United's U-16 youth team captures the Carolina Challenge Academy Cup (photo via dcunited.com)
When we were discussing the lack of trialists this preseason for D.C. United, a question was raised about United's Academy. Andy Najar is straight out of the United Academy, and he has been easily the most successful Homegrown player in the league. Bill Hamid isn't far behind. And the two newest Academy signings Conor Shanosky and Ethan White each featured in the Carolina Challenge Cup last night.
So do we have any more players ready to make the leap?
Yeah, actually, there are certainly several possibilities. Joey Wilkins and Cody Albrecht are both finalists for the Gatorade National Player of the Year award. Here's a blurb on each of them from Alex Caulfield of dcunited.com.
Albrecht, a midfielder headed for St. John’s University, recorded a state-record 31 assists in addition to 10 goals this season as he led DeMatha to an undefeated season (24-0). The playmaker was the Washington Post All-Metro Player of the Year as well as the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Player of the Year. Albrecht has scored two goals in four games for D.C. United’s Youth Academy squad.
Wilkins is a product of a rich soccer tradition at Gonzaga and tallied eight goals and six assists this season from the backline. The defender received First Team All Washington Catholic Athletic Conference honors and is committed to play at Loyola University Maryland this fall.
But that's not all. United's U-16 Academy team also won the Carolina Challenge Academy Cup, thanks to goals from Yaw Amankwa, Collin Martin, and Kennedy O’Shea.
The pipeline is thriving. And having Jaime Moreno in charge certainly won't hurt either.
I'm not expecting United to bring up any additional Homegrown players this season. They've got enough youth as it is. But remember those names, because I'm sure we'll be seeing them again in a few years.