U-15 BOYS' SUMMER SHOWCASE: WHAT TO WATCH FOR

By Andrew Eakes on June 20, 2018

The U.S. Soccer Development Academy Summer Showcase kicks off for the U-15 Boys' age group on Thursday at 11:00 a.m. PT with a number of games throughout the day. The end of every Academy season at this age group culminates with the Summer Showcase event, allowing teams to finish their seasons with three, hand-selected, highly-competitive matches, played in front of Youth National Team coaches and scouts from domestic and international professional clubs.

A good performance here, and the rest of their lives might change forever. While it may be the youngest group featured in the week-long event, the excitement is no less for what's in store. Here are some things to keep an eye on as the anticipation builds throughout the Summer Showcase.

UNDER THE BRIGHT LIGHTS

The U-15 age group will get a taste of the bright lights of an Academy feature game on Thursday, June 21 at 11:00 a.m. when FC Dallas takes on Philadelphia Union at the stadium field of the SoCal Sports Complex in Oceanside, Calif.

FC Dallas began the season with a 17-game winning streak, kicking off a campaign that would finish with a 19-2-1 overall record and sole possession of first place in the Frontier Division. The team looks to rediscover its early season stride as it took its only two losses and draw during its last 10 games of the year.

Philadelphia Union also put on an impressive performance during the 2017-18 season, finishing with a 20-4-3 record and winning seven of its last 10 regular season games. A player to watch for Philadelphia is forward Selmir Miscic, who ranked second in scoring in the U-15 age group, netting 27 goals in 18 games played. The U-16 Boys' National Team player has been called into all four of U-16 BNT head coach Shaun Tsakiris' training camps since the new cycle kicked off in January.

LOOK OUT FOR LA

LA Galaxy looks to be one of the most competitive teams at the Showcase. The team heads to Oceanside with the best record in the U-15 age group, 26-1-2, and a 2.75 points-per-game average. The Galaxy has been dominant throughout the year, winning many of its games by three goals or more. The SoCal squad hasn't lost since January 27, when it fell 3-1 to local rival FC Golden State.

Three of LA's main goalscorers are forward Felix Barajas (17 goals) and midfielders Edward Castro (16 goals) and Marcos Isidoro (16 goals). This balanced scoring gives LA a plethora of weaponry as opponents can't defend on just one area of the field at a time.

LA will have a tough opening test Thursday at 11 a.m. when it takes on the New York Red Bulls. New York posted a 19-7-1 record this year, finishing third in the Atlantic Division. Red Bull forward Thomas Tulgar is a force to be reckoned with, averaging one goal per game in his 26 appearances this year.

The Galaxy's will also face off against D.C. United on Friday before closing out play in Oceanside with a Sunday showdown against Montreal Impact FC.

VARIED OPPONENTS CREATE BETTER OPPORTUNITY

Showcase events present a one-of-a-kind opportunity for elite players to challenge themselves against formations and styles of play from across the country. The variety of competition provides a great opportunity to see younger players react to never-before-seen challenges in a highly-competitive environment. Both Weston FC and Crew SC Academy enter the Showcase in first place in their respective divisions and will face off against cross-country opposition.

Weston kicks off play at 9 a.m. against Players Development Academy on Thursday, while Crew SC faces Bethesda FC two hours later.

Local outfit San Diego Surf will also be a team to keep an eye on as the team will contribute to the mix of unique styles of play. Located about 45 minutes from the SoCal Sports Complex, Surf finished third in the Southwest Division with an 18-7-4 record behind two of the Academy's best: LA Galaxy and FC Golden State.

CHANGES AT THE TOP

Five of the seven Academy divisions have new teams at the top of the standings from last season's U-14 table.

Crew SC Academy finished in the top spot in the Mid-America Division with a 13-3-4 record. Last year's division winner, Sockers FC, finished just two spots below the Crew with a 12-6-2 record.

In the Eastern Conference, Montreal Impact FC leads the Northeast Division with a 19-6-1 record, moving ahead of last year's powerhouse, BW Gottschee Academy, who finished fourth with a 14-5-7 record in 2018. The Atlantic Division also saw its previous top team, Bethesda SC (17-10-1), overtaken by Philadelphia Union (20-4-3) this season. The biggest jump to the top spot came from Weston FC in the Southeast Division, as the Florida club finished out 2018 with a 21-5-9 overall record.

The Western Conference saw similar changes. In the Southwest Division, LA Galaxy moved up two spots to the top of the table from last year with a 26-1-2 record. Last year, FC Golden State held the No. 1 spot. The club finished just shy of the Galaxy this year, closing out the season with a 22-5-2 record. The changes at the top indicate that any team could come out on top at the Showcase as the event's youngest age group battle it out for bragging rights and attempt to make a name for themselves and their clubs.