CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – Real Salt Lake – Arizona U-16 Academy goalkeeper Christian Herrera and forward Sebastian Saucedo wrapped up a recent spell with the U-18 Men’s National Team, who was making its first appearance at the Copa del Atlantico tournament in Las Palmas, Spain.
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The U-18s were the youngest team at the tournament and went winless against Spain, Argentina and Canary Islands, losing three matches by a one-goal margin with two of three defeats inflicted by last minute concessions.
Saucedo was named to the starting XI vs. Spain and was brought on as a second half substitute against Argentina and Canary Islands. Herrera did not feature against Spain and Argentina, but was named to the starting XI in the final match against the Canary Islands.
In the opening match at the tournament, an 88th-minute goal by Spain (Watch: match highlights) midfielder Yelko Pino Caride doomed the U-18s after an otherwise impressive showing; Saucedo played 59 minutes before being subbed out. Against Argentina (Watch: match highlights), Saucedo was brought on as a 61st-minute substitute and less than five minutes later Rodrigo Contreras scored the eventual match-winning goal for La Albiceleste.
In the final match, Herrera was named to the stating XI and Saucedo was brought on in the 60th-minute. Canary Islands scored the late winner with one minute left to play.
Herrera and Saucedo spoke about the tournament below.
Herrera: “I feel like we were unlucky to lose the three matches, but it was good to see us competing against the best teams in the world. It was good for me to see a higher level of play. It was a good experience seeing how fast the ball moved around.”
Saucedo: “I think that in general it was a good experience going out there and playing against the top international teams in the world, especially playing against Spain and Argentina knowing that they are the best teams in the world. I think overall, we came in as a team and only trained the whole week we were there and we were there for four days before everyone else was. We outplayed every season game except Canary Islands, which gave us a little big of a challenge even though they are not an international team. We outplayed every team and we couldn’t finish our chances. That was what coach Javier (Williams) had mentioned capitalized scoring opportunities and I think Argentina and Spain managed to handle that and what really mattered at the end was the score and the results. Like everyone said at the press conference, they complimented us on how we were the best team and how we were supposed to be the best team and win the tournament, but we just didn’t handle our business.”
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Saucedo #24 / Herrera #12 (pictures from: picasaweb.google.com)