SCORES & STANDINGS | BLACK | BLUE | RED | WHITE | PLAYER NOTES
The 18U Black Division features a couple of teams who are chasing current leader Dallas Texans 99 Red (TX-N). The North Texas side holds a three-point lead in the standings, but OP Green (OH-S) has three games in Las Vegas to try and pass Dallas. The Ohio South side is in a great position thanks to a 4-0-0 start to the season in North Carolina in which it conceded just one goal.
Sitting six points behind Dallas and three behind OP is Strikers FC North (CA-S). While it faces a taller task than OP entering play in Vegas, Strikers certainly has a realistic shot of making a run at the division title.
OP and the Strikers handed the Texans their only two losses of the season, so both the sides competing in Las Vegas have an advantage should tiebreakers come into play.
Game to Watch
March 11, Strikers FC North (CA-S) vs. OP Green (OH-S)
As long as the Strikers keep pace with OP on the first day of play, this matchup could be the deciding factor in determining which team wins the division. The Ohio side has allowed its opponents minimal scoring opportunities through four games, so the Strikers will need to take advantage of any attacking chances they generate. The Cal South side is also allowing less than a goal per game, so this game may come down to who can find the back of the net first.
BRYC 99 Elite (VA) enters the final weekend of play on top of the 18U Blue Division, and the Virginia side owns a five-point edge over the closest team with games still to be played. That team would be Sporting STL - McMahon Ford (MO), which picked up two wins and two draws during play in North Carolina — with all games decided by a goal or less. The Missouri side will need to pick up two wins in order to surpass BRYC, which holds tiebreaker advantage should the two sides finish even in the standings.
Thanks to a 3-1 win over BRYC earlier in the season, LA Premier FC LAFA (CA-S) is also still in the hunt for the division title. LA Premier will need to win each of its games in Las Vegas in order to catch BRYC, and it must also get some help in the other contests to prevent Sporting STL from putting first place out of reach.
Game to Watch
March 10, Sporting STL - McMahon Ford (MO) vs. LA Premier FC LAFA (CA-S)
Both teams will enter this game with the lone goal of picking up three points in the standings. Every match in Las Vegas is a must-win for LA Premier, while Sporting STL doesn’t get much help from a tie. A Sporting win puts it in prime position to jump into first place while also ending LA’s hopes of a run to the title. But if the Cal South side can come away with a victory, it will stay alive and put the pressure on Sporting STL by pushing the Missouri side into must-win situations on the final two days of play.
After finishing with a 5-1-1 record, Dix Hills Hurricanes (NY-E) can only wait and see if it has done enough to hold on for the 18U Red Division title. The Eastern New York side’s 16 points give it a six-point advantage over WPFC 99 Black (WA) — the closest competitor with games still to be played.
WPFC does have the benefit of a head-to-head win over Dix Hills, which could loom large if the Washington side finishes even on points with Dix Hills. The victory against Dix Hills was part of WPFC’s 3-0-1 week in North Carolina, which has set it up nicely heading into the final weekend of play.
The only other team in the division without a loss is Fullerton Rangers White (CA-S), which picked up two wins and two draws to open the season. With an eight-point gap between it and Dix Hills, Fullerton will need to win all three of its remaining games in order to win the division.
Game to Watch
March 10, FC Montco Die Mannschaft (PA-E) vs. Fullerton Rangers White (CA-S)
Fullerton can’t afford to drop any points, so this first game will determine whether it remains in the division title hunt heading into Saturday and Sunday. FC Montco won’t make it easy for Fullerton, as the Eastern Pennsylvania side proved to be a challenging team in North Carolina — scoring eight goals while conceding nine. Meanwhile, Fullerton’s games have all been decided by a goal or less, so this one could be close. Should Fullerton come away on top, it could be on its way to a big showdown with WPFC on the final day of the season.
The 18U White Division should have an exciting conclusion, as three teams competing in Vegas are in serious contention to finish on top of the standings. Concorde Fire Elite 99 (GA) is currently in first place, but with its games completed, it will need a good amount of luck from the games in Vegas to hold on to that position.
CUP 99 Gold (OH-S) enters the final weekend with 10 points, just two behind Concorde, after having allowed just one goal during its first four games in North Carolina. That performance has given the Ohio South side a one-point advantage on its Vegas foes who are also in the race for the division title.
LTSC Union Showcase 99/00 (IL) and LA Galaxy South Bay Elite (CA-S) are each 3-1-0 and just behind CUP in the standings. With the three teams bunched up so closely, each point will hold great importance in determining which team finishes in first place. And should those sides falter, seventh-place Sc Del Sol 99 (AZ) could mathematically move into first place with three wins and some fortuitous results in the other games.
Game to Watch
March 10, CUP 99 Gold (OH-S) vs. LA Galaxy South Bay Elite (CA-S)
One could make an argument for any game in the White Division to be in this spot, especially the March 11 matchup between LA Galaxy and LTSC. However, this Friday contest will determine the outlook of the division race heading into the weekend. A CUP win would give it a key four-point advantage over the Galaxy and a temporary hold on first place. On the other hand, if the Galaxy were to win, the division standings would remain close and Saturday’s games would each have added pressure and importance.
Olefemi Adu (Loudoun Red) was on the Virginia 2001 roster for the 2017 US Youth Soccer ODP Championships.
Quantrell Jones (Baltimore Celtic) was selected for the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team Residency Program for Spring 2017.
The following 18U players were named to the 2016 NSCAA High School Boys All-America Team: Jason Blackwell (Delaware Rush); Nicholas Jennings (FC Montco Die Mannschaft); Billy Hency (Sporting STL – McMahon Ford)