News and Announcements

Jenna Romano Commits to Wake Forest!

Posted by Phil Nielsen at Aug 24, 2011 9:18PM PDT ( 0 Comments )

Team Chicago Academy-Botafogo captain Jenna Romano has accepted a very lucrative scholarship to attend ACC powerhouse Wake Forest as part of their 2013 freshman class.

Wake Forest is the defending ACC champions – the most competitive conference in the country – and they defeated Florida State, North Carolina, and Maryland to capture the 2010 crown. In 2011 they are off to a 2-0-0 start lead by sophomore U20 National Team star Katie Stengel.

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Zoey Goralski Headed to U17 National Team Camp!

Posted by Phil Nielsen at Aug 17, 2011 10:39AM PDT ( 0 Comments )

Zoey Goralski from Team Chicago Academy-Botafogo is headed to U17 National Team Camp next week. Over the past year Zoey has emerged as the starting right back on the U17s as they prepare for next year’s U17 FIFA World Cup in Azerbaijan.

Below is the press release from US Soccer:

The U.S. Under-17 Women National Team will hold a training camp from Aug. 21-29 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The camp will feature two full international matches against Japan, matching the U-17 teams from the two countries that met in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final about a month ago in Frankfurt, Germany. The games, which are open to the public, will take place on Thursday, Aug. 25 at 6 p.m. PT and Sunday. Aug. 28, at 4 p.m. PT.

This will be the first camp since Albertin Montoya was officially named head coach of the U.S. U-17s and he has called in 26 players for the event, all of whom were born in 1995. The U.S. team is preparing for qualifying for the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup that will be held in Azerbaijan from Sept. 22-Oct. 13 of next year.

Dates and a site for the CONCACAF tournament have yet to be confirmed. These will be the third and fourth internationals of the year for the U-17s, which defeated the German U-17s 3-1 and tied the German U-18s 2-2 in Florida during the first camp of the year.

Midfielder Summer Green and forward Toni Payne are the leading scorers for the U-17s so far this year, each having scored four times in all games in 2011.

Roster By Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Jane Campbell (Concorde Fire South; Kennesaw, Ga.), Cassie Miller (Sereno FC; Cave Creek, Ariz.), Morgan Stearns (McLean Power; San Antonio, Texas)
DEFENDERS (9): Morgan Andrews (FC Stars of Mass.; Milford, N.H.), Maddie Bauer (Slammers FC; Newport Beach, Calif.); Zoey Goralski (Chicago Botafogo; Naperville, Ill.), Olivia Hazelrigg (Sparta; Riverton, Utah), Lauren Kaskie (Heat FC; Las Vegas, Nev.), Havana McElvaine (Colorado Rush; Denver, Colo.), Sydney Myers (Black Diamond SC; Park City, Utah), Lizzy Raben (Colorado Rush; Greenwood, Colo.), Morgan Reid (Chelsea Ladies; Cary, N.C.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Joanna Boyles (Chelsea Ladies; Raleigh, N.C), Miranda Freeman (Lady Renegades SC; Royal Palm Beach, Fla.), Summer Green (Michigan Hawks; Milford, Mich.), Gabbi Miranda (Colorado Rush; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Arielle Ship (Real So Cal; Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Morgan Stanton (Colorado Rush; Lakewood, Colo.), Andi Sullivan (Bethesda SC; Lorton, Va.)
FORWARDS (7): Emily Bruder (Utah Avalanche; Sandy, Utah), Cameron Castleberry (Chelsea Ladies; Raleigh, N.C.), Danica Evans (Colorado Rush; Lakewood, Colo.), Darian Jenkins (Sparta; Riverton, Utah), Kayla Mills (Slammers FC; West Covina, Calif.), Amber Munerlyn (So Cal Blues; Corona, Calif.), Toni Payne (Concorde Fire; Birmingham, Ala.).

By Mike Woitalla

Ajax Amsterdam, having produced players from Johan Cruyff to Wesley Sneijder, is considered by legions of American youth coaches as a model for youth development.

Much of what happens at Ajax would be impossible for a U.S. program to replicate. Ajax has the pick of the best young players from a soccer-rich nation. That it consistently promotes players to the senior level is to be expected. Lots of coaches — and their clubs — would look quite good if they only had to coach their country’s top youngsters.

Ajax covers all costs, so the academy isn’t limited to those who can afford it.

Still, checking out how top clubs around the world approach player development can provide some ideas on how we coach American children.

Last season, Ajax won its first Dutch league title in seven years, prompting Andy Murray of the British magazine FourFourTwo to visit the Ajax academy, which is called De Toekomst (The Future).

One of his impressions: “There’s no screaming coaches, pushy parents or berating of officials.”

“It’s not a crime to lose nor is it about being champions in your age group, but being in the first team, and winning trophies there. To be a star you must overcome disappointment,” Ajax general manager David Endt told FourFourTwo.

Jan Olde Riekerink, Ajax’s Head of Youth Development, said, “We always look for [soccer players] first, but to stay up with the modern game we must develop athletes to compete at the top international level. But enjoyment must come first. That’s the basis for all our coaching: if they don’t have fun, we don’t do it. We don’t make them run in mud just because it’ll make them stronger.”

Also quoted is 19-year-old Dane Christian Eriksen, a star on the current Eredivisie championship team: “[Soccer] is about more than running. Everyone here wants the ball.”

It needs be noted that Eriksen arrived at De Toekomst at age 16 when he was already a star on the Danish U-17 national team and was also being courted by several of Europe’s top clubs, and that Ajax reportedly paid Odense BK more than $1 million for him.

Last year, Michael Sokolove wrote an in-depth article for New York Times Magazine on De Toekomst. He quoted youth coach Ronald de Jong:

“I am never looking for a result — for example, which boy is scoring the most goals or even who is running the fastest. That may be because of their size and stage of development. I want to notice how a boy runs. Is he on his forefeet, running lightly? Does he have creativity with the ball? Does he seem that he is really loving the game? I think these things are good at predicting how he’ll be when he is older.”

Sokolove reported that through age 12, players train three times a week and play one game on the weekend. “By age 15, the boys are practicing five times a week. In all age groups, training largely consists of small-sided games and drills in which players line up in various configurations, move quickly and kick the ball very hard to each other at close range. In many practice settings in the U.S., this kind of activity would be a warm-up, just to get loose, with the coach paying scant attention and maybe talking on a cell phone or chatting with parents. At the Ajax academy, these exercises — designed to maximize touches, or contact with the ball — are the main event.”

About 200 boys, from ages 7 to 19, train at De Toekomst. Some players at each age group are cut each year. They are said, writes Sokolove, to have been “sent away” — and new prospects take their place.

(Mike Woitalla, the executive editor of Soccer America, coaches youth soccer for East Bay United in Oakland, Calif. His youth soccer articles are archived at

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Zoey Goralski Commits to UCLA!

Posted by Phil Nielsen at Jul 27, 2011 1:32PM PDT ( 0 Comments )

Team Chicago Academy-Botafogo midfielder, and current U17 National Team right back, Zoey Goralski has verbally accepted a very generous scholarship offer to be part of the UCLA 2013 recruiting class.

UCLA is one of the top Division I programs in the country, and Goralski will be part of a very elite soccer family. A family rich in tradition that includes current U.S. Women’s National Team star Lauren Cheney, and for the 2011 season Neuqua Valley graduate Megan Oyster.

UCLA is coached by BJ Snow who is a former Indiana University standout and NCAA Division I National Champion. Coach Snow also played youth and semi-pro soccer under Team Chicago Academy Director Phil Nielsen, and he is married to U.S. Women’s National Team star Lindsay Tarpley, also a former player of Coach Nielsen’s


It’s not unusual for college students to go overseas over summer vacation.

Iowa soccer player Alex Melin took that to another level.

The Hawkeye sophomore midfielder recently returned from spending nine days in Germany with the U.S. Youth Soccer Association Select Girls U19 team. The squad consisted of 20 young players from around the country and played three exhibition games, went sightseeing, and took in three matches at the women’s World Cup.

“That was my favorite part — the whole atmosphere of the World Cup was great,” Melin said. “We got to watch the [U.S.] national team train … that was very cool.”

The trip was the culmination of a long tryout process for Melin, a 19-year-old from Verona, Wis., who had never traveled outside the country.

She said she took the first step a year ago, when she tried out for the Wisconsin branch of the U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program. Once she made that team, she tried out for the regional roster.

The program invited 45 players to a final camp in Florida in December 2010, after which 17 players were selected to go abroad.

“The selection process is such that she controlled what she could control when she went down to Florida,” Iowa head coach Ron Rainey said. “That’s something she did well, and I think the coaches recognized [that]. She just plays, and that’s the best thing you can do at these national camps. “You play to your strengths, and play hard.”

The group, which included just one other player from the Big Ten, departed for Germany on June 29. Melin and the rest of the players spent around a week and a half traveling around the country and played in three exhibition matches against German professional teams.

The U.S. team outscored its opposition, 16-2, and coach Phil Nielsen said Melin played a vital role in that success.

“She was probably our most outstanding player over the three games,” he said. “Her playmaking ability got better and better. She’s a very quick learner; she was great in the first game, even better in the second, and she was just outstanding in the last game.

“[With] her specific skill set and mentality, I think she’s somebody who could go very, very far in the game. I was very impressed with her.”

The trip wasn’t all about soccer, though. The group took the time to see a handful of castles and pay their respects at the site of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

“We want to make sure that we don’t just create great soccer players but also great people,” Nielsen said. “Experiences like that help culture us. Sometimes, in the U.S., we’re a little bit sheltered from those kind of experiences, [and they’re] valuable in creating well-rounded people.”

Melin returned to the United States on July 9, and she will spend the rest of the summer playing for the Madison (Wis.) 56ers of the Women’s Premier Soccer League. She said the entire experience — from the grueling tryout to the emotional trip to the concentration camp to the blowout wins over pro teams — will give her an important advantage as she prepares for her second college season in the fall.

“It gave me a lot more confidence going into this [Iowa] season,” said Melin, who scored three goals for the Hawkeyes as a freshman in 2010. “After playing with a lot of these girls, I know our team can do anything this year and hopefully make a big statement and effect on the Big Ten.”