The Met Oval U-14 Development Academy team travelled to Trumbull, Connecticut last weekend to compete in the northeast regional USSF Academy Futsal Showcase, which was held at the Insports Centers sports complex. In an effort to maintain a high level of competition and to maximize playing time for all academy players, each participating club divided its full squad into two teams. Both Met Oval teams played three games against the same opponents: FC Bolts Celtic, Empire Revolution, and Everton FC Westchester.
Met Oval team 1 went undefeated on the day, compiling two strong wins and one hard fought draw. The wins came at the expense of Empire Revolution and Everton FC Westchester, the latter coming in an impressive come-from-behind fashion. The draw came against the FC Bolts Celtic. Met Oval team 2 finished the day with a record of 1-2 in three very competitive games: one impressive win against Empire Revolution, and two heartbreaking one-goal losses against FC Bolts Celtic and Everton FC Westchester. In a post showcase interview, coach Hugo spoke of both teams’ performance, “It was a good showcase for all of our players. The coaching staff observed improvements across the board and was especially proud of the younger players who showed the quality of the Met Oval way.”
Going into the showcase, the players’ focus was to compete and win as many games as possible, while maintaining team-identity and the Met Oval style of play. On the flip-side, the coaching staff wanted to observe the players in a competitive environment to measure their technical and tactical development, both individually and collectively as a unit. Coach Hugo was very happy with his players, but drew attention to three standout performances:
1) Peyton Lane for his impressive technical ability and great decision-making in tight spaces,
2) Balthazar Saunders (born in 2002) for playing two years up and earning his first appearance with the U-14 pre-Academy team, and
3) US youth national team pool player Veljko Petkovic who continues to dominate competition with his unique technical ability and very high soccer IQ.
Honorable mention to Denison Hernandez, who this past weekend returned to action from a back injury that sidelined him for the final two months of the season last year. “It was great to see him back in action and scoring many goals. He appeared to be in a great rhythm out there, regaining confidence to consistently perform,” said coach Hugo.
Next up for the Met Oval U-14 Academy team is the spring season that will feature a number of games in the competitive 2015 USSF Development Academy League. Coach Hugo is very encouraged by the winter futsal training and believes it has really benefited the players in terms of using advanced technique to solve pressure from the opposition and play out of tight spaces. He thinks this experience will translate very well to full-field situations and, along with all of the players, is very excited to get back to training outdoors at Met Oval.