Amazingly, the 17U Boys Black Division’s four teams who will be competing in Las Vegas went undefeated in Panama City Beach, as they combined for 12 wins, four draws and no losses. Additionally, three of those sides make up the top of the current standings, which means there are some highly impactful games ahead amongst the group.
SLSG 2003 Elite (MO) and Midwest United FC 03 Royal (MI) are co-leaders in the division entering the final weekend of play, as they each started the season 4-0-0. SLSG has a slight edge in goal differential, made possible by the fact it did not concede a goal through its first four games. Midwest United is not far behind, as it outscored its opponents, 13-to-5, during action in Panama City Beach.
Just two points back of the co-leaders, RSL Southern Arizona 03 Haouala (AZ) secured three wins and a draw during the opening week of the season. As the lone team in the division from the West Region, RSL may be able to use that familiarity to its advantage when playing Las Vegas.
Baton Rouge SC 03B Black (LA) is also still in the division title hunt, though it has some work to do in Las Vegas. The Louisiana side is no stranger to close games, as it opened the season with a 4-3 victory before drawing its next three matches. It will need to pick up all three points in each of its remaining games to close the gap between it and the top teams.
Game to Watch
March 15, SLSG 2003 Elite (MO) vs. Midwest United FC 03 Royal (MI)
It’s already certain that one of the teams playing in Las Vegas will win the Black Division. Trying to pinpoint a game with more importance than the others is difficult, and it’s very possible first place will not be settled until the last day of play. Both SLSG and Midwest United are currently 4-0-0, which gives them a higher likelihood of remaining in the title conversation come Sunday. This matchup will cap what should be a weekend of exciting and meaningful matches in the Black Division.
With all of its games played, OESA-KY 03 Academy (KY) can sit back after putting forth a strong showing in the 17U Boys Blue Division. The Kentucky side posted 18 points from six wins, and it will now have to wait and see if that number is good enough to hold on to first place when the dust settles following the weekend in Las Vegas.
OESA-KY secured a hold of the top spot in the standings thanks to six straight wins to finish the season — including four that came in close matches decided by just one goal. Its loss in the season opener also came by one goal, as it dropped a 2-1 decision to two-time defending National Champion LVSA 03 Silver (NV). LVSA is the lone team that can catch OESA-KY, as it enters the final weekend of play with 10 points in the standings, having won three games and tied one. However, there is no room for error, as LVSA must win all three games to earn the necessary points to win the Blue Division.
A couple of other sides competing in Las Vegas have an opportunity to earn a second-place finish, which would give them an automatic spot in the next National League season. Milwaukee Bavarians (WI) and Libertyville FC 1974 Elite (IL) have seven and six points, respectively, which gives each team a chance to climb into second place. They’ll each need to get points from every game and get some help in the other matches to make that move.
Game to Watch
March 13, Milwaukee Bavarians (WI) vs. LVSA 03 Silver (NV)
In order to catch the division leader, LVSA needs to win each of its games. All three matches have equal importance, but the first one offers the Nevada side with an opportunity to build some momentum if it’s able to secure a win. That won’t be easy, as Milwaukee is right behind LVSA in the standings and looking to make up that ground in this game. If Milwaukee can secure a win or draw, it will remain in contention for a second-place finish. Meanwhile, LVSA will be aiming to take all three points and begin its pursuit of the division title.
The 17U Boys Red Division title was determined during the action in Tampa, as Baltimore Celtic Premier (MD) completed a perfect 7-0-0 season. Baltimore began its season in Panama City Beach with a pair of comfortable wins before showing some grit in a run of tight victories — started by a 2-1 win against Rebels Elite 03 Boys (CA-S) in which it came back from a goal down in the second half. In all, Baltimore outscored its opponents, 22-to-8, over the course of the season to secure its second straight National League division title.
While the Red Division title is in the books, a pair of teams playing in Las Vegas have a shot at moving into second place — a feat that would secure a spot in the National League for next season. Kalamazoo Kingdom SC 03 Red (MI) has seven points on the season and owns a plus-seven goal differential through four games. The Michigan side’s lone loss came to Baltimore in a tight 4-3 result.
FC United 2003 Pre-Academy Red (IL) is just one point behind Kalamazoo heading into the Las Vegas weekend. Both of the teams need to get to at least 11 points in the standings to match Lake Grove Newfield Dynamite 2003 (NY-E), which is currently in second place after finishing its season in Tampa.
Game to Watch
March 15, FC United 2003 Pre-Academy Red (IL) vs. Kalamazoo Kingdom SC 03 Red (MI)
Both teams have some tough challenges earlier in the weekend, but there’s a chance this match could determine which team finishes in second place. There is history between the two sides, as well, as they met in the final of the 2018 US Youth Soccer Midwest Regional Championship — where FC United won in penalties to claim the title. In addition to potentially having a spot in next season’s National League on the line, this match could help give the teams some momentum heading into this year’s late spring and summer competitions.
No team has emerged as an overwhelming favorite in the 17U Boys White Division, but several of the teams who competed in Tampa set a high standard. After the three days of play in Tampa, OK Energy FC Central 03 (OK) emerged on top of the standings with 15 points — just one point ahead of KCSG Academy 03 (KS) and Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals 03 Black (PA-E). A pair of 2-1 victories allowed OK Energy FC to wrap up its season with a narrow lead in the division, but it will need to wait and see if its mark holds up when the remaining teams complete their games in Las Vegas.
Just one team — Nationals Union 03 Black (MI) — has the ability to overtake the Oklahoma side. Nationals currently has seven points in the standings, aided by a season-opening win over OK Energy FC. There is no remaining scenario where a tiebreaker would come into play, as Nationals will need to win all three of its remaining games to pick up the points needed to move into first place. The Michigan side had the group’s stingiest defense during the week of play in Panama City Beach, and it will be a tough team to compete with if it can carry that over to Las Vegas.
Game to Watch
March 13, Nationals Union 03 Black (MI) vs. STA/MUSC 03 (NJ)
While it has just two points entering the Las Vegas weekend, STA/MUSC’s record doesn’t quite do justice to its showing in Panama City Beach. The New Jersey side tied its first two matches before dropping two one-goal decisions, including a wild 5-4 defeat to group leader OK Energy FC on a last-minute goal. While STA/MUSC may be due for a win, Nationals needs to win to stay alive in its pursuit of first place. It’s the teams’ first match of the weekend, so both will be looking to get off to a quick start.