Day two of the United States Soccer Development Academy playoffs was a mixed bag of results for the Red Bulls. The U-16s won an easy match against Solar Chelsea SC and the U-18s dropped a tight match to Sporting Kansas City.
The Red Bulls U-16s are, to put it simply, an offensive juggernaut. After winning their first match over IMG by a 5-1 margin, they easily dispatched Solar Chelsea FC of Dallas with a 6-1 thumping. Jared Gilbey put the Bulls up in the 10th minute and Brian Saramago added a second in the 15th minute. Javier Leija pulled one back for Solar in the 17th minute, but Trinidad youth international Noah Powder immediately responded in the 19th minute to restore the two goal lead.
Omir Fernandez scored a brace with goals in the 24th minute and 43rd minute to put the U-16s up 5-1 at the half. Brian Saramago put in his second goal in the 79th minute to finish the match at 6-1. Xavier Kennedy started and earned the win at keeper.
The U-16s' final match of the group stage is on Friday at 11:15 a.m. against the Portland Timbers with a spot in the knockout rounds on the line. Portland won their first two matches over Solar Chelsea (4-1) and IMG Academy (2-1). The Red Bulls advance with a win outright or a tie based on goal differential; the U-16s are at +9 and the Timbers are at +4.
Starting lineup: Xavier Kennedy, Zaire Bartley, Mason Deeds, Omir Fernandez, Jared Gilbey, Jeanpaul Marin, Ryan Mingachos, Kyle Perno, Noah Powder, Brian Saramago, Sean Teixeira
Substitutes: Kyle Casey, Hipsen Garcia, Zach Ryan, Kazu Shigenobu, Richard Wolf
Unused substitutes: Wojciech Gajda, Kevin O'Toole
The Red Bulls can still advance to the knockout round, but they've made it a lot harder on themselves after a 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City. Tucker Stephenson scored the match's lone goal in the 45th minute off a redirected shot from MLS Homegrown player Erik Palmer-Brown who started at center back. The U-18s were unable to break down the Sporting defense despite having a talented group of attackers including Derrick Etienne and US Youth Internationals Juan Sebastian Sanchez, Wesley Wade, and Malcolm Dixon.
The Red Bulls play the Chicago Fire on Friday and they're going to need to win and get a little help to advance to the knockout round. Chicago beat Sporting Kansas City (2-0) and Gottschee (1-0). These are the current standings in Group F:
1) Chicago Fire: 6 points, +3 goal differential
2) Red Bulls: 3 points, +3 goal differential
3) Sporting Kansas City: 3 points, -1 goal differential
*4) BW Gottschee: 0 points, -5 goal differential
*eliminated from contention
The Red Bulls will advance with a win AND a Sporting KC loss, tie, or win by fewer than five goals (or six if the Red Bulls win by two goals, seven if it's a three goal margin of victory, etc.). If the Red Bulls lose or tie, then Chicago advances to the knockout rounds. If the Red Bulls win by a small margin and Kansas City absolutely demolishes Gottschee, then Sporting advances to the knockout rounds.
To put it simply, beat Chicago and hope that Gottschee's defense holds firm. Both matches are at 9 a.m. on Friday. We'll keep you updated.
Starting lineup: Tomas Lapnas, Marcello Borges, Walter Calderon, Derrick Etienne, Andrew Lombard, Matthew McCarthy, Gideon Metrikin, Juan Sebastian Sanchez, Gabriel Viana, Wesley Wade, Kyle Zajec
Substitutes: Sam Carter, Malcolm Dixon, Ethan Lochner, Henry Martin
Unused Substitutes: Nick Giordano, Cameron Harr, Breno Lustosa