New England Soccer Today

Team Building on Tap for Showcase

Zachary Herivaux practices with his Academy teammates at the Dana Farber Fieldhouse. (Photo: CHRIS ADUAMA/

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Two weeks after opening their season in undefeated fashion, the Revolution Youth Academy squads will sojourn south for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy’s Winter Showcase, which kicks off today and will run through Dec. 6.

On tap for the lads will be matches against Charlotte Soccer Academy (Dec. 3), Chicago Fire (Dec. 4), North Meck SC (Dec. 6) at the Premier Sports Complex in Sarasota, Fla.

Keeping their unblemished record (a combined 4-0-0 between the U-16s and U-18s) intact through the extended weekend would be ideal, of course. But, Academy Director/U-16s head coach Bryan Scales believes that another important goal of the trip is to bring the players closer together.

“Right now is really an important, team-building phase for us,” Scales said. “All of these guys are coming off their high school seasons and the new guys just getting used to the rhythm of what training looks like and how the (Academy) games pan out and what a good soccer game looks like.”

Getting into a rhythm from the onset is an absolute must. The fact that every Academy player spent the bulk of the fall playing for a number of different schools and clubs, it’ll be no small task to bring them together – without the luxury of a preseason.

Although the squads may have avoided the loss column despite few opportunities to train together in advance, U-18s Head Coach John Frederick believes that the Showcase will provide the coaches with a better idea of what they’ll have to work before the winter break.

“I think it was important to certainly have some games before we go to Sarasota just to kind of see where different individuals are at and see where guys are going to play,” Frederick said. “I don’t think (anything) is set in stone yet, obviously. With a few more training sessions, we’re getting a good idea where guys are at physically and where they can help us on the field.”

Three games in four days should give the coaching staff a reasonable opportunity to get to know their guys even better. A high concentration of games will undoubtedly give most of the rostered players an opportunity to find some time on the field and, in turn, give the coaches a better understanding of what they’ll have to work with once the season kicks into high gear come March.

While individual performances will obviously be important, Scales believes the true value of the Showcase isn’t necessarily found in the points column. Rather, the time spent together by the players both on and off the field will be important. After all, one of the key ingredients of a successful soccer team is familiarity.

“I think the good thing about Sarasota is that we’ll all be together,” Scales said. “We get out of here and play in three good games, so we’ll be able to focus and concentrate on putting those pieces together.”

Getting the players acclimated to each other and fitting those pieces together will be the key objectives of for the coaching staff before the players break for the winter.

“We look at this phase,” Scales said. “As an acclimation phase for the new guys and establishing some chemistry and figuring out what the personality of the teams are going to be like.”

Establishing chemistry, as well as figuring out its identity, will certainly be something the coaching staff hopes to accomplish by the end of the Showcase. In the meantime, the opportunity to get the players on the field together in a competitive environment is something that Frederick is looking forward to.

“I think Sarasota’s (going to be) a great test,” Frederick said. “(After that) we kind of go into a real preseason in January to kind of evaluate individuals and evaluate where we are as a team, play some really good teams, compete, and learn from that and go from there.”

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