U.S. Soccer Development Academy Championships U-17/18 semifinals set
CHICAGO (Via U.S. Soccer) – On the second and final day of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Knockout Round, the eight remaining U-17/18 clubs were cut in half as Colorado Rapids, Texans SC Houston, Seattle Sounders FC and LA Galaxy each booked tickets to the U.S. Soccer National Training Center for the 2017 Academy Championships. On the July 14 semifinals in Carson, Calif., Seattle Sounders will face off against LA Galaxy while Texans SC Houston will play Colorado Rapids for the right to advance to the Final on Sunday, July 16.
In the first quarterfinal matchup, Colorado Rapids leveled the game at 1-1 in the 27th minute before breaking Orlando City’s hearts in the 88th. The winning goal by Colorado’s Rhys Desota was his second in two years and first since the forward sent Real Colorado’s U-15/16 side through to Carson with a game-winner in 2016.
The second nightcap saw a much more defensive battle as Texans SC Houston and Real So Cal needed extra time to decide their fates after finishing the first 90 minutes scoreless. In the end, Texans SC Houston would find goals in both extra time periods, coming off of Alejandro Alaniz and Jacob Bates, respectively, to punch their tickets to Carson.
After Seattle Sounders started the third game off with a 2-0 lead though the first 31 minutes of play, Crossfire Premier fought back with goals in the 63rd and 86th minutes to force extra time. In extra time, Seattle clinched their spot in Carson via Paul Rothrock, who’s header connected with a corner kick and found the net in the 111th minute.
Over in Casa Grande, Arizona, RSL AZ and LA Galaxy were unable to determine who would advance to the semifinals in 120 minutes of play. In penalties, LA Galaxy would take the edge 4-1 and secure their trip to the Academy Championships.
Combined with Thursday night’s Knockout Round U-15/16 games, the final four teams from each age group will travel to Carson, California on July 13th. That night, the eight teams will gather at the 10th annual Opening Ceremony awards banquet, where the Academy End of Year awards will be announced. Awards include Coach of the Year, Player of the Year, Best XI, Community Award and Respect Award for each of the three conferences. With all four semifinal games taking place on Friday, July 14th, all eight teams will have one rest day before getting back on the field for the championship and third place games, set for Sunday, July 16.
KNOCKOUT ROUND RECAPS:
Colorado Rapids 2, Orlando City SC 1
Hosting Colorado Rapids at the Orlando City Stadium, the same venue where the MLS program’s first team plays its home games, Orlando City got off to a hot start, capitalizing on its home-field momentum to get on the scoreboard first. In the 16th minute of play, Isaque Cueto tapped in a cross from Juan Hernandez after the winger did well to work himself deep into the Colorado box, draw the goalkeeper and cut the ball back for the easy finish. Eleven minutes later, Colorado found its equalizer. After a long ball from right back David Garcia was played up top to Desota, the striker laid the ball off at the top of the box, connecting with midfielder Liam Johnson, whose shot was deflected by Orlando goalkeeper Justin Bauer, but not enough to keep the ball from crossing the goal line.
In the second half, after a 75th minute clearance from Orlando City kept the ball from touching the net, Colorado finally received the break they needed in the 88th minute. After a long ball was played directly over the top of the Orlando city defense, Desota ran onto it, finding himself alone on goal, and slid it past the goalkeeper for the 2-1 victory.
Texans SC Houston 2, Real So Cal 0 (a.e.t.)
An electric crowd was on hand in Houston, where a sea of red was seen and heard throughout the night. Out of the gates, both teams showed a nervous energy, but it was the Texans who, from the start, wanted to press and capitalize off of any Real So Cal mistakes.
The first major opportunity came in the 26th minute, when Houston’s Fabian Becerra countered off of a Real So Cal corner to force RSC keeper Benjamin Roach to make a diving save at the lower left post. Play continued to intensify as the game became a back-and-forth effort for both clubs through the second half, but neither team was able to get on the board, eventually sending the game to extra time.
Eight minutes into the first extra time period, Houston began to build from the back and the team was able to move the ball down the left flank. Dribbling along the left edge of box, Christian Cappis would look up to find an oncoming Alex Alaniz, who one-timed his effort past the RSC keeper and into the left lower netting. The goal would prove to be exactly the momentum shift Texans SC needed, igniting the crowd and firing up the bench. Texans SC added one more goal for safe-keeping in the 115′, when Becerra dashed down the left flank and rifled a pass to Alex Bruce, who smashed the effort in from 15 yards out.
Seattle Sounders FC 3, Crossfire Premiere 2 (a.e.t.)
The local derby included everything you might expect from fans and players and lived up to the expectation of providing a competitive high energy game at both ends of the field.
Applying pressure early on in Crossfire’s defensive third of the field, Seattle forced a series of pressured clearances, to keep possession in their end and get on the board first in the 7th minute. Jamie Dimitroff won a tackle deep in the box, then calmly played it off to a charging Milo Barton, who side-footed it securely into the back of the net. Twenty-four minutes later, while continuing to apply pressure, Seattle used a throw-in down the right flank to set up Barton on the bottom right corner of the box. Barton’s display of fancy footwork sent a cheeky back-heeled pass to Paul Rothrock, who found the net with ease.
Down but not out, Crossfire Premier refused to give up, and their consistent pressure to force turnovers in the offensive third was rewarded in the 63rd minute. After Seattle was unable to securely deal with a high bouncing ball, Crossfire’s Quinn Fahling was able to get a touch between the defender and the goalkeeper and found himself with an open net for a clean finish. With only four minutes remaining until the 90-minute mark, Crossfire drew a free kick opportunity just outside of the right edge of the penalty box. Instead of looping a ball into the area, Crossfire’s Charlie Ostrem quickly played a short ball off for Declan McGlynn, who fired, finishing from the top of the box and into the far side of the net.
In extra time, it would be Seattle that would ultimately prevail in the 111th minute. After a well defended breakaway set up a corner kick opportunity for the Sounders, Jackson Ragen swung in a hopeful ball that found a charging Rothrock, who spearheaded the ball into the far side netting.
LA Galaxy 1, Real Salt Lake AZ 1 (4-1 PK’s)
After a missed PK in the 4th minute by RSL, the game remained wide open for the entire first half. After a series of great chances and even greater displays of goalkeeping, LA Galaxy got on the board first in first half stoppage time. Stopped in his tracks on the left side of the box, Ethan Zubak laid off a backward pass towards the top of the 18-yard box. His pass met a streaking Efrain Alvarez who took a first-time strike with his left foot, bending the ball past the keeper to rock the net and the RSL team, giving the Galaxy a 1-0 lead going into the second half.
The second half proved to be more of the same, with both teams going back and forth on chances and opportunities. In the 62nd minute, RSL found its equalizer on the foot of U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team player Taylor Booth. After a number of shots were blocked in the Galaxy box, the ball took a spell right in front of Booth, who blasted the gift in from six yards out. After neither team was able to take the advantage, the game went into extra time.
After two scoreless 15-minute periods, the fate of both teams was decided in penalties. Both teams started out converting their initial attempts, but after RSL missed their second and had their third saved, LA secured their fourth and final attempt to win the shootout, 4-1.
Date – Game
July 14 – (18) Seattle Sounders vs. (32) LA Galaxy
July 14 – (20) Texans SC Houston vs. (30) Colorado Rapids
(*) Overall seed, based on points-per-game-played-average during 2016-2017 regular season.