The San Jose Earthquakes U-13 Boys’ Academy team had a phenomenal U.S. Soccer Development Academy season in 2017-18, scoring 174 goals and posting an undefeated 23-0-4 record against NORCAL division opponents. The U-13s had some notable standouts, including forward Dylan Tellado, who scored 45 goals in 24 appearances and would eventually land third on the USSDA’s top goal-scorers list. Martin Kwende Jr. also featured on the list, finishing in ninth after scoring 32 goals. Goalkeeper Andrew Samuels was a brick wall for the U-13s, tallying 16 clean sheets with the help of his back line.
“It is a talented group of players with high potential,” said Academy Director of Formation Paul Holocher. “We have moved several of the players up to get minutes with the older academy teams and this has been a really good experience for them. All the boys are comfortable with the ball, which is something we really look for with younger players. The most important thing is that they all worked very hard and are developing a strong mentality. That is the greatest talent of all.”
Although the U-13s posted some terrific numbers, their individual performances did not overshadow the development of the team altogether. Dan DeGeer, head coach of the U-13 Boys’ Academy, was quick to emphasize that the growth of each player was more important than the results of the matches. In addition to leading training sessions, DeGeer also had the boys attend Avaya Stadium for tactical lessons, gym sessions and film study, utilizing the First Team’s facilities and resources.
The U-13s and Head Coach Dan DeGeer at Avaya Stadium for a tactics lesson
“In the beginning of the season, I was excited and motivated to work with this group,” said DeGeer. “I was excited not only because of their talent, but their desire to learn and develop. Throughout the season, our training environment continued to improve to the point where our training sessions were significantly more competitive than our games. Training in this atmosphere four times a week played a key role in their development. While the results were exceptional, I am more proud of the individual and collective growth over the past year. Many players spent considerable time working on their Individual Development Plans to help reach the next level. Our game model continued to evolve but was always consistent within our style of play, which is something we take pride in. No matter who played or which system was utilized, the team stayed true to their identity.”