COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The two-time-defending MLS Supporters' Shield-winning Columbus Crew announced today that the Crew Soccer Academy 17/18 squad -- which earned a third place finish out of the best 64 teams in the country at the inaugural U.S. Soccer Development Academy Finals in 2008 -- will face the U.S. Under-17 National Team in a youth friendly prior to the Crew's First Kick match against Trillium Cup-rival Toronto FC at Crew Stadium on March 27.
The match, which kicks off at 1 p.m., is part of a First Kick doubleheader and fans can gain entry to the youth friendly between CSA and the U.S. Under-17s with a ticket to the Crew's First Kick match against Toronto FC, which kicks off later that day at 4 p.m.
"Playing the U-17 National Team in Crew Stadium is a terrific opportunity and stage for both our model in general and our CSA 17/18s in particular," said Andrew Arthurs, the Crew's VP of Soccer Business Development. "We are extremely excited to host the 17s for four days of programming, and we know our players are very grateful and eager for the chance to compete against the highest level in the United States."
Fans can purchase tickets for Crew First Kick 2010 at the Crew Stadium Box Office, all central Ohio Ticketmaster retail locations, via Ticketmaster phone at 800-745-3000 and on-line at TheCrew.com and Ticketmaster.com. Fans can also still become Crew Soccer Nation members by purchasing full-season ticket packages or partial plans, starting as low as $95 for 5-Packs. Group tickets are also available for all 15 home games. All ticket packages or plans are available through TheCrew.com and 614-447-CREW.
The match against CSA is the first in a 10-game tour for the U.S. U-17 National Team from March until May, which features matches against five Academy clubs affiliated with MLS clubs - including the Crew Soccer Academy - and five other Development Academy opponents. The wide-ranging tour kicks off the national squad's early stages of preparation for the 2011 CONCACAF U-17 Championship and the subsequent 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
"Whenever we have the chance to play against one of the older Development Academy teams, it helps our younger players a lot," said U-17 head coach Wilmer Cabrera. "That is very positive for our players because the demands are greater, the speed of the game is faster, it makes the game harder and they have more responsibilities and can improve their level of play.
The Crew Soccer Academy 17/18 squad currently holds a record of 4-2-1 (13 pts) in the early portions of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. CSA - which was founded in 2006 - is the program that provides the greatest opportunity and exposure for players to reach their highest level, and is one of the few programs in the country that is fully funded. No costs-for player fees, travel, accommodations, meals and Crew replica gear-are incurred by families. Players train and play at the Crew Training Center at Obetz and Crew Stadium. Crew Soccer Academy is a charter member of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, which is supported by the U.S. National Teams and represents the highest level of competition for those ages in the country. Crew Soccer Academy is the only member of the Development Academy in central Ohio, and is the top boys level in Ohio. For more information, visit www.TheCrewYouth.com.
Founded by American sports pioneer Lamar Hunt, the Columbus Crew is Ohio's Major League Soccer club, anchoring a diverse sports and entertainment enterprise. One of the league's Charter Members, it won its first MLS Cup Championship in 2008 and has also won the 2002 U.S. Open Cup championship and MLS Supporters' Shield titles in 2004, 2008 and 2009. It will open its 15th season overall and 12th in first-of-its-kind Columbus Crew Stadium on Saturday, March 27 when it hosts Toronto FC in its 2010 regular season opener and first leg of the Trillium Cup competition.