SCORES & STANDINGS | BLUE | RED | PLAYER NOTES
Four teams — two still with games to play — are in contention for the top two spots in the 19/20U Blue Division and the accompanying berths to the US Youth Soccer National Championships. OFC 98 (OK) sits in first with 14 points, while Loudoun 98 Red (VA) is just behind with 13 points. Both of those sides have played all of their games, so they’ll need to wait and see where they fall following the games in Las Vegas.
The two teams looking to move to the top of the table are Challenger Crew Jrs Gold 98 (OH-N) and Chicago Fire Juniors South (IL), who have 10 and nine points, respectively. Challenger went 3-0-1 in North Carolina and picked up a win against OFC, which could benefit the Ohio North side in a tiebreaker scenario.
Meanwhile, Chicago Fire’s lone loss came to OFC, so the Illinois side will likely need two wins in Las Vegas in order to overtake the current division leader. Chicago Fire conceded just two goals in its first four games, so it should be in any game if that defensive fortitude carries over to the games in Vegas.
Game to Watch
March 12, Challenger Crew Jrs Gold 98 (OH-N) vs. Chicago Fire Juniors South (IL)
There’s a good chance this game on the final day of the season will decide how the top of the division standings shake out. Should both Challenger and Chicago Fire take care of business on the first two days of play, this matchup will decide the division winner. However, should one or both of the teams drop some points on Friday and Saturday, this game could decide if one or both of the teams can make the move into the top two and clinch a spot at Nationals. Either way, this contest should have some influence on the teams and seeding for the National Championships.
One of the two tickets to Nationals in the 19/20U Red Division has already been secured, as Penn Fusion 98 (PA-E) wrapped up a 6-1-0 campaign in Orlando. In doing so, Penn Fusion shattered the team goal-scoring record by finding the back of the net 31 times. The Eastern Pennsylvania side can rest easy knowing it took care of business, with its only concern being whether it finishes in first or second place.
FC United (IL), which is currently in second place, is the lone team that can catch Penn Fusion. However, the Illinois side will need to win all three of its games to do so, as it enters the Vegas weekend eight points behind the group leader.
Before FC United can focus solely on chasing the top spot, it must make sure it secures second place. An experienced Sporting St. Croix (MN) side sits six points behind FC United and is certainly capable of making a run. The Minnesota squad is looking to finish in the top two of its National League division for a second year in a row, but it will likely need to win out and hope FC United stumbles.
Game to Watch
March 11, FC United (IL) vs. Sporting St. Croix (MN)
If Sporting St. Croix can pick up a win on Friday, it will put some pressure on FC United entering this matchup. The Minnesota side will need to pick up a victory in this game, so it will likely aim to be aggressive moving forward on the attack. FC United has the luxury of holding a significant lead in the standings, so it can play conservatively and look to hit on the counter attack. If St. Croix can grab a lead in this one, it should open up the flow of play and make for an entertaining game.
The following 19/20U players were named to the 2016 NSCAA High School Boys All-America Team: Seath Grossman, James Pirie (FC United); Stephen Milhoan, Nicholas Rieple, Vincent Worner (Challenger Crew Jrs Gold); Christopher Sullivan (Chicago Fire Juniors South); Jake Erlandson (Ohio Galaxies)
Stephen Milhoan (Challenger Crew Jrs Gold) was named the 2016 NSCAA High School Boys Player of the Year.