BY CHRIS MCMANES — The recent agreement between DeMatha Soccer Academy (DMSA) and D.C. United should enhance professional playing opportunities for top local players. Less-skilled players should also benefit.

“In an effort to continue identifying talented local players,” United Academy Director Ryan Martin said in a press release, “this partnership allows for more players to be exposed to professional development at an early age.”

The DMSA was founded in 2014 and offers programs for boys and girls. The youth division provides spring and fall travel soccer for players ages 9-13. Elite athletes 14-18 years old can participate in a 10-month program. Top players will have the opportunity to advance to the United Academy.

The DMSA also helps keep DeMatha players playing together during the offseason. Prior to the club’s formation, the Stags tended to scatter after the school season ended.

“The Academy helps us maintain continuity among our players,” DMSA and DeMatha assistant coach Fabrice Mukoko said.

DMSA and United Academy will now work to enhance player development resources, and the teams will have annual scrimmages against each other. In addition, United coaching staff will lead educational sessions for DeMatha coaches, while the scouting network between the two organizations will be expanded.

Andrew Quinn, DMSA executive director, said in the same release that the “partnership will provide our players with a pathway to take their game to the next level.”

DeMatha’s soccer team is one of the finest in the nation. In 2011, the Stags finished 20-0 and were ranked No. 1 by The Washington Post. The National Soccer Coaches Association of America declared the Hyattsville school co-national champions.  The season was part of a 62-game unbeaten streak.

Former Stag on U.S. team

Bill Hamid, who graduated from DeMatha in 2006, has been named to the U.S. Men’s National Team. The club will compete in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Hamid is a goalkeeper for D.C. United.

The U.S. team opens play against Panama this Saturday, July 8.

Hamid became the first D.C. United player to rise through the United Academy in 2002.

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DeMatha senior forward Justin Gielen. Photo from Justin Gielen’s Twitter page

Gielen a future Terrapin

Senior forward Justin Gielen has committed to play for national power Maryland. Gielen, who helped the Stags post a 10-1-1 record in 2016, was named first-team All-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference and honorable mention All-Met. He is also one of the top players on the DeMatha basketball team.

Chris McManes (mick-maynz) covers DeMatha sports for the Hyattsville Life & Times.