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ORLANDO, Fla. (Dec. 29, 2018) — The 2018-19 US Youth Soccer National League Boys showcased their talents in meaningful and competitive matches Saturday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla., alongside the Disney Soccer Showcase. The boys teams competing in Orlando will wrap up the event on Monday, as they play their third game of the week.
In a matchup of the top two teams in the 18U Red Division standings, McLean Green 01 Athletic (VA) tied Solar 01 Stricker (TX-N) to keep its place atop the group. After winning its National League division last year, McLean knows how important each result can be during league play.
“Having a chance to play for a spot in Nationals in the National League makes it so valuable,” McLean coach Alan Portillo said. “Every game matters. Every point matters. Every play matters. Every second matters. There is no time off. The boys understand that once they step on the field, the competition is so tough from all over the country.”
After two days of play in Orlando, two points or less separate the top two teams in 12 of the 18 15U-19U Boys divisions, and five divisions feature ties at the top. The meaningful games with division titles and berths to Nationals on the line allow coaches to see how their team responds in key situations within critical games.
“I get to learn a lot about my players when playing in this environment,” Portillo said. “The pressure makes diamonds, and diamonds don’t crack under pressure. That is one of the mottos of our team. The boys have shown they are able to play, compete and be successful at the top level.”
The National League features the top 348 US Youth Soccer teams in the 14U through 19U Boys and Girls age groups, and it 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.
Folllowing a day of rest, National League boys action will continue Monday, Dec. 31, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. 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 Saturday’s matches…
Liverpool FC Michigan Gerrard (MI) overcame an early deficit to earn a 2-1 win over LMVSC 2004 RED (VA) on Saturday in 15U White Division action. It took just two minutes for Jacob Bosley to find the back of the net and give a 1-0 advantage to LMVSC, which entered the game with a chance to move to the top of the standings. Liverpool answered in the 33rd minute when Viktor Chhun got on the end of a cross from the left side and hammered home a well-struck volley at the back post. In the late stages of the game, Liverpool created an opportunity and took advantage of a corner kick. The initial ball went over the mass of players in the center of the penalty area, but Hayden Dzurisin came in to chest down the ball and struck a shot that flew into the far corner. That proved to the game-winner, as Liverpool hung on for the 2-1 victory — its second win of the season.
In the 15U Red Division, Oklahoma Energy FC 04 (Central) (OK) recorded a 2-1 win over Arlington SA Red 04 (VA) to pull even with the Virginia side in a three-way tie atop the standings. It appeared the teams were heading to the break with no score, but Jared Orta Pablano gave Oklahoma some momentum when he scored just before halftime. However, Arlington’s Connor Braun replied in the 55th minute to tie the score at 1-1. In the 74th minute, Fidencio Torres netted the deciding goal, as his strike helped Oklahoma to the 2-1 victory. Both teams currently have seven points in the Red Division standings, along with Team Challenger FC 04 Black (OH-N).
FC United 2003 Pre Academy (IL) and Bethesda Academy (MD) played to a 1-1 draw in 16U Black Division action. The Illinois side grabbed an eighth-minute lead on a James Paden goal, and FC United maintained that advantage until early in the second half. In the 45th minute, Bethesda’s Kadin DeMesme received the ball in the center of the FC United penalty area, and he placed a left-footed shot high and past the keeper’s outstretched right hand to tie the game at 1-1. Both teams looked for a critical go-ahead goal in the final half-hour of play, but the final whistle blew to secure the draw. With the point, FC United moved to the top of the current Black Division standings.
A 2-1 win over NCFC 02 Elite (NC) helped Lehigh Valley United 02 Black (PA-E) pick up its second win of the season in the 17U Black Division. NCFC opened the scoring in the seventh minute with a Christopher Steg strike. That lead held up until halftime, but LVU applied waves of pressure immediately after the break. Following some near misses, the Eastern Pennsylvania side broke through in the 66th minute when Austin Recinos found the back of the net. LVU rode the momentum of that tying goal and grabbed a lead just two minutes later on a Kresstoph Whittick tally. NCFC regrouped after the back-to-back LVU goals, but it couldn’t produce an equalizer in the final minutes as LVU secured the 2-1 win.
OK Energy FC Central 02 (OK) remains undefeated in the 17U Blue Division after a 2-1 win against Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals 02 Black (PA-E) on Saturday. Jose Estrada-Capilla netted his third goal of the season in the 17th minute to give Oklahoma a 1-0 lead. The Nationals pulled even in the 33rd minute with a Chakralangri Wade strike, but the Energy immediately regained the lead when Dawid Livingstone Kisanga found the back of the net two minutes later. Neither team managed to change the score in the second half, as Oklahoma earned its third win of the season and now has 10 points in the standings.
Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals 01 Black (PA-E) closed the gap between it and 18U White Division leader Oklahoma Energy FC (Central) 01 (OK) with a 1-0 victory in the match between the two on Saturday. Philadelphia remained level with Oklahoma, which entered Saturday with a 3-0-0 record, as the teams went to halftime in a scoreless tie. The Nationals produced a critical breakthrough goal in the 60th minute when Bradan Mallon found the back of the net. The Philadelphia defense made sure that goal held up, as the Eastern Pennsylvania side recorded its first shutout of the season and picked up its second straight win in Orlando.
Despite conceding a late equalizer, McLean Green 01 Athletic (VA) maintained its lead atop the 18U Red Division standings with a 2-2 draw against second-place Solar 01 Stricker (TX-N). The North Texas side struck first in the key matchup between the division’s top two teams, as Robert Pino put Solar in front with a 14th-minute goal. McLean quickly leveled the score through a Nathan Rosen strike, and Gabriel Psallidas later have the Virginia side the lead with a goal in the 60th minute. Solar nearly tied the game on a quick free kick in the 67th minute, but a McLean defender cleared the ball off the line to keep his side in front. However, Carson Prestridge forced a draw when he maneuvered through a couple of tackle attempts and lifted an 82nd-minute shot over the charging keeper and into the far corner. The teams split the points, leaving McLean with a two-point advantage over Solar at the top of the group.
Ohio Premier NL (OH-S) helped its chances of finishing in the top two of the 19U Blue Division with a 3-2 win on Saturday over FC Dallas Youth 00 Boys (TX-N). FC Dallas struck first when Angel Medel converted a 12th-minute penalty kick following a hand ball in the box. Andrew Donley replied for Ohio just five minutes later to pull the teams even at 1-1. Later in the first half, Christian Buendia rose up to meet a cross from the left wing, and he sent a header back across the face of goal and into the far upper-90 to put Ohio in front, 2-1. William Harr pushed the lead to 3-1 with a goal in the 56th minute before Malik Henry-Scott pulled FC Dallas within a goal with a 77th-minute tally. However, Ohio held on in the final minutes to secure the victory and move to eight points in the standings. On Monday, Ohio will meet group leader Lehigh Valley United 2000 Black (PA-E), which has won all four of its Blue Division games without conceding a goal.
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/