<p><span style="font-family: helvetica, arial, san-serif; font-size: 24px; font-weight: bold;">Lonestar SC ranked #1 U.S. Soccer Development Academy among non-MLS clubs</span></p>
Article Written by Will Parchman
Published: March 15, 2017
Earlier this week, the U16 non-MLS Development Academy frontrunners had their due. Now it’s time for the U18s to get their moment in the spotlight.
MLS clubs have the dangling carrot of Homegrown minutes at the end of their academy careers, and it’s hard to overstate how immense a thing that is. The prospect of a pro career is the pinnacle for an academy kid, and it’s an uncomfortable fact of life that only around about a fourth of the league’s teams can offer that outright. Otherwise, the options are either to go to college for four years, switch to an MLS academy or sign abroad. And for most, the latter choice isn’t even an option until their 18th birthday.
So it’s a bit more touch-and-go for non-MLS kids, but they still pop up in the pros with regularity. And the fact that the DA is producing non-MLS guys like Jeremy Ebobisse? Yes, there’s talent here.
Today ends a two-part series in which we take a closer gander at the top five currently performing academies in the DA at the U16 and U18 age groups. The skill here should not be missed, and today we close with the U18s.
5. Indiana Fire
Top scorer: Thomas Warr (11 goals)
Playoff position: 13th
The Chicago Fire-affiliated Indiana Fire has quite the reputation of advancing quality players, chief among them current UNC stalwart Cameron Lindley. There’s plenty more quality where that came from, and the Indiana Fire already have some impressive wins under their belt this year at the U18 age range. They managed to hunt down Crew Academy Wolves, dropped the parent academy 4-2 in November and then fired up the spring schedule in March with another win over the Chicago Fire. The Indiana Fire have quality all up and down the field, and while they’ve staked their reputation on Lindley, it would seem they have a few promising up-and-comers in the pipeline as well. Warr, who’s headed to Indiana in the fall, is one of the bigger ones in recent times.
4. Crew Academy Wolves
Top scorer: Daniel Wright (14 goals)
Playoff position: 11th
Crew Wolves represent the northern arm of the Crew's Ohio academy home base, and as the Michigan extension it represents a fairly serious probe into soccer country. The fact that Vardar has the best record of any non-MLS DA club in the U16 grouping should be a fairly legitimate confirmation of that fact. So the fact that Wolves leads the Mid-America Division shouldn't surprise anyone. There's a ton of talent here, and there's a reason Wolves has more or less surpassed the home club in terms of latent talent production year over year. Daniel Wright is one of the top scorers anywhere in the country, and there's talent stretching back all the way to the keeper position here. Wolves should continue to progress, and if the home club can catch up, that'd be the real surprise.
3. Capital Area Railhawks - CASL
Top scorer: Alex Rose (25 goals)
Playoff position: 10th
If you’re looking for the preeminent developer of talent in the Carolinas, you’ve found it in CASL. The best in an unsurprisingly rich hotbed for soccer talent largely unmined by MLS filters into the club’s youth coffers, and their historic skill is not to be missed. And they might just have the most talented one-two combo of any non-MLS academy at any age anywhere in the country right now. CASL boasts twin UNC commits Lucas Del Rosario and Alex Rose, who’ve combined for an otherworldly 43 goals between them this season. That’s more than a lot of teams. The potent one-two 2017 combo is a fire-and-ice duo for opposing back lines, and both should not only thrive in college but have professional prospects as well. Most clubs in the country would kill for one player with USYNT potential. CASL has two.
2. Baltimore Armour
Top scorer: Stephen Nichols (13 goals)
Playoff position: 7th
Baltimore Armour was ultimately the only team to have a representative within the top five of this list for a quite good reason. As we mentioned, Armour was hewed out of four separate existing clubs to create one mega-club in the area, and it’s already producing fruit. There’s a ton of top-to-bottom skill here, and it appears Armour is mining the deep well of the Mid-Atlantic skill pool to create a powerhouse. Stephen Nicholscan’t stop scoring, and as a 2018 he’s playing up and laying waste to the DA as an able goalscorer. There’s more talent besides, and names like Jake Dengler, Jacob Denison and Joshua Cruz should be mainstays at the next level in time. In general, Armour is doing a lot of things right these days.
1. Lonestar SC
Top scorer: Kyle Marcotte (7 goals)
Playoff position: 3rd
Not many people are talking about soccer development in Austin, but Lonestar SC, the city’s premier club, has done some impressive work since first opening its doors in 2004. Notably, the club produced star winger McKinze Gaines, who recently signed a pro deal with Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga and currently stars for their U19s. Austin is a rich market for soccer talent without an MLS club to compete, so Lonestar’s U18 ranks especially are understandably stocked. This season, Lonestar is 5-1-1 against Texas competition, and their lone loss was a thrilling 3-2 barnburner against defending national champs FC Dallas. There’s a lot of skilled developing talent here, and at this point in the game there’s no club in Texas aside from FCD and maybe the Dynamo doing a better job at pushing out quality players for the next level.