Wednesday, January 28, 2009

1/28/09: Columbus Crew Youth Program On The Up And Up

Chad Barson, Justin Luthy, and Ben Speas are top seniors in American soccer, will the Crew senior team snatch any of them up? (Image by posted on US Soccer.)

Virtually non-existant a couple of years back, the Columbus Crew youth programs are making amazing strides. In a recent ranking by Soccer America, the Crew ranked 23rd out of the top 30 youth clubs in the nation. The only MLS club ranked higher was the Chicago Fire at 15th and I think it's really debatable who has the better youth program out of the two. Especially when one looks at the most important result, The Crew finished 3rd at the Development Academy Finals at the U-17/U-18 level and the Chicago Fire finished 6th.

The only other two MLS teams that were ranked included DC United at 29th and Kansas City Wizards at 30th. Leaving nine American MLS clubs including the LA Galaxy nowhere to be found on the list. If the quick improvement continues, I wouldn't be surprised if the Crew are challenging near the top in the next few years. And, for their accomplishments and players, I think 23 is lower than they deserved.

Soccer America's excerpt on the Crew youth program:
"23 Columbus Crew. The Crew's academy teams have quickly become a force on the competitive Ohio youth scene. The Crew finished third in the U-17/18 age group at the Development Academy Finals Week. Crew players Chad Barson, Justin Luthy and Ben Speas are among the top players in this year's senior class."

Soccer America's Rankings:

Top 30 Boys Clubs

1. Baltimore Bays
2. Dallas Texans
3. Andromeda
4. Arsenal FC
5. Chicago Magic
6. Real So Cal
7. FC Delco
8. Solar FC
9. Michigan Wolves
10. Schulz Soccer Academy
11. CASL
12. LAFC
13. PDA
14. Concorde Elite
15. Chicago Fire
16. FC Milwaukee
17. Javanon SC
18. Real Colorado
19. Carmel United
20. West Coast FC
21. Sockers FC
22. NJSA 04
23. Columbus Crew
24. Vardar SC
25. St. Louis Scott Gallagher
26. Blau Weiss Gottschee
27. Bethesda SC
28. Colorado Rush
29. D.C. United
30. Kansas City Wizards

My opinion: I doubt about 90% percent of the teams above us have the talent on their youth roster as the Crew have at the U-17/U-18 level. If Soccer America made a ranking for top U-17/U-18 clubs, the Crew would have to be ranked third because they finished 3rd in the major tournament. If you look at the ranking descriptions, I think past performance and history played a little role in the rankings as well. And, the Chicago Fire as well as alot of clubs ahead of us can't boast about the seniors that the Crew Academy has. Further, it seems like alot of clubs were ranked on what their U-12, U-15, and U-16 programs were doing as well. Alot can happen between the age of 12-15 before one gets to 18, the important results are at the U-18 level where some of these players could begin to pay off.

Still to be battling for the number 1 spot with the Chicago Fire in our youth program is a positive. Even if we are 2 out of 15 that's still a positive sign for the Crew youth system.


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