July 22, 2012
Red Bulls U-15/16 to play for title
HOUSTON – A patient approach to the game yielded two first-half goals that helped the New York Red Bulls earn a 3-0 victory against Charlotte Soccer Academy and the top spot in Group 1 of the U-15/16 Development Academy Finals Week.
The win puts the Red Bulls in the U-15/16 Development Academy championship match Monday, July 23, at 8 p.m. CT against St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. Fans can watch the match live on ussoccer.com and follow on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt.
Adam Najem and Wesley Wade scored four minutes apart in the first half to propel the Red Bulls, winners of eight straight games, to an early lead. Najem let a loose ball run through his legs and fooling a defender before turning into the ball’s path and firing home what would be the game-winning goal in the 26th minute.
Wade followed suit in the 30th minute, taking a feed from Najem and striking home New York’s second goal. Najem made a deep run to the end line before cutting the ball back into the box in front of Wade.
The Red Bulls dominated possession, keeping the ball for long stretches of time and trying to probe the Charlotte midfield for open lanes.
“I thought we were a little big sluggish to start the game,” New York head coach Rob Elliott said. “[Charlotte] played differently than a lot of teams we’ve faced. They put a lot of numbers behind the ball in midfield and they let you have the ball in the back. It takes a lot of patience to build through that because of the way they go about defending. They disrupted us for sure.”
Just moments before the Red Bulls’ opening goal, Charlotte had a clean look on a free kick from about 25 yards out. Jared Odenbeck hit a low drive on the kick, but the ball skidded wide of the far post.
“Our first goal settled us a little bit and took away a bit of their energy,” Elliott said. “The second goal made things a little bit more comfortable for us.”
Despite missing six of their best players to the U-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla., for much of the season, the Red Bulls showcased enough depth and talent to qualify for the postseason and now find themselves poised for a chance to lift the championship trophy.
“We’ve been in good form recently and we’ve just got to keep it up,” said goalkeeper Joe Ohaus, who was a starter during the regular season and Academy Playoffs, but has been relegated to reserve duty during Finals Week after Evan Louro returned from the Residency Program.
That didn’t stop Ohaus from stepping right into the action on Saturday when he came on as a 76th-minute substitute. On a quick dropkick in the 80th minute, Ohaus picked out Vinny Brunetti making a run down the right side. Brunetti collected it and was able to play it across the box to Amando Moreno for New York’s third goal.
“I think that [losing players to Residency] helps us now because those guys are back and the other guys have had to play through some tough experiences,” Elliott said. “I think that benefits us at this point.”
It wasn’t all positive for the Red Bulls, however, as defender Billy Stevens was issued a straight red card in the 72nd minute for a reckless tackle and will now miss the championship game. As they have had to do all season, someone else will need to step up for the Red Bulls heading into Monday’s finale.
“It’s great for the kids [to get to the championship],” Elliott said. “It’s just another pressure environment for the kids to perform in. I think that’s what this is really about.”
Charlotte Soccer Academy will play D.C. United in the seventh-place match on Monday at 9 a.m. CT at the Houston Amateur Sports Park.