The Atlantic division is the most competitive in all of USSDA.
Last years finals included two Atlantic division clubs, PDA and Bethesda-Olney, with DC United, Philadelphia Union, Richmond United and PA Classics not far behind. NJCSA finished a disappointing 7th in both the U17/18 & U15/16 age divisions.
The New Jersey based club not only competes against some of the best clubs in league play but is constantly compared to geographical foe New York Red Bulls.
NJCSA will have to replace dual US and Uruguay U20 defender ’95 Matias Fracchia, who’s now starring for NC State. Fracchia was one of the most valuable players in USSDA last season, as he did a little of everything for NJCSA last season.
NJCSA only returns one member of last years U18 squad, role player ’96 Alvaro Montoya who played and started in 13 games, scoring 3 times.
Despite these obstacles NJCSA are optimistic leading into the 2014-15 season.
The hope revolves around a number of skilled players at this level in ’98 Kyle Gurrieri, ’98 Cristian Martinez, ’97 Orestis Sousonis and ’97 Joshua Goldstern.
Gurrieri is a member of the US U17 player pool. Gurrieri is a tactically sound midfielder who is a good connector of the ball. He’s seen as a more box-to-box player. Gurrrieri spent the summer on trial in England with Championship sides Brentford FC and Nottingham Forrest FC.
Gurrieri is joined on the U18s by solid defender Cristian Martinez who has also been included in the US Youth team pools. Martinez is a 6-1 defender who commands the back the back well. Martinez will be joined by experienced players ’97 Zach Golden, ’97 Nicholas Cousillas and ’97 Kai Shirazi. Look for ’97 Sean McSherry to slot into the midfield, but the talented McSherry can easily play in the defense as well. ’97 Dylan Greenblatt will also figure into the defense at times, but will likely start the season as the team’s defensive midfield.
Gurrieri will be boost by the addition of former-PDA offensive midfielder Orestis Sousonis. Sousonis is an extremely technical player who’s true gift is playing the final ball onto a strikers foot. Sousonis is a former US U14 & U15 star and has been courted by Manchester City as well as a number of Spanish clubs, but for now the NJCSA #10 is locked into to helping guide the U18 squad into play-off contention.
Sousonis will be hoping to spring NJCSA striker Joshua Goldstern, who led the NJCSA U16s with 14 goals last season and will, barring massive changes, be the U18 leading scorer this season.
The U18s will are hurt by the transfer of ’98 Alex Soto to the Philadelphia Union. Luckily they were able to lure Sousonis to pull the strings. Despite being a ’98 Soto would have likely joined fellow ’98s Gurrieri and Martinez on the U18s
The U16s are hurt by the promotion of Gurrieri, Martinez and the loss of Soto to the Union. Like the U18s they have no real contributing players back from last years roster. Thus, the U16s will be forces to rely on a slew of ’99s led by ’99 Conor Kelly. Kelly is a two way midfielder who topped the U14s in scoring last year with 16, more than the rest of the team combined. Look for ’99 Andrew Venezia to be another important figure in the U16 squad.
The 14s will look to a trio of ’00s that played meaningful minutes last year including ’00 Liam Craver, ’00 Justin McStay and the team’s best player ’00 Joseph Benevento.
Club Captain :: Sean McSherry
Impact Player :: Joshua Goldstern
Club Talisman :: Zach Golden
Club Star :: Kyle Gurrieri
Defensive Stalwart :: Cristian Martinez
Top Prospect :: Conor Kelly
Pro Prospect :: Orestis Sousonis