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U15 Boys National Team surprises in openers

Article Written by J.R. Eskilson
Published: September 24, 2015

CARSON, California — The first youth national team camp is usually full of hiccups. There are a number of reasons for it including the fact that it is an entirely new environment for young players who are placed with a group of people that they just met. 

That was not the case for the 2002 age group on Wednesday at the National Training Center in Southern California. The newest age group to the U.S. Soccer pyramid looked sharp and ready to go from the opening whistle of the first scrimmage on the evening. It was one of the rare nights when the pieces fit together and all 48 players enjoyed some successes in front of U.S. Youth National Team head coaches Brian Johnson and John Hackworth. 

The results were favorable, but the level of play (from an individual and team perspective) was even more impressive. The three games on the night represent the midway point of the first camp, as the group gears up for more games on Saturday before the players depart back to their clubs on Sunday. 

LA Galaxy U14 (2001s) 2-1 U.S. U15 Boys National Team (2002s)

The U.S. played with high intensity from the opening whistle and tried to push the pace of the game to an uncomfortable speed in the opening minutes. The chaotic strategy nearly worked in the third minute when Jack Imperato (De Anza Force) slipped in left winger Kenoa Kelii (Maui United) for a 1v1 with the Galaxy keeper. However, the goalkeeper made a good save with his foot to keep the U.S. off the score sheet early on. 

LA Galaxy responded with a good chance in the fifth minute when the right winger had a chance inside the box, but his shot was deflected over the crossbar. 

LA Galaxy slowed down the pace of the game after the rousing opening minutes and dictated the tempo through the opening half. U.S. Youth National Team standout Ulysses Llanez, who plays with the 2001 age group, was the best player on the field and showed it in the 16th minute when he beat three defenders and smashed a shot off the post. The rebound fell kindly to the LA Galaxy right winger who tapped it into the open net. 

The early lead did not change the approach of either side as Galaxy wanted to control the tempo of the game while U.S. wanted to push the pace and pressure the LA backline. Northern California midfielders Gilbert Fuentes (Ballistic SC) and Imperato did an excellent job in jumping in passing lanes and then providing the service for the attacking trio. Fuentes also had some moments where he left his defender in the grass with a quick flick of the foot to elude a challenge from behind.  

The U.S. commitment to trapping in the attacking third created a chance in the 23rd minute when Kelii pressured a Galaxy defender into a giveaway that allowed Kayvon Gray (Cedar Stars) to get a shot on goal. The Galaxy goalkeeper came up with another good save to keep the U.S. off the scoresheet. 

Galaxy doubled the lead second before half. The Galaxy center forward held off a defender with his back to the goal. He kept control of the ball while the defender scrapped to get a piece of it, but the Galaxy attacker held his ground and then turned and ripped a shot into the lower corner of the net. 

U.S. cut the lead in half in the second half when Jack DeVries (Philadelphia Union) headed home a cross from left back George Bello (Ambush [Georgia]). The U.S. did not manage to create much else outside of the goal in the last 35 minutes of the game. 

U.S. Starting XI (4-3-3, left to right): Damian Las; George Bello, Conner Maurer, Maximilian Goeggel, Mukisa Klingi; Peter Stroud, Gilbert Fuentes, Jack Imperato; Kenoa Kelii, Kayvon Gray, Bryson Hankins

Reserves: Jules Anderson, Jack DeVries, Danny Ramm, Diego Letayf 

Score sheet: 16’ - LAG No. 11 

35’ - LAG No. 9

56’ - Jack DeVries (George Bello)

U.S. U15 Boys National Team (2002s) 2-0 Real So Cal U14 (2001s)

With his father Claudio looking on from the sideline, Giovanni Reyna had a game that he’ll remember for a long time on Wednesday. Giovanni Reyna, the son of U.S. Men’s National Team legend Claudio Reyna who was in attendance on Wednesday, had a goal and an assist in the first half as the U.S. cruised to a 2-0 win over Real So Cal in the second game of the night. Reyna was impressive throughout the game and a bit unlucky not to finish with a hat trick. 

The first goal of the game came in the 20th minute when Reyna pinched him from his spot on the right wing into an open space at the top of the 18-yard-box. Reyna found the ball and then smashed it into the bottom right corner of the net. 

Following the restart from the midfield, Reyna jumped on the slow start from Real So Cal and then picked off a lazy square pass across the defense. The NYCFC prospect beat one defender and pulled the goalkeeper to him before he slotted it across the goal for Cade Hagan (LA Galaxy). Hagan passed the ball into the net for the final goal of the game. 

The rest of the first half finished without incident as Real So Cal settled into the game and limited mistakes with Reyna prowling the right side of the field. 

Reyna and Hagan nearly linked up again early in the second half. Reyna hit a cross to the far post in the 48th minute where Hagan was waiting, but the assistant referee flagged the Galaxy attacker for being in an offside position when the ball was struck. 

Reyna continued his onslaught on the Real So Cal defense seconds later when he dribbled past his defender and then hit a shot at the goal. The Real So Cal goalkeeper did well to turn the first shot away. A minute later, Reyna had another look at it from a slightly different angle. An exceptional save from the Real So Cal goalkeeper kept the shot out of the net. 

Real So Cal had a golden chance to score with two minutes left in the game when a giveaway from a U.S. midfielder allowed a So Cal winger to get a shot off from 20 yards out with no one near him and the goalkeeper off his line. The shot was just wide of the goal though and the U.S. held onto the shut out. 

U.S. Starting XI: Alex Bobocea; Jose Rios, Alan Enriques, Noah Atanda, Brian Carmona; Henry Bowland, Mike Maunsell, Takumi Ikeda; Adam Armour, Cade Hagan, Giovanni Reyna

Reserves: Carlos Zuniga, Kalani Takamura, Daniel Robles, Ben Smith, David Hughes, Kai Thomas

Score sheet: 20’ - Giovanni Reyna 

21’ - Cade Hagan (Giovanni Reyna)

U.S. U15 Boys National Team (2002s) 2-0 FC Golden State U14 (2001s)

William Burnett (CASL) is faster than you and he knows it. The center forward from North Carolina has pace to burn and he made sure to show it on Wednesday. Burnett finished the night as the leading scorer with both goals in a 2-0 win over FC Golden State. 

Burnett’s game was relatively easy to figure out. He would take on the FC Golden State defender when left with only one defender, but he would link up with the midfield when Golden State had both center backs on him. When he did get his opportunity against only one center back, Burnett flicked the ball in front of himself and put on the jets. It worked but it was not the only way he threatened the defense. Burnett’s first goal came on a nice strike from the top of the box that showed the quality in his technique in front of the goal. 

FC Golden State went on the attack after letting in the opener. Golden State had a good chance in the 19th minute, but Tayvon Gray (Cedar Stars) did well to put his body in front of the shot and block it. In the 28th minute, Aaron Cervantes (LA Galaxy) made a great diving save on a shot to the upper corner of the net. 

Burnett added a highlight reel worthy goal early in the second half when he received the ball near the U.S. bench. With the defender on his back, Burnett pushed the ball past them and raced onto it. The CASL attacker picked up speed as he charged toward the goal. One of the Golden State center backs tried to get in a slide tackle to stop him, but Burnett was already a yard past him by the time he was close enough to put in a challenge. Burnett went by one more defender, who grasped at the air as the Flash went streaking past him, and then hammered his shot into the opposite corner of the net. 

U.S. had another chance in the 47th minute when a volley from Evan Schweikert (Oakwood) skipped off the wet grass and hit the crossbar before going out for a goal kick. 

The U.S. kept control of the game through the late stages with good movement and passing from Frank Gonzalez (FC Golden State) and Jackson Temple (Continental FC Delco). Jake O’Connor  (CASL) also put a number of well-timed challenges to cut out FC Golden State from getting clean looks on the goal. 

U.S. Starting XI: Aaron Cervantes; Juan Zuniga, Tayvon Gray, Jake O’Connor, Sebastian Anderson; Bryang Kayo, Masango Akale, Efrain Alvarez; Julian Gaines, William Burnett, Cameron Dunbar

Reserves: Daniel Mangarov, Frank Gonzalez, Jackson Temple, Evan Schweikert, Devin Faison

Score sheet:

8’ - William Burnett

44’ - William Burnett 

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