in the fall. Rising Star: Michael HoyosÆ goal decided the U-14 final against the Chicago Magic at the National Cup V finals.
TEXAS SOCCER CLUB.TSC was formed in the spring of 2005 following the merger of the Texans, Classics and girls power Challenge. The Texans have won the only three USYS boys titles won by South Texas teams: U-19s (2002), U-18s (2001) and U-16s (1994). Their most recent success came in 2004 when the U-16s and U-18s advanced to the USYS National Championships. Rising Star: Chicago area transplant Sasha Pilipovic-Wengler is one of the most promising midfield prospects in the U-15 national team pool.
COLORADO RUSH.The biggest of the super clubs, the Rush now has clubs in 11 states as far away as Alaska, Hawaii and Virginia. Its Denver program operates a European-style academy in conjunction with the Collegiate Academy, a Jefferson County charter school. The Rush, which has had four USYS regional finalists in the last three years, recently named former U.S. World Cup defender Steve Trittschuh its director of coaching. Rising Star: Zach Foxhoven, a 15-year-old forward, represented the U.S. U-15s at the Nike Friendlies.
SCHULZ ACADEMY.The Boca Raton, Fla., club made history when it won three straight championships at the Super Y-League finals: Æ04 U-14, Æ05 U-15s and Æ06 U-16s. Schulz Academy finished second at the U.S. Club SoccerÆs Champions Cup competition. Its staff is headed by Josef Schulz, a former Austrian professional player. His most famous product is New York Red Bulls teen star Josmer Altidore. Rising Star: Forward Donovan Henry played for the U.S. U-15s at DecemberÆs Nike Friendlies in Bradenton, Fla.
REAL COLORADO.The Real Colorado National boys program came into its own in 2005 when the U-17 and U-18 teams won titles at the U.S. Youth Soccer Region IV championships. Former Colorado Foxes coach Lorne Donaldson is the director of coaching of the program, which is affiliated with the Douglas County Soccer Association. Rising Star: Amadou Dia, nicknamed ôT,ö was one of three Real Colorado players to attend the Æ92 and Æ93 Boys Thanksgiving Regionals. Dia made the Æ93 all-star team.