CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – In the first match of 2014, the Real Salt Lake U-18 Academy team extended their unbeaten home streak to five matches following their three-goal shutout win over Crossfire Premier at the Grande Sports Academy on Saturday morning.
Midway through the second half the wheels came off for Crossfire Premier as Sam Gleadle and Corey Baird abused the Crossfire defense to the tune of a three-goal rally in seven minutes. Holding onto a one goal advantage, Baird was brought on in the 65th-minute and provided an immediate spark moments later when he dribbled through three defenders and lofted the ball to an unmarked Gleadle, who converted his first Academy goal. Five minutes later Gleadle returned the favor when he attacked the right-wing with pace on a counter. Gleadle looked up and passed to Baird, who charged up the middle of the pitch. Baird took a touch to his left and finished the effort far post for the third and final goal.
“Sam did a great job because he had to lead the line and he did a good job doing that,” said Academy coach Tony Bruce. “A goal and two assist is not bad at all. If you can get your high forward to have an output like that it’s fantastic. I thought Corey Baird coming in helped as well and he made a difference, but Sammy was very good today.”
Through eleven USSDA league matches, the RSL-AZ U-18 Academy team (7-1-3) sits atop the Western Conference and has conceded an U-18 league low of 7 goals.
Playing in their first match in over a month, the Claret-and-Cobalt showed no signs on rust early on, but their attack was consistently stymied in the Crossfire final third. Jack Gayton, Jose Hernandez and Damian German each had a shot inside the box that was blocked by the Crossfire defense, who weathered the aggressive RSL attack. Defensively, RSL-AZ’s backline held the Crossfire defense at bay and limited the opponents’ opportunities to shots well outside of the 18, which ended up at easy stops for RSL-AZ goalkeeper Luis Barraza.
Two-minutes after the halftime break, RSL-AZ found the back of the net when Hernandez and Germain connected on a short passing sequence, but unfortunately Hernandez was called offside. RSL-AZ’s attack continued to push and the Claret-and-Cobalt’s efforts paid off in the 64th-minute. Jack Gayton played a ball up to Gleadle, who made a piercing run into the box and headed to the touchline. The Crossfire defense collapsed around him, which allowed German to run up and find space in front of goal. Gleadle passed back to German, who tapped in his third Academy goal.
The RSL-AZ U-18 team has earned five clean sheets and will put their five match unbeaten home streak on the line against Strikers FC on Saturday at 11:00am.
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake U-18 Academy 0 3 3
Crossfire Premier 0 0 0
RSL – Damian German (assist: Sam Gleadle) – 64’
RSL – Sam Gleadle (assist: Corey Baird) – 66′
RSL – Corey Baird (assist: Sam Gleadle) – 71′
Real Salt Lake: Luis Barraza (Chase Bishov, 75′), Te Wihongi, Erik Holt, Santi Carrillo (Dillon Nino, 58′), Moises Rodriguez, Jack Gayton (Matthias Binder, 75′), Luis Lopez, Jose Hernandez, Pato Yrizar (Corey Baird, 65′), Sam Gleadle (Eric Carbajal, 71′), Damian German.