CASL Announces Collaboration of USSF Academy Program with Carolina RailHawks, of the North American Soccer League (NASL)
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
The Capital Area Soccer League (CASL) is proud to announce a new chapter in its development of premier youth soccer players in the capital area and beyond. CASL and the Carolina RailHawks, of the North American Soccer League (NASL), have come together to provide an unrivaled environment for the top youth players in the area.
Starting next season the boys’ teams that compete in the USSF Development Academy League at the U14 / U16 / U18 age levels will play under the name "Capital Area RailHawks". The goal of the Capital Area Railhawks program is to expand and improve on the foundation that was built by the CASL Chelsea FC Academy, which has had proven success since 2007. This connection will also be present on the girls’ side, with the affiliation extending to all of the ECNL Girls Teams, ages U14-U18. Both the USDA Academy Teams, as well as the ECNL Girls Teams, will wear the official adidas uniforms of the Carolina RailHawks.
The collaboration with the Carolina RailHawks is expected to provide a superior platform for player development that will focus on identifying and cultivating the highest level of talent in the community. This relationship will provide aspiring soccer players with a tangible connection between the youth and the professional levels. The collective goal of this player development initiative is to provide the highest level of competition and coaching, which will allow for more players in our area to be placed into youth National Teams and be placed into the best collegiate and professional environments. Team success will also be a key initiative, as an immediate goal will be to compete for USDA National Championships. Charlie Slagle, CEO of CASL "hopes that the newly expanded and renamed program will attract the highest caliber players possible regardless of their previous club affiliation."
As part of this new collaboration, the RailHawks have agreed to a substantial three-year annual funding commitment to help make the Academy free to all of its players. This funding will come in part from the RailHawks previously announced ticket-donation initiative, whereby the RailHawks have agreed to donate 10% of its total ticket revenue for each of the 2013-2015 seasons to soccer-related programs that will help to further build and strengthen soccer in the area.
The move for CASL away from their affiliation with Chelsea FC, of the Barclays Premier League, was driven by the growth of American professional soccer and more specifically the growth and success of the Carolina RailHawks. Colin Clarke, Carolina RailHawks Head Coach, stated: "I am very excited about this new program since a number of former CASL players have signed professional contracts with the RailHawks, other teams in the NASL, as well as teams in MLS." He summed up the announcement by saying: "Our collaboration with CASL in this new program
creates a realistic development model for players who someday wish to compete at the professional level."
Newly appointed Capital Area RailHawks Academy Director, John Bradford, stated "this new program is designed for the total development of the highest level players within our community and beyond. The new program joins the top level youth players with proven, successful coaches at the youth, collegiate, and professional levels with the goal of establishing the best arena for players to reach their full development potential. We are extremely fortunate to have compiled staff with an unbelievable record of player development and player placement mixed with championship success at all levels. I also think it is important to recognize the foundation, success, and leadership that have been present at the CASL Chelsea FC Academy since its inception in 2007. Rusty Scarborough has been instrumental in the success of the CASL Academy Teams being present at 7 of the 10 possible USDA National Championship Finals Week slots at the 16 and 18 age groups over the last 5 years. I want to personally thank Rusty for his continued mentorship."
Bradford is currently the U16 Age Group Head Coach and Academy Manager for the CASL Chelsea FC Academy and has served as the Boys Director of Classic Soccer at CASL. As a player, he represented the United States at the U15-U18 Youth National Team Levels and was a standout player at Furman University. He began his coaching career with the highly successful Dallas Texans Soccer Club, and as an assistant coach at the University of Texas at Permian Basin. He also serves as an assistant coach with the Carolina RailHawks.
Joining Bradford in the leadership staff will be a collection of some of the nation’s finest soccer instructors. Bruce Talbot and Greg Shields have been named Asst. Directors of the Capital Area RailHawks Academy and will assist with the operation and direction of the program. Talbot, also currently a Director of Coaching at WakeFC youth soccer club, an assistant coach with the Carolina RailHawks, and a former Director of Coaching at Lonestar SC in Austin, TX, brings a wealth of experience in player development along with national championship success. Shields is a current Carolina RailHawks Asst. Coach and player. He brings a great coaching pedigree, as well as an outstanding playing background. Shields played with Charlton Athletic of the English Premier League, for Glasgow Rangers of the Scottish Premier League, and as a youth international in Scotland. He also boasts both UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup appearances.
Also on staff will be Carlos Somoano, Dave Costa, Paul Forster, Matt Brown, Nic Platter, as well as Carolina RailHawks Head Coach, Colin Clarke.
Somoano is the head coach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He guided UNC to the National Championship in 2011, while being named the National Coach of the Year. On the youth side, he was named the 2009 US Development Academy Coach of the Year with his role with the CASL Chelsea FC Academy Program. Costa, the current Asst. Coach at North Carolina State University and former US Development Academy National Champion in 2008 with Carmel United of Indiana, also brings tremendous experience to the program. Forster, the Youth Director at CASL, has been involved with the U14 / U16 / U18 CASL Chelsea Academy for the
past several seasons. He also brings experience as a collegiate program assistant at both Wake Forest University and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, as well as being the former Director of Coaching at Twin City Youth Soccer Assn. in Winston-Salem, NC.
Matt Brown, current CASL Director of Goalkeeping and CASL Chelsea FC Academy Goalkeeping Coach, will lead the direction of the goalkeepers in the Capital Area RailHawks Academy. He will be assisted by current Carolina RailHawks Goalkeeping Coach, Nic Platter. Platter is also the Director of Goalkeeping at Carolina Select Soccer Club.
Colin Clarke, current Carolina RailHawks Head Coach and previous winner of the NASL League Championship with the Puerto Rico Islanders, will also assist within the Capital Area RailHawks Academy Program. In addition to being the head man in charge with the Carolina RailHawks, Clarke also brings MLS head coaching experience as the former Head Coach of FC Dallas and international coaching experience, as the former head coach of the Puerto Rican National Team. As a player, Clarke scored 13 goals in 38 appearances with the Northern Ireland National Team, as well as scoring a goal against Spain in the 1986 FIFA World Cup. Clarke will have involvement throughout the program at all age levels.
The US Soccer Development Academy is recognized as the highest level of player and team competition in the United States that blends the youth academies of all Major League Soccer (MLS) teams with the best youth soccer clubs in the country. The Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) is viewed as the girls counterpart to the boys USDA, and provides the highest level of girls youth soccer in the United States.
Program specifics for the Capital Area RailHawks, along with the tryout / team selection information, will be the subject of future announcements.