2013-2014 US Youth Soccer National League Boys play continues in Wilson, N.C.
With a talented field of teams from top to bottom, the first two days have already shown that each National League side must be on top of its game to walk away with a win. After going a perfect 7-0-0 last season, there won’t be another unblemished campaign this year for Sunrise Elite 97/98 (FL). The Florida side came away with a win in its opening game, but Sunrise couldn't break down a stout Alliance Academy 98 Black (MI) squad on Friday as they played to a scoreless tie in Under-16 action.
CUP Gold 95/96 (OH-S) — which won a National League title last year and advanced to the final at the National Championships — is one of the few teams to come away with two wins to start its season. CUP head coach Bobby Puppione said while it’s good to start off with a pair of wins, anything can happen moving forward with the strength of the field in the National League.
"No game is easy in the National League. To start off with a win Thursday and then come back after a tough match and put on another good performance to get a result today was huge for us in our step to try to repeat as National League champions," Puppione said. "That’s not an easy task because we’re playing with the best teams in the country. The fact that we’re able to start off with two wins is fantastic, but that doesn’t mean anything for tomorrow because we’re going to play a very good team."
National League teams earn their place in the league based on a proven track record of success in US Youth Soccer regional and national competitions and are among the nation's best. Competing for a league title and a spot in the US Youth Soccer National Championships
, each and every game will play into who represents the National League this summer in Germantown, Md.
The league is an extension of the highly successful US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues (US Youth Soccer Region I Premier League, Midwest Regional League, Region III Premier League and Far West Regional League). The National League provides an avenue for teams to play in meaningful matches against top competition from across the country for continued development and opportunities for exposure at the national team, collegiate and professional levels.
Some highlights from Friday’s matches…
At the Rocky Mount Sports Complex, the Under-14 games continued to be tight on Friday. Raiders FC (IL) is the lone team in the Blue Division with two wins, while every team in the group has earned at least one point after two games. Scorpions SC Boston (MA) is at the top of the Red Division after winning its first two games, but five other teams have at least three points heading into the third day of play.
Ohio Galaxies FC 98 Elite (OH-S) captured its second win in as many games with a tight 1-0 victory over CESA 98 Premier (SC). Off of a seventh-minute corner kick, Parker Simms connected on a header that found the back of the net to give the Ohio side the early lead. Both sides pressured the opposition’s goal for the remainder of the contest, but neither team could break through. The win puts Galaxies in good position in the U-15 Red Division standings after two days of play.
In another tight Under-15 game, Blast FC Red (OH-S) held off Solar Chelsea Red 99 (TX-N) to secure its first National League win. Theodore Knowles beat the keeper in the 19th minute to give Blast FC an early 1-0 lead. The Ohio side’s defense made sure that goal held up, as Blast FC shut out Solar Chelsea, 1-0. With each side having a win after two days of play, they’re both in the thick of a tightly packed Blue Division.
Both back lines held strong in the first half of the Under-15 match between Michigan Wolves 99 (MI) and NASA 17 Elite (GA), as the teams went to halftime scoreless. The Wolves were able to open the scoring in the 54th minute when Louis Meeks found the back of the net. That goal proved to be the game-winner, as the Michigan side won, 1-0, in another competitive Blue Division matchup.
The Under-16 Boys competed at the Rocky Mount Sports Complex on Friday, with Sereno 98 White (AZ) earning its second win in the Blue Division. The Arizona side is the only team in its division to not drop any points after two games, while the same goes for FC Golden State Platinum (CA-S) in the Under-16 Red Division.
After losing a tight contest on Thursday, two-time National Champions Fullerton Rangers 96 White (CA-S) came away with a crucial 2-1 win on Friday against FC Alliance 97 Black (TN). Fullerton jumped out to an early advantage on a Ricardo Ruiz goal, but FC Alliance responded in the 22nd minute when Cameron Schneider found the back of the net. The California side regained the lead seconds after halftime when James Handal beat the keeper. Despite several late threats from FC Alliance, Fullerton was able to hang on for the 2-1 victory and secure its first win of the National League season.
Tennessee SC 15 (TN) looked to get its second win of the season Friday but ran into a determined Albion SC White (CA-S) squad. Despite scoring five goals in its previous game, Tennessee couldn’t break through the Albion defense. The Tennessee back line matched the play of its counterparts, as neither team could find the back of the net, resulting in a scoreless tie.
Alliance Academy 96 Black (MI) and OBGC Rangers (MD) traded chances for much of their Under-18 contest, but neither side could find the right final touch as the game ended in a scoreless tie. OBGC pressured the Alliance Academy net for the final portion of the game, which saw the Maryland side get an open header in front of the goal. However, the Alliance Academy goalkeeper made the save to preserve the tie and give each side an important point in the Blue Division.
In the Under-18 Red Division, CUP Gold 95/96 (OH-S) looks like an early contender for a second-straight National League division title after beginning the season with two straight wins. The Ohio side wasted little time getting started against Waza FC East 96 Jrs. (MI) on Friday, as Thomas Moore put CUP up with a third-minute goal. The teams went back and forth before Gabe Welp doubled CUP’s lead in the 51st minute. Jack Clark capped the scoring when he received the ball in the middle of the box and slid a left-footed shot into the right corner of the net, giving CUP the 3-0 win.
Lehigh Valley United 95 (E-PA) posted its first win of the season with a 2-0 victory over Fram 18 Premier (CA-S). The Pennsylvania side went up in the 14th minute thanks to a goal by Colten Habecker. It appeared that score would hold until halftime, but Andrew Nardone doubled the lead just before the break. Nardone gathered the ball on the left side of the six-yard box and beat the keeper from a tough angle to put LVU up 2-0. That score remained unchanged, as LVU earned the three points with the win.
National League action continues Saturday, Nov. 23. Complete standings, scores and schedules, including goal scorers and match information, can be found at the results page here
. Click on the score of each game for more information.