FRISCO, TEXAS – Heat and wind were leading players here Saturday at the USSF Development Academy Playoffs, as the U16 age group began play and the U18s played a 2nd day, going a long way toward determining which 8 teams in that age group would qualify for the National Finals next month in Milwaukee.
Read on for details on our feature match from the day, and scroll down for full match results and group advancement scenarios for both age groups.
U16 Feature Match: New England Revolution 2, North Carolina Fusion 1
As we said in our Day 1 report, you can’t win the group on the opening day of play, but you can make it very tough for yourself by losing. The Fusion played well enough to get a point out of this, but in the end it was an opportunistic goal from New England’s outstanding young professional signing, Diego Fagundez, that provided the margin of victory in the 2-1 result, giving all three points for the Revolution.
The wind, blowing to the north at the Pizza Hut Park complex, made for a major plot theme in all the matches here Saturday. In this game, North Carolina had it at their backs in the 1st half, and it translated to more chances to score in the opening 45 minutes. One player who was excellent for Chris Little’s team was forward Marco Sunol, who combined great skill, a solid work rate and some pretty creative ideas to keep his team moving forward on the day.
Sunol created the game’s first chance with a bullet cross that was begging for a touch that never came in front of the New England goal. He then combined with Taylor Adler before playing another good cross that required a strong defensive header from New England’s Willis Griffith.
On the other end, Fagundez made a good run with the ball on the right-hand side before rolling a pass for Matt Bitchell, whose shot went to Fusion goalkeeper Cole Brooks. Adler then stole the ball in the forward third and played a pass for Sunol, whose hard shot was saved by New England keeper David Hepp.
Sunol was instrumental to the next chance as well, setting off a scramble in front of net with a well-placed corner, and only a quick intervention from Revs’ defender Griffith kept the match scoreless. Sunol picked up a deserved goal to give his team a deserved 1-0 lead, making a weaving run from the right and then combining placement and power to bank his finishing effort off the post and in, just before halftime.
New England scored an equalizer just after the 2nd half began. Fusion goalkeeper Brooks and a New England attacker collided in pursuit of a long ball into the area. While another Revs forward was offside, he was ruled not in the play, and Fagundez played a clever pass for Dominik Machado, who rolled it into the empty net to make it 1-1.
Fusion’s Adler nearly answered right away with a good run down the right and a hard shot that went into the side netting. Sunol played a good corner that Samuel McBride headed just wide. Sunol was then on the receiving end of a good pass by Brandt Bronico, and his hard shot stung the hands of Hepp, who kept it out of the net.
The winning goal seemed to come from nothing. A goalkeeper’s punt was pushed downefield in the jet stream and there appeared to be some indecision in the back for Fusion. New England’s Fagundez managed to nick it away from the goalkeeper and then deftly volleyed into the back of the net to make it 2-1 for the Revs.
The Fusion pressed for an equalizer, McBride coming closest with a header off the crossbar. But in the end New England gained all 3 points.
Along with Sunol’s strong offensive performance, Fusion got high energy work in midfield from Bronico. New England’s Forest Sisk is very good on the ball as a right back, and 2nd half sub Federico Ferre added some real spark and danger to the attack for the winners.
Saturday’s Results (Courtesy U.S. Soccer)
U16 Age Group
Group 1: Seattle Sounders started well with a 3-0 defeat of Crew Soccer Academy, but fellow MLS club DC United were shut out 3-0 by Western New York side Empire United.
Group 2: Hometown club Dallas Texans edged Concorde Fire 2-1, with Long Islanders Albertson SC and Michigan club Vardar drawing 2-2.
Group 3: LA Galaxy edged fellow MLS side Sporting Kansas City 2-1,with IMG Soccer Academy of Bradenton, Florida defeating Houston Dynamo 3-1.
Group 4: Real So Cal defeated FC DELCO 2-1, with Solar Chelsea besting De Anza Force 3-1.
Group 5: Along with New England’s win over North Carolina, Texas Rush/AJ Auxerre and Southern California side Pateadores drew 1-1.
Group 6: Regular season division winners Charlotte Soccer Academy lost 2-0 to FC Westchester, while Real Salt Lake AZ defeated Baltimore Bays Chelsea 4-1.
Group 7: North Meck edged South Carolina United 2-1, with PA Classics blanking Chicago Fire 1-0.
Group 8: CASL Chelsea beat home team FC Dallas 2-1, and St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri beat Sockers FC 1-0.
U18 Age Group:
Group 1: Pateadores defeated DC United 3-0 and NC Fusion beat Empire United 1-0, giving Pateadores the berth in the finals.
Group 2: New York Red Bulls beat Sockers FC 4-1 and Real Salt Lake AZ defeated Cal Odyssey 4-0 to set up a final day showdown (Monday) between the two winners, who are both on 6 points after two matches. RSL advances in the event of a draw based on their superior goal difference.
Group 3: PA Classics beat Cal Development Academy 2-0 and PDA edged Chicago Fire 1-0, giving the New Jersey side a berth in the finals.
Group 4: Dallas Texans impressed in routing Crew Soccer Academy 4-0. Edu Aranda scored twice and Aaron Simmons and Leonard Smith once each for Hassan Nazari’s team. Southern Californians Arsenal FC defeated Charlotte Soccer Academy 5-1. Texans and Arsenal are level at 4 points, with Crew at 3. Texans plays Charlotte Monday while Arsenal meets Crew, and any of the 3 could win the berth.
Group 5: FC Dallas turned on the style with a 5-0 win over Indiana United, as professional midfielder Bryan Leyva put on a virtuoso performance. This keeps FCD even with Cosmos Academy West (who beat Real Colorado 2-0) at 4 points each, and Indiana trailing with 3. Dallas will play Real Colorado Monday while Cosmos meets Indiana, with all 3 teams still having a chance to advance.
Group 6: Seattle Sounders beat St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri 2-0, while Baltimore Bays beat Seacoast United, setting up a Monday showdown between the two for a berth in the national finals.
Group 7: Weston FC beat St. Louis Scott Gallagher Metro 3-0 and Chivas USA blanked Derby County Wolves 2-0. Weston and Chivas are each at 4 points, with Metro on 3. Metro plays Chivas on Monday, with Weston facing Wolves.
Group 8: CASL Chelsea drew 2-2 with Colorado Rush, while Albertson SC edged Concorde Fire 2-1. Albertson are on 6 points and advance to the finals with a win or a draw against CASL on Monday. CASL needs to beat the Long Islanders to book their ticket to Milwaukee.