Bridge FA gears up for 2nd big season

A victory over the national team highlighted a good first year for the Bridge Futbol Alliance as one of the charter members of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. Now, director of coaching Clark Brisson is optimistic that Bridge FA can build on that success as his teams get ready for their second season.

Brisson's organization, which draws most of its players from across the Lowcountry and some from other parts of the state, was one of 64 soccer clubs in the nation that was selected to participate in the Development Academy's inaugural season.

"Travel was a hurdle we had to overcome, but the quality of the league was excellent," Brisson said. "Toward the end of the season, I saw good growth in the kids."

While the Under-18 team didn't fare as well, the U16 squad finished with a 21-5-4 record and pulled off a surprising 3-1 victory over the U.S. national team at one of the showcase events late in the year.

"It was definitely a highlight for our U16 team," Brisson said. "It was the first match of the showcase, so most of the teams were there watching and we were up 2-0 at halftime."

Last year, U.S. Soccer organized the league as a way to help elite programs expand their circle of competition and to help the national organization identify the country's most talented players. Brisson believes the league definitely accomplished its primary objectives.

"At the showcase events we had, our kids were contacted by more colleges than they ever imagined," he said. "Their stock also increased by doing so well. In terms of exposure, we've never seen anything like this."

Brisson said his team was scouted by national representatives 10 times, giving his players the opportunity to make an impression and be invited to join the national team.

"It didn't happen in our case, but I know it did for a couple of the teams we played," he said.

For the second year, the Development Academy has expanded by 12 teams and has revamped its postseason plan.

In the first year, only the eight conference champions advanced to playoffs which didn't reward teams that were improving at the end the year. This time, the top three teams in each of the nine conferences and five other teams will be seeded into a 32-team playoff bracket to determine the champion.

Bridge FA, which uses Charleston Southern University as its base of operations, is about to begin practice to prepare for the season opener on Sept. 7. The schedule is spread out over a fall and spring session with a break built in for high school competition.

Brisson said anyone interested in participating with the club can contact him at 270-0596 or at clarkbrisson@netzero.net.

Shockwave looks to fill roster

The Summerville Shockwave is looking to fill roster spots for its 9-and-under travel baseball team. Contact Robert Heaton at 973-1255 or e-mail robertheaton@charlestoncateringservice.com to arrange a tryout.