US Youth Soccer National League 2019-20 Season Preview: 18U Boys
With the 2019-2020 US Youth Soccer National League season kicking off this month, we take a look ahead at the competition with an in-depth preview of each age group.
In this edition, find out what’s in store for the 18U Boys.
Several teams in the 18U Boys Black Division are coming off a season in which they secured a first-place finish in a league format. Among those sides is Washington Premier FC B02 Black (WA), which won the Black Division last season with four wins and a draw. Washington will aim to repeat as National League winners this season, but it will have to compete with seven other sides gunning for the same title.
One of the teams, Baltimore Celtic 02 (MD), will be a familiar one for Washington, as the two sides met at the US Youth Soccer National Championships. Baltimore won a key match between the two on the third day of play in Overland Park, Kan., that allowed it to move on to the semifinals. The Maryland side showcased its winning ways prior to Nationals, as it won the US Youth Soccer South Atlantic EDP Conference Premier I Division and the US Youth Soccer Eastern Regional Championship. That ability to earn results in several competition formats will give Baltimore experience to draw from as it navigates the Black Division schedule.
Two other teams with a mix of league play and tournament success during the past season are Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals 02 Black (PA-E) and 02 Lobos Rush Premier (TN). Philadelphia went 7-1-0 to win the South Atlantic EDP Conference Club vs. Club Division, and it advanced to the semifinals of the Eastern Regional Championships before falling to Baltimore Celtic. Meanwhile, Lobos Rush won the US Youth Soccer Mid South Conference before advancing to the semifinals of the US Youth Soccer Southern Regional Championships, where it also lost to the eventual regional champion. With some taste of competition against the national qualifiers from this summer, Philadelphia and Lobos should be ready to test themselves against more of the top teams in the country when they begin Black Division action.
With first-hand knowledge of how important each National League point is, OK Energy FC Central 02 (OK) should be a contender to finish near the top of the 18U Boys Blue Division. Oklahoma won the Blue Division last season, as it coupled three wins with three draws to finish first in a tight division race. The Energy carried that momentum into the summer, when it won the Southern Regional Championship in Baton Rouge, La. That experience should prove valuable this season as Oklahoma aims to repeat as Blue Division winners.
A familiar foe with be amongst the challengers to OK Energy in the Blue Division, as CES Strikers Elite (FL) look to compete for the division title. The Florida side fell to the Energy in the Southern Regional Championship final but moved on to Nationals as the regional representative. The Strikers will now look to return to that stage as Blue Division winners, as it enters the season in search of the group’s berth to Nationals.
Galaxy 02 Blue (IL) is also looking to punch its ticket to Overland Park by winning the Blue Division, as it came close to a Nationals berth last season when it advanced to the final of the US Youth Soccer Midwest Regional Championships. Prior to that, Galaxy went 7-1-1 to win the US Youth Soccer Midwest Conference Premier I Division — indicating that the Illinois side can sustain a high level of play over the course of a league season. Club Ohio 2002 Green 1 (OH-S) also enjoyed success in league formats last season, as it won the US Youth Soccer Great Lakes Conference Premier I Division.
The teams in the 18U Boys Red Division will be looking to knock off Arlington SA 2002 Red (VA), as the Virginia side attempts to win its second straight National League division title. Arlington secured five wins and a draw last year, while outscoring opponents, 16-to-2, to finish on top of the Red Division. In Overland Park, Arlington continued its strong play and advanced to the National Championship final before dropping a close 1-0 result. The Virginia side, which won the National Championship in 2018, will aim to return to that stage once again, and the Red Division offers a potential pathway to do that.
Midwest Regional Champion Michigan Jaguars 02 Green (MI) has already shown it can match up with Arlington, as the two teams played to a 1-1 draw to open group play at Nationals. The Michigan side advanced to the semifinals in Overland Park before falling, 4-3 in overtime, to the eventual National Champion. Having gone down to the wire with each of the 2019 National finalists, the Jaguars will aim to once again show they can play with anyone in the country during this season’s National League.
Some other Red Division teams bring a combination of league and tournament success to the group. Westside Timbers 02 Copa Red (OR) won all of its games in the US Youth Soccer Northwest Conference to finish in first place. Westside advanced to its Regional quarterfinals, and the same can be said for MOBA 02 Boys Elite (GA), which won the US Youth Soccer Piedmont Conference. Meanwhile, LVU 2002 Boys Black (PA-E) went 9-0-0 to win the US Youth Soccer Mid Atlantic EDP Conference Premier I Division.
With a clean sweep of the titles in its 2018-19 major competitions, Solar 02 Castro (TX-N) looks like the team to beat in this year’s 18U Boys White Division. Solar won the White Division last season, to go along with a first-place finish in the US Youth Soccer Frontier Conference. In 15 combined games between the two league competitions, Solar averaged more than three goals per game. It continued that good form at the National Championships, as Solar won several close games to claim the 2019 17U Boys National Championship.
While Solar is looking to win the White Division to return to the National Championships, Brausa 02 Blue (MD) will look to punch its ticket to Nationals after narrowly missing out last season. The Maryland side displayed a high-scoring ability of its own at the Eastern Regional Championships, as it advanced to the final before coming up just short of the title. The National League now provides Brausa with another shot at earning its way to Nationals.
PSA National 02 Boys (NJ) fell to Brausa in the semifinals at the Eastern Regional Championships, but it will get another shot to showcase its abilities against Brausa and its other National League foes. Prior to regionals, PSA showed it can succeed in a league format by winning the Mid Atlantic EDP Conference Club vs. Club Division. Meanwhile, SLSG Elite 02 Boys (MO) finished second in the National League last season before advancing to the Midwest Regional Championship semifinals, so it should be anxious to try and build on those performances this year in the White Division.
- Daniel Mendoza (Coral Estates Strikers) – Best XI at the National Championships
- Gabriel Rodriguez (Solar SC) – Best XI at the National Championships
- Joseph Core (Arlington SA) – Best XI at the National Championships
- Jonathan Lee (Arlington SA) – Golden Glove, Best XI at the National Championships
- Garrett Ross (Arlington SA) – Best XI at the National Championships
- Spencer Hanks (Baltimore Celtic) – Best XI at the National Championships; Leading scorer at the Eastern Regional Championships with seven goals
- William White (Coral Estates Strikers) – Best XI at the National Championships
- Edgar Nino (Oklahoma Energy) – Best XI at the National Championships
- Jack Voight (Michigan Jaguars) – Best XI at the National Championships
- Isaac Shiner (Michigan Jaguars) – Leading scorer at the National Championships with six goals
- Shea Bechtel (Galaxy) – Tied for leading scorer at the Midwest Regional Championships with five goals
- Jose Estrada-Capilla (Oklahoma Energy) – Tied for leading scorer at the Southern Regional Championships with four goals
- Ben Greene (Lobos Rush) – Tied for leading scorer at the Southern Regional Championships with four goals
- Gerardo Romo (ID Club) – Tied for leading scorer at the Southern Regional Championships with four goals
2019 US Youth Soccer ODP Boys Interregional – 2002 Roster
East Region – Will Thompson (Arlington SA)