For the second year, SOCCER AMERICA Magazine selects the top 20 boys and girls clubs, based on success of their teams in the three national youth competitions over the last three years, with an emphasis on success at the regional and national levels in U.S. Youth Soccer's National Championships, and recognition for players they have sent to national and regional teams in 2004.
The Chicago Magic moves into the top spot in the 2005 Soccer America Top 20 boys rankings, ahead of FC Delco, last year's No. 1, thanks to the three national titles it captured last year.
By Paul Kennedy
CHICAGO MAGIC. The Magic's footprint looms large on the youth soccer map with seven national boys trophies in the last three years: 2003 U-17s (U.S. Youth Soccer), 2002 U-14s and 2004 U-15s (U.S. Club Soccer) and 2003 U-15s and U-14s and 2004 U-17s and U-16s (Super Y-League). Former Magic goalie Brad Guzan was taken second in the 2005 MLS Super Draft. Current Magic goalies Chay Cain and Pat Sperry rank No. 1 and No. 8 among the top high school senior goalies. Rising Star: Josh Lambo, eighth-grader who started in goal for U.S. U-15s at Nike Friendlies.
FC DELCO. Last year's No. 1 boys club drops one spot after failing to send a boys team to the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships in 2004. The Pennsylvania-based club had six teams play in the nationals in the previous three years. Its seven U.S. Youth Soccer titles are the most of any club in the Soccer America Top 20. Rising Star: Hammerheads defender Kyle Soroka, whose older brother Ryan stars on U.S. U-17s.
IRVINE STRIKERS. The Southern California club has sent at least one team to the U.S. Youth Soccer nationals in each of the last four years. Defenders Joel Smith and Ernesto Mariscal entered the U.S. U-17 residency program last fall, boosting the number of Irvine products who spent time in Bradenton to 10. Rising Star: Forward Dersu Abolfathi, selected for U.S. U-14 team trip to Mexico in January.
CASA MIA'S BAYS. The Maryland team is on a roll. It was second at the U.S. Youth Soccer U-14 nationals in 2002, first at the U-15 nationals in 2003 and first again at the U-16 nationals in 2004. This year, the Bays hope to become the first team to win three national titles in a row. Rising Star: Xavier Rock, 2004 U-16 adidas Golden Boot winner, who transferred from Washington's Georgetown Prep to Baltimore's McDonogh School in 2004.
CASL ELITE. North CarolinaÆs Capitol Area Soccer League is considered one the largest private youth soccer leagues with more than 12,000 players on 800 teams. John Edwards, the 2004 Democratic vice presidential candidate, once coached in the program. CASL's competitive program is one of the best in the country with its U-14s capturing a 2003 U.S. Youth Soccer national title and its U-19s finishing second last summer. It won two Super Y-League titles in 2002. Rising Star: U-15 Shawn Guderian, top scorer for 2004 Region III Premier League's East Division champs.
SCOTT GALLAGHER. One of the best clubs in the St. Louis area for more than two decades. It's won five U.S. Youth Soccer and two U.S. Club Soccer titles, in addition to three USASA titles. Five Scott Gallagher alums played for the U.S. national team in 2004: Chris Klein, Brian McBride, Pat Noonan, Steve Ralston and Taylor Twellman. Rising Star: Defender Thomas Meyer, a standout for U.S. U-15s at last fallÆs Interregionals.
LA JOLLA NOMADS. Under the guidance of Derek Armstrong, the San Diego area club was one of Southern California's first mega-clubs. The Nomads have won five U.S. Youth Soccer titles, and their U-14s captured a U.S. Club Soccer title in 2004. They have three players -- Eric Avila and Gabriel and Michael Farfan in the U.S. U-17 residency program. Rising Star: U.S. U-14 Chris Smith, who stood out at last summer's id2 program launched by U.S. Club Soccer.
TEXANS SC. Any doubt about the staying power of the Houston club was put to rest when the U-16s and U-18s won 2004 South regional titles. The Texans had previously won U.S. Youth Soccer national titles in 1994, 2001 and 2002. Rising Star: Forward Alex Dixon, a high school freshman whoÆs one of the top U-15 prospects.
SERENO GOLDEN EAGLES. The Phoenix area program is the only club presented in the Top 10 for boys and girls. Sereno has produced three U.S. Youth Soccer regional champions and five regional runners-up in the last three years. The æ86 Eagles went on to be national runners-up in 2003 and 2004. Rising Star: Temi Molinar, outside midfielder who shone for Region IV '90s at the Thanksgiving Interregionals in Austin, Texas.
CONCORDE FIRE. The Atlanta club, formed in 2003 following the merger of the Concorde Soccer Association and Atlanta Fire, won the 2002 U.S. Youth Soccer U-16 title. Several young teams are showing great promise. The U-16s, three-time Georgia state champs, have four regional or national team players. In December, the U-13s were the first Georgia boys team to win a title at Disney's Soccer Showcase. Rising Star: Brian Dominguez, who scored for U.S. U-14s on their trip to Guadalajara, Mexico.
SOCKERS FC. The Chicago area club is perhaps best known as the club that sent Jonathan Spector on to the U.S. U-17s and Manchester United, but it's been a national force for the last decade. Its U.S. Youth Soccer U-16 title in 1995 was the first national youth boys title for Illinois in 40 years. Rising Star: Kirk Urso, one of the nation's top forwards in the '90 class.
ARSENAL FC. The Alta Loma, Calif., club that produced Carlos Bocanegra broke out last summer, winning the U.S. Youth Soccer U-15 and U.S. Club Soccer U-16 titles. In the fall, the U-16s won the Coast Soccer League Premier Division with a 13-0-1 record, and the U-16s and U-18s were 8-0-0 at the Nike Friendlies. Two Arsenal players, Hector Jimenez and Ryan Peterman, entered U-17 residency in January. Rising Star: Goalie Luis Ocampo, high school sophomore who won adidas Golden Glove at 2004 U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships.
DALLAS TEXANS. Once again, the Texans make Top 20 boys and girls rankings. They've produced three regional champions in the last three years. In December, four Texans teams won Region III Premier League Western titles, and the U-18s won their Showcase division at Disney's Soccer Showcase. Midfielder Omar Gonzalez recently joined U.S. U-17 residency. Rising Star: Gregory Garza, a midfielder who scored two goals for U.S. U-14s against Mexican opponents in January.
MICHIGAN WOLVES. Club has been serving Michigan soccer for more than 30 years. The Hawks, a Top 20 girls club, are the club's girls division. Three Wolves teams won states titles last June. Rising Star: Midfielder Sonny Saad, eighth-grader who was MVP as last spring's U-13 Michigan state championships.
SO CAL UNITED. Based in the Conejo Valley area of San Fernando County, United is the only California club to rank in the Top 20 for boys and girls. It won its first national title in 2003 when it captured the U.S. Youth Soccer U-16 crown. Two United players -- Jason Leopoldo (UCLA) and Chris Seitz (Maryland) -- rank among the top 2005 college recruits. Rising Star: Erik Moran, an '88 adidas All-American selection at last fall's Interregionals.
ST. LOUIS SC. The Busch Soccer Club changed its named to the St. Louis Soccer Club last year to reflect its programs encompassing all of St. Louis soccer. The club was founded in the early 1970s and won U-16 national championships in 1978, 1980, 1988 and 1989. It captured the 2004 U.S. Youth Soccer U-18 title. Rising Star: Denaldin Hamzagic, one of the top prep senior forwards, headed to Saint Louis.
COLORADO RUSH. The Rush was formed in 1977 following the merger of two Denver area clubs. It's expanded into Colorado Springs and Virginia. A Rush team with players from all three programs won the 2004 U-17 U.S. Club Soccer title. Rising Star: Mitch Lobdell, high school sophomore whose goal helped Rush win 2004 U-18 Disney's Soccer Showcase.
PDA. The fifth Top 20 boys and girls club is based in New Jersey. The PDA's girls teams have common nicknames such as Fury, Power, Pride, etc. Boys teams are named after famous players: Ronaldo, Beckham, Larsson, Cruyff, Socrates, Vieira, Cantona and New Jersey product John Harkes. Three studentsportssoccer.com's Top 20 college recruits -- Michael Konicoff, Jamie Franks and Mike Giallombardo -- have been through the PDA program. Rising Star: Mark Wiltse, one of three high school juniors called up for U.S. U-18s.
ALBERTSON SC. The '88 Clash has won back-to-back Region I titles. Albertson's Michael Grella (youth) and Christina DiMartino (prep) won 2004 NSCAA/adidas Player of the Year awards. Players from the New York club headed to college next fall include Grella and U.S. U-18 teammate Pavel Castaneda, both to Duke, and Bakary Soumare, who will play for Virginia. Rising Star: Matt Uy, who had a great week with U.S. U-15s in Austin, Texas, over Thanksgiving weekend.
VARDAR. All seven teams from the Detroit area club made the 2004 Michigan state cup final, and four came home with championship trophies. The club won three U.S. Youth Soccer titles in the 1990s. Rising Star: Defender James Leutzinger, picked to the Super Y-League's U-13 ODP national select team.