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LAS VEGAS (March 9, 2018) — The US Youth Soccer National League 14U, 15U, 16U, 17U and 18U Boys resumed league play Friday at the Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex in Las Vegas, Nev., alongside the 2018 Players College Showcase.
The boys entered the final weekend of their season with 17 berths to the 2018 US Youth Soccer National Championships still to be determined. Teams qualify for the National Championships by winning their division (16U, 17U and 18U age groups) or by finishing in the top two of their division (14U and 15U age groups). The top finishers in each age group also secure their place in the league for next season, meaning the teams had plenty on the line as they kicked off their weekend in Las Vegas.
No teams competing in Las Vegas clinched titles on Friday, but two idle teams — 16U Solar Chelsea Red 02 Stricker (TX-N) and 17U McLean Green 01 (VA) — managed to secure berths to Nationals. Heading into the weekend, 15 tickets to the National Championships and 11 division titles are still to be decided.
Meanwhile, several teams took a step closer to first-place finishes on Friday by picking up key victories. One such side is LVSA 03 Silver (NV), which used a 4-1 win to pull within a point of the group leader in the 15U Blue Division.
“The intensity that the National League brings — you’re playing the best teams in the country,” LVSA coach Manleo Miranda said. “With that, it brings a lot of pressure the players to work hard and to play hard in the games so they can compete. They’ve done extremely well to be near the top of the group.”
LVSA and all the other teams fighting for National League division titles are also aiming to secure one of the coveted berths to the National Championships. After missing out on Nationals a year ago, LVSA is excited at the possibility of punching its ticket to Frisco, Texas, this weekend.
“To seal the win tomorrow would be a dream come true for our team,” Miranda said. “We’ve been together for about five years now. The National League has shown what this group of kids are capable of.
“Last year, we didn’t make it to Nationals, but now we know we have a team that can compete against anyone in the country. The National League has sealed their confidence.”
2018 US Youth Soccer National Championships Qualifiers via the National League
Red Champion: Oklahoma Energy FC Central 03 (OK)
White Champion: Solar Chelsea Red 02 Stricker (TX-N)*
Red Champion: McLean Green 01 (VA)*
White Champion: Oklahoma Energy FC 01 Central (OK)
Red Champion: Baltimore Celtic SC 00 (MD)
National League Boys action continues Saturday, March 10 at the Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex with games beginning at 8 a.m. PT and the last matches kicking off at 2:30 p.m. PT.
The National League is an extension of the highly successful US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues (US Youth Soccer Eastern Regional League, Midwest Regional League, Southern Regional 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.
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 Frisco, Texas.
The National League’s alumni have gone on to prove themselves at the collegiate and professional levels, with former players competing in NCAA Division I, II and III, Major League Soccer, National Women’s Soccer League, the UEFA Champions League, the Olympics and the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Some highlights from Friday’s matches…
In the 14U Blue Division, Nationals Union 04 Black (MI) remains on top with a four-point lead. Nationals Union earned a 2-0 win over Potomac Soccer Association (MD) and a 1-0 win against Oklahoma Energy FC 04 (OK) to gain a crucial six points heading into the last three games. USA/MP 04 Premier (SC) and Oklahoma Energy sit behind Nationals Union with seven points each, and Real Jersey FC (NJ) and 04 FBSL Tuzos Academy are just two games back with six points. Depending on tomorrow’s results, the Blue Division could be decided tomorrow or it will be neck-and-neck going into the final day.
NM Rush 04 (NM) holds the top spot in the 14U Red Division after an exciting 3-2 victory over Sporting BV SKC Academy (KS) in the final game of the day. Rush’s Jaime Terrazas boasts an age-group leading nine goals so far. Sporting and PPA KSA 04 Pro-Profile (GA) both sit three points behind Rush with nine points each. Pro-Profile has a chance to make a statement in the first game tomorrow as they face off against Sporting, which will be trying to stay within striking distance of the leaders. Soltilo FC Los Angeles (CA-S) and Bethesda Blue 04 (MD) have seven and six points, respectively, and will need a big showing on the second day in order to stay in the running for the Red Division title.
In 15U Blue Division action, LVSA 03 Silver (NV) pulled away late to win, 4-0, against Tennessee Soccer Club 2003 (TN). LVSA controlled possession for much of the first half but couldn’t generate an opening goal, as Tennessee defended well and looked to strike on the counter attack. The Porter Alexander-like bombardment on the Tennessee goal continued in the second half, as LVSA pressed in search of an important lead. The Nevada side managed to break through in the 55th minute when Victor Moran laced a left-footed shot that knuckled and swerved inside the near post. Abigay Gomez added to the advantage in the 70th minute when he hammered a shot into the far corner from a tight angle, and he made it 3-0 shortly after with another left-footed strike. Alexander Alvarado capped the win with a goal in the final minute of regulation, as LVSA move to within one point of the group idle group leaders.
A 1-1 draw between Club Ohio Green (OH-S) and Santa Clara Sporting 02 Green (CA-N) allowed idle Solar Chelsea Red 02 Stricker (TX-N) to clinch the 16U White Division title. Club Ohio earned a 1-0 lead in just the ninth minute of play. Christopher Guerra controlled a ball into the area, spun passed his defender and then boomed a low shot to the back post for the goal. Santa Clara Sporting leveled the score in the 29th minute thanks to a goal by James Garlick. Garlick moved up the right flank and then hit a ball into the box that caught the Club Ohio keeper off guard and floated back post for a goal. Santa Clara continued pressing into the end of the first half and almost took the lead into halftime. Club Ohio let a ball bounce over the top, but the Santa Clara striker hit the ball over the bar. Each team had opportunities to score in the second half, but neither side could find the back of the net. The tie dashes Club Ohio’s hopes of winning the White Division.
St. Louis Scott Gallagher SC Elite (MO) and Boca OC 02 White (CA-S) tied 2-2 and remain level in the 16U Blue Division with 10 points each. SLSG took the lead in the 19th minute when it scored off a header. Cole Hutson out-jumped his defender and floated a header to the back post beyond the fingers of the outstretched Boca keeper. SLSG took a 2-0 lead into halftime when Devin Livingstone beat the keeper in the 38th minute. Boca cut the lead in half in the 54th minute thanks to Aaron Zarate bringing the score to 2-1. The teams continued to battle and the score was leveled when Boca struck again. Jordan Garcia whipped in a free kick from the left side that took a deflection off a SLSG defender for an own goal. The teams remain tied for second in points behind SC Waukesha 02 Blue (WI), and the last two days of play will decide who will advance to the 2018 National Championships.
SLSG Elite 01 (MO) is a step closer to the 17U Blue Division title after earning a 4-0 win on Friday against Westside Timbers 01 Copa (OR). Nick Grewe needed just two minutes to give SLSG the lead, and Brady Glon doubled the Missouri side’s advantage with a 17th-minute goal. That lead held up for much of the game before Camden Dunne and Trent Dolson each added late goals to cap the SLSG victory. Thanks to the three points on Friday, the SLSG can now clinch the division title with a victory on Saturday.
In the 17U Black Division, Club Ohio 1 (OH-S) pulled away for a 4-1 win against SC del Sol 01 (AZ) to stay in contention for the group title. Ethan Love converted a pair of penalty kicks to put Club Ohio in front by two goals after an hour of play. Colin Kirkley and Ludwig Conrad each found the back of the net later in the second half to extend the Ohio South side’s advantage. SC del Sol’s Heber Acuna scored on a late penalty kick of his own to pull a goal back for his side, but it wasn’t enough as Club Ohio held on for the victory. Ohio will need to continue to win in order to overtake defending National Champion Tampa Bay United (FL) for first place in the division.
A matchup of teams level in the 18U Blue Division ended with them in the same position, as Eastside FC 00 Red (WA) used a late goal to earn a 1-1 draw against LMSC Rats (PA-E). An even first half saw the teams exchange chances without a breakthrough strike. LMSC came close in the 30th minute when a shot following a short corner slid just wide of the far post. Eastside created its own close call just before halftime, as Adrian Vanoni cut inside the box but sent a shot just over the bar. The Rats grabbed a 75th-minute lead when a player was brought down in the box, and Griffin Wada fired his penalty kick into the right corner. LMSC appeared to have the three points in hand, but Sam Jarvis hit a stoppage time half volley into the upper-90 to force the draw. A late winner by West Coast FC Armour 2000 (CA-S) in the other group game, coupled with the draw by Eastside and LMSC, allowed the Cal South side to stretch its advantage in the standings as it aims for the division title.
Washington Premier 2000 Black (WA) earned a 1-0 victory over Ohio Premier (OH-S) to move within striking distance of the 18U Boys Black Division title. Ohio Premier had the best chance in the first half as it worked the ball down the left flank. Ohio hit a cutback cross that found a teammate who boomed a shot wide of goal. Washington Premier pressed in the second half and almost scored early, but a breakdown of communication halted a good fast break chance. Washington’s Ryan Griffith played a free-kick that was almost converted by Alex Comfort but his header flew just over the bar. Washington kept on the pressure and another header almost found net but was saved off the line by Drew Fischer. Washington finally got its goal in the 87th minute, as Dane Helle got his head on a free-kick. Helle’s header looped over the keeper for the winning goal. Washington is now just three points behind idle group leader NCFC Elite 00 (NC), which tied Washington, 1-1, in North Carolina.
Keep up with the National League all season:
National League Home: USYouthSoccer.org/National_League
Schedule & results: tournaments.usyouthsoccer.org/events/2017-18-National-League/