ORLANDO, Fla. (March 19, 2021) — National League Orlando kicked off on Friday, as 72 teams competing in the US Youth Soccer National League Playoffs began their weekend of play at the ChampionsGate Sports Complex in ChampionsGate, Fla.
National League Orlando will see girls teams in the 14U and 16U-19U age groups — as well as boys teams in the 14U-18U age groups — compete in the National League Playoffs, as the teams pursue a berth to the 2021 USYS National Championships.
Teams in the Playoffs compete in a three-game group-play format that will see the first-place finishers (plus second-place teams in the 14U age group) advance to the National Championships. This weekend in Orlando will see 12 girls teams and 10 boys teams clinch a berth to Nationals, joining the 26 teams that won their Playoff groups earlier in the season.
With just three games to decide the Playoff group winners, the teams wasted little time on Friday in ratcheting up the intensity.
In the 16U Girls age group, Louisiana Fire 05 Red (LA) began its event with a win in Group C. The Louisiana side is looking to return to Nationals after qualifying in 2019, and Fire coach Doug Freese said his players understand the significance of that goal. The opportunity to earn a berth back to the stage, combined with the competition, is why Freese said the players have been looking forward to playing in the National League Playoffs for months.
“We draw from throughout south Louisiana and Mississippi. We have players that travel to training to have the opportunity to play in the National League and face the sort of competition that we face here,” Freese said. “We got a result today, but the other team was very good and certainly didn’t get anything to us. The girls can be very proud of their effort today, and hopefully they carry it through the weekend.”
A look back at Friday’s action in the National League Playoffs…
Wasatch SC 07G ZB (UT) and TFA G07 Elite (OH-S) each came away with wins to take early places atop the Group A standings. The Utah side has a slight edge in goal differential and owns the top spot in the group heading into the second day of play.
In Group B, Nationals Union 07 Girls Black (MI) started out strong in all areas of the game en route to a 4-0 victory. The shutout coupled with its offensive output helped the Michigan side gain a goal differential advantage over Albion SC GA 07 (CA-S), which also earned a clean sheet victory on Friday.
Louisiana Fire 05 Red (LA) built a narrow halftime lead and added a late insurance goal to secure a 3-1 win in its opening Group C game in Orlando. Legends Temecula Valley FC G05 (CA-S) also earned a victory in a tight first game to match Louisiana with three points in the standings.
It is difficult to find a more tightly-contested bracket than Group D, where both games ended in 2-2 draws — leaving all four sides completely level after one day of play. Saturday’s games will be key in determining which sides position themselves to contend for a top finish.
In Group C, Utah Celtic FC 04 (UT) took a big first step in the pursuit of a berth to Nationals with a 4-0 victory on Friday. MI Legends 2004 Girls Black (MI) also secured a victory, but it came in a close 2-1 result that leaves it currently trailing Celtic on goal differential.
Team Boca-SABR 2004 White (FL) and Sparta FC 04G (TX-N) each secured shutout wins to open Group D play. The Florida side combined its stout defense with a potent offensive attack to establish a significant lead on goal differential.
Legends FC G03 Premier (CA-S) and Cleveland FC 03 Royal (OH-N) each secured wins by a one-goal margin on Friday to take early places at the top of Group C.
In Group D, Impact MN (UT) used a 4-1 win on Friday to grab an early advantage in the standings.
USA Premier 02 PR (UT) sustained significant offensive pressure throughout its Group C opener to earn a 5-1 victory that puts it in first place after one day of play.
In Group D, Team Boca-SABR 2002 Girls White (FL) secured a 2-0 victory against Solar FDL 02/03 Grado (TX-N) to grab an early advantage in the pursuit of a first-place finish and berth to Nationals.
In Group A, La Roca-J Milla (UT) earned an early advantage in the pursuit of a first-place finish with its 2-0 victory on Friday. Meanwhile, a 1-1 draw between 07 Wake FC Blue (NC) and SC Vistula Garfield 2007 Lewandowski (NJ) left both sides even in the hunt for a top-two spot.
United PDX 2007 Boys Premier Black (OR) has an early spot at the top of the Group B standings thanks to a 4-1 win in its opening match. The battle for top-two finishes still has a long way to go, as OC Surf North B07 Ruiz (CA-S) and Weston FC 2007 Elite (FL) each earned a point with a draw.
A 3-0 win on Friday helped FC Dallas Youth 06B Central Red (TX-N) claim an early place atop the Group A standings. However, SC Wave (WI) showed some offensive firepower in a 5-3 win against Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals 06B Black (PA-E) — giving the Wisconsin side three points in the standings, as well.
In Group B, La Roca S A Bravo (UT) was the lone team to come away with three points from the first day of play, as it edged out Georgia Storm 06B Premier (GA) for a 2-1 win. The other match ended in a scoreless draw — leaving little between the four sides heading into the weekend.
TUSC 05 Boys Red (TN) and Pennine Utd B05 White (OH-N) each recorded shutout victories on Friday to open Group A action. TUSC heads into Saturday at the top of the standings thanks to a one-goal edge in goal differential.
USA Premier 05B SA (UT) earned a 2-0 win on Friday to grab an early lead in the Group B standings. DKSC 05 Carrillo (TX-N) is right behind the Utah side, as DKSC came away with a 2-1 win to open its weekend in Orlando.
Midwest United FC 04 Academy (MI) earned a hard fought 1-0 win against a shorthanded KSA 04 Pro-Profile (GA) side to take an early hold of sole possession of first place in Group A. Germantown Legends 04 Black NL (TN) and Sparta 04 JK (UT) finished their match in a 2-2 draw to earn a point each, as the group title race is still wide open.
Little separated the teams in Group B, but LVSA 03 Boys Silver (NV) managed to earn a 2-1 win against Germantown Legends 03 Black NL (TN) to take an early lead in the standings. A 2-2 draw between 03 RSL Boys Haouala (AZ) and SLSG 2003 Elite (MO) left each two points back of LVSA after one day of play.
The National League operates its primary league play across 13 Conferences that operate at a multi-state tier and provide high-level competition at a targeted local level, as well as a pathway for advancement into the regional and national stages of the USYS National Championship Series. The National League Showcase Series and National League Playoffs represent the national tier of the National League, providing a platform for teams to compete in unique matches against uncommon opponents.
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