On Tuesday, December 4th, the Real Salt Lake – Arizona U16 soccer academy team wrapped up an exciting soccer-packed five days at the 2012 United States Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase. Their last game was against another Major League Soccer academy team, Sporting Kansas City. It was a fantastic performance from the Real Salt Lake – AZ U16 academy team and it resulted in a convincing 3-1 win.
The RSL-AZ players, in their sporting white uniforms, were able to set up their signature fast paced possession game from the opening kickoff and dominated every part of the field. They pressured the opposing team high-up in their attacking third, creating chance after chance, and the crosses were flying in from the left and right hand side of the field. A goal for RSL-AZ was literally “hanging in the air”.
In the 21st minute, Damian German made one of his many nice runs down the left flank to find an open Josh Doughty. Doughty’s shot from close range was saved by the goalkeeper allowing SKC to run with a fast counter attack that scored the game’s opening goal. The goal did not discourage the Real Salt Lake-AZ players who kept playing their style of soccer, pressuring the opponent in seeking the equalizer.
Only a few minutes after falling behind, Brooks Lennon and Diego Silva had a beautiful combination on the left side of the pitch to feed Sebastian Saucedo, who’s shot just sailed over the bar. Adolfo Ovalle, playing in his natural position as a holding midfielder for the first time in the tournament, brilliantly chipped the ball over the SKC back line and found Doughty who charged into the penalty box. Once again the shot was pushed a bit too high over the crossbar.
In striving to find the equalizer, Saucedo made a great run behind the SKC defenders to face the goalkeeper one on one. Saucedo was about to make his shot when he saw Lennon running on his left completely unmarked. Unselfishly, Saucedo passed the ball to his teammate who easily tapped the ball into the back of the net. The assistant referee who wasn’t able to have the best perspective, raised the flag up for offside. The equalizer continued to elude the RSL-AZ team after so many great opportunities.
The RSL-AZ players continued their total control of the midfield as their speedy wingers created more and more problems for the SKC defense. In the 35th minute, speedy Silva ran down the left-wing once again to find Lennon. Lennon’s cross was just an inch too high for German and another lost opportunity plaque the team.
RSL-AZ was finally able to convert on a chance when Lennon dribbled passed SKC defender as he passed a strong ball on the ground to Saucedo. As RSL-AZ leading goal scorer, Saucedo routinely placed it into the back of the net to set the equalizer and to end what was a very exciting first half.
The second half started with a boom when Ovalle scored with a long fierce unstoppable shot for a 2-1 lead in favor of RSL-AZ. Play continued in the same spirit as RSL-AZ stayed with their style of game.
In the 57th minute, Saucedo reacted well to a pass from the left in the penalty box but his shot bounced off the crossbar. German captured the ball and sent the rebound slightly over the bar.
After a number of substitutions by both teams, the pace of the game began to slow as the subs were feeling their way into the play. Ten minutes before the end, subs Elias Rieland and Terrell Lowe finally raised the tenacity. Lowe, the youngest member of the RSL-AZ team, and the team still could not convert on chances to extend RSL-AZ’s lead.
As time was lapsing, three RSL-AZ players combined beautifully in the SKC penalty box, with Rieland finding Jason Eng who scored a phenomenal goal with his left foot into the top right hand corner of the helpless SKC goalkeeper. Seconds later, the referee blew the final whistle and it meant three new points for the Real Salt Lake-AZ U16s as they stand firmly at the top of the Southwest Division of the West Conference of the USSDA.
Bishov – Eng, Nino, Glad, Silva – German, Ovalle, Gayton, Lennon – Doughty, Saucedo