DC United will be good this year. I’m not just talking about good in the Atlantic division. I’m not just talking about on the East Coast. I’m not just talking about their U18s.
DC has been extremely pro-active in acquiring talent all off-season. They’ve added pieces at every level of their academy. The 18s have added Bethesda-Olney’s Alonzo Clarke and Stephane Kouame. The 16s identified Collin Jouan and were quick to add him to the academy as well. DC U16 s have also brought in developing talented Raheem Lawal to play up top.
The U18 roster includes a number of familiar faces that finished 3rd last season in the Atlantic division. DC finished behind USSDA U17/18 finalists PDA and Bethesda-Olney. A number of the key U18s return to squad including DC’s Honduran U20 midfielder Jorge Calix. Calix, a ’96, was heavily involved with the US program before Honduras came at him hard to join their federation. Calix widely seen as a possible HG signing for the club. If Calix does not get the HG, look for some of the top college programs to snag him up quick. Problem for Calix might be forcing his way into the starting line-up.
Calix will battle UCLA commit Lucas Mendes who is one of the hottest prospects in USSDA. The creative midfielder tore up U16 level last season scoring 9 in only 13 matches. UCLA did not waste any time in getting the talented play-maker to commit to their 2016 class.
The U18s also welcome back attacking players Umarr Bangura and Liam Hoen-Beck both of whom figure into one of the most stacked attacks in the league. DC promoted ’97s DJ Reeves (Maryland commit), US U18 pool player Patrick Jean-Gilles, striker Gerson Umana. OWTY has also heard from multiple sources that ’98 attacking midfielder Jean-Christophe Koffi will also spend a majority of the season with the U18s despite being listed on the U16 roster. Koffi is the son of a Ivorian Diplomat is attempting to secure his US citizenship but finding it tough. Koffi has stated he would be interested in a US call.
The problem for the U18s becomes how to play all of these gifted attacking players. It might not be too far of a stretch to see Calix playing more deep, much like Derrick Etienne for the Red Bulls and pulling the strings from there.
If DC does deploy a mainly offensive minded squad there will be lots of pressure on the defensive line. Much like Koffi, OWTY has heard that ’98 defender Trey Vinson will spend a majority of the season with the U18s. Vinson is a former US U17 pool player and a good season with the U18s should put him squarely back into the picture.
Vinson will pair with ’97 Alonzo Clarke in the center of defense. Clarke was rumored to be the target of Manchester United and a number of other English Academies. DC United scored a big one with Clarke who spent time with Bethesda-Olney last season as well. Clarke is a force on the defensive line and should be included in the next US U18 roster. Vinson and Clarke will be surrounded by solid left back Jonathan Sousa who started nearly every game for the U16s last season. On the right look for Johnathan Bell or Timothy Oberg to play there.
The U16s will be welcome back a number of players as well. ’98 central defender Donovan Pines will anchor the back line. Pines will pair with much improved Carson Jeffris and Christophe Gerlach in the defense.
In front of Pines and Jeffris will be the dynamic pairing of ’98s Collin Jouan and Miles Robinson. Robinson will play behind Jouan who will be given the freedom to control the tempo and pace of the game for the U16s. Jouan is a complete two way player, and with Robinson he should be given the freedom to explore himself getting forward. Jouan was recently named to the upcoming Adidas Showcase event, as one of the top 20 U16s in USSDA.
Up top the U16s will rely on ’99 US Youth National attacker Jose Carranza who was a rumored candidate for a US Residency spot. Carranza is a game-changing wing player who can also slot into the #10 role if needed. Carranza will be joined by Brandon Williamson, Folasanmi Adetola and Raheem Lawal. Keep and eye on Idrissa Barrie. His USSDA citizenship lists him as from Sierre Leone, a strong season could see him become the target of the US federation.
Another player to keep a watch for is SahrFelix Sandy, who burst onto the national scene after an impressive year with the DC U14s. Sandy is a tricky player with loads of pace and tricks when running at the defense.
It should be noted that the official U16 roster contains both Trey Vinson and Jean-Christopher Koffi, both of whom will spend the season with the U18s but play with the U16s at national tournaments and showcases.
The U14s will again be led by ’00 US Youth National attacker Alexis Cerritos who scored 17 goals for the U14 last season. Cerritos is one of the most talented ’00s in all of USSDA. Alexis is a key member of the US U14 pool, as one of the most naturally gifted players at this level.
Cerritos will be joined by fellow US Youth player Chandler Vaughn and Michael Edwards. Vaughn and Edwards play in the defense, with Vaughn playing more centrally and Edwards more on the side. Another name I am keeping an eye on at this level is Aldo Moreno. Moreno has been with DC for a few seasons now and should have a breakout season this year.
Club Captain :: Trey Vinson
Impact Player :: Jean-Christophe Koffi
Club Talisman :: Jorge Calix
Club Star :: Lucas Mendes
Defensive Stalwart :: Alonzo Clarke
Top Prospect :: Alexis Cerritos
Pro Prospect :: Jose Carranza