Development Academy Kicks Off

CARSON, Calif. – The U.S. Soccer Development Academy kicked off this weekend with a full slate of matches headlined by the U.S. Under-17 men’s national team’s match against Chivas USA’s U18 squad.

In front of more than 50 college coaches from across the country, Men’s National Team coach Bob Bradley, U.S. U-20 head coach Thomas Rongen and U-17 head coach John Hackworth, the US downed Chivas, 3-0.

The U.S. took a 1-0 lead into halftime after a goal from Pablito Cruz, his first goal with the Under-17 squad. Just before the 30 minute mark, Bryan Dominguez played the ball to Cruz streaking downfield to his left. Cruz took a touch and hit a low, hard shot to the far post, beating Chivas ‘keeper Juan Quiroz.

The U.S. doubled their lead in the 73rd minute when Okugo made a run from his defensive position and found Nick Millington, who hit a strong shot past Quiroz from near the top of the penalty area.

Quiroz was called on to make one of his many great saves, denying a heavy, curling shot from Ryan Finley. But just a minute later, second-half substitute Ben Speas beat a defender and then slotted a ball across the box and eventually found Eder Areola, who made no mistake in finishing the ball into the empty net for the final score of 3-0.

In Saturday's other Under-18 games, Birmingham United rallied to a 3-3 draw with Nomads behind a natural hat trick from Edgar Avalos in an 11-minute span in the second half.

In the day’s toughest defensive battle, IMG Academies and Virginia Rush played to the day’s only 1-0 game. IMG’s goal from Luis Ocejo just before halftime proved to be the game winner. Goalkeeper Larry Jackson, a member of the recent U.S. Under-17 World Cup squad, and his defense were able to preserve the shutout and the victory.

Over on the Murphy Family Field, DeAnza Force cruised to a 5-0 victory against the Clearwater Chargers. Mackenzie Pridham scored three goals for the Sunnyvale, Calif. club. In the only other U-18 game decided by more than two goals, the Surf topped the Concorde Fire, 3-0, scoring all three goals in the second half.

In Under-16 action, Austin Savage of Bridge FA became the leading scorer on the day with four goals as he led his team to an 8-0 win against AFC Lightning. That game would prove to be an anomaly, as six of the nine U-16 games on Saturday were decided by two goals or less.

The Nomads opened the day in exciting fashion on Mooch Myernick Field, coming from behind to beat Birmingham United, 2-1. Just six minutes after Kerry Bowden opened the scoring for Birmingham, Danchrisandre Delgado leveled the score and set up Ian McKelvey for the game winner with just seven minutes left.

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