NEW YORK -- As the top-flight division of men’s professional soccer in the United States, MLS and its clubs are also out to show they have the best youth teams in the nation.
After more than 2,000 games played by 144 teams across the country, a total of three MLS youth sides are competing in the US Soccer Development Academy Finals at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
FC Dallas, led by former MLS player Oscar Pareja, are the lone MLS side still in contention for the Under-17/18 title. They opened their Finals campaign with a 1-0 win over Crossfire Premier on Sunday, with the goal coming off a perfect ball from Jonathan Top that Bradlee Baladez was able to convert for the score. Up next are matches against Derby County Wolves (July 13) and CASL Chelsea (July 15). The FCD Juniors side is aiming for the top spot in their group and a berth in the U-17/18 title game on Saturday, July 17.
The D.C. United and Chicago Fire Under-15/16 teams were drawn into the same group in their quest to win the championship in that age category. The Fire beat local rival Sockers FC 2-1 and next face D.C. United on Monday night.
The Black-and-Red managed only scoreless tie in their opener against DeAnza on Saturday. United goalkeeper Cody Niedermier kept his club’s shutout intact by denying a last-minute strike to end the game. After the match against the Fire on Monday, United take on Sockers FC in their group finale on Wednesday, July 14.
Both Chicago and D.C. United are competing to finish as the top two to secure a spot in the U-15/16 title match on Friday, July 16.