ECNL Boys: AZ National Selection Game Recap

ECNL Boys: AZ National Selection Game Recap
November 18, 2023
Players featured in this article:
Patryk Jankowski | 2025
F | HTX Soccer
Jayden Messiah | 2024
F | Dallas Texans
Jack Nishimoto | 2025
F | Beach FC (CA)
Duncan Sullivan | 2024
D | Dallas Texans
y a | 2024
MF | Columbus East FC
Alexander Rodriguez | 2025
MF | Cal Odyssey

Friday night, the first Continental Tire ECNL Boys National Selection Game of the season took place from Reach 11 Sports Complex in Phoenix, as the stars of ECNL Phoenix were on display for everyone to see.

Ali Almaliki (San Diego Surf) got the East on the board first, hitting a rocket past the West keeper in the 19th minute to make it 1-0 for the East.

The East struck again in the 35th minute of the match when Jack Nishimoto (Beach FC) made a great run into the box and slotted home a shot past the goalie to double the East lead.

The score remained 2-0 as the two teams went into the halftime break, but the East were able to add on a third as the game progressed in the second half. Patryk Jankowski (HTX Soccer) found himself in space at the top of the box and finished a beautiful shot past the West keeper to make it 3-0 East.

The West continued to fight throughout the game though and saw their hard work pay off when Duncan Sullivan (Dallas Texans) rocketed a free kick into the back of the East’s net to get the West on the board.

The East were able to see things out though in the closing minutes. Jayden Messiah (Dallas Texans) played a perfect ball into Alexander Rodriguez (California Odyssey) who finished it to make it 4-1. In stoppage time, Rodriguez put in his second of the game, to cap off the win for the East.

Rodriguez said the energy and excitement of the crowd was something the team was really able to feed off of and that they felt that excitement even before the game had started.

“We came into this game really excited, with the excitement of the crowd, so we just wanted to give everyone a show and put in goals,” Rodriguez said after the game.

Almaliki, who was named Man of the Match following the game, thought the team had really good chemistry even though they only had a short time before the game to develop it.

“We had really good chemistry. We played well and the result shows it. I’m really happy,” Almaliki said.

Danny Tonks, Head Coach of the East, said that he was really proud of the team for seizing the opportunity that each of them earned by being selected for Friday night’s game.

“They’ve been doing great jobs with their clubs right now, so they get the reward of playing in a game like this, and they took a great opportunity,” Tonks said.

Although the East did not see a lot of possession throughout the first 10 minutes of the game, Tonks thought their ability to create chances in transition was a major factor in his team growing into the game and continuing to build that chemistry that the players talked about.

“They started to click and built the possession and chemistry in the second half,” Tonks said. “It’s been a great night. The boys have been fantastic. I’m really happy and proud of them.”

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