Once again the end of the season has passed. Winter Cups are in play and National Cup looms in the near future. As in years past this is meant for fun and give a bit of insight on teams. Youth Soccer Rankings are FROM Cal South rankings only. Also, please note that rankings change weekly/daily so they may rise or fall continually before National Cup begins. As of now there is no clear format on what the next round will be. Though more than likely with 11 brackets and 44 teams expect 11 group winners and the top 5 wild card teams from round 1. Then a round of 16 until only two remain. Over the course of the week two groups will be released daily. Here is the release order: Monday Groups “A” and “B” Tuesday Groups “C” and “D” Wednesday Groups “E” and “F” Thursday Groups “G” and “H” Friday Groups “I”, “J”, and “K” “Group A” ALBION SC G05 ACADEMY HUGHES (YSR #7) ARSENAL FC G05 ECNL (YSR #23) LA GALAXY OC G2005 PREMIER (YSR #43) TFA S. BAY or South West SC (YSR #24) AVG. 24 This pairing of teams certainly is diverse in the leagues they compete in to their collective styles of play. Albion is surely the favorites here. They play with conviction and are very organized. Their backline will look to feed the ball to their wingers and force teams to commit defensively. They also systematically work as a unit to close passing lanes and make teams feel uncomfortable. Yet, something lurks and hopefully it can be rectified. Albion has had a trio of disappointing loses in a row at CRL. Surely the ship can be righted. Arsenal will work hard and use their size to battle teams. They did well to make the finals at the Nike Challenge against a strong CDA team and otherwise have certainly won their share of games, but can they win when they must? LA Galaxy OC will have to make some waves in this pool to find a way out. If they do it will not be easy going forward. At Vegas Cup they were quite disappointed. Yet, if they can grab a magical point from Albion and a must point against Arsenal maybe, just maybe, they can see their way in. Sometimes rankings can be misleading and I think this is true here for TFA. TFA’s record of late has been positive, but strength of schedule it has not. This certainly will be a difficult mountain for them to climb. “Group B” Beach FC LB G05 R. Perez (YSR #4) West Coast FC G05 Academy (YSR #9) CDA FC Slammers Orange 05 Hurtarte (YSR #28) Slammers FC G05 GA (YSR #60) AVG. 25 Beach will come out and be ready to play. They will certainly take advantage of their speed and athleticism to try and beat teams with intense pressure as well as fervor. When all cylinders are in motion they close down passing lanes and force teams to give up the ball. See them to also use their forwards up top by creating one-on-ones. On the defensive end they can be extremely stingy with a workman like backline and a pair of top notch keepers. West Coast is a solid side that played in one of the most difficult SCDSL league groupings. They have a nice style of controlled play, but have struggled against top competition. Yet, showed some moxie getting to the finals at the Vegas Cup and narrowly losing to Heat FC who certainly upset the #2 team. If they find their way out of this group will once again need to rise to the challenge in the next round. CDA FC struggled in league but had some top competitors to find their way past. At the OC Tourney of Champions they earned some major brownie points and kudos for upsetting Albion in a shootout. But seemingly could not reproduce that momentum in Vegas. Slammers FC just recently competed in the third flight in Vegas against competition that is quite distant to the ones they will face here. This makes one wonder why? SCDSL also was not an easy ride for this bunch. However, both CDA and Slammers are in a similar boat. To have a chance both need to come up with game plan to keep Beach and West Coast in check. But will have to sacrifice style over results. Not sure it’s possible, but this is soccer and anything can happen.