Each year, the Development Academy hosts a summer showcase at the end of the season, which allows every team in the program to compete against each other in front of hundreds of college coaches and national team scouts. Oklahoma Football Club registrar Brian Gordon spent time at the showcase in San Diego. Gordon sat down to answer some questions about the tournament and the benefits OEFC will receive from being a member of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy program.
What is the purpose of the DA Summer Showcase?
The DA Showcase is the final Showcase event of the year for the Development Academy program. There the teams get one last opportunity to play each other in front of a plethora of Collegiate Coaches and U.S. National Scouts. The Development Academy staff arranges games so that each team plays a meaningful game versus an opponent that they traditionally wouldn’t have seen during regular season play.
It is also the site of the Development Academy Championships, where the best DA teams battle it out for national championship. This is where the elite teams in the nation separate themselves from every other program and prove they are the best players in the U.S.
How many coaches were in attendance at the Summer Showcase?
If I had to guess, I would say over 300 coaches were in attendance. At one point, it seemed as though there were more college coaches on the sidelines than parents. I saw coaches from elite Division I programs, like Duke, Tulsa, Stanford, Florida State and every college in between. Every one of the games on the 20 fields had coaches on the sidelines, evaluating players and the games.
In addition to the collegiate coaches, there were U.S. National Scouts at midfield of every game performing evaluations of their own. It was really impressive to see the visibility and attention that these players were getting.
How does this benefit the players in the Development Academy?
Players have an opportunity to be seen by this many coaches in one location, and it most certainly opens doors for player who desire to play at a collegiate or higher level. Coaches know that the DA Showcases are the best place to witness potential recruits play in competitive and meaningful games, and they can see how they may respond to all aspects of the game.
Outside of the collegiate identification part of the experience, players get the satisfaction of playing against the best in the country and seeing how they measure up. It will be a great way for our club to really see how a player and team have developed after a year in the program.
What was the environment like at the showcase?
It was really a top-class environment with a lot of excitement and a tremendous amount of respect within and between the teams. The moment you walked into the event, you go through a “Hall of Champions” where you see the names of past winners, videos along the walls of teams’ stories and images of national team players who came through the DA program themselves.
From the Hall, it opens up to 20 Championship level fields with players, parents, coaches and fans everywhere. There were cheers and ‘ooh’s and aah’s’ at all times. Something exciting was always going on throughout the complex. It was not uncommon to find yourself caught up in a game as you were on your way to a different game. In fact, I got to watch boys academy games between LA Galaxy and Philadelphia Union, as well as between Vancouver Whitecaps and Sockers FC – Chicago. Along the way, I got to see FC Dallas’s top female U15 team play Reign Academy. Where else can you see incredible competitions like these as you are walking. It was really a great environment for any soccer fan.
Will this be available to OEFC athletes?
Our five female DA teams will participate in this 2019 Summer Showcase, as well as the Winter Showcase and Spring Showcase earlier in the year. If our teams qualify, then they will play in the playoff portion of the Summer Showcase for a chance at the national title.
While we have teams for all five age groups in the girls program for 2018-19 season, we expect to begin offering a boys program in the 2019-20 season, where our male players will have a chance to compete in these Development Academy competitions themselves. This is something that isn’t offered, and won’t be offered, anywhere else in the State.
How will this affect soccer in Oklahoma in the future?
I fully believe that players improve by facing better competition and the U.S. DA program is the highest level of competition in U.S. Youth Soccer. Participation in the Development Academy can only elevate and improve the level of soccer in our club and in Oklahoma. I know that the longer we offer the program to our players, the higher the standard of play in our club will become and we will put more elite level players on the field. This means more players will be identified by colleges and even U.S. Soccer scouts, proving to the nation that Oklahoma can produce top-quality athletes.
Do you have anything else to add?
Throughout the year, we will be hosting DA games at our complexes. If you want to see the most elite level soccer in Oklahoma, come watch our DA teams in action and give them your support. You might just see one of U.S. Soccer’s next stars.