CARSON, Calif. – The U.S. U14 Boys National Team took on a couple of local older club teams on Wednesday during the fourth camp from this 1999 age group cycle.
The first game of the evening featured many of the players who are new to the cycle and looking to make an impression on the coaching staff prior to the trip to Croatia next month.
The nightcap showcased the core group of this cycle, which has been fairly consistent since the first camp, against the Real So Cal U16 squad - a hodge-podge group that would fall just below the Academy team.
U14 BNT 4-2 Real So Cal U16
Jose Carranza, Juan Torres, and Nicholas Taitague bossed the midfield for much of the outing, as the U14 BNT moved sharply despite only being in its fourth day of this camp.
“This group has been working together for the last nine months,” U14 BNT assistant coach Juan Carlos Michia told TopDrawerSoccer.com. “Every time they come over, it surprises us in many ways. We are very pleased with this group and the way they play soccer.”
However, it was Real So Cal that found the opening goal. Chet Castellaw hit a half volley from just outside the box to give the older side the lead early on in the first half.
The national team responded minutes later on a play off a corner kick. After a short interchange by the flag, Taitague whipped in a cross that Carranza tucked away for the equalizer.
The U14s took the lead shortly before half after a splendidly smooth 1-2 between left back Edwin Lara and left winger Adolfo Trujillo. The twosome broke down the three defenders on the right side of the Real So Cal defense and escaped some heavy pressure near midfield. Lara cut into the middle of the field from 20 yards out and ripped a shot with his right foot (his weak foot) inside of the near post for the go-ahead goal.
The U14s came out on the attack in the second half and were quickly rewarded for taking the initiative with a penalty kick awarded after 13 minutes. Trujillo was taken down in the box after a mazy run past the Real So Cal defense. Kyle Gruno initially stepped up to take the penalty kick, but midfielder Taitague wound up taking the kick from the spot.
Real So Cal keeper Justin Vom Steeg read the kick well and got a clean block on it. Taitague recovered the rebound, but Vom Steeg easily handled his follow-up shot.
Seven minutes later, the U.S. found its third goal of the game and Taitague made amends for the missed penalty kick. Striker Lucas Del Rosario got on the end of a pass into the box where he eluded a defender and then cut the ball back to the top of the 18-yard line. Taitague placed his shot right under the crossbar for the third goal of the game.
Jonathan Gonzalez capped the scoring for the youth national three minutes later when he dribbled past a number of defenders on the left side of the Real So Cal defense before passing the ball into the net.
Real So Cal showed some life in making a comeback a minute later with a tremendous strike from Luis Carbajal to reduce the deficit to two goals, but the local club would not get any closer.
U14 Boys National Team Starting XI:
Trey Muse; Cody Sundquist, Kyle Gruno, Tyler Adams, Edwin Lara; Juan Torres, Jose Carranza, Nicholas Taitague; Adolfo Trujillo, Lucas Del Rosario, Jonathan Gonzalez
Justin Vom Steeg came up with five or six quality saves during the game that kept Real So Cal close through stretches of the second half. He also pulled off a great kick save in the first half when the score was 1-1.
Due to the U20 Men’s National Team and the U14 BNT playing at the same time, there was no coverage from the earlier U14 BNT game against LA Galaxy.
Roberto Hernandez and Samuel Vines made appearances in the second half against Real So Cal. Hernandez did well in the center of the field with a couple of nifty touches to escape pressure.