The United States will face a tall challenge in Turkey this summer as the draw for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup was held on Monday. The U.S. has been placed in Group A with European powers Spain and France, along with a yet to be determined African nation.
"We're welcome to any challenge," U.S. U-20s Assistant Coach and Crew Technical Director Brian Bliss said Monday. "It's obviously a very strong group with those two European teams. Whatever African team makes it, you know they're going to be good. Historically, [African nations] have been very good at the youth World Cup level."
Bliss and Homegrown midfielder Wil Trapp will head to Turkey in June, hoping to make an impact on the world stage.
"When you get to the World Cup, there are 24 teams and everybody is good," Bliss said. "It looks like a very difficult group, but we finished strong in CONCACAF and I think that will give us confidence heading into [the World Cup].
"I won't say I like our chances better than anybody, but I don't fear any of those teams for any reason."
The U.S. will hold a camp in April to reassess talent ahead of the tournament this summer.
The U.S. Soccer Development Academy season resumed over the weekend as both Crew Soccer Academy squads traveled to Indianapolis for Sunday matches against the Indiana Fire. Goals from Jacob Atkinson and Charlie Reymann led the Crew U-18 squad to 2-0 victory over the top-of-the-table Fire. In the U-16 match, CSA battled back from a two-goal deficit to salvage a 2-2 draw with both tallies coming in the final 10 minutes from Omar Mohamed and Brett Smalley.
The U-16 squad currently sits in sixth-place in the USSDA Central Conference behind the CSA Wolves (MI) in first-place. In the U-18 division, CSA is currently in eighth-place in the Central entering spring play.
Playing in the biggest match of his young career, a massive weight was lifted off of Wil Trapp's shoulders as the United States handled Canada 4-2 in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship quarterfinal to qualify for this summer's 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey on Tuesday night. Trapp's deflected, long-distance volley to make it 3-1 just before haftime gave the U.S. the momentum it needed to hold of its rival to the North in the second half and secure the victory.
Trapp and the United States move on to face Cuba in the semifinal of the regional tournament on Friday, March 1 at 6 p.m. ET.
While Jairo Arrieta will join the Crew's preseason camp in Orlando, Fla. in the coming days, another player has left the Black & Gold for International duty.
Homegrown rookie midfielder Wil Trapp left Columbus Thursday morning for Puebla, Mexico, the site of the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship. Trapp has been a mainstay in the U.S. U-20 National Team's midfield over the last two years, as the Stars and Stripes hope to qualify for 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey this summer. The top four teams in Mexico will move on to the big stage in Turkey. The U.S. failed to qualify for the last World Cup in 2011.
"It's going to be big," Trapp said before leaving Columbus. "I'm excited just because the 20s as team last time did not qualify [for the World Cup]. We want to kind of make-up for that and do well and qualify for the World Cup. It's a huge stage. I just want to make it, big time."
Trapp spent 10 days with the U.S. U-20 National Team in Puebla in January to prepare for the altitude issues the team will face in the tournament before joining the Crew for its preseason trip to Bradenton, Fla. The United States has been placed in Group A of the tournament with Costa Rica and Haiti. Trapp and the U-20s will kick off play on February 18 against Haiti.
After signing as the fifth Homegrown player in Crew history, University of Akron standout Chad Barson joined TheCrew.com's Cody Sharrett for a short Q&A.
Cody Sharrett: Congratulations on signing with the Crew. How do you plan on contributing to the Black & Gold as a rookie?
Chad Barson: I think I bring a good work ethic. I have a good mentality in the way I approach things. I'm willing to contribute, and I'm a team guy. I put the team first. I'll put the team's needs above my own and whatever they need, that's what I'm willing to do.
CS: You've been captain for the past two seasons at Akron and as a centerback, you have to be a leader on the field. How do you approach being a leader as a rookie?
CB: You have to be yourself. You can't be shy. As a rookie, you're stepping into uncharted territory and just because you're the young guy or the new guy, it doesn't matter how long you've been around. Obviously guys that have been around have more say, but you still need to be able to lead, to talk and to organize guys because the position I play, you see the whole game from where you play.
CS: Your coach at Akron, Caleb Porter, has moved on to the Portland TImbers in MLS. How did he develop your game over the past four years at Akron.
CB: Basically, I like to say everything about my game is a result of Coach Porter. The way we trained at Akron, the mentality he teaches you how to approach life, how to approach school, how to approach soccer: it's really all from him. I see a lot of him in myself. When I talk, when I play, just everything really.
CS: You were born and raised in Columbus. Do you remember your first Crew game? Which players did you look up to?
CB: I don't remember my first Crew game. But watching guys like [Brian] McBride, [Brian] Maisonneuve and Jeff Cunningham, I remember watching those guys all the time when I was younger.
CS: Over the past few summers, you've spent time training with the First Team. Who is the toughest guy you've had to defend?
CB: Honestly size-wise, Andy Iro and Chad Marshall because they're some pretty big guys. I'd also throw Steve Lenhart in there because he's such a scrappy guy and he likes to be physical, but he's also a great guy.
To keep with the Crew headline of the day, this week's Throwback Thursday is dedicated to Homegrown midfielder Wil Trapp's days at nearby Gahanna Lincoln High School. While also spending time with the Crew Soccer Academy, Trapp racked up numerous accolades during his time at Lincoln.
Trapp helped the Golden Lions to a 41-1-2 record during his time playing for his school, leading Lincoln to the 2009 OHSAA Division I state title. Individually, Trapp was a two-time high school All-American, 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year in Ohio and the 2010 NSCAA National High School Player of the Year.
Yes, the 2012 NCAA champion Indiana Hoosiers were coached by two Columbus Crew legends in Todd Yeagley and Brian Maisonneuve. But the Crew connections on the Hoosier roster don't stop at Yeagley and Maisonneuve.
The team's leading scorer Eriq Zavaleta, playmaker A.J. Corrado started on the 2011 USL Super-20-winning Crew Juniors squad under Brian Bliss. In the Super-20 title match, Zavaleta scored on an assist from Corrado to help the Black & Gold to victory.
"[Winning the National Championionship] is good for those guys, and it's obviously good for us," Bliss said Monday. "It shows that we've identified some good players and hopefully we played a role in their development when they were here with us for two-and-a-half or three months of the year. We put a pretty good squad together in a competitive environment and hopefully that played a part in their development."
In addition to the two Hoosiers that helped Crew Juniors to glory in 2011, Senior captains Luis Soffner and Caleb Konstanski spent a week training with the Crew First Team last summer.
Congratulations to Todd Yeagley, Brian Maisonneuve and the Hoosiers on winning their eighth NCAA championship in school history.
Photo courtesy of IU Athletics.
The Crew Soccer Academy closed out the fall portion of its season at the U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy Winter Showcase in Sarasota, Florida over the weekend. The U-16 squad went 1-2-0, beating the New England Revolution and falling to Solar Chelsea FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Silankonet Bayo led the team in scoring with two goals.
The U-18s also finished 1-2-0 at the Showcase. The Black & Gold was victorious over Solar Chelsea FC, but lost to the New England Revolution and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Andrew McKelvey found the net twice to lead the team in scoring. The USSDA season will resume in March 2013.
Nate Kohl and William Bayemi were both picked to participate in the select game, a match where U.S Soccer scouts select players from across the country to participate. In the game, Kohl assisted on Bayemi's goal.
Also in a showcase, the U-16, U-17 and U-18 Crew Juniors Gold girls squads traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina for the CASL Women's Showcase Soccer Series. Coach Glen Tourville sent along this recap of the weekend:
"Each team played three games and each performance allowed for better play and improved team continuity from the previous game. The main goal of participating in the CASL Showcase is to allow our Crew players to showcase their talents in front of the college coaches in attendance. There were coaches present from all NCAA Divisions I, II, III and also coaches representing NAIA Schools. Our players competed in front of twelve to forty different college coaches at any one time depending on field location. All and all it was a very beneficial opportunity for our three teams."
On the youth international stage, Ben Swanson and CSA Wolves striker Ahinga Selemani helped the U.S. U-17 Men's National Team to a 1-1-1 record in the Nike International Friendlies series over the weekend. The Stars and Stripes started the tournament with a 4-4 draw against Brazil before beating Turkey 4-1 and losing to Portugal 4-3 to close out the weekend. Swanson featured in all three matches, while Selemani scored twice in the tourney.
In the Men's NCAA Division III National Championship, Luke Helmuth, Jack Thompson and Logan Thompson helped Messiah when its ninth title in school history over Ryan Sabol and Austin Windsor's Ohio Northern side. Jack Thompson recorded two assists in the 5-1 victory.
On the women's side, Mackenzie Clapper helped Messiah claim a 1-0 victory over Emory in the DIII National Championship game.
The NCAA Division I Tournament held its Elite Eight round over the weekend. Here are how the remaining Crew Youth alumni performed:
No. 10 LOUISVILLE -- Alex Obbey: 3-1 L vs. Maryland
No. 3 GEORGETOWN -- David Witkoff (DNP): 3-1 W vs. San Diego, will face Maryland Friday in NCAA College Cup
The United States U-17 Men's National Team kicked off the 2012 Nike International Friendlies Wednesday night in Lakewood Ranch, Florida with an eight goal draw against South American power Brazil. Crew Soccer Academy Wolves product Ahinga Selemani seemingly scored the winning tally in the 81st minute, just 11 minutes after coming on as a second half substitute. However, Brazil got the equalizer three minutes later when Murilo headed Indio's free kick past U.S. goalkeeper Paul Christensen to cement the 4-4 result. CSA alum and Grove City native Ben Swanson went the full 90 minutes in Richie Williams' midfield.
The U.S. U-17s resume play in the series against Turkey on Friday.
The Crew Soccer Academy U-16 and U-18 squads were idle once again this week ahead of the U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy Winter Showcase in Sarasota, Florida next weekend. Similarly, the U-16, U-17 and U-18 Crew Juniors Gold girls squads will head to Raleigh, North Carolina for the CASL Women's Showcase Soccer Series.
Ben Swanson, CSA Wolves product Ahinga Selemani and the U.S. U-17 Men's National Team have a busy week ahead. The Stars and Stripes host Brazil on Wednesday, Turkey on Friday and Portugal on Sunday for the 2012 edition of the Nike International Friendlies in Lakewood Ranch, Florida.
On the college stage, CSA product Eric Erb excelled on the field and in the classroom during his senior season at Case Western Reserve University. The Worthington native registered four goals and two assists to go with his 3.96 grade point average as a nutritional biochemistry and chemistry double-major to earn Capital One Academic All- District VII First Team and Second-Team All-UAA honors this season. On Tuesday, Erb added to his accolades by earning a spot on the Capital One Academic All-American team.
Erb was an instrumental player on the U-19 and U-20 teams that won the national championships in 2010 for Crew Juniors. He played on the U-17 team that won the Ohio South State Cup. Coached by Billy Thompson for a number of years, Thompson said this of Erb: "Eric always had a great work rate and a fantastic attitude. He gave 100% every time he stepped in the field – committed to getting better every day.”
The NCAA Division I Tournament held its Sweet Sixteen round on Sunday while the Division III tourney was idle in preparation for next weekend's Final Four. Here are how the remaining Crew Youth alumni performed in the Sweet Sixteen:
No. 5 AKRON -- Chad Barson, Wil Trapp (Assist), Eric Stevenson, Tommy Schmitt, Andrew Souders, Alex Ranalli (DNP), Andrian MacAdams (DNP): 1-1 (5-4) L vs. Creighton in NCAA Sweet Sixteen
No. 10 LOUISVILLE -- Alex Obbey (Assist): 2-1 W vs. Northwestern in NCAA Sweet Sixteen
No. 1 NOTRE DAME -- Connor Klekota (DNP): 2-1 L vs. Indiana in NCAA Sweet Sixteen
No. 3 GEORGETOWN -- David Witkoff (DNP): 1-0 (4-2) W vs.Syracuse in NCAA Sweet Sixteen
MESSIAH (DIII) -- Luke Helmuth, Jack Thompson and Logan Thompson: November 30 vs. Loras in Final Four
OHIO NORTHERN (DIII) -- Ryan Sabol and Austin Windsor: November 30 vs. Williams in Final Four
MESSIAH WOMEN (DIII) -- Mackenzie Clapper: November 30 vs. Misericordia in Final Four
*CSA Manager Karen Crognale contributed to this article