CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – With a 3-0 win over Real So Cal and losses from some of the other top teams in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-17/18 now stand tall as the number one team in the country. Meanwhile, high winds gusting across Grande Sports World gave no help to the 16s, who lost 1-0 against their Southwest Division rivals.
Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-17/18 3-0 Real So Cal
With their 13-game and three-month long undefeated streak still intact, RSL-AZ U-17/18 looked to continue their red-hot form in the opening game of the weekend.
Offense came at a premium in the first half as high winds wreaked havoc on the game. Neither team seriously threatened the other’s goal in a scoreless opening 45 minutes.
The Claret-and-Cobalt’s quality produced results in the 59th minute when Tate Schmitt was brought down by Real So Cal’s Sam Strong in the box for a RSL penalty and a straight red card for Strong.
Brooks Lennon stepped up to the penalty spot and coolly finished past the keeper, handing RSL-AZ U-17/18 the 1-0 lead.
After the goal, RSL-AZ took firm command of the game, holding a huge share of possession and firing countless shots at the So Cal goal.
Real Salt Lake waited until stoppage time to put the game away, with Lennon earning his second goal from a Tate Schmitt assist and completing his hat trick in the 92nd minute thanks to a pinpoint pass from Diego “Diablo” Silva.
Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-15/16 0-1 Real So Cal
The high winds that impacted the first game of the day refused to die down for the 16s, who would have to deal with a crosswind that affected their every touch of the ball.
The wind silenced almost all attack in the game, giving both teams an incredibly tough time of scoring a goal in order to take the vitally important three points in the league.
In the scoreless first half, David Preys made a number of confident saves to keep Real So Cal out of goal while Juan Mora had two near misses on the other end of the pitch.
In the 61st minute, RSL-AZ U-15/16 nearly grabbed the lead when Mora played Robby Orona through on goal, but So Cal keeper Idaul Esquivel was able to make the save at the near post.
Seven minutes later, a mistake in the RSL-AZ back line earned a penalty for Real So Cal. RSC’s Wilson Harris finished into the lower corner of goal for the gut wrenching 1-0 lead.
The Claret-and-Cobalt nearly equalized on two last-gasp opportunities: a header from Ricardo Niebla that ricocheted off the crossbar and a stoppage time effort from Kris Fourcand that went just wide.
Real So Cal were able to hold on to their lead until the final whistle, handing RSL-AZ U-15/16 their second straight disappointing 1-0 home defeat.
Next up for Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy is Development Academy newcomers FC Golden State, who face off with the Claret-and-Cobalt at 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturday, January 31st on Grande Sports World Field 7.