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This Week in Seals History!

This Week in Seals History republishes articles from our archives.  We hope you enjoy a bit of history!

SF Seals Announce Youth Academy Expansion

October 25, 2014

Originally published October 14, 2006

Note:  Seven years later, the program announced here is flourishing, as is the entire youth program.  The PDL team had to fold, but the SF Seals tradition of helping players reach and play the game to the highest level continues.  Click here for more information about the Seals Girls program.


The Seals are excited to announce they are adding a Girls program to their offering in 2007.  “We hope this will follow the path laid out by the boys program, and result in a girls PDL team within the next two seasons,” announced Tom Simpson, General Manager and Head Coach for the Seals organization which includes the youth Academy.  “It may be a bit ambitious, but we are looking for sponsorships to help the Seals build the program for all levels of play and gender.”

“We have boys youth teams in all age groups (U13-U20), and this year we are expanding to add girls teams to the Academy,” Simpson added.  “Our approach to expansion is to work with youth clubs throughout our franchise area to seed those teams, and not to compete with those clubs during the regular CYSA season.  We want our Academy teams to be solely competing in Super Y, and U.S. Club Soccer events that meet academy standards of competition.”
The San Francisco Seals also announced today that tryouts dates for the SealsAcademy teams are being established, and will be announced in the next few weeks for the Academy teams.

Minimum participation in the Super Y League will be required of all Academy teams.  Attendance at Regional, National, and even International tournaments will be encouraged for teams.  Last year the Seals sent two teams to the prestigious Milk Cup tournament in Coleraine, Northern Ireland.  “Playing other youth teams the like of Sheffield United, CountyAntrim, Chelsea, and Manchester United brings our players a whole new viewpoint with regard to competitive play,” said Simpson, “and it gives them a terrific way to evaluate their level of play against some of the best youth players in the world.”

First and foremost is to provide players a regional program in which to compete.  “We understand that there needs to be a place to play soccer that supports the social/community aspect for the local players, yet provides a regional program for those players that seek a more competitive outlet,” adds Roy Schnabel of the Burlingame Soccer Club. 

Coaches in the Academy are required to hold an equivalent of a USSF C License.  Resumes can be submitted to  Rosters are open, which is an essential feature of the Academy approach. Selection will be made through tryouts by the designated coach.   Players will be able to register for tryouts on our website in the near future.

Clubs with players who substantially participate in the SealsAcademy will be offered a position on the San Francisco United Soccer Club board, which is the 501 c3 non-profit corporation that oversees the Academy operations in conjunction with the Seals.  This is intended to ensure that the Academy goals are met.

The goals for the Academy are:

  • Develop players to the highest level of proficiency
  • Increase opportunity for college admissions because of athletic ability
  • Maximize potential for college playing opportunities and athletic scholarships, expose players and increase  the opportunity to participate in the  Olympic Development and National Team programs
  • Associate with organizations and programs that support the academic development of our Academy players to make them more competitive for college scholarships and to provide additional options once professional careers are completed.
  • Optimize the opportunity to play professional soccer
For more information, contact the San FranciscoSealsAcademy at 415-564-1016 or email us at

The Earthquakes bring the PDL Back to Northern California

April 26, 2014

by Paul Sheirich

The United Soccer League (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) is back in Northern California with the entry of the San Jose Earthquakes, and will participate in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference.  The Quakes looks to the PDL team to help bridge the gap between the first team and the Academy.
The Earthquake Academy has teams at the U14, U16, and U18 levels.  “There is an obvious need for us to bridge the gap that exists between the first team and the Academy,” said Chris Leitch, the Earthquakes Academy technical Director and coach of the Earthquakes U-14 squad.  “The PDL team will provide us with a way to replace the Reserve team, and allows us a way to continue to work with the college level players.” 

The PDL team will play their home games at CSU Stanislaus in Turlock, and coached by CSU Stanislaus men’s soccer head coach Dana Taylor. “The Valley gives us a tremendous opportunity to tap into talent that exists throughout the Central Valley,” said Taylor.  However, players for the new team will not be restricted to just Central Valley California.  “In addition to reaching out to the Central Valley for players, we are also inviting players from all over the country,” added Leitch. “We have relationships with many coaches around the country who know we are continually looking for players, and this network provides us with some great prospects.”

Coach Taylor has a proven track record of developing and elevating the play of teams and players.  Since joining the CSU Warriors in 2009, he has led the team to a 52-30-11 record, and elevated the program to a No. 1 national ranking in NCAA Division II for attendance.  “Putting a winning team on the field clearly contributes to improving attendance, but there is really strong support for soccer throughout the area, and we work with the community to help bring the fans to the game,” noted Taylor.

Prior to joining CSU Stanislaus Taylor was head coach for 10 years at Oregon State.  Alan Gordon, current forward for the Earthquakes, was one of the players Taylor helped develop.  His players received All American honors four times, All-Conference honors 46 times, and All-Region 11 times.  Overall in his 10 years at Oregon he helped develop an impressive 19 players reach the professional ranks. 

Putting together a competitive PDL team can be a challenge.  Sunday, April 13th was one of the first opportunities for Taylor to get a look at his team play, as they played Santa Clara University’s men’s team to a 0-0 draw.  “I haven’t had a chance to work with the players and have any formal training sessions,” said Taylor.  “Many of our players aren’t available until after May 1st due to NCAA rules.”

With no training sessions ahead of play with SCU Broncos, the obvious question was; “How did you think the team played?”

“Well, the first 15 to 20 minutes was not very good.  We weren’t connecting the passes, our runs weren’t there, and we clearly didn’t look like a team.  But the guys responded well to some pointed coaching and at the half we got a great chance to make adjustments and give the guys a better idea of the style of play we are looking for,” said Taylor.  “The second half was better, and at the end of the day we kept them out of the goal.  That’s a positive.”

SJ Earthquakes PDL on the AttackTaylor is working closely with the Earthquakes first team coaching staff.  The PDL team style of play will mirror that of the Earthquakes MLS team.  “We absolutely want our PDL team to play the same style we have our first team playing,” Leitch stated.  “It doesn’t make sense to have the players getting familiar with a formation we never use at the professional level.  We wouldn’t be able to adequately determine a player’s readiness to move up otherwise.”

The Fresno Fuego have had a strong following in the valley for years, and we here at think there is a great opportunity for a rivalry to form.  Some of the most passionate matches the SF Seals played were with the Fuego.  The Earthquakes help bring the PDL play to a new level in the Central Valley, and Northern California.  We’ve seen other sports do well in the Central Valley with their feeder baseball teams with great attendance, and Sacramento’s Republic FC USL Pro soccer team debuted this year. 

Take a day, or make it a weekend, and head out to Turlock and take in some PDL soccer (SJ Earthquake PDL Schedule).  Evaluate the players for yourself.  See who you think will be the next MLS star, and keep an eye on the Earthquakes PDL team.


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