Upstate New York’s Elite Youth League: Thruway Soccer League

What is the best option for aspiring and talented young players in Western New York?  Take a look at Upstate New York’s Thruway Soccer League.

The Thruway Soccer League has at least one division for both boys and girls from the u11 to the u18/19 level.  Teams from throughout Upstate in each division play an 8 game schedule mostly on the weekends of the summer months.

For me the cornerstones of the Thruway League are the three separate Empire United teams playing in the u18/19 division.  The U.S. Soccer Development Academy League is made up of 80 elite youth clubs from around the country.  One of these clubs, Revolution Empire (formerly Empire United), was formed from independent organizations from Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse.  Each city has their own local teams from age 9 to 18 and the standouts from these teams form the Development Academy squads for the u15/16 and u17/18 divisions.  The Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse teams play in the Thruway League alongside other strong and stable youth clubs.

Clubs in the Thruway League range geographically from Buffalo to the Capital region.  Games are played throughout upstate, including the following cities and town: Albany, Schenectady, Liverpool, Oneonta, Spencerport, Brighton, Henrietta, Buffalo, Clarence, Elmira, Endicott, West Seneca, Hilton, Corning, Utica, Binghamton, Batavia, Webster, Akron, Rochester, Lansing, Lockport, Big Flats, North Tonawanda, Guilderland, Sarasota Springs, Getzville, Orchard Park, Watertown, Cicero, Fairport, Lancaster, Tonawanda. Continue reading

Is there a Correlation between Scheduling and Results in USL-Pro?

One of the setbacks of minor league soccer is the cost of travel and lodging for road games.  I understand that sometimes teams and leagues have to make the financial decision to play games on consecutive nights or two games in three nights on the road in order to reduce the overall cost.  Each team in USL-Pro in 2012 played 12 games on the road, so each team experienced both of the scenarios above.  I set out to see if there was any connection between a congested schedule and the final standings in the league, and more specifically if the results of matches could be attributed to no rest or training before playing.

Rochester had two instances of matches on back-to-back nights [May 11&12, May 25&26], and two instances of two games in three nights [June 15&17, July 12&14]

Richmond had three instances of games on back-to-back nights [Jun 1&2, June 15&16, July 27&28] and one instance of two games in three nights [Aug 17&19 (at Antigua)].

Dayton had three instances of back-to-back games [May 18&19, July 20&21, Aug 17&18] and two instances of two games in three nights [Jun 15&17 (at LA), July 18&20], which means Dayton had a game on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of the same week all in different cities.

Charlotte had five instances of back-to-back matches [May 4&5, July 6&7, July 27&28, Aug 10&11, Aug 18&19], though one was due to a rescheduled match against Wilmington, and one instance of two games in three nights [Apr 26&28 (at Antigua]

Pittsburgh had three instances of games on back-to-back nights [Apr 27&28, July 13&14
July 20&21], and three instances of two games in three nights [Apr 6&8 (at Antigua), May 16&18, July 4&6]

Orlando had one instance of games on back-to-back nights [June 29&30], and four instances of two games in three nights [May 11&13 (at Antigua), July 6&8 (at LA), July 25&27, Aug 1&3]

Charleston two instances of back-to-back matches [July 6&7, Aug 3&4] and two instances of two games in three nights [May 31&June 2, June 29&July 1].

Harrisburg had three instances of back-to-back games [Apr 20&21, Jun 22&23, July 6&7] and two instances of two games in three days [July 18&20, Aug 17&19 (at LA)].  In addition Harrisburg played 6 straight games at home 7 out of 8.

Wilmington had four instances of back-to-back matches [June 8&9, June 22&23, Aug 3&4, Aug 18&19], thought one was due to a rescheduled match with Charlotte, and three instances of two games in three nights, one of which was three games in five nights [May 2&4&6, July 12&14]

Los Angeles had two instances of back-to-back games [May 11&12, July 27&28], and eight instances of two games in three nights [May 4&6 (at home), May 24&26, June 15&17 (at home), June 28&30, July 6&8 (at home), July 12&14 (in FL vs Antigua), Aug 9&11 (at home), Aug 17&19 (at home)]

Antigua has one instance of back-to-back games [Aug 3&4], and ten instances of two games in three days [Apr 6&8 (at home), Apr 26&28 (at home), May 2&4, May 11&13 (at home), June 15&17, June 29&July 1 (at home), July 12&14 (as home team in FL), July 27&29, Aug 9&11 (at LA), Aug 17&19 (at home)].  Only two games all season were not a part of this grueling pattern. Continue reading

2013 Rochester Rhinos Schedule

A day after the announcement of integration with MLS Reserve League, USL-Pro released the schedule for 2013.  The schedule is a lot like 2012’s but with 26 games instead of 24.  Each USL-Pro team will play a home-and-home series with a MLS reserve team.  Rochester will also play 14 games at home and only 12 on the road because Antigua Barracuda FC will play all of its games on the road.

Sat Apr 13 7:30 PM ET Rochester at VSI Tampa Bay
Sun Apr 14 7:30 PM ET Rochester at Orlando
Fri Apr 19 7:00 PM ET Rochester at Charlotte
Sat Apr 20 7:00 PM ET Rochester at Richmond
Sat Apr 27 7:00 PM ET Rochester at Harrisburg
Sat May 4 7:05 PM ET Harrisburg at Rochester
Fri May 10 7:30 PM ET Rochester at Wilmington
Sat May 18 7:05 PM ET Orlando at Rochester
Sat May 25 7:30 PM ET Rochester at Charleston
Fri May 31 7:35 PM ET Los Angeles at Rochester
Sat Jun 1 7:00 PM ET Rochester at Pittsburgh
Fri Jun 7 7:35 PM ET Montreal (MLS) at Rochester
Fri Jun 14 7:35 PM ET VSI Tampa Bay at Rochester
Sun Jun 16 4:05 PM ET Charleston at Rochester
Fri Jun 21 7:35 PM ET Antigua at Rochester
Sat Jun 29 7:05 PM ET Phoenix at Rochester
Thu Jul 4 7:00 PM ET Rochester at Dayton
Sat Jul 6 7:05 PM ET Charlotte at Rochester
Fri Jul 12 7:35 PM ET Richmond at Rochester
Fri Jul 19 7:35 PM ET Wilmington at Rochester
Sun Jul 21 TBD Rochester at Montreal (MLS)
Sun Jul 28 4:05 PM ET Antigua at Rochester
Fri Aug 2 7:35 PM ET Dayton at Rochester
Fri Aug 9 7:35 PM ET Pittsburgh at Rochester
Fri Aug 16 10:30 PM ET Rochester at Phoenix
Sat Aug 17 11:00 PM ET Rochester at Los Angeles

Rochester starts the season with two back-to-back games in Florida, against VSI Tampa Bay on Saturday April 13 and Orlando City on Sunday April 14.  The following weekend the back-to-back road games against Charlotte on Friday April 19 and Richmond on Saturday April 20.  Rochester doesn’t play at home until their sixth game on May 4.

The Rhinos have another back-to-back at home to Los Angeles Friday May 31 before traveling to Pittsburgh on Saturday June 1.  Rochester plays two games in three days on three occasions.  First at home against VSI Tampa Bay and Charleston (Friday June 14 and Sunday June 16), then in Dayton before hosting Charlotte (Thursday July 4 and Saturday July 6), and finally at home against Wilmington and away to Montreal Reserves (Friday July 19 and Sunday July 21).

Rochester closes out the season with back-to-back games out West.  The Rhinos play Phoenix on Friday August 16 and then travel to play Los Angeles on Saturday August 17.

Future Professional and Rochester Native Jordan Allen

Get excited, Rochester.

2012 saw former Aquinas, Empire United, and FC Buffalo player Krystian Witkowski sign with Philadelphia Union, but the Polish-American didn’t make a single appearance for the MLS club before being released.  Another Aquinas and Empire United product could eclipse that accomplishment in 2013.  Jordan Allen is set to showcase himself as the most talented soccer player born in the Rochester area.

Krystian Witkowski was only the seventh player from a Rochester area high school to sign with MLS.  Brian Bliss, Dema Kovalenko, Aleksey Korol, Yuri Lavrinenko, Jamil Walker, and Ian Pilarski are the other players that have been signed by MLS clubs.  However, Witkowski didn’t seen the field in MLS or the Reserve League.  The Union had 10 Reserve League fixtures in 2012 and Witkowski failed to make an appearance even once.  By that standard, Allen has actually accomplished more than his fellow Rochesterian before young Jordan’s professional career has even begun.

The 17 year old Jordan Allen has been training with Real Salt Lake while playing for their u-16 and u-18 Academy sides the past year.  Allen has even featured in a number of Real Salt Lake’s Reserve League matches as an Academy player alongside and against professionals.

National Recognition
Allen has been exceeding expectations at every step in his development.  In the 2011-2012 Academy season, Jordan was the only ’95 on a team of very talented ’94s and ’93s at Real Salt Lake’s Academy.  Allen has even earned plaudits for his performances at multiple positions for youth national teams.  Jordan has twice been named the Development Academy’s national player of the week and is firmly on the national radar. Continue reading

Young Players Benefit from No Relegation in MLS

Philadelphia Union’s young striker Jack McInerney saw a significant increase in playing time as the 2012 season wound down.  While this could also be attributable to head coach John Hackworth putting more faith in the youngster or injuries to his teammates above him in the pecking order, I see his playing time as a result of not having promotion or relegation in MLS.

In the 12 games since Philadelphia lost 2-0 to Montreal on August 4, Jack McInerney has been one of the most influential players for the Union.  With that loss in Montreal, Philadelphia’s playoff probability never rose up to 5% according to Sports Club Stats.  Head coach John Hackworth knew the team had little more than pride to play for and opted to bleed in young talent.  Jack Mack started 10 of 12 games at the end of the season and played a total of 906 minutes from 1080 possible.  The young striker repaid his manager’s faith by scoring 4 goals and notching an assist in a four game stretch that included two ‘man of the match’ performances.

When the New England Revolution lost to Sporting Kansas City 1-0 on August 1, their playoff chances never rose above 2%.  Since September, when the Revolution’s playoff hopes hung on a negligible decimal place,  Diego Fagundez played 520 out of 720 possible minutes in the final 8 games of the season.  Prior to that, the young Uruguayan youth international had only clocked 350 minutes in the league out of the 12 matches he featured in during the first 6 months of the season.

17 year old Homegrown Player signing, Marco Delgado made his debut for Chivas USA during a 4-0 loss to Vancouver after the team had already been eliminated from playoff contention.  You could argue that Delgado simply came on in a game that was a lost cause, but there were other games earlier in the season (namely 6 other times the team was losing by at least 3 goals after Delgado signed) in which they could have played the youngster but didn’t.  It was only after the team had their postseason hopes dashed that the U.S. u18 midfielder suited up for his club.

When the Impact’s mathematical chances of making the playoffs were barely above 1%, Jesse Marsch decided to play Karl Ouimette.  The young Homegrown signing played 64 minutes against Houston and featured late in a win against San Jose.  The first appearance, coming in a 3-0 loss, was facilitated by the fact that Montreal’s playoff hopes were far-fetched at best.

Only after the Timbers were all but eliminated from the postseason, Interim Head Coach Gavin Wilkinson elected to start Homegrown signing Brent Richards for two matches against Chivas USA and against FC Dallas.

All of these young players saw more time in first team matches towards the end of the 2012 MLS season.  While many factors could have contributed to the coaches’ decisions to play their youngsters, such as the athlete’s personal development or injuries to the first choice options, coaches are more likely to give minutes to young players because of “lame-duck” games in MLS.  At the end of seasons in other leagues, teams have to perform in order to avoid relegation.  Because there is no relegation in MLS, coaches are more willing to aid the development of their young players by giving them chances with the first team in late season league matches.

InfoSport Combine Participants WNY Might Know

This week is the 13th annual InfoSport Combine near Bradenton, Florida.  The combine allows aspiring players the opportunity to impress coaches and scouts from 3 USL-Pro teams, 4 NASL teams, 1 PDL team, and 6 MLS teams.  If players perform well during the course of the 3-day combine, they could earn invites to a pre-season camp or even a professional contract.  One of the coaches in attendance is Jesse Myers, head coach of the Rochester Rhinos.  Several of the players attempting to make their dream a reality at the combine have connections to Western New York.

Lubo Kocic is probably the most well-known player on this list.  The 27 year old standout for the Rochester Lancers professional indoor soccer team last year also played in the midfield for the San Antonio Scorpions for the second part of the summer.  Kocic found his way to the Lancers through a professional combine and has since earned caps on the U.S. futsal national team.  Kocic is also one of a handful of former professionals at the combine, while most players are closer to college age.

David Wright is one such player hoping to make the jump to a professional team this summer.  A former student of Aquinas Institute, the Victor High School graduate played two full seasons with Empire United in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy as a wide midfielder.

Mike Reidy is a well-known player for fans of FC Buffalo.  The Colgate senior scored 7 goals within the Patriot League in 2012 and ranks 10th in school history for points.  Reidy is a quick, powerful midfielder and was FC Buffalo’s best performer when I saw the team play.

Josh Faga is another FC Buffalo player participating in the combine.  The fullback/midfielder was a workhorse for the NPSL side during the last two seasons.

George Tor may soon join the ranks of FC Buffalo, after seeming to impress at an open tryout.  The Medaille senior finished his collegiate career with 35 goals in the last two seasons for the D3 school.

Donavan Wilson is a senior forward from Maple, Ontario, who plays at Roberts Wesleyan College.  This past year Wilson scored 7 goals and added 3 assists in 16 games.

Jesus Paesch is a 26 year old defender/defensive midfielder from Aruba.  He was a stalwart in defense for Roberts Wesleyan during his senior season in 2011.

Jordan Andrecolich played for Daemen College and the Chili, NY native has participated in the InfoSport Combine in years past with increasingly positive reviews.

Ambrose Boway was born in Liberia but attended Thomas Jefferson High School and Monroe Community College.  The versatile player can play on the outside of midfield or defense.

For more information on the InfoSport Combine, visit

Looking Forward to 2013 with the Rhinos

Perhaps I was too upset after Rochester’s semifinal exit on penalties at the hands of Charleston or just too occupied by my fall semester in college; I never wrote a full review of the Rhinos’ 2012 season.

Here is a brief summary of what I should have said at the end of August followed by some news for the upcoming campaign.

J.C. Banks had an amazing season and was set to train with an MLS club before suffering a frustrating ACL injury.  Danny Earls was similarly effective when playing on the wings.  Kristian Nicht was a beast of a goalkeeper for the Rhinos and routinely made acrobatic saves throughout the season.  Central defense was another strong position for the Rhinos when a healthy George Kyriazis partnered captain Troy Roberts.  Lucas Fernandez grew into his role at right back but the left side of defense was up for grabs the whole season.  Central midfield and forward were similarly open doors in 2012.  The coaches failed to find a suitable partner for Tyler Rosenlund in the center of the field and Tam McManus could not combine consistently with any of the four other forwards who played for the team.  Kendell McFayden was somewhat of a raw talent when the Rhinos signed him from FC Buffalo but he looks set to continue his development in 2013.

The Rhinos will be joined in USL-Pro by two expansion sides for the upcoming season so their travels could include trips to both Phoenix FC and VSI Tampa Bay in 2013.  We’ll soon find out whether or not Rochester has to fly to Phoenix, Los Angeles, or Antigua this year.  The schedule for 2012’s season was released on Wednesday, January 11 last year and 2011’s on Friday, January 14 of that year, so we can expect this year’s fixture list should be released in the next week.

Roster News for 2013
Fans will be pleased to know the spine of the team will remain in Rochester for the summer of 2013.  Kristian Nicht, Troy Roberts, Danny Earls, Tyler Rosenlund, Tam McManus, and Kendell McFayden are all returning to Sahlen’s Stadium.

The team has exercised the option on all available players and have reached a new contract with defender Tyler Bellamy, which means the current off-season roster is the following: Continue reading