The RSL-AZ U18 academy boys knew the importance of their friendly match against the Semi-Pro team AZ Sahuaros. It was their final preparation match before the US Soccer Development Academy Showcase. Up until last night the boys had been training for a month straight without any competitive matches and were chomping at the bit to play against a foreign opponent and not their own teammates.
With exactly 6 days to go before their opening match against IMG Academy, the coaching staff stressed the importance of putting in a quality team performance both defensively and offensively.
The match started brightly enough with both teams wanting to impose their style of play on their opponent. The pace was fast and a little hectic at times as both teams had trouble stringing more than 4 passes together. After about 10 minutes or so the game finally settled down and RSL-AZ began to find their ryhthym.
The first goal came after a neat combination play between Nico Muniz and Maikon Orrellana. Nico slipt a beatiful ball in behind the Sahuaro defense, Maikon took one touch and then cooly slotted the ball past the goalkeeper.
The score remained 1-0 as both teams entered halftime with still much to play for. The RSL-AZ coaches stressed the importance of moving the ball quicker around the back and looking to combine faster in the midfield third. From a defensive standpoint the coaches wanted the midfield to press a little bit higher up the field and get the back four line just a little bit more cohesive and work as unit.
In the second half RSL-AZ began to take more control of the game as their precision passing started to slice the Sahuaros defense apart. The back four had very little to do, Brian Hoyt was the key link pin from the defensive line into the midfield and Nico Muniz provided the killer balls through to the wide players and central strikers.
Super sub Julien Dragomir came in the final 20 minutes of the match and scored on his first touch of the game. In fact Julien went on to score two more goals to seal his hat trick in what was a very clinical performance from the lone striker.
The match ended 4-0 as the RSL-AZ boys can look forward to the Academy showcase with a lot of confidence.
Their first match will be against the IMG Academy on Saturday December 4th at 9am at Reach 11 in Phoenix, Az.
They will follow up playing against the Dallas Texans on Sunday and close out the showcase against Texas Rush Auxerre on Tuesday.