IRVINE, Calif. – It’s hard to imagine the season starting much worse for Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite U-16 and U-18, with a combined four losses in four matches on the opening day of the 36th Annual North Huntington Beach Cup.
With less than a month of training together as a team, the struggles were evident on the field, as the two teams combined for zero points, five goals scored and twelve goals conceded.
RSL-AZ Elite U-18 0-1 CDA Slammers 96
The first match on day one of the NHB proved to be the best showing on the field from RSL-AZ. After a feeling out period from both sides, the first scoring chance of the match came in the 12th minute when Anthony Negrete’s cross from the left wing fell just behind a charging Andre Pfeifferling.
Throughout the match, RSL-AZ U-18 dominated possession and assaulted the Slammers’ third of the field. Six minutes into the second half, Martin Lopez found the ball from eight yards out, but his shot flew just wide of the near post.
In the 42nd minute, the Slammers struck on their one opportunity on goal, getting behind the defense and slotting the ball home to take a 1-0 lead. RSL-AZ U-18 failed to score in the final 18 minutes of the game, giving CDA Slammers 96 the upset 1-0 victory.
RSL-AZ Elite U-16 2-3 FC Golden State Black
A back-and-forth match in RSL-AZ U-16’s opening contest of the season went against the Claret-and-Cobalt at Cerritos College. Minutes after a great save from Gage Rogers in the first half, a penetrating pass from FC Golden State found its way through the RSL defense and was finished just past the outstretched fingers of Rogers.
Alex Vedamanikam equalized in the 20th minute from a finish in close, but Golden State regained their lead just two minutes later on a rebound. Golden State doubled their lead in the 53rd minute on a cross headed back across the face of goal, and a late goal from Bpen Kareth proved to be only a consolation in the 3-2 loss.
RSL-AZ Elite U-18 2-6 FC Golden State White
Following the morning’s upset loss, RSL-AZ U-18 showed a lack of composure in their second match in the afternoon. FC Golden State was gifted three goals on giveaways in the RSL-AZ half of the field to take a commanding 3-0 lead into half time.
RSL-AZ U-18 were able to score two late goals from Darian Huerta, but the late offensive surge was simply not enough, as FC Golden State White finished with a dominating 6-2 victory.
RSL-AZ Elite U-16 1-2 Aztecs FC Premier
RSL-AZ U-16 stumbled out of the gates in their final game of the day, conceding in the 6th minute from a well-struck half volley from the top of the 18. RSL-AZ quickly recovered from the goal, dominating play despite being a goal down. However, in the 28th minute, Aztecs FC Premier scored against the run of play with a pass to a potentially offside player, doubling their lead just moments before half time.
In the 52nd minute, a perfectly struck corner from Josh Allison found the head of Alex Vedamanikam, who scored his second goal of the tournament to bring the deficit back to one. However, the game finished with Aztecs FC ahead on the scoreboard 2-1.
With two losses each to open the competition and unlucky results in the other matches in group play, RSL-AZ Elite U-16 and U-18 are both officially out of contention for a place in the knockout stage with one match left to play each.
Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite U-16 play their final group game on Sunday, August 30 kicking off against Albion OC Cruz at 8:00 a.m. on Cerritos College Field 1. RSL-AZ Elite U-18 then finish out play against Impact Force at 10:40 a.m. on UC Irvine Field 2.