Boys wrap up opening weekend of 2017-18 US Youth Soccer National League season
Day 4 of 4 complete
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WILSON, N.C. (Dec. 10, 2017) — After four days of play, the US Youth Soccer National League 14U, 15U, 16U, 17U and 18U Boys have solidified their spots in the standings until half the field meets again Dec. 28-31 in Orlando, Fla., where they will continue competing for a league title and a ticket to the 2018 US Youth Soccer National Championships in Frisco, Texas.
Sunday’s matches featured only 17U teams, who each completed their third game of the season. Games on Sunday were shortened matches, which featured two 25-minute halves.
The National League brings together some of the best teams in the country, all of which have had to earn their place in the league through success in US Youth Soccer regional and national competition. Hundreds of collegiate coaches, as well as members of the U.S. Soccer staff, attended the National League matches in North Carolina to scout some of the top talent in the country. Player evaluation is enhanced by the competitive level and importance of each game, as teams compete for a berth in the National Championships.
The competition within each age group has been very competitive, and multiple teams are still very much alive for every division title. The first place team’s lead is two points or less in 14 of the 16 divisions, and just 11 teams came away with three wins in three games.
One of the teams that picked up all nine points in North Carolina is 17U Oklahoma Energy FC 01 Central, but it didn’t come easy. Oklahoma needed to score a late winner after Sunday’s opponent, Galaxy 2001 Blue (IL), fought back from a two-goal deficit. Energy coach Nour Bensaoud applauded his team’s ability to bounce back from conceding its lead, and said that mental fortitude is a necessary when facing the National League competition.
“That is the biggest advantage that you can have — the mental focus and concentration,” Bensaoud said. “All of the teams are pretty much at the same level. If you watch the games, many of them are a one-goal difference. The focus and concentration when things don’t go your way is really critical in games like this.”
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 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 Boys action continues when half of the 128 teams meet Dec. 28-31 in Orlando, Fla., alongside the Disney Soccer Showcase, while the remaining 64 squads play March 9-11, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nev., alongside the Players College Showcase. 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 Sunday's matches…
17U Black Division
Seattle United 01 Copa (WA) picked up its first 17U Black Division win with a 2-0 shutout against USA/MP 01 Premier (SC). In the 20th minute, USA/MP earned a chance at an opening goal when a player was taken down in the box. However, the Seattle keeper stayed at home and dropped down to save the ensuing penalty kick attempt that was sent low and down the middle. Seattle produced a close call just before half when Alexei Rodriguez Velasco cut a ball back across the face of goal, but a USA defender got in the way of the shot to keep the game scoreless at the break. Seattle broke through in the 31st minute, as Kostandino Varlamos rose up for a free header in the center of the box and placed it perfectly into the right upper-90. Varlamos doubled the lead seven minutes later, and Seattle saw out the 2-0 victory.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay United (FL) remained unbeaten in the 17U Black Division by coming back to earn a 3-1 win against SC del Sol 01 (AZ). The Florida side fell behind just before halftime, as Roberto Alvarez put SC del Sol in front when he found the back of the net. However, Tampa Bay produced an equalizer shortly after the break when Brennan Breuer beat a couple of defenders before sending a perfectly-placed left-footed effort into the far side-netting. Tampa Bay grabbed the lead six minutes later thanks to a Robert Soronellas strike. Joshua Colledge added a 40th-minute insurance goal to cap the Florida side’s 3-1 victory, which gives Tampa Bay seven points after three games.
17U Blue Division
Westside Timbers 01 Copa (OR) gained its second win in the 17U Blue Division with a 3-0 win over NCFC 01 Elite (NC). Westside claimed the lead fairly early in the match with the help of a goal from Lazar Djurdievic. One of NCFC’s best chances to equalize the match came when Dillon Little sent a diagonal ball to an NCFC forward, who took a shot that traveled just high and wide of the goal. Westside increased its lead as a throw in led to the ball bouncing around in the 18-yard box for a few frantic seconds before Hyunkyu Park had a clear shot and finished the goal off of a first-time volley. In the final minute of the match, a Westside Timbers player drew the goalkeeper out on the end line and poked the ball to Parkin Harape to finish off the goal for the team’s third.
Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals 01 Black (PA-E) finished the weekend with a 1-0 win over Valparaiso United FC 01 JG (AZ) in the 17U Blue Division. The score was nearly flipped in the early minutes of the match when Valparaiso’s forward ran onto a through ball and raced the defender to the goal, but Philadelphia Ukrainian goalkeeper Zachary Raffino came off his line to cut off the angle and make the save. On the other end of the field, Philadelphia earned the only goal of the match, as Matthew Stevenson received the ball in the 18-yard box and quickly turned to take a shot that found the back right side netting. Valparaiso pushed forward in search of an equalizer, and it came close when Ivan Lopez sent a bending free kick into the mix of players, but not a single player touched the ball as it whizzed through the box. In the end, Philadelphia Ukrainian walked away with the win.
17U Red Division
With a 2-1 victory, Sporting Omaha FC 01 Elite (NE) picked up three points over WCFC Armour 2001 (CA-S) in the 17U Red Division. WCFC maintained the possession and had several looks at goal, but Sporting capitalized on one of its first few opportunities, as Duncan McGuire placed the ball into the right side of the net. WCFC immediately tied the game three minutes later when Eugene Van Der Watt drove the ball from right flank across the goal for Angel Franco to redirect it into the net. In the second half, Sporting’s Tyler Mase beat a defender in the 18-yard box to pound the ball into the goal and gain what became the game-winner.
By earning a tie on Sunday against Lobos Rush 01 Premier (TN), Eastside FC 01 Red (WA) remained in first in the 17U Red Division. After the teams exchanged some chances in the first half, the Tennessee side grabbed a lead shortly after the break. A driven corner was initially cleared by Eastside, but Brandon Brackett gathered the ball at the top of the box and fired a shot through traffic that found the back of the net — putting Lobos up, 1-0. Eastside replied in the 38th minute when Taiga Crenshaw curled his corner kick into the far corner for an Olimpico goal that leveled the game at 1-1. In the final seconds, Eastside’s Harri Eames got free for a one-on-one with Lobos keeper Wayne Davis, but Davis dropped down to stop the shot and held it. That save preserved the 1-1 draw, as each team earned a point to finish their weekends in North Carolina.
17U White Division
A relentless attack and standout play from Deedson Vixamar powered KSA 01 Pro-Profile (GA) to a decisive win over FC Golden State PDA 01 (CA-S) in 17U White Division action. Vixamar opened the scoring for KSA in the seventh minute, and the Georgia side wasted little time in doubling the advantage. A through ball slipped Milton Alfaro in behind the FC Golden State back line, and Alfaro rounded the keeper before calmly finishing into an open net. In the 25th minute, Vixamar used a burst of speed to beat the defense before placing a deft chip past the keeper and under the bar — pushing the lead to 3-0. Vixamar continued his stellar play in the second half when he added three more goals to go along with a Sam Povolotsky strike, as KSA pulled away for a dominant shutout win.
Javanon 2001 Black (KY) defeated LVSA 01 Red (NV), 3-2, to pick up three points in the 17U White Division. Javanon went up 3-0 in the first 11 minutes of the match. John Fischer finished an open shot by slipping the ball past the goalkeeper for Javanon’s first goal. After some quick one-touch passing, Javanon was able to make it 2-0 with another goal from Fischer, and the Kentucky team rapidly increased its advantage as Jansen Wilson blasted the ball into the goal. The remainder of the game was not a breeze, as LVSA soon picked up the pace and cut into Javanon’s lead when a cross found Hayden Madsen-Gross at the back post to head the ball in. The drive didn’t stop as LVSA earned another in the 42nd minute with a goal from Marcos Delgado. LVSA gained consecutive free kicks and corner kicks in the final minutes, but it came up short as Javanon took the win.
Keep up with the National League all season:
National League Home: USYouthSoccer.org/National_League
Schedule and results: http://tournaments.usyouthsoccer.org/events/2016-17-National-League/