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GREENSBORO, N.C. (Dec. 7, 2018) — The 2018-19 US Youth Soccer National League Boys season continued Friday with a second day of 16U-19U games at the BB&T Soccer Complex at Bryan Park in Greensboro, N.C. The season is shaping up to be a long fight for the divisional titles and automatic entries to the US Youth Soccer National Championships.
After two days of play in Greensboro, three of the four defending National Champions have managed to pick up victories in both of their games. However, none of the three are alone atop the standings, as each division race is tight in the early stages of the season.
One former National Champion, 18U Tampa Bay United (FL), scored a dramatic stoppage time equalizer to earn a tie against CUP Gold 01 (OH-S) and keep pace in the 18U Boys Black Division.
“What I told our guys before we got here today is that you cannot be arrogant in the National League,” Tampa Bay United coach Kelvin Jones said. “You can’t win one game and think you’re going to be OK because tomorrow the next team is as good as or better than the team you just played.
“CUP lost yesterday, so we knew this was a big game for them because you can’t lose two games in the National League and think you can win it. We knew they would be motivated and come to play. They scored an early goal, but we just kept plugging away and we deserved the equalizer.”
Veterans of the last two National Championships, including the 2017 tournament in which it claimed the 16U National title, Tampa Bay United has experienced plenty of the top competition in youth soccer. With so much on the line in the National League, Jones said his team looks forward to competing in the league, and it offers an environment for his players to grow and develop.
“We just can’t wait to come play in the National League. We consider it the highest level we can play,” Jones said. “We play in a very good league and go to other showcases, but this is the pinnacle for us. We know every game is going to be a great competition and every game is going to mean something.”
The National League provides an avenue for teams to play in meaningful matches against top competition from across the country for continued development. In addition to recruiting opportunities, National League teams compete for the National League title and one of four slots from each gender age group to the annual US Youth Soccer National Championships. Teams in the 14U-18U age groups are also competing for a chance to re-qualify for the National League’s 2019-20 season.
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.
Some highlights from Friday's matches…
For the second straight game to open the season, SLSG 2003 Elite (MO) come out on the winning end of a tight game — defeating 03 NCFC Elite (NC) on Friday to earn its second victory with a one-goal margin. The Missouri side generated sustained pressure on the NCFC defense throughout the first half, but North Carolina did well to keep SLSG off the scoreboard. Following a well-executed SLSG set piece that NCFC defended seconds before the halftime whistle, the sides went into the break in a scoreless tie. It appeared the teams were heading for a draw, but Almir Mujcinovic found the back of the net in stoppage time to give SLSG a dramatic 1-0 win.
In the Blue Division, Seattle United B03 Copa (WA) picked up its second win to start the season with a 1-0 victory against GPS NY Regional Team (NY-W). The Washington side played from ahead for much of the match after Krisna LaFrance put Seattle in front with a 10th-minute goal. Seattle looked for a second goal, but GPS defended some set pieces well to keep the deficit to one goal heading into the second half. The New York West side could not break down the Seattle back line, as United held on for a shutout victory.
A couple of second half goals helped Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals 02 Black (PA-E) to a 3-1 victory over Club Ohio 2002 Green 1 (OH-S) on Friday in Blue Division play. Grant Burns put Philadelphia in front with a 27th-minute goal, but Zachary Jasper equalized shortly after halftime for Club Ohio. The stalemate didn’t last long, as it took just two minutes for Umar Savinson to find the back of the net and help Philadelphia regain the lead. Chakralangri Wade added an insurance goal in the 86th minute, as Philadelphia went on to win, 3-1.
Defending National Champion Arlington SA 2002 Red (VA) is off to a good start in the Red Division after picking up its second shutout of the season in a win over Midwest United FC 02 Royal (MI). After the Virginia side took the lead in the 15th minute, it doubled it to 2-0 with a 30th-minute tally. James Canady provided the strike, as a free kick from the left wing was dummied at the near post and found the far side netting. Joseph Core kept Arlington’s momentum going minutes later with a blast from the top of the box that made it 3-0. Core and Garrett Ross added goals in the second half to cap Arlington’s 5-0 victory.
RSL AZ North 01 Boys Tomic (AZ) bounced back from an opening day defeat to earn a 1-0 win against FC Dallas 01 Premier (TX-N) in Black Division action. After a scoreless first half, RSL broke through in the 57th minute when Alexander Huguez found the back of the net. The Arizona side nearly doubled the lead in the 75th minute, but FC Dallas keeper Trey Plasko made a lunging save to push a ball bound for the upper-90 wide of the goal. While that save kept it close, the RSL defense didn’t allow any prime scoring chances for FC Dallas, as the Arizona side hung on for the 1-0 victory.
Oklahoma Energy FC (Central) 01 (OK) moved to the top of the White Division with a 3-2 comeback victory over OC Surf Armour 2001 (CA-S) in a matchup of Day 1 winners. OC Surf enjoyed the early momentum, as it received goals from Carson Kendall and Miguel Pena to take a 2-0 lead into halftime. The Energy generated plenty of pressure after the break and pulled a goal back when Matthew McLaws slid a 77th-minute penalty kick inside the right post. It took just two more minutes for Kyle Owen to equalize the score when he hit a loose ball while falling in the middle of the penalty area that found the back of the net. McLaws finished the comeback when he stood over a free kick just a few yards outside of the box and sent a curling shot around the outside of the wall and just inside the right post — giving the Energy a 3-2 win.
Nationals Union 00 Black (MI) picked up its first win of the season with a 3-1 result against CUP 00 Gold (OH-S) in Red Division action. Each side dropped a close match on the opening day, and Nationals got the upper hand on Friday when Matthew Andres put the Michigan side in front with an 18th-minute goal. However, CUP’s Brian Banahan leveled the score with a strike in the 29th minute, as the teams fought hard for vital early points in the standings. Nationals quickly responded to regain the lead just a few minutes later, as Rocco Galati found the back of the net. Galati added another at the hour mark to give Nationals a two-goal advantage, and the Michigan side held on to that lead to earn the 3-1 victory.
After a one-goal loss to open Blue Division play on Thursday, FC Dallas Youth 00 (TX-N) bounced back with a 2-0 win against OC Surf B00 Armour (CA-S). The North Texas side grabbed an opening goal in the 19th minute with a nice movement down the right side. Reed Berry got to the end line and squared a ball into the box that found its way to Angel Medel, who finished from right in front of goal to put FC Dallas ahead. That goal provided the lone difference in the game until Malik Henry-Scott doubled the FC Dallas lead in the 89th minute, as his goal sealed the 2-0 victory.
Keep up with the National League all season:
National League Home: USYouthSoccer.org/National_League
Schedule and results: USYouthSoccer.org/tournaments/2018-19-National-League/