Younger players rising in ranks

The second year of play in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy has seen an influx of younger players into the U-15/16 programs, which has in turn expanded the player pool for the U-15 boys national team.

U-15/16 Development Academy teams are made up mostly of players born in 1992 and 1993, but more younger players -- born in 1994 -- have joined academy teams.

"The current under-15 pool is made up of '94s," says Development Academy Director of Scouting Tony Lepore, "and we're seeing those guys involved in 15/16 Development Academy teams, which is great, and where they belong. It's what's best for them."

For the most recent U-15 camp, Coach Jim Barlow brought in Geno Bigalow (Colorado Rapids Academy), Devin Devoy (New England Revolution Academy), Christian Duarte (TSC Texans), Brody Hickey (Dallas Texans), Andre Reyes (Dallas Texans), Nathan Smith (Cal Odyssey) and John Villantroy (Met Oval), who all were scouted at Development Academy matches and the Winter Showcase in Lancaster, Calif.

"Last year we had very few players who were '93s that were involved in the Development Academy clubs," said Lepore. "There were a few, but not as many as you would like to see. But already, in Year 2, clubs have identified younger players that would benefit from playing up."

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