Maryland is a state that has cultivated an intense soccer culture. Many of the top athletes are surrounded by great clubs and coaches. The University of Maryland is one of the most prestigious programs in NCAA history. Elite camps, and international experience’s are common place for the area’s top talent, and on top of the Maryland Academy scene is DC United.
DC United were the first dynasty in the MLS winning three of the first four MLS Cups. They parlayed their successes on the field to establishing deep roots into the bevy of talent in the area, ensuring the top players grew up United fans and dreaming of one day representing the DC crest.
The DC United Academy has enjoyed a great deal of publicity and success over the last few years. Academy stars Andy Najar and Bill Hamid (’90) have both already gained international experiences and recognition. Michael Seaton (’96), Ethan White (’91), Conor Shanosky (’91) and Collin Martin (’94) round out the DC United first team signings–all have already seen MLS action. Add in US youth team players Suliaman Dainkeh (’95), Jalen Robinson (’94), Paddy Foss (’94) and Marcus Salandy-Defour (’93) and it’s clear the DC United Academy can produce potential pro’s.
The DC U18s finished in 3rd place last year in the highly-competitive East Conference. DC U18s return usynt playmaker Jorge Calix (’96) who will again run the midfield next to Honduran Cristhyan Najar who should cause havoc down the flanks. Defensive stalwarts Josh Golob (’95) and Steven Gandy (’96) lead a solid unit at the back.
The U18s will welcome U16 stars Gerson Umana (’97) who netted 18 goals for DC last season. Umana is from El Salvador but has told OWTY that he is close to being able to represent the US at youth levels. He is an elite striking prospect. Also making the leap to U18 football are Virginia commit Julian Cummings (’96), Graydon Hester (’96) and Michael Monahan (’96) who will likely join Calix in the midfield. Austin Pelto (’96) will also be key to the United’s defensive efforts. Arie Ammann (’96) and David Hays (’96) split time at goalkeeper for the U16s last season. Ammann’s move to Watford’s Academy opens the door for Hays as the first choice keeper at the U18 level.
Despite the massive losses sustained, the U16s should again be one of the top squads in the nation. Headlining the U16 roster is usynt defender Trey Vinson (’97) who started in defense last season playing two years up. Vinson will pair with two talented ’98’s in goalkeeper Hamza Monawer (’98) and defender in Miles Robinson (’98). Both Monawer and Robinson should be in line for US camps in 2013-2014. Ibrahim Seye (’97) also returns with the U16s.
One of the more interesting players at the U16 is usynt Jose Carranza (’99). Carranza has been a fixture with Hugo Perez’s talented US U14 BNT. He had an excellent showing in Spain this spring with the 2013 id2 squad. He is a top 10 prospect in the ’99 pool. His inclusion with the U16 means he’ll be playing two years up. Look for Jose to still be a difference maker.
The U14s will be lead by Chris Durkin (’00), Andrew Nicholas (’99), Derin Kokuuslu (’99) and Jordan Saint-Louis (’99). Saint-Louis joins DC after spending time with the Potomac U16s last season. Look for a number more of the United U14s to make a name for themselves this season.
UPDATE:: ’97 midfielder Umar Bangura and ’98 striker Jean-Christophe Koffi were both recently added to the DC United roster. Both Bangura and Koffi should be starters. Koffi spent the summer with Malaga and impressed. Bangura comes over from Baltimore Bays Chelsea.
Academy Star: ’96 Jorge Calix
Academy Talisman: ’96 Steven Gandy
Academy Prospect: ’99 Jose Carranza