This weekend the U-15 and U-17 Academy squads featured in the MLS NEXT Flex Tournament – pitting each side against top competition from across the nation. With a playoff berth on the line, each stood tall in their opening two matches of the tournament, combining for three victories in four games.
4-3 Loss vs FC Cincinnati
2-1 Win vs Cedar Stars Academy
3-2 Win vs FC Golden State
1-0 Win vs Philadelphia Union
The older squad claimed all six points across their two contests to open play, kicking off the tournament on Saturday with a thrilling 3-2 come-from-behind win over FC Golden State. After trailing 2-0 at halftime and playing with 10 men for much of the contest, the squad completed their comeback in 11 minutes after Ethan Kelly’s breakthrough in the 51st minute. Angad Singh scored the equalizer via a set piece and Jackson Martin sealed the win from the penalty spot.
On Sunday, the U-17’s faced Philadelphia Union in a match featured live on MLS Season Pass in the Apple TV app – and possibly their toughest test this season. The reigning Generation Adidas Cup winners played Sacramento tough, but Ezekiel Padilla’s score in the 44th minute was enough to secure the victory to continue the club’s hot start. Center back Jacob Balinsat was named Player of the Match for his defensive performance in the shutout result.
The U-15s began their campaign against FC Cincinnati in a heartbreaking 4-3 loss. Felix Contreras, Zachary Looney and Austin Thum each tallied a score, but FCC’s go-ahead goal late in the match did not leave enough time for a comeback. In Sunday’s contest, the squad was finally able to claim victory in a 2-1 win against Cedar Stars Academy. After going down a goal early in the second half, Luke Strassburg pulled the score level in the 65th minute. With only one minute remaining, Saul Cuellar got his name on the score sheet with a close-range chip shot into the left corner of the goal, securing a crucial three points.
What Lies Ahead
Each squad will close out group play tomorrow in Maryland, with the U-17s facing Solar SC at 5:30 a.m. PST and the U-15s facing Philadelphia Union at 10 a.m. PST. The U-17s results have already secured the squad top spot in their group, netting them automatic qualification for the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs next month. The U-15’s contest with the Pennsylvania club is a must-win for the club to secure a playoff…