USSDA Season Wrap Up: FC Milwaukee Nationals' U16 and U18 Boys show growth in United States Soccer Development Academy season finale and post season Summer Showcase
Dallas, TX- A year riddled with pre season, and early season injuries can often undermine team resolve and self belief. But, in the case of the FC Milwaukee U16 and U18 USSDA teams, who each compete in the nation's most demanding and competitive league, the challenges faced this season only served to make them stronger.
At mid-season, the teams battled through multiple injuries and persevered to play better and better soccer. By year's end, improved defensive play and an opportunistic attack turned both FCMN USSDA teams into formidable foes. The 16s finished the year with 3 wins, in their last 4 matches; while the 18s went 4-1-2, in their last 7.
USSDA Technical Director, Tim Regan had this to say about FC Milwaukee, “The guys played hard until the final whistle on the final day. They try to play the game the right way and like FC Milwaukee does every year they were better at the end of the year because they are trained the right way.”
16s Defeat Chicago Sockers in Season Finale, Finish 2-1 in post season Summer Showcase
The USSDA U16s won a dramatic last league game of the season with a 3-2 injury time victory over the Chicago Sockers. USSDA Coach Rob Harrington, “The team has improved over the season and played close, competitive games against the best teams in the conference, but have not been able to get consistent wins. We overcame a whole host of injuries and maintained the proper approach. This game against the Sockers was indicative of the kid’s perseverance and improvement throughout the year.” In the game, goals were scored by Braden Andryk, Michael Lesar and Nikola Atlija.
At the USSDA Summer Showcase held at FC Dallas Sports Park, June 25th-29th, the 16s won their first match 1-0 over the California Development Academy. The game saw several strong performances, including stand out goalkeeping by Bryan Seefeld and Bernie Macias, great backline play from Alex Masbruch and clever midfield play from Marcelle Moss. Nate Steinart provided the team a big boost by causing the CDA defense to chase and make repeated mistakes. Braden Andryk scored his 2nd goal in a row when he picked off a pass and slipped a deft finish by the Californian's keeper.
In game 2, the team played east coast side South Central, adding another decisive victory to their showcase exploits. Connor Hogan headed in the first goal on a Nikola Atlija corner kick and the half finished with FCMN up, 1-0. Brian Rojas and Michael Lesar were strong in the central midfieldand, while center backs Danny Garcia and Vaso Dragecivic continued their streak of strong performances. In the 2nd half Nick Moon terrorized the South Central backline with surging runs before Andryk added his 3rd goal in 3 games to secure a 2-0 win.
In game 3, the 16s played the MN Thunder to whom they had lost earlier this season, 2-5. This time, they played them tight before falling 1-0 giving up a goal in the 72nd minute. Coach Chris Whalley, “We had a good chance right before their goal and a few very good chances in the first half. Although we did not get the result I think the improvement of our guys technically, tactically and psychologically was on display this last weekend of the season. We gave up a single goal in 3 games and played with the kind of edge that gets results. I am very proud of these guys.”
18s Rally at Year’s End, Earning 14 out of a Possible 21 Points
The 18s finished the league season 2-1-1 with victories over their midwest regional rivals Chicago Magic, Crew Michigan Wolves and with a tie versus the first place Chicago Fire before falling to 2nd place Vardar (MI) the last game of the season. Coach Chris Whalley, “These guys have really played some gritty soccer this year. Three of our attacking players Patrick Hodan, Cheenuj Shong and Robert Perry will have missed a total of 50 games between them. Despite the injuries to our attack, our guys competed hard earning points in over half the conference games. The strong finish is indicative of their character.”
18s Finish 2-0-1 at Summer Showcase
The U18s came into the Showcase riding a wave of strong performances and their forward momentum did not cease. In the event's first game, the 18’s battled sweltering heat and FC Strikers from Southern California. An early goal from Adam Nelson in the 3rd minute was all the team needed to get the result. Goalkeeper Alex Cagle kept the team in the game early and late with excellent stops. In possession, the 18s were nearly flawless as central midfielders, Max Karcher, Logan Andryk and Patrick Hodan dictated the tempo with crisp passing and fluid movement. The backline of Mike Skow, Matt Yang, Josh Breider and Peter Tongas was solid throughout the contest.
In game 2, the 18s played IMG Academy. The explosive Florida side threatened early, but each attack was snubbed away by Cagle and the FCMN defense. Then, against the run of play, Hodan earned a free kick from 22 yards and neatly placed the ball in the lower corner. It was 1-0 against the run of play, when the game reached halftime. Joe Kennedy came on at halftime and raised the squad's energy level. As their possession game took hold and Kennedy's attacking runs continuously threatened, the FCMN 18s started to put IMG on the back foot. Their work paid off when Hodan notched 2 more goals to complete his hat trick and put the game beyond IMG's reach.
In their final game, the 18s tied 1-1 versus FC Westchester. FCMN forward, JT Heidvogel scored early after intercepting a pass from the Westchester goalkeeper and calmly finishing. The 18s continued to apply pressure in the first half, but could not supply the finishing touch. The 2nd half was more of the same as the 18s could not find the goal and Westchester added one of their own. The game finished 1-1. FC Milwaukee Coach Rob Harrington, “What the season finish tells you is that if this group was healthy results would have been different. More importantly what it tells is the grit and determination of these guys. Our Seniors: Matt Yang, Eric Gilbert, Peter Tongas, Mike Skow, Logan Andryk, Patrick Hodan, Bobby Russ Miguel Guerrero and Bradley Bane were warriors. They played through injuries and setbacks and, when unhealthy, still pulled off terrific results. When relatively healthy at year’s end they went 4-1-2. It is a special group of players, most notably for their attitude, and approach to both the game, and life.”