carolina rapids



Welcome to Coach Vinicius Dos Santos!  Click to learn more about him!

NEW PROGRAM! 11U (Birth Year 2008) Pre-DA

During the regular team selection process, we’ll be identifying top true 11U (2008 birth year) players who will be offered spots on the Pre-Development Academy squads.  These players will mirror the U12 DA program in training and match schedule.  Our purpose is to provide an age appropriate environment that will best prepare our players for the highest level of play for a youth soccer player in the United States and competing in US Soccer’s Development Academy (DA) Program.

Players will then be selected based on the appropriate level of play for their current skills and abilities. 

Questions can be directed to Academy Director, Kevin Flanagan at [email protected]

What is a DA Pathway? The United States Development Academy (DA) is the highest level of play for a youth soccer player in the United States.  Our pathway, beginning at 10U, seeks to prepare players and provide an age appropriate environment to best ready them to successfully compete in the DA program.

What if I don’t make it? The selection process is very tough and we have a lot of good players that wish to play in our Development Academy.  This is the highest level of play (in the country) and we have a limited number of spots available. Just because your son is not offered a full-time spot in the program at this time, does not mean he cannot get there as he continues to develop as a soccer player.  We continue to track and monitor our players within the club and when players are ready for the DA we bring them in. 

Learn more about the program!

Staff and Timeline

Coaching Staff for the 2018-2019 Season
Director, Kevin Flanagan
Director, Craig Conger

TeamHead CoachesAssistant Coaches
11 PDA Vinnie Dos SantosTy Haddock
12sVinnie Dos SantosTy Haddock
13sJeff Bilyk 
14sJeff Bilyk 
15sKelly Findley  
16/17sKyle Gookins  
18/19sKyle Gookins  

Goal Keeper Staff
Scott Schweitzer

2018-2019 Season Timeline

PreparationAugPre-Season (3 weeks)
Fall Competitive Period
Sep-Nov14 weeks
TransitionDecBreak (Futsal)
Futsal Period (U12-U13)Jan-FebFutsal Period
Spring Competitive PeriodJan-June
(U12/13 Feb-Jun)
25 weeks

Training and Matches

The specific training schedule for the 2018-2019 season is TBA

Age GroupWeekly Training Sessions# of Matches
11s 329
13s3 + 127

College Information Webinar

Did you miss the college info webinar? You can still get the great information - watch the recording here!

US Soccer Development Academy News

October 2018
US Soccer YNT Training Center Players:

Nolan Hauser 
Chase Perry
Diego Cominges
Hogan Schrader
Cuauthy Espinoza 
Drew Hansen

Colorado GA Cup:

Steven Cordova
Donovan Roux
Nolan Hauser 
Ethan Yates
Bennett Skinner

Jeff Bilyk’s squad first in five years to earn coveted spot for club
By M. Wayne Clarke

Jeff Bilyk had a sense about his U16/U17 team – this ragtag bunch of players born in 2001 and 2002 – that the future could be bright. Having seen the game from just about every level, the former workhorse midfielder at Clemson who was selected in the 1999 Major League Soccer College Draft felt the burn of the spotlight well before the season started.

“I knew we had a good group,” admitted Bilyk, a Clemson Tiger from ’95 to ’99 who made his MLS debut with the Miami Fusion. “From Day 1, I knew we could go far. We spoke a lot about it … that a [playoff] spot was our goal, right off the bat.”

Bilyk and the team would get a quick reality check – in the first game of the season – in the form of a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Atlanta United FC. The game, played on the Rapids home turf at Bailey Road Park in Cornelius, went south early.

So much for the coach’s strong sense of optimism.

“Obviously the first challenge was a tough one,” explained Bilyk, who made his return to the Rapids after a previous coaching stint from 2007 to 2012. “The expectations were pretty high and this group immediately had thoughts of, ‘Maybe we're not as good as we thought we were.’ ”

Bilyk, an assistant coach at Appalachian State prior to returning to the Rapids, would soon learn that this might be his toughest coaching job yet. Through the first five games of the season, the Rapids could only muster 1 win (a 1-0 win over Concorde Fire), three losses and a tie.

The digging-out process would take time – and a few good rah-rah speeches.

“We had some ups and downs and some adversity and went toe to toe against some tough teams … but we never wavered from what we wanted to accomplish. That was the message – and we stuck to it.”

The Rapids managed to finish the season at 18-12-5, hitting its stride – going 8-1-1 in its last 10 games of the season – when most teams seemed to lose steam, and secured the playoff spot, just like Bilyk drew it up.

“For them to accomplish that was awesome,” said Bilyk of his team which heads to the Summer Showcase and Playoffs at SoCal Sports Complex in Oceanside, Calif. June 18-30.

While teams like Atlanta United and New York Red Bulls boasted 20-plus-goalscorers, the Rapids were far from an offensive juggernaut – or a one-man show. Though they finished seventh on their 14-team table in the Southeast U16/U17 East Division, the Rapids won in a variety of ways – amassing a total of 55 goals while conceding 52, tied for the fourth lowest number of goals allowed in their group.

Their success was, without question, a group effort. Of their goals 55 scored, defenders accounted for 13, midfielders 12 and forwards added 30.

It isn’t lost on the coach that this achievement is one for the Rapids record books. “I think it’s our second team ever [to secure a playoff spot],” said Bilyk, whose team exacted revenge on Atlanta United – the top team in their group – 3-2 on their home turf on April 29. “I know there was a U18 Rapids team [in 2014] that won their division and went to the playoffs. But that was without an Orlando City DA and I don’t think there were Midwest teams. But you’re only as good as your group, and the group accomplished all this.”

For Kevin Flanagan, the Rapids Academy Director, this success was far from overnight; it was a process.

“From a group standpoint, this is a group of players we’ve been developing for four years now,” said Flanagan, the Rapids Academy director since 2014. “A lot of them came into the club as 12s and 13s and some even longer. It’s a good mix of players who believe in the process. They’ve worked incredible hard, and we’re now at the stage where they’re performing at a high level. As a director of the program, I couldn’t be happier. Really proud of what they’ve achieved. We believe they can achieve more in the playoffs.

“As for Jeff, he’s done well – he got all the pieces in the right places, and he got results by rotating the squad. Thanks to our depth, we were able to do that with success.”


Cordova to travel with Colorado to Houston

Steven Cordova (U15 Carolina Rapids DA) will join the Colorado Rapids 2003 squad for the 2nd round of the Generation Adidas Cup from Feb 15-19 in Houston, Texas.

The Generation adidas Cup takes place over three rounds, with two sets of regional qualifiers leading up to the final event in April 2018 in Frisco, Texas. At the end of the two rounds of qualifying, the top two teams in each region will advance to the Championship Division at the GA Cup proper, with the rest slotting in the Premier Division. All teams will face international Academy Clubs out in Texas.

Visit to Jamaica included training sessions with national team for Max Wright

U17 DA forward also represented Rapids as Passback Ambassador, donating gear to local high school

When Max Wright stepped onto the training ground pitch at the University of the West Indies in Kingston in June, he looked the part of the new kid trying to find his place among a pool of 40 national team hopefuls, all yearning to solidify a spot with the country’s U15 National Team.

“The session with the U15s was a very different experience and was difficult to adjust to at first,” admits Max, who was visiting his grandparents and got a chance to train with the team. “My biggest takeaway was the step up in level for all players,” Max continued. “The level of play was a big increase, in terms of individual technical ability, for very player on the field. The style of play all circulated around speed, and individual technicality. Everyone runs at full speed with no hesitation.”

A rising junior who will play for Coach Jeff Bilyk’s U17 Development Academy team, Max was grateful to play in a country in which he has strong roots; his grandparents live the parish of St. Elizabeth, and his father was raised in Jamaica until he was 12.

Said Rapids Academy Director Kevin Flanagan: “It’s great to see a player training at this level outside of his environment. Max’s ability to play and train at a high level allowed him this great opportunity to work with the youth national team in a country where his has strong roots.”

While on his visit, Max also served as a Rapids Passback Ambassador, donating new and gently used soccer equipment donated by Rapids families to a local high school.

“I cannot begin to tell you how grateful we are for this donation,” said Bobby Laing, the energetic and gracious coach of St. Jago High School's U17 soccer team, the recipient school. “No donation is too small, and we are happy to have forged this link with the Carolina Rapids.”

As for his on-field performance, Max felt he held his own, and the coach who watched him, agrees: “He responded well – especially for a first time training with other kids and being out of his comfort zone,” said U15 National coach Aaron Lawrence, a former goalkeeper who played on the 1998 “Reggae Boyz” team that qualified for the FIFA World Cup in France. “He showed himself well; it’s unfortunate that he couldn’t be in the squad with us. He definitely performed to standard.”

Asked if he’d answer the call to one day represent Jamaica, Max is wide open.

“Of course I’d consider it,” he said. “You get to play at the highest level against players from all over the world.” 

GABE ROSARIO United States National Team Call-up with the Under-18’s

Big news for Gabe Rosario, our former Development Academy player, on his United States National Team Call-up with the Under-18’s. Gabe and the squad will be competing in the Under-18’s Mens National Tournament in Lisbon, Portugal.

(April 12-15, 2017)

Wesley Atoyebi (USDA U12) selected by us youth futsal to represent our country with the national team!

RYAN FINE NAMED IN 2015 NSCAA All-Great Lakes Region


join us in welcoming wes knight and kyle gookins to our academy staff!
Read more

Matthew  jegier named CAA rookie of the week!  Read more

Phillip goodrum had a busy summer! Read More
rapids alum, matt pacifici training with the colorado rapids in may

Congratulations to Carolina Rapids Alumni and current Davidson Wildcat Goalkeeper, Matt Pacifici.  Matt will train with your very own Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids for a week this month.  What a fantastic achievement to Matt and very deserved.

An excellent Goalkeeper in our US Development Academy program, Matt has continued to excel and develop his game to the next level.

His bio lists - 2014-2015 Academic All-American, 2014-2015 All Region Team, 2014-2015 All Conference A10 (second team), 2014-2015 All Region Academic Team, Broke Davidson Record for Goals Against Average, Top in the Conference in Goals Against Average and Save Percentage, Fewest Losses in the Country (beat #2 Virginia, Duke), ESPN All-American and Academic All-American in high-school, Academy Select Player, Region III ODP Team and Broke National Record for Consecutive Shutouts (16)

Learn More About the Development Academy


In August of 2007 North Meck SC (now, Carolina Rapids) was accepted as a charter member of US Soccer’s Development Academy, a nationwide youth development initiative, organized by the U.S. Soccer Federation, created to enhance the development of the country’s top players through high technical standards and a focus on meaningful competition.  In 2013, North Meck SC aligned with the Colorado Rapids of the Major Soccer League to enhance player development as well as provide a path to professional soccer. At this time, the club re-branded to become the Carolina Rapids.
Formed in accordance with Major League Soccer’s 2007 Homegrown Player Initiative, our goal is to create a program for each player that will allow him to reach his full potential, whatever that may be. For the majority of our players college soccer will be the pinnacle of their careers, but a select few will have the ability to play beyond that level.
The Carolina Rapids Academy train four days per week with a match on the weekend.  Video analysis of games and training as well as core strength training and futsal are part of our program. 
The U.S Soccer Development Academy features 80 of the top youth teams in the country competing in a league system at the U-18, U-16 levels, and U-14 age groups. The teams are divided into 9 geographically based conferences with each team playing at least 26 games. 
Further questions about the Development Academy can be answered by the U.S. Soccer FAQ
Interested in learning more about the Carolina Rapids US Academy program?  Contact Craig Conger at [email protected]