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FC Delco falls to Crew Juniors

The U-19 FC Delco Hammerheads fell 1–0 to Ohio’s Crew Juniors in the US Youth Soccer National Championship final on Saturday night. With the win, the Crew Juniors become the first MLS youth academy team to win the James P. McGuire Cup.

Opening play was free flowing. In the 12th minute, a long throw in front of goal skipped just out of the reach of FC Delco’s Matthew Sanner.

By the 20th minute FC Delco was moving the ball well and pressing the attack, particularly from the left.

A foul in the midfield led to a long Crew Juniors free kick in the 36th minute that was delivered into the area in front of goal around the six yard box. The Crew’s Tyler Pollock lept into the air to meet the ball just as FC Delco’s keeper was trying to punch the ball away and delivered a lovely backward flicked header to score the only goal of the match.

“I’m more excited than I think I’ve ever been. This is awesome. I can’t really believe it right now,” Pollock said after the game.

FC Delco responded well for the rest of the first half by continuing to move the ball well but was unable to to find that final pass into scoring position.

In the second half FC Delco’s Chris Harmon made several speedy runs up the left flank, delivering a nice ball in the 60th minute across the face of the goal that couldn’t find a finisher.

The Crew Juniors made several threatening attacks of their own, forcing some adventurous and nervy saves from the FC Delco keeper Robert Rosato, who at one point nearly gave the ball away as he chased it out of the box. In the 83rd minute the keeper made a clutch save when an Crew Junior forward received a nice through-ball to charge on goal. A FC Delco defender was able to force the forward wide enough that his shot was from a less threatening angle and it was gobbled up by the keeper.

FC Delco immediately responded, with Harmon racing up the field to deliver the ball in front of net. The ball popped out of the scrum in front of goal to the right but an unmarked Andrew Trainor was unable to strike the ball cleanly.

FC Delco fought through stoppage time and in the 93rd minute Kyle Soroka delivered a dangerously crossed ball from the right that went across the face of the goal. A Crew Juniors defender was just able to deflect the ball away from the speedy Harmon to end this last threat of the match.

Crew techical director Brian Bliss said after the match, “We try to emulate what the first (MLS) team is doing in terms of the training mentality, the facilities and what we can bring, resource-wise, with quality coaching to what we are trying to accomplish. And that’s not just with the U-19’s, that’s with the whole club down to the U-12’s. Anything in our system, we’re putting together a good compilation of players and coaches, trying to move players along and give them those opportunities. We’re putting resources against it, and now we’re starting to see it pay off.

“That’s why we’re doing this. It’s a starting tool for myself and the first team. It’s an opportunity to develop players, and at the same time, there’s no doubt in my mind that in this group there are players who will get there through this system. It’s just a matter of time. We know there are players in the MLS now that grew up in Ohio that are good players in the MLS, and some of these kids are better than those players were at the same age. So we know there are professionals in our group; it’s just a matter of when we get them there.”

The match was nationally televised on FSC.  “I really noticed the cameras when we were warming up and tried not to look at them,” Pollock said, “but once the game started it was all business and we were ready to go so they kind of disappeared.”

The two teams had met on Friday in the last preliminary match before the final. FC Delco had won its two previous  games and was already assured of a spot in the final. The Crew Juniors needed a win or a tie to earn their place in the final. After going down 1–0 to FC Delco early in the first half, the Crew Juniors were able to equalize before the end of the first half and the game ended as a 1–1 draw.

US Youth Soccer was founded in 1974 and is made up of 55 state associations

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