After five weeks of league play, the Minnesota United U13 and U14 Development Academies will step outside their routines this weekend, October 19–22, to see how they stack up against other academies from around the region — including teams from Florida and Texas —as they trek to Waukegan, Illinois for the 2018 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Central Regional Showcase.
The two MNUFC teams will play four 50-minute games apiece against other MLS Academies. The U13 side will square off against the Dallas Texans and Sporting Kansas City on Friday and Houston Dynamo and San Antonio FC on Saturday. The U14 team will open on Sunday against Armada FC Pro Academy and Houston Dynamo and wrap up on Monday against Tampa Bay Rowdies and Orlando City.
“It is always fun to test yourself against players from other regions of the country,” U14 Head Coach Angel Rivillo said. “For them, it is a measuring stick of where they are compared to everyone else. The boys always like challenges of playing other MLS teams as well. They are looking forward to the event and seeing where they are compared to everybody else.”
Both Rivillo and U13 Head Coach Andy Seidel believe the event’s unique setup offers an opportunity for both teams as well as the program as a whole. By playing 50-minute games and having two games per day, the coaches will be able to get a lot of different players onto the field and experiment with different lineups while measuring MNUFC against the rest of the region.
For the players, it is not only a great opportunity to enhance their development, but it is also a fun and fresh experience to look forward to.
“With all of the teams down there and all of the people around and how they set it up, the players get to have an experience,” Seidel said. “It is bigger than just a regular season game or a friendly or something that we normally do. It is something that they can get a little bit hyped up for. It is a little bit different than the league, so it is kind of like a bonus for them.”
While the Loons are certainly eager to see how they stack up against their counterparts, results are not necessarily what they are looking for this weekend. The coaches want to see that their teams are competitive and playing the way MNUFC wants them to play. Seidel described that as being the “protagonist” and consistently bringing the game to opponents rather than reacting and Rivillo echoed that sentiment.
“If we can play against some of the top opponents and be successful on the field, it will be a successful weekend for us,” Rivillo said. “That will not only say a lot to me, but to the kids as well — knowing that we can play at a high level and play an attractive attacking style of soccer. If we can have success while doing it, then even better.”