16U Boys Tampa Bay United (FL) picked up an important 2-1 win over LVSA 01 Red (NV) in its second match of the 2017 US Youth Soccer National Championships.
While 2016 National Championship semifinalist LVSA went into the game with a 3-0 victory on its shoulders, Tampa Bay knew it needed to treat Wednesday’s game as if it were the final match after dropping Tuesday’s match, 2-1, to CUP Gold 01 (OH-S).
“We looked a little nervous yesterday,” Tampa Bay head coach Kelvin Jones said. “We went a goal up and ended up losing, so today was a final for us. Today, it was important for us to come back and play well. By playing well, we really feel like tomorrow will give us a big chance.”
Tampa Bay came out of the gates early as the team went up 1-0 within the first four minutes of the match. After a through ball was played in, Jeffrey Copper ran onto the ball, drew the keeper out and placed it in the net. In the 21st minute, Tampa Bay increased its lead as another through ball allowed Brennan Breuer to drive the ball into the right side of the goal.
The remainder of the first half involved back-and-forth play, but the game switched momentum in the second half as LVSA came out with determination. Keeping the ball in its offensive half, LVSA produced several opportunities, and it succeeded when a build-up play led to Marcos Delgado crossing the ball in for Jesus Ubario to finish.
LVSA continued to apply high pressure, but Tampa Bay’s defense held the Nevada side off until the final whistle.
“It was very difficult for us to get the ball on the ground in the second half and do the things we like to do,” Jones said. “I’m very happy with our goalkeeper and our back four because we held them pretty tight, and we ended up conceding only one goal.”
Tampa Bay will look to play with the same intensity in Thursday’s match against Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals 01 Black Premier (PA-E) as a win will secure the Florida team a spot in the semifinals.
As Tampa Bay continues forward with group play, the team thinks about the setting and competition of Nationals as a whole.
“These boys have won State Cup. They’ve been to Regionals, but this is their first time at Nationals, so what we’re telling them is, ‘Look around you. This is something you’re going to remember for the rest of your lives,’” Jones said.