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Boys Jul 08, 2016

U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-17/18 Quarterfinals Recap

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(Via U.S. Soccer) – Nomads SC, PDA, FC Dallas and Vancouver Whitecaps FC have advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoffs at the U-17/18 level. Continue reading for a full recap of the quarterfinal round.

+Read: U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-15/16 Quarterfinals Recap

Real_Salt_Lake_logoNomadsNomads SC 2, Real Salt Lake 1
Grande Sports World, Case Grande, AZ

There was drama in the desert on Thursday night, as Nomads U-17/18 defeated Real Salt Lake AZ U-17/18 by a score of 2-1 in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Knockout Round quarterfinals. These two teams were no strangers, having faced each other three times during the regular season as division opponents. The previous match-ups saw each team secure a 1-0 win against the other and a 1-1 draw. The fourth match-up proved to be just as close and exciting.

The game started with a flourish as Nomads opened the scoring before either team had even settled into the game. In just the 3rd minute, Nomads earned a free kick outside of the Real Salt Lake AZ goal box. Nomads struck a low, driven service from the left side and sent the ball across the six yard box. Raymond Soro was there to meet the cross with a clever back heel flick, which sent the ball across the face of the goal. Central defender Robert Castellanos was there to finish the ball far post for an early 1-0 Nomads lead.

In a post-game interview, Castellanos discussed the goal, saying, “The team has been practicing set plays. We were organized well and fell into the right positions. Soro got a flick to the second post and I came upon it and smashed it into the net.”

Facing an early deficit, Real Salt Lake AZ began controlling most of the possession and created a number of chances throughout the first half, but Castellanos and goalkeeper Carlos Arce anchored a stout back line for Nomads and thwarted RSL’s chances. RSL’s best opportunity came in the 35thminute, when Alexander Knox broke free on the right of the Nomads goal box, but his shot from an angle went over the bar.

The second half saw more of the same as Real Salt Lake AZ continued mounting attacks on the Nomads goal. The intensity picked up as the game wore on, and a number of players picked up yellow cards. Real Salt Lake AZ saw a good volley from David Ramos go tantalizingly wide of the goal in the 62nd minute, and an RSL free kick in the 69th minute was headed low on frame, but Arce was there with a diving stop.

Despite being out-possessed, Nomads doubled their lead with a quick counter attack in the 74th minute. The sequence began in the center circle with a great piece of individual skill from Sammy Velazquez, who found Jorge Gonzalez with space near the right touchline. Gonzalez played a thru-ball down the right side for a streaking Adam Vargas. Real Salt Lake AZ goalkeeper, Anthony Siaha, came out of his net to challenge for the ball, but Vargas got there first and poked it past him, and the ball trickled into the open net for a 2-0 Nomads lead.

Real Salt Lake AZ nearly scored their first goal in the 82nd minute with a clean shot from 20 yards out, but Carlos Arce came up big for Nomads with a great diving save to his right to knock the ball wide of his goal.

As the clocked ticked towards 90 minutes, the referee signaled for 6 minutes of stoppage time. Nomads saw a player sent off in the 92nd minute for a second yellow card, reducing them to 10 men. The send-off, combined with an injury in stoppage time, led to more added time. The short-handed Nomads team fell back into a defensive position as Real Salt Lake AZ played balls into their goal box.

The pressure would eventually pay off for Real Salt Lake AZ as they got in behind the Nomads defense in the 97th minute and drew a penalty. Kristopher Fourcand stepped up and buried the PK to the left side of the goal to cut the Nomads’ deficit in half. RSL then had just enough time to send two long balls into the Nomads goal box, but both times, Robert Castellanos was there to head clear for Nomads, who were able to cling to the 1-goal margin as the final whistle blew.

It took a great team defensive effort from Nomads to close out the win. Castellanos was Nomads’ best player on the day; scoring the crucial first goal at one end and anchoring the defense on the other. When asked about his performance after the game, Castellanos was quick to praise the entire team, saying, “We felt really confident defending as a team. We’ve trained all week for RSL’s pressure and closing down spaces. The group was organized and we played as a team, and that’s why we got the result.”

The 2-1 victory for Nomads U-17/18 sends their club to the Academy Championships for the first time in their nine years as part of the Development Academy. Long-time Nomads coach Derek Armstrong will also make his first trip to the semifinals. Following the game, Armstrong expressed excitement about the win: “We’re very pleased for the club and the alumni to now be going to the Academy Championships. Our residency program is coming along and it has helped us tremendously. To come to Real Salt Lake and win is a great accomplishment.” But ever the coach, Armstrong spent little time celebrating, and instead was already discussing and preparing for Nomads’ next opponent.

Nomads will face FC Dallas U-17/18 in the semifinals of the Academy Championships in Carson, CA, on July 14th.

Philadelphia-Union-LogopdaPlayers Development Academy 3, Philadelphia Union 1
Talen Energy Stadium, Chester, PA

From the first whistle to the last, attacking talents were on display in Chester, Pennsylvania as Players Development Academy outdueled division rivals Philadelphia Union in a U-17/18 Knockout Round game. Goals from Chaz Burnett, Josh Burnett, and Isaiah Young were enough to overcome the home side in a thrilling 3-1 contest.

Early on in the game, the Union seemed to be the team to break the deadlock. Less than thirty seconds after the first touch of the ball, Union striker Yosef Samuel nearly grabbed an immediate lead with his close-range shot just going over the crossbar. The home team continued to possess and build confidence, owning the first ten minutes without allowing any significant threats on goal.

Despite PDA’s hesitancy and inability to connect multiple passes consistently, individual pace and brilliance overtook the Union defense. Receiving the ball outside of the penalty box, J. Burnett slipped through several Union defenders, pushed the ball beyond center back Rayshaun McGann, and slotted his shot into the far corner of the goal to give PDA a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute. The sterling run and goal by J. Burnett changed each team’s style of play immediately. The Union, who looked confident and composed, began to easily lose possession and make careless errors, while PDA’s direct play began to create opportunities for the three-headed attack of C. Burnett, J. Burnett, and Young.

PDA’s relentless pressure continued to create opportunities on both sides of the pitch through the 25th minute, yet the team then started to sit back and invite pressure. Soon, however, the possession led to several opportunities for the Union, including a flurry of crosses and movement in the box where the ball eventually struck a defender in the arm. The referee confidently called a penalty kick, and Union’s Samuel smoothly converted from twelve yards out in the 32nd minute of play to tie the game.

With the game level again, the Union continued as the aggressors, pushing the visitors back and controlling the possession. Despite being contained in their own half, PDA continued to create one-off, direct chances as the midfield sprung C. Burnett with a perfectly-timed through ball, only to see Andrew Verdi make a spectacular save into the far post. Within moments, the ball was back on the other end with Samuel and midfielder Manny Perez, who connected in a seamless move that lacked a final touch. Despite the opportunities, the teams entered half-time at 1-1.

Entering the break, the Union seemed to be in control, although each team was creating chances. Having met twice in the year with both team collecting all three points in their respective road games and with each team finishing the regular season only .16 pts/gp apart, any result seemed possible.

After the fifteen-minute interval, Players Development Academy team was revitalized and reinvigorated with purpose. Similar to the Union in the first half, PDA created boundless chances out of the gates. C. Burnett was the team’s focal point early on as he was barely stopped on a breakaway, and then found himself in another near 1v1 with the goalkeeper that was halted due to an off-the-ball foul.

PDA finally managed to break the tie when a back pass to Union’s Verdi was misplayed, leading to a giveaway and a poor tackle inside the box. C. Burnett-converted the penalty kick to push PDA ahead 2-1.

In the following half-hour, the game opened up with both teams creating breathtaking chances but neither was able to capitalize on the opportunities. The Union had a volley go just wide of the far post, and a low cross was handled by goalkeeper Kevin Silva just as a Union player was sliding in for a prospective tap-in goal. PDA continued to time runs with deep through balls, one of which placed J. Burnett in on goal until his attempt to cut in on his left was met by a Union defender. Another breakaway run by PDA’s right back, Andres Camacho, was saved superbly by Verdi. The raid of chances on goal for PDA eventually lead to a third goal, as Young latched on to a through ball down the middle and swiftly rounded Verdi to tap the ball into the net for a two-goal cushion.

Following the goal, both teams and benches grew anxious as PDA attempted to hold a lead and Union tried to climb out of a hole and find two goals to equalize. The game became frantic as tackles escalated in regularity and force. Even as the game wore on and his team maintained a lead through the 80th minute, Nellins continued to tell his players to press and win the ball high up the field. Several positive substitutions affected each team’s style of play, notably PDA’s Shane Kastl and the Union’s Justin McMaster and Raheem Taylor-Parkes, yet neither team could convert any additional opportunities. Philly had a free-kick in a dangerous position as well as a well-timed through ball, yet neither play was able to end in a challenging shot on goal. Shortly thereafter, PDA’s Young showed his quality and nearly added two more to his goal tally, yet the crossbar and another stellar Verdi save denied them both.

Despite consistent and amplified fouls, late chances, and five minutes of stoppage time, the final whistle blew and PDA finished 3-1 over Philadelphia Union.

After the game, Nellins’ could only applaud his team’s sensational performance: “This team dug deep tonight to beat a very strong Philadelphia Union team at their place. Having hundreds of PDA families at the pitch gave us the energy we needed in the second half. [We are] looking forward to two great games in LA.”

PDA will play the Vancouver Whitecaps in the semifinals in Carson, California on July 14th.

FC Dallas logosporting-kcFC Dallas 1, Sporting Kansas City 0
Toyota Soccer Center, Frisco, TX

It was a familiar scene at the Toyota Soccer Center for both U-17/18 teams as they prepared to compete for a spot in the Development Academy semifinals in Los Angeles. Earlier in post-season play, FC Dallas held onto their #1 seed ranking and Sporting Kansas overcame a massive goal deficit during the June Playoffs in order to earn a spot in the Knockout Round.

The opening whistle blew and Sporting KC’s Nansel Selbol quickly set up an early chance in the 4th minute utilizing his pace down the left flank. Sporting moved the ball calmly through the back looking to build down the field, but FC Dallas pressed defensively and shut down advances into their defensive third. With even possession moving into the 20th minute, FC Dallas found an open window and hit a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar. Prior to the water break, FC Dallas attempted to capitalize off a cross into the box, managing to redirect the ball with a diving header only to that hit the crossbar. The ball dropped inside the six-yard box, and was then volleyed over the goal. The 0-0 score reflected the lack of finishing for both teams despite their respective opportunities.

Both teams began halftime at a blistering pace. In the 49th minute, Sporting KC’s Selbol and Ezra Armstrong combined in a beautiful sequence that led to a cross with no one to finish it. As the minutes passed, the pressure for a goal increased, and FC Dallas produced the final effort in regulation when they beat a pair of defenders down the end line, only to smash the ball out of bounds into the side netting.

Fatigue set in for both teams as they began extra time. The winner would have to show perseverance and determination to claim the win, and the first period ended with the score still tied 0-0.

Both teams entered the second extra period with a different mindset, and in the 3rd minute, FC Dallas broke the deadlock. A free kick outside Sporting’s 18-yard box sent the ball into the box, and as both teams scrambled for the ball, #9 Giovanni Montesdeoca sent it into the net to give Dallas a 1-0 lead. Sporting KC desperately searched for an equalizer, but FC Dallas’ keeper, Ben Hale, made a diving save to secure the 1-0 victory.

FC Dallas will play Nomads SC on July 14th at the 2016 Development Academy Semifinals in Los Angeles.

sacramento-republic-fc-logoVancouver WhitecapsVancouver Whitecaps 5, Sacramento Republic FC 3
Burnaby Central Secondary School, British Colombia, Vancouver

Rain poured down and goals poured in on Thursday throughout the Development Academy Knockout Round game between Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Sacramento Republic.

Vancouver attacked from the start and opened the scoring in the 2nd minute on a goal by Daniel Sagno, who finished an easy low cross from the right and left the keeper with little chance from close range. Vancouver knocked on the door again just 3 minutes later, but a goal-saving tackle from Sacramento’s last defender prevented a clean breakaway run 45 yards from goal.

Throughout the half, Vancouver held very compact lines, interrupted the Sacramento build-up on multiple occasions, and broke out in transition quickly. Sacramento continued to fight back to regain possession and connect passes and as they searched for their rhythm. The work paid off when Sacramento’s Ryley Kraft took a hard strike from 30 yards out in the 32nd minute, equalizing the game. Nearly one minute later, Vancouver regained their 1-goal lead after a nice build through the middle and another finish on a cross from close range.

Down 2-1 coming out of halftime, Sacramento made the first substitution of the game. The halftime change, Francis Avoce, had an instant impact as a target player, releasing pressure for Republic FC and scoring within 10 minutes of his introduction to tie the game 2-2.

Again, Vancouver bounced back quickly and equalized within one minute of the Republic FC goal, thanks to a goal from their #9 Gloire Amanda in the 57th minute. This time, Vancouver added the next goal to extend the lead to 4-2, when Terran Campbell scored the goal of the game. The winger who had threatened all night received an excellent long pass, settled it on his chest, and volleyed it with authority into the far post. Andre Baires added another insurance goal when he redirected an in-swinging free kick at the back post for a 3-goal lead.

With 20 minutes remaining, Sacramento began pushing forward and Gio Aguilar, who had started most attacks throughout the game from the center back position, came forward to head home a goal to bring the game back within reach.

Both teams continued peppering goal late into the game. Vancouver managed to find space behind the Sacramento back line and pressed forward in search of another goal. A 50-yard ball over top placed Thomas Gardner 1v1 against the Sacramento goalkeeper Douglas Cameron, who came up huge with a foot save tight to his body to keep the team alive. This was the third excellent save by Cameron that kept Republic FC in the game on multiple occasions.

Despite a late push by Sacramento, Vancouver maintained control with a combined team performance and 5-3 score. Vancouver will play Players Development Academy on July 14th in the semifinals of the Development Academy Championships.

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