With parents, players and coaches lining the sidelines, DC Stoddert' Soccer's combined U-13/14 Advanced Training Program (ATP) roster soundly defeated the D.C. United U14 Pre-Development Academy 4-1 in a fast-paced, tightly controlled game at Jelleff Field on May 12. The match, one of several that the ATP players will play against pre-academy lineups this spring, was organized and coached by Sona Walla, Stoddert Travel's Boys Technical Director and director of ATP.

Prior to kickoff, Tom Torres, D.C. United's Pre-Academy Program Coordinator, met with DC Stoddert parents to discuss the pre-academy program, now in its first year. Since its inception five years ago, D.C. United's Youth Academy for U-16 and older players has developed top talent, including, most recently, Honduran boy-wonder Andy Najar, Major League Soccer's Rookie of the year for the 2010 season. More recently, newly retired Black-and-Red forward Jaime Moreno signed on as D.C. United's Youth Academy Technical Training Coach this past winter.

Torres, a former travel coach, explained that the Academy created a younger developmental program because it wanted to reach out to players at an age where they were still open to learning new things. "You can't teach an old dog new tricks," he noted with a smile. Torres explained that while the vast majority of Academy players will not go pro, the D.C. United Academy, in addition to providing high-level training and playing experience, has a stellar track recording of sending players to the U.S. national team and also to D-1 colleges, many on scholarship. Torres noted that the pre-development program mirrors that of the U16-18 Academy players as far as practices and games.

Stoddert Soccer, a D.C. United Academy affiliate club, has seen several DC Stoddert-trained players make the Academy. Tryouts for the D.C. United pre-development and Academy programs run from mid-May through July 20. For details, click HERE.

 "It was a fun soccer night and a superb learning experience for our players," Coach Sona wrote parents and players in a post-match e-mail. "I was particularly pleased that in addition to remaining true to our philosophy of solving problems with technique, intelligence and group movement, they demonstrated great team mental strength throughout the match." Launched in 2008, DC Stoddert's ATP program is for travel players ages 11 and up interested in taking their soccer to a higher level with intensive training that complements their travel-team experience. For more information, contact Sona Walla.

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