FC Richmond Magic U-15 Boys qualify for 2019 Jefferson Cup
Henrico, Va. – Evan Martin’s composed second-half finish handed FC Richmond Magic 04 a 1-0 victory over Alexandria 04 Red in an enthralling U-15 Premier Division Final of the Capital Fall Classic. The title carries extra significance as it directly qualifies FCR for the prestigious Jefferson Cup.
It was going to take something special to separate the two sides in this captivating contest and FCR provided it as the game entered into the latter stages with a beautifully worked team goal. FCR’s high-press won the ball in mid-field leading to a fine flowing move involving multiple players. Martin picked up the ball at the top of the box and unlocked the back-line via a quick exchange of passes before dispatching his shot beyond the on-rushing keeper.
For head coach Shane Amsler, victory in the Capital Fall Classic and direct qualification to the Jefferson Cup marks a huge milestone and is just rewards for a team that is on an upward trajectory. “It’s [qualification for the Jefferson Cup] big because these guys worked so hard in practice to get to this point,” Amsler said. “Especially this team being almost dead last in the Club Champions League last year. They’ve done a total turn-around.”
A high school All-American and the Gatorade Player of the year in 1986, Amsler knows quality when he sees it not only in his team, but in the Capital Fall Classic and the opposition it brings.
“The facilities out here at West Creek are phenomenal,” Amsler remarked of the 10-field complex that lies on the outskirts of Richmond. “They’re always very good fields. Even with all the rain we got, we played on some really good grass. It’s always good. The Capital Fall Classic is always a good challenge because we always play top teams.”
The final was a fascinating tactical battle.
The de-facto home side looked to win the ball in advanced positions creating opportunities to hit on the break. Yet, FCR was also very comfortable in possession, looking to build with numbers when appropriate, in conjunction with players who were capable of creating off the dribble.
Alexandria was just as adept at possessing the ball, but was also lethal at stretching the field. The Northern Virginia side chose the right times to play a bit more direct, looking to stretch the FCR lines with balls over the top for the target forwards who were strong in their hold-up play or for the wide-players who were dangerous cutting inside to fashion shooting positions.
The latter of Alexandria’s tactics caused a few nervous moments for FCR in the final 20 minutes, but the capital club remained firm.
“We stuck with the style, making it compact the entire time,” Amsler said about managing the game after his side took the 1-0 lead. “That’s the way we like to play and we try and get teams on counters because if we were to play that team [Alexandria] straight up, it might have been a different story.