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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Annandale youth soccer club signs affiliate agreement with D.C. United

The Annandale Boys and Girls Club (ABGC) has signed an affiliate agreement with D.C. United. Under the agreement announced Jan. 8, ABGC will be one of the Major League Soccer team’s primary sources in identifying and developing the top youth talent in Virginia. D.C. United will share its coaching resources and will work with ABGC to follow its training curriculum and system of play.

Top players in the ABGC soccer system, identified by both D.C. United and ABGC, will have the opportunity to join the D.C. United Academy teams, with a strong priority being placed on the under-14, under-16 and under-18 age groups.

“Annandale is enthusiastic to be the first D.C. United affiliate club in Virginia,” said ABGC Technical Director Bo Amato. “It is a fantastic opportunity for our players who have the abilities, dreams, and desires to play professionally, and it certainly opens doors for these aspirations and ambitions.”

The affiliation will encourage any players selected for D.C. United’s Academy teams who aren’t picked for the  professional team to come back and play for ABGC, Amato said. They could possibly spend a year back here improving their skills, then get into a college program or a professional team.

If ABGC ends up giving up one or two players to D.C. United, and they send four or five of players from their academy, everyone benefits, he said. Up to now, players released by D.C. United were more or less left out in the cold.

That’s what happened to Amato, who was released at age 18 from Tottenham Hotspur in England in 1986. “The way it was done in the past, there wasn’t much communication,” he said.

The partnership will also benefit younger ABGC plays because D.C. United will conduct clinics and training sessions for them, and for girls’ teams, too, said Amato. “This is a win-win for everybody. I’m very excited,” he said.

Adidas is part of the partnership, too. ABGC will be outfitted with D.C. United and Adidas-branded training gear, uniforms, and coaching gear, and will receive special D.C. United ticketing opportunities for players and their families. D.C. United approved a similar agreement in December with the Freestate Soccer Alliance, based in Bowie, Md.

“Annandale has proven that they are committed to helping players reach higher levels,” said Sonny Silooy, director of youth development for D.C. United. “They are one of the top clubs, if not the top club, in Northern Virginia when it comes to graduating players to Division I college programs,” he said. “We have also been impressed with the mentality that all of the ABGC players seem to have when it comes to competing.”

ABGC has produced seven national championship soccer teams, as well as many state and regional championship teams. Several professional football and soccer players developed their skills in the club, including the club’s president, Kip Germain, U.S. Men’s National Team regular Clarence Goodson, and former National Team member John Stollmeyer. Then there’s D.C. United goalkeeper Abdul “Bill” Hamid, who played youth soccer for ABGC at Round Tree Park in Annandale and became the first Academy player to sign directly with D.C. United’s first team.

Several current and past ABGC players have participated in D.C. United’s Academy system, including Jannick Eckenrode and Lars Eckenrode of West Springfield, Ben Ferrell (Fairfax Station), Ryan Harmouche (Burke), and O.J. Porteria (Falls Church).

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