U.S. Soccer's largest player development spotlight initiative ever, the 2018 Development Academy Showcase, Playoffs and Championships, drew an estimated 20,000 players, coaches, parents, spectators and staff to San Diego County and Oceanside Calif. from June 18-30 and 650 to Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City, Mo. The 13-day Summer Showcase and Playoffs event saw the first post-season competition in the Girls' Development Academy, including a crowned champion in the U-18/19 age group. The Academy Championships, which ran from July 6-11, saw the top teams from the Boys' U-16/17 and U-18/19 and Girls' U-15 and U-16/17 age groups battle it out for the ultimate prize.

All five of this year's Academy Champions were first-time winners. Each game featured an intense, highly competitive finale:
Boys' U-16/17: Seattle Sounders FC 5, Atlanta United FC 1
Boys' U-18/19: New York City FC 0 (5), LA Galaxy 0 (3)
Girls' U-15: FC Dallas 2, Legends FC 0
Girls' U-16/17: Real Colorado 3, Nationals 0
Girls' U-18/19: LAFC Slammers 1, Solar Soccer Club 0

A combined 622 games (293 Boys' & 329 Girls') kicked off at the SoCal Sports Complex, spread out across 22 full-sized grass fields including one stadium field, during the Development Academy Summer Showcase and Playoffs.

Over 5,000 players from the U-15, U-16/17 and U-18/19 Boys' age groups in attendance combined to score 1,074, goals, averaging 3.67 goals per game in the four competitions that took place:
• U-15 Showcase
• U-16/17 Playoffs
• U-16/17 Showcase
• U-18/19 Playoffs

Of the 293 games, 230 were decided by two goals or less, highlighting the meaningful competition of the Academy program. Variety of competition, one of the objectives of the Academy and the Summer Showcase and Playoffs, saw that 100% off all Boys' games leading up to the quarterfinal knockout stages feature out-of-division matchups. All 22 MLS clubs with age groups competing at the three oldest age groups were well represented at the Showcase and Playoffs, sending seven of eight semifinalists to Swope Soccer Village.

During the Girls' event, 6,000 athletes from 66 Academy Clubs traveled to San Diego to participate in one of six competitions:
• U-14 Showcase
• U-15 Playoffs
• U-15 Showcase
• U-16/17 Playoffs
• U-16/17 Showcase
• U-18/19 Playoffs & Championships

From the 329 games played during the Girls' event, 1,192 strikes found the back of the net, averaging 3.62 goals per game all while 69% of games were decided by two goals or less. Breaking down the geographical matchups, the Girls' Summer Showcase and Playoffs also saw 100% of teams matched up with opponents from different divisions. All eight NWSL-affiliated Academy clubs competed across all six summer competitions.

Before the semifinals kicked off at Swope Soccer Village, the end-of-season Academy Awards Banquet was held for the Boys' and Girls' program on July 6 and 7, respectively, at the U.S. Soccer National Development Center in Kansas City, Kan. Both banquets honored players of the year, coaches of the year, Conference Best XI selections, Community Award and Administrator of the Year. In total, 168 award recipients were honored.

MORE: Five Things to Know About the U.S. Soccer National Development Center
MORE: Boys' Development Academy End-of-Year Awards Banquet
MORE: Girls' Development Academy End-of-Year Awards Banquet

Every one of the 638 games played during the 2018 Development Academy Summer Showcase, Playoffs and Championships was observed by at least one U.S. Soccer Scout, Technical Advisor or Youth National Team head coach.

At the Summer Showcase and Playoffs, all nine U.S. Soccer Boys' Technical Advisors were in attendance, along with 23 regional network scouts from across the country. Boys' Youth National Team head coaches were also engaged, shifting across the 22 full-length fields with their eyes out for players ready for the next development step: the U.S. Youth National Teams.

During the eight days of Girls' competitions in Oceanside, the entire team of nine U.S. Soccer Girls' Technical Advisors descended upon SoCal Sports Complex, along with 22 regional network scouts. All Women's YNT head coaches on the Girls' side were also an integral part of scouting the fields: April Kater (U-14), Tracey Kevins (U-15), Mark Carr (U-17), Jaime Frias (U-18), Keri Sarver (U-19), Jitka Klimkova (U-20) as well as Technical Director April Heinrichs.

Outside of U.S. Soccer, coaches from the collegiate level, as well as talent identifiers from domestic professional leagues and international professional clubs, were also out in full force at SoCal Sports Complex.

From the collegiate level alone, over 400 scouts and head coaches from all NCAA Divisions, including 250+ from Division 1 schools, came out in waves to the Summer Showcase and Playoffs.

Dozens of MLS and USL clubs represented domestic professional programs scouting top talent while 30+ international scouts came from some of the biggest leagues around the world including Bundesliga, Serbian SuperLiga, Liga MX, English Premier League and Eredivisie.

Much like every Development Academy Showcase event, all 638 summer games were filmed and provided to teams for analysis. The U.S. Soccer Development Academy provides teams with access to all game footage throughout the entire year, which clubs can use for team and individual analysis, preparation for upcoming opponents and education.

Nutrition and Hydration, two major initiatives of U.S. Soccer High Performance, were certainly taken advantage of in Oceanside. With 10-gallon water and Powerade coolers dedicated to each team bench on each of the 22 fields, approximately 2,500 gallons of Powerade and 4,500 gallons of water were consumed by Boys' and Girls' Academy players. On the nutrition side, Academy athletes consumed 7,500 apples, 12,000 bananas, 2,000 oranges, 48,000 bottles of PoweradeZero and 36,000 bottles of Dasani water, cost free. Used for keeping hydration stations, coolers and the six ice baths at ice cold temperatures, and injury recovery and prevention by the 15 athletic trainers and medical staff on-site, 61,000 pounds of ice was used in Oceanside.

Providing nutrition, hydration and certified medical staff at no cost before and after competition allowed all participating athletes to properly prepare for and recover from each high-level game.

During each of the 43 Summer Showcase and Playoffs feature games streamed live from June 18-July 11, all players were harnessed with a STATSports APEX unit. On site in Oceanside, STATSports, the official on-field performance monitoring device of U.S. Soccer, collected millions of data points from the GPS units and shared the collected information with the feature game teams, as well as sharing general information with parents and spectators in attendance.

With 22 Boys' Development Academy feature games and 21 Girls' Development Academy feature games live-streamed across, the Development Academy Facebook page and the U.S. Soccer YouTube channel, even those who couldn't make it out to San Diego or Kansas City still felt like they were part of the action. In total, the three platforms combined to generate 1,351,420 views.

From the social and digital media side, the official U.S. Soccer Development Academy channels were buzzing with videos, photos, stories and takeovers during the two summer events.

On, 72 articles were written, 46 videos were posted to YouTube, 107 posts were made on Facebook, 11 takeovers commenced on the Academy Snapchat, 10 Story Takeovers occurred as 72 posts hit the Academy's 66,000 Instagram followers, and 501 tweets were sent out on the Academy Twitter channel.

In Oceanside, 379 elite level referees descended upon SoCal Sports Complex to officiate the 622 games, take in any of the 19 U.S. Soccer Referee Program educational learning or field session opportunities, and receive mentorship from the 40 referee coaches on-site.

In Kansas City, 16 referees and assistant referees were selected to officiate the Academy semifinals and finals. The game officials for each of the finals were as follows:

Boys' U-16/17 Final: Madzid Coric, Katarzyna Wasiak, Matthew Seem, Nicole Green
Boys' U-18/19 Final: Samantha Martinez, Sarah Cortez, Andy Hanks, Nick Balcer
Girls' U-15 Final: Natalie Simon, Sarah Cortez, Will Aten, Michael Smith
Girls' U-16/17 Final: Nicole Green, Melissa Gonzalez, Katarzyna Wasiak, Elijio Arreguin

Another historical landmark during the 2018 Summer Showcase and Playoffs was the U.S. Soccer Academy Director Course. While the 16 members comprising the 5th cohort of the Boys' Academy Director Course kicked off their year-long journey with an introductory meeting in Oceanside, a cohort of 20 Girls' Academy Directors and U.S. Soccer Technical Advisors made history as the first group to embark on the course.

The Academy Director Course represents the highest license for Academy Directors in the United States. The introductory meeting is followed by six modules within a year-long course designed to help Club Directors in all potential areas within their respective clubs, with a specific focus on leadership of both the players and coaches they oversee.

Boys' Academy Director Course Candidates:
Rafael Amaya (Rio Grande Valley FC Toros), Scott Bower (Cincinnati United Premier), Patrick Cannon (Armada FC Pro Academy), Shawn Comegys (Real Colorado), Craig Dalrymple (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Austin Daniels (U.S. Soccer Technical Advisor), Nicholas Evans (San Antonio FC), Noah Gins (Albion SC), Matt Lacey (Virginia Development Academy), Anthony Nixon (Cedar Stars Academy - Bergen), Lars Richters (Crew SC Academy Wolves), Roberto Sibaja (United Futbol Academy), Adrian Solca (Solar Soccer Club), Scott Spencer (U.S. Soccer Technical Advisor), Cody Worden (San Diego Surf), Alex Zotinca (U.S. Soccer Technical Advisor)

Girls' Academy Director Course Candidates:
Kevin Boyd (Legends FC), Gronthik Chatterjee (Nationals), Morgan Church (U.S. Soccer Technical Advisor), Katie Cole (U.S. Soccer Technical Advisor), Dave Dengerink (Houston Dash), Michael Duggan (LA Galaxy San Diego), Melissa Gonda (United Futbol Academy), Christian Gonzalez (New York Soccer Club), Kevin Hartman (LA Galaxy), Vicki Linton (U.S. Soccer Technical Advisor), Megan McCormick (U.S. Soccer Technical Advisor), Paul O'Brien (Placer United Soccer Club), Adolfo Ovalle (La Roca Futbol Club), Philip Poole (Charlotte Soccer Academy), Bobby Puppione (FC Virginia), Barry Ritson (Los Angeles Premier FC), Tiffany Roberts (Utah Royals FC AZ), Wes Schevers (Lonestar SC Academy), Platini Soaf (West Coast Futbol Club), Luis Torres (United Soccer Alliance)