U.S. U15 BNT digs deep for victory

March 18, 2011

Carson, California – It was a night of comebacks as the U.S. U15 Boys National Team won its two matches Thursday at the Home Depot Center.  Jim Barlow’s squad came from behind to beat Chivas USA, 3-2, and Cosmos West, 3-1.

Both matches followed the same pattern, with the national team playing a sloppy first half only to return with a strong second half and overcome the deficit..

“There were moments where the ball moved okay and we looked connected,” said U.S. Head Coach Jim Barlow. “But for the most part in the first half, we were frustrated that we didn’t seem to be on the same page and weren’t able to take care of all our responsibilities as a group.”

Against Chivas, the United States struck first and went up 1-0 through Jorge Calix. He slid the ball with his left foot past Chivas’ goalie after taking advantage of a bad defensive clearance.

Chivas found the equalizer on a soft looping header that went over the hands of U.S. keeper Evan Louro after the U.S. was caught napping on a throw in. Then before the break, Chivas claimed a 2-1 lead after one of its players drove the ball along the left sideline, beat a U.S. defender near the end line, and sent a low cross to an unmarked forward on the weak side.

Midway into the second half, Felipe Liborio Jr. and DeAndre Robinson were subbed in and changed the dynamic of the team.

“The guys that came off the bench gave us a lift and a spark,” Barlow said.

{mosimage:300}Liborio, from Southern California club Aztecs Premier, blew by his marker as he dribbled through the midfield and laid the ball to Robinson, who then took a quick step to put the keeper off balance, leaving himself an easy tap in for the equalizer.

Later Robinson, of West Pines United in South Florida, took on couple of Chivas defenders, and instead of playing a pass, decided to shift into a higher gear and use his speed to split the defense.

This time the Chivas keeper was ready for him and stuffed his shot. Nevertheless the ball rebounded off Robinson and into the back of the net to reclaim the lead for the U.S. for a final scoreline of 3-2.

Aside from the two second-half subs, other U15 BNT players who impressed in the Chivas match were Corey Baird, Victor Rolph, Rubio Rubin, and Joab Santoyo.

“Joab is a guy who is really comfortable on the run and so gifted with the ball at his feet when he’s moving,” Barlow said. “Him and Rubio have the ability to, on the move, still have their heads up to dribble, pass, and make things happen.”

Corey Baird continued to be a catalyst of offense for the United States. He started in the right back spot, and had some great runs with good crosses. Eventually, he was moved to the center midfield where he made himself influential in the offense and especially in the defense.

“We just experimented with Corey and wanted to see how he would do,” Barlow said. “He handled that very well for never playing in the back. He’s a versatile guy that can cover a lot of ground and can break up a lot of plays”

Against Cosmos, the U.S. struggled to get the win.

A penalty kick was granted to Cosmos when Guyllian Kabala’s clean sliding tackle was whistled as handball after his trailing hand smacked the ball on the ground.

U.S. keeper Cesar Jerez guessed the right way, but the shot was too well placed and out of his reach, giving Cosmos the 1-0 lead.

Immediately following this the U.S. couldn’t find any rhythm or create a string of passes. They were manhandled and outhustled by a more physical team.

 “Our ability to make easy connections, to have better spacing, and have our guys in spots around the field that would make it easier to get the ball moving and stay connected, wasn’t so easy,” Barlow said. “And while we were defending, there were more gaps and holes than we would’ve liked.”

Once again it was the substitutes that made the difference, and in the last 15 minutes the U.S. started mounting its comeback.

Through some commotion inside the 18-yard box, Wilfred Williams of Fusion FC managed to control the ball at his feet, juke the Cosmos keeper to his left, and tap in the 1-1 equalizer.

Moments later John Requejo of Santa Barbara SC lofted a well-placed ball over two Cosmos defenders and into the path of Wesley Wade who sent in a low cross to Axel Mendez who buried the game-winner.

United FC's Amar Sejdic would put the game to bed making the score 3-1 with before the closing whistle, and getting its second comeback victory of the night.

“We were getting beaten up quite a bit,” Barlow said. “But the guys got back into it by competing very hard.”

The U.S. U15 BNT will wrap up training camp with two more matches Saturday morning.

U.S. U15 BNT Starting Lineup vs. Chivas USA
Evan Louro, Corey Baird, Creegan Bryce, Billy Stevens, Joe Rodriguez, Joab Santoyo, Herber Mejia-Flores, Tyler Turner, Rubio Rubin, Danya Kafai, Jorge Calix

U.S. U15 BNT Starting Lineup vs. Cosmos West
Cesar Jerez, Elijah Martin, Vernon Bailey, Guyllian Kabala, Matthew Nance, Zachary Herrivaux, Omar Castro, Bradley Dunwell, Alejandro Segovia, Bradford Jamieson, Adonis Amaya
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