CARSON, California – The U.S. U14 Boys National Team ended its August domestic camp in Southern California with two wins and a draw in a trio of scrimmages against local academies.
The scores did not matter much to the coaching staff, which was mainly focused on how the group played and how the players implemented what they had been taught during the week.
“All facets of [the playing style] were really good [today] particularly the back four/six,” U.S. U14 Boys National Team head coach Brian Johnson told TopDrawerSoccer. “We have been working on how to build out of the back and how to do it quickly. Also, the play of the central players, the six, eight, and 10, were good.”
“We really felt like in all three games today that each trio really combined well,” Johnson said. “They really worked hard for each other. We were really pleased with that. And the attacking guys got a lot of chances to score, a lot of goals today, which is nice to see. The attacking play was really good and it created a lot for our guys.”
In total, the U.S. scored seven goals in three games. It was the LA Galaxy Academy players who did most of the damage as they combined for four of the goals with one scoring in each game.
U.S. U14 BNT 4-0 Real So Cal
Tristan Weber continued his stellar week with two goals against Real So Cal on Friday. The LA Galaxy Academy winger scored the opener in the 30th minute when he hit a corner kick directly into the goal.
The goal highlighted a first half where the youth national team had the majority of chances but couldn’t seem to find the back of the net. Toronto FC prospect Ayo Akinola had the first shot in the 10th minute after some quick combination play through the midfield from the U.S.
Four minutes later, U.S. had a clear look on goal when LA Galaxy Academy defender Bryan Perez slotted the ball into the run of Adrian Villegas (Portland Timbers). Villegas rushed his shot though and it was an easy save for the Real So Cal goalkeeper.
U.S. continued to knock on the door during the opening 35 minutes. Akinola had his second chance of the game following a cross from Niccolo Lemoine. Akinola drifted off the shoulder of his mark and then leapt high to put his head on the ball. His shot did not get down quick enough and it hit off the top of the crossbar.
The best spell from the U.S. came in the 26th minute when the U.S. completed a lengthy passing sequence that started with Perez at the right back spot and eventually led to a shot from Weber that hit off the crossbar. Nearly every player on the field for the U.S. touched the ball during the sequence.
The U.S. did grab hold of the lead four minutes later when Weber’s corner kick found its way into the top corner of the net for the eventual game-winner.
In the second half, the U.S. continued its onslaught on the Real So Cal goal. Weber doubled his output on the day with a dynamic shift in pace that left his defender wobbling. Weber charged on and a retreating defender made a sliding challenge as Weber pulled the trigger on his shot. A slight deflection on the shot left the goalie fooled and doubled the U.S. lead.
Perez’s positive day from the right back spot was rewarded midway through the second half. The adventurous defender skipped past a few would-be challenges before playing the ball to Ben Lederman, who came on at half time, near the penalty kick spot. Lederman smashed the shot into the back of the net for the third goal of the game.
The icing on top of the cake came with only a minute left in the game when center back Jaylin Lindsey helped spur on the attack for the youth national team. The play eventually fell to substitute Nicolas Morillo who ripped his shot off the post and in for the final goal of the game.
Real So Cal had some chances, especially in the second half, to pull one back, but wasteful finishing plagued the local academy side.
U.S. U14 Boys National Team Starting XI
Carlos Anguiano Dias --- Christopher Durkin
Kelee Cornfield-Saunders—Rayshaun McGann – Jaylin Lindsey – Bryan Perez
Subs: Ben Lederman for Villegas 36’
Nicolas Morillo for Weber 48’
U.S. U14 BNT 2-0 LA Galaxy Academy
LA Galaxy started the game brightly and looked like the team more likely to find the opening goal through the first 10 minutes. Striker Noa Harrison was a handful for the U.S. defense as his speed and strength gave the U.S. center backs all they could handle.
Harrison hit the outside of the post in the seventh minute when he sped past a few defenders and rifled a shot at the frame that just missed a couple of inches wide. Harrison and winger Salvador Segura Chava provided problems for the U.S. defense throughout the opening half, but goalkeeper Hunter Pinho and some lackluster finishing kept the MLS academy off the score sheet.
A moment of brilliance from U.S. forward Kevin Negrete provided the difference in the first half. Negrete received the ball 25 yards from goal. He took one hard step to his left and then stepped on top of the ball with his left foot. He quickly pushed the ball forward again with his dragging foot, which left the defender helpless in wake of the well-executed start-stop move. Negrete blasted the shot to the far post for the opening goal.
LA Galaxy Academy came out on the front foot to start the second half, and Harrison found the back of the net after three minutes. However, the assistant referee’s flag kept the shutout alive for the U.S.
The youth national team added to its lead a minute later when Negrete held off a defender with his back to the goal in the left channel 20 yards from goal. Negrete played a smart pass to Ronald Alexis Cerritos at the corner of the 18-yard box. Cerritos’ shot took a slight deflection, but it still managed to find its way into the back of the net.
U.S. should have added another goal to the total in the 45th minute when the pride of Rhode Island, Isaac Angking, picked the pocket of an LA Galaxy center back. Negrete picked up the ball with just the goalkeeper to beat. His touch was a tad too heavy and the goalkeeper scooped up the ball to avoid the danger.
It was a relatively quiet final 25 minutes to the game. Substitute Connor Hester did make some noise with his introduction to the proceedings. Hester brought some excitement to the right back spot with a couple of positive runs forward.
U.S. U14 Boys National Team Starting XI:
Sean Zawadzki --- Jean-Julien Foe Nuphaus
Subs: Jesus Ortiz for Angking 46’
Jacobo Reyes Murillo for Zawadzki 46’
Taylor Davila for Cerritos 57’
Connor Hester for Devizio 57’
U.S. U14 BNT 1-1 FC Golden State
The U.S. U14 Boys National Team battled back in the second half to snag a 1-1 draw in the first game of the day on Friday. The youth national team had more possession in the first half, but lacked the ingenuity or the variance to speed of play to break down the FC Golden State defense.
FC Golden State and U.S. U15 BNT defender Harold Hanson supplied the chance that resulted in the opening goal. Forward Marty Raygoza, who was splendid during his 35 minutes on the field, was tugged down 50 yards from goal as he tried to hold possession for FC Golden State. Raygoza quickly took the free kick and played Hanson into space down the right channel. The speedy right back raced past one defender, and then punished the second defender for his indecision on when to step forward. Hanson beat the two players in three touches.
Hanson drove his shot low and hard at goalkeeper Quantrell Jones, who tried to catch the shot with his body. Jones’ effort was awkward, at best, and he spilled the shot into the goal.
It was an unfortunate slip for Jones who was very good in the second half of the game and made a number of saves to keep FC Golden State on only one goal for all 70 minutes.
The U.S. injected some pace into the lineup in the second half with the introduction of Kyle Holcomb (LA Galaxy) at left wing. Holcomb’s place in the squad was quickly justified. He beat his defender on the dribble inside the 18-yard box. He played the ball back to the center of the six-yard box where a defender poked the ball away from a couple of U.S. attackers. The chance fell to Sebastian Cruz near the penalty spot. Cruz leaned too far back on his attempt and the shot went over the bar.
The U.S. goal came in the 49th minutes when Marin FC Alliance’s Ricky Mendez won the ball back in the middle of the field with a good challenge. Mendez tried to pick out Daniel Cabrera over the top of the defense with a chipped effort. The pass drifted slightly away from Cabrera and Holcomb sped past two defenders to reach the ball first. He pushed the ball into green space, which left him with a breakaway. Holcomb took his time and placed his shot just inside the far post for the equalizer.
Mendez’s day was over after the assist as Chivas USA’s Misael Becerra replaced him. It was a very good performance defensively from Mendez as he tracked back on his mark countless times and helped the U.S. win the ball.
Jones made two great saves during the final 20 minutes to help the U.S. walk away with a draw. The first came with 15 minutes left when Kevin Aguilar-Cervantes ran free behind the backline. Jones came off his line, stayed big, and swallowed the shot into his body.
Seven minutes later, Jones was a touch too far off his line and an FC Golden State forward tried to punish him with a shot from 25 yards out. Jones made a diving save and held onto the ball when he hit the ground.
U.S. U14 Boys National Team Starting XI:
U.S. U14 BNT Second Half XI: