US Youth Soccer National League Boys finish season in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS (Via US Youth Soccer) — The US Youth Soccer National League 14U, 15U, 16U, 17U, 18U and 19U Boys completed their third and final day of matches at the Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex and James Regional Sports Park in Las Vegas, Nev., alongside the 2019 Players College Showcase.
Sunday marked the end of an exciting weekend of National League games, as the final day of play in Las Vegas saw nine teams secure division titles. Meanwhile, eight divisions will need an additional game to be determine the champion.
All division winners punch tickets to the 2019 US Youth Soccer National Championships in Overland Park, Kan., while runners-up in the 19U age group also earn a berth to Nationals. Additionally, several sides in each age group earned an automatic spot to compete in the league again next season.
Sunday featured multiple games in which both competing teams had a chance to walk away as a National League division champion. In the 16U Blue Division, Seattle United 03 Copa (WA) did just that, and Seattle United coach George Vukic explained that the difference between claiming the title and coming up short went beyond simply being victorious in a winner-take-all match on Sunday.
“We had to win all five game to go through. These games were great for our players’ soccer,” Vukic said. “Every team we met had a different style. They’re from different parts of the country and had a different flavor. We had to adjust to each team.
“We won each of the five games by a goal. That tells you how tough it was. We were scratching and scraping for everything we got in this league.”
2019 US Youth Soccer National Championships Qualifiers via the National League
Black Champion: Washington Premier 2002 Black (WA)
National League action continues Friday, March 15, as 100 girls teams kick off their final weekend of league play at the Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex and Kellogg Zaher Soccer Complex in Las Vegas, Nev.
Some highlights from Sunday’s matches…
With its fate in its own hands, Raiders FC 2005 (IL) took care of business and defeated ECU 05 Maroon (IN), 4-1, in its final Black Division game to clinch a spot in the 2019 National Championships. ECU took the lead on a Josh Cruz goal in the 19th minute, but Raiders’ Emmanuel Alvarez scored just a minute later to level the game. ECU almost regained the lead early in the second half but saw a good chance flash over the crossbar. Raiders started knocking on the door but a big sliding save by Hugo Loza kept the teams level. Raiders finally broke the deadlock thanks to a great play by Yamir Gallegos, who got himself open to hit a shot back post to make it 2-1. As ECU threw numbers forward to try to score, it allowed Raiders multiple scoring chances on counters. Loza made a couple good saves to keep the game close but eventually a flicked on ball to the back post was finished to make it 3-1. Raiders added a late goal to bring the final score to 4-1 as Raiders earned the Black Division title.
Sporting KC Academy (KS) needed a win against Pennine United 05 (OH-N) to move into first place in the Blue Division but ended up falling, 1-0. Sporting controlled the majority of the possession throughout the first half as it looked to break through the Pennine defense for a chance on goal. The best chance came as Abreham Soete was played in on goal, but Pennine keeper Patrick McLaughlin made a huge save to keep the teams level at 0-0. It only took one play to turn the game on its head, as Pennine played a long free kick from midfield to the top of the Sporting box. In the scramble, the ball fell to Brady Mueller, who flicked a ball up and over the keeper to give the Ohio North side a 1-0 advantage. Now needing two goals to advance, Sporting continued to keep the ball and worked for scoring opportunities. Pennine’s defense made it difficult for Sporting to find the necessary connections in the final third and held through the final whistle to earn a 1-0 victory and the Blue Division crown.
In a 14U Red Division match to decide first place, Nationals Union 05 Black (MI) earned a 1-0 victory over USA Premier 05 Angeletti (UT). The Michigan side took a 13th-minute lead when Aleksander Markovski made a nice run to the penalty spot, received a cross and placed his shot into the back of the net. Nationals continued to pressure the USA goal, and it came close to doubling its lead on multiple occasions. The game came inches from seeing a 2-0 Nationals lead, but an early second-half attempt was cleared off the line by a USA defender. The Nationals defense recorded its fourth clean sheet of the season to secure the 1-0 victory and clinch the Red Division title — giving the Michigan side a spot in the 2019 National Championships.
With a 1-0 victory in a winner-take-all match, Real Jersey FC (NJ) held off Sparta Premier JK (UT) to win the 15U White Division. It took just 10 minutes for Real Jersey to gain an advantage, as Angus Kenson drilled a shot from inside the box that flew into the back of the net. Jersey generated multiple chances to extend its lead, but it couldn’t build on the early goal. Meanwhile, the Jersey defense did well to hold off some dangerous moments from Sparta, as Real held on for the 1-0 victory. With the win, Real Jersey earned its spot in the National Championships, where it will compete as White Division champions.
Downtown LVSC 04 Gold (NV) and LA Galaxy South Bay 04 Elite (CA-S) played to a 1-1 draw in the final 15U Black Division game of the weekend. Either team could have clinched the division title with a victory but both sides played to an intense draw that saw multiple chances for each side. Downtown had the best early chance of the game, but a tight-angled chance was saved by Galaxy’s Alexis Rodriguez. Downtown took the lead in the 28th minute, as Nicholas Walker got on the end of a ball whipped into the box to make it 1-0. Just three minutes later, Galaxy drew a free kick. Gabriel Delgado stepped up and hammered his attempt in from the top of the box to level the teams at 1-1. Downtown almost took the lead heading in the second half as a searching ball was played over the top into the Galaxy area, but Rodriguez met the ball with a punch before the onrushing attacking player could get a touch. It was back and forth in the second half and Tyler Moon almost put the Nevada side ahead on a half volley from the right side but Rodriguez parried away the attempt. Galaxy almost became the benefactors of an odd miscue from the Downtown keeper as he miscalculated an in-swinging corner but the ball sailed just wide of the far post. Galaxy pushed at the end for a winner, but the Downtown defenders were up to the task as they blocked shots in traffic and then got help from keeper Curtis-Drake Schell to make some big saves to keep the teams level at the final whistle. While a victory would have clinched the division, the result now will see Downtown face PA Dominion 04 (PA-E) in a game to decide who will advance to the National Championships.
In the 15U Blue Division, Nationals Union 04 Black (MI) picked up its third win in Las Vegas on Sunday to move to 5-0-0 on the season. That record matches VHSC Steamers 04 Black (AL) for the tops in the group, and the two sides will meet in a game to determine who earns the Blue Division title.
A late goal helped Seattle United 03 Copa (WA) earn a 1-0 win against LVSA 03 Silver (NV) to clinch the 16U Blue Division title. LVSA, which needed only a draw to finish first, looked like the more likely team to score for much of the match. The Nevada side hit the crossbar in the 30th minute and saw a 55th-minute shot ring off the right post. Seattle continued to hold LVSA off the scoreboard, and United earned a penalty kick on a hand ball in the box in the 76th minute. Jonathan Fairchild sent the keeper the wrong way and converted the ensuing attempt to give Seattle a 1-0 lead. The Washington side held on to that advantage for the final few minutes to earn the victory it needed to win the division and punch its ticket to Nationals.
SLSG 2003 Elite (MO) needed a win over Nationals Union 03 Black (MI) to earn the 16U Black Division title. The Missouri side got first half goals from John Cordia and Stephen Saladin to earn a 2-0 halftime lead and then locked down defensively to earn the clean sheet. The 2-0 victory leapfrogged SLSG over Nationals and FC United 2003 Pre Academy (IL) in the standings to earn it the Black Division title, as it finished at the top of the table with 12 points.
Beadling 03 South Red (PA-W) defeated Sparta 1-0 on a Willard Douglas goal to leave no doubt about the PA West side being the 16U White Division champion. Beadling finished the season 4-0-1 after earning two victories and a tie in Las Vegas to move it above Lake Grove Newfield Dynamite 2003 (NY-E) for the coveted spot in the 2019 National Championships. Beadling will hope third time is a charm as the side heads to Nationals for the third year in a row.
In the 16U Red Division, Sunday’s results allowed idle Baltimore Celtic Premier (MD) to secure first place and earn a berth to the 2019 National Championships.
Some late drama in the 17U Black Division saw Washington Premier 2002 Black (WA) defeat J B Marine – Mann (MO), 3-2, to finish first in the group. Blake Mann put Washington on the ropes early, as he scored in the first minute to give J B Marine a 1-0 lead. Anthony Valdovinos quickly replied for Washington to equalize the score at 1-1 after just five minutes of play. That score line held until the 76th minute, when Samuel Erickson headed in a go-ahead goal for Washington. However, Jim Sanchez tied the score just a few minutes later when he netted J B Marine’s second goal of the game. Coupled with a late winner by Galaxy 2002 Boys Blue (IL) in the other division game, that tying goal left Washington with work to do to win the group. In the 85th minute, Donovahn Allen netted the winning goal for Washington, as Premier came away with a 3-2 victory that sealed the Black Division title.
The 17U White Division rested on the final game of the weekend with the match between Chicago Magic Soccer (IL) and Michigan Jaguars 02 Green (MI). With a victory, Chicago could clinch the title while a tie between the two sides would give Solar 02 Castro (TX-N) the crown. Michigan Jaguars had another thought in mind and defeated Chicago, 4-0, to set up a game with Solar to decide who will represent the White Division at the National Championships. A brace from Isaac Shiner, along with goals from Matthew Ampunan and Carlos Julian Medrano, gave the Michigan side the offensive power it needed to propel it to the win.
SLSG 02 Elite (MO) and Club Ohio 2002 Green 1 (OH-S) played to a 0-0 draw in the 17U Blue Division. The draw left the door open for Folsom Lake Earthquakes National Premier 02 (CA-N) to make a move for the division title, but it could not find a winner and ended up in a 1-1 draw with Seattle United 02 Copa (WA). The results of the day leave SLSG sitting alone in second place behind OK Energy FC Central 02 (OK), and the two teams will now face each other in a game for a chance at the Blue Division title and an opportunity to advance to the National Championships in Overland Park.
Michael Sedano scored a late winner on Sunday to help Boca OC 02 White (CA-S) to a 1-0 victory over Westside Timbers 02 Copa Red (OR) in 17U Red Division play. The win allowed Boca to move into a tie at 13 points in the standings with Arlington SA 2002 Red (VA). The two sides will play a game to determine who earns the Red Division title.
RSL AZ North 01 Boys Tomic (AZ) played AC Brea 01 Red (CA-S) in a must-win Black Division game on the final day of play in Las Vegas. RSL looked the aggressors early on and saw a great free kick chance ring off the crossbar. RSL kept pressing and got the game’s opening goal in the seventh minute thanks to a Julian Cardenas finish. RSL almost doubled its advantage as Hayden Noll got up over the defense for the header, but the chance was saved. RSL invited some pressure in the second half and Brea used the extra space to start to fight back with a plethora of chances. Brea couldn’t cash in early, with its attempts either getting blocked or finding the hands of the RSL keeper. It seemed like luck wasn’t going to fall on the Cal South side’s favor, as late in the game it saw a great shot attempt bounce of the RSL keeper and on the ensuing corner, a loose ball rocketed off the crossbar and out. Brea finally earned a reward for all its hard work in front of goal, as a ball found the feet of Branden Dolezal, who smashed a low drive near post to earn his team a 1-1 tie. With the tie, Brea and OBGC Rangers Blue 2001 (MD) will now meet up to play in a game to decide who will earn the Black Division title.
Sparta 01 Premier JK (UT) entered Sunday with a chance to win the 18U White Division with a win, but it dropped a 1-0 decision to OC Surf Armour 2001 (CA-S). Sparta started strong and earned a penalty kick 15 minutes into the match. However, Surf keeper Andrei Lasc saved the attempt and started a sequence that changed the outlook of the match. Just seconds after the penalty save, Surf broke through on the other end of field when Alejandro Perez turned and hit a side volley from the top of the box that found the lower left corner. Surf played with that narrow advantage for the remainder of the match, and Lasc made a pair of sprawling saves — including one from point-blank range — in the 80th minute to ensure the 1-0 Surf victory. With that result, Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals 01 Black (PA-E) clinched the White Division title.
SLSG Elite 01 (MO) moved to 5-0-0 in the 18U Blue Division after picking up its third win of the weekend on Sunday — putting the Missouri side is two points ahead of PPA KSA 01 Pro-Profile (GA) in the standings. SLSG and KSA did not meet earlier in the year, so they will meet in a game to determine the Blue Division winner.
Behind two early goals from Andrew Privett, Baltimore Celtic SC 00 (MD) earned a 2-0 victory against Nationals Union 00 Black (MI). Coupled with a loss by Sparta 00 JK (UT), the Baltimore victory allowed it to finish in second place in the 19U Red Division and punch its ticket to the 2019 National Championships, where Celtic will have a chance to defend its title from a year ago.
In the 19U Blue Division, Downtown LVSC 00 Gold (NV) produced a convincing win on Sunday that put it in a tie for second place with Ohio Premier (OH-S). The two sides will need a sixth game to decide who earns the second berth to Nationals from the group after Lehigh Valley United 2000 Black (PA-E) previously clinched the division title.
The National League’s alumni have gone on to prove themselves at the collegiate and professional levels, with former players competing in NCAA Division I, II and III, Major League Soccer, National Women’s Soccer League, the UEFA Champions League, the Olympics and the FIFA Women’s World Cup.