Columbus Crew SC completed its 11th year in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy by sending two teams to last month’s Championships in Kansas City, Mo.
The Championships featured the top eight teams in the two oldest age groups of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, a grueling eleven-month season against the country’s top 74 youth soccer clubs. Columbus Crew SC was the only club in the country to send both age groups to the quarterfinals of the Championships, with the U-18/19 Crew SC Academy team finishing in third place.
“We are proud to be the only club in the country to qualify for the Championships in two age groups. However, we are even more proud of the dedication of our players and staff to commit to improving every single day,” Columbus Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said.
“We have a clear idea of how we want to play and a clear idea of how we want to train, but it takes a deep commitment from the players and their families to get the most out of our environment. Witnessing the progress of these young players over the past few years has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my role at the club.”
While Berhalter is pleased with the team success, the focus of the Academy program remains to develop elite players. Eleven Crew SC Academy players earned invitations to U.S. Soccer Youth National Team camps this year, including the most recent call ups of Aboubacar Keita and Sean Zawadzki to U.S. Soccer’s U-20 National Team, as they begin preparations to qualify for the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Zawadzki, a Georgetown-bound midfielder from Cleveland, Ohio, has featured with U.S. Soccer’s Youth National Teams consistently over the years, most recently joining U.S. Soccer’s U-19 national team in a tournament in Slovakia. Keita, a central defender from Columbus, Ohio, is also a previous participant in U.S. Soccer youth national team. Unfortunately, Keita was unable to attend the upcoming U-20 camp due to mandatory academic commitments this summer at the University of Virginia. Both players participate regularly in first team training sessions and joined the first team for their preseason training camps in Arizona and South Carolina earlier this year.
“The goal of our Academy program is to provide a pathway to go from a successful youth player to a professional soccer player. Sean and Aboubacar are two examples of young players who have embraced their opportunities at our club and are progressing along this pathway,” Berhalter said.
“And while I’m happy for them to be considered for U-20 national team pool, I want them to stay focused on continuing to improve. They are making good progress, but there is still a lot of work to be done.”
Crew SC Academy begins its 2018-2019 season on Saturday, Sept. 2 against Indiana Fire Academy at the Crew SC Training Center at Obetz. For more information on the Crew SC Academy, please visit http://crew.ussoccerda.com/home.