The U12/13 Advanced Training Program (ATP) squad which gathers DC Stoddert’s strongest players in that age group band took on DC United’s U-13 Pre-Academy on October 16th in an exciting friendly match that ended 2-1 in favor of the local pro team.
The Advanced Training Program is directed by Sona Walla, one of DC Stoddert’s longest serving coaches and is a high-level supplemental training program designed to group and educate aspiring travel players to accelerate their development and prepare them to succeed at the highest levels of youth soccer locally and nationally.
The match started at a brisk pace with both teams a bit nervous and seeking to establish control through crisp passing. It was the determined ATP squad that found its rhythm first and surprised its opponent to surge ahead mid-way through the first half. Productive pressing initiated by forward Ian Carroll forced DC United’s back line to give up a loose ball in its defensive half that ATP team captain Eli Sturm quickly collected, maneuvered neatly to find a sliver of space and drilled a home a splendid 25 yard shot that left the stunned DC United goalkeeper motionless.
The battle for possession suddenly grew fierce with ATP midfielders Andres Cubbeddu, Marco Carrero, Peter Dart and Santiago Cubbeddu having to work hard to hold off DC United’s assaults. Seeking to reverse the momentum by disrupting their opponent’s passing rhythm, DC United forwards began initiating pressure much higher up the field. The tactic soon bore fruit as United’s attack pounced on an errant pass by a hurried ATP defense to draw even. The suddenly confident DC United Pre-Academy applied even more pressure and seized the moment to add a second goal shortly before halftime.
ATP coach Sona Walla made some key adjustments at half time and the inclusion of fearless U-12 duo Pablo Peltier and Griffin Clinton injected immediate attacking flair into his side. The ATP boys quickly regained momentum, began playing with superb ball movement and created numerous chances which they squandered due to precipitation. The clearest opportunity fell to the very mobile ATP winger Ben Montague who was a handful for DC United’s defense all match. Finding space on the right flank, Montague penetrated splendidly on the dribble only to shoot straight at the experienced United Keeper with the goal gaping.
The Stoddert boys pushed for the equalizer but DC United defended fiercely and the match ended 2-1 with the ATP players having learned a lot and given a full demonstration of their superb technical and tactical level. Former Ajax Amsterdam and Dutch National team star (25 caps) Sonny Silooy who is now Director of Player Development at DC United attended the match and was pleasantly surprised. He stated that he really enjoyed the positive soccer and was quite impressed by the technique and possession-first approach of the Stoddert ATP boys. The two groups will interact again at the end of the month.