PHOENIX – Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite won their first trophy of the season on Sunday, with the U-17s defeating Tuzos Pachuca in the final and the U-18s falling to Valparaiso United in the final of the Valparaiso United Invitational Tournament.
Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite U-18 2-0 Academicos
After a rough start to the season at the North Huntington Beach Cup and Tuzos Soccer Challenge, RSL-AZ Elite U-18 looked to prove their worth at the Valparaiso Invitational.
In the 13th minute, the Ecuadorian combination of Nicolas Perez and Martin Lopez proved successful as Lopez received Perez’s pass inside the 18 yard box for a straightforward goal to give RSL-AZ a 1-0 lead over Academicos.
With just over ten minutes left to play in the match, Martin Lopez doubled the Claret-and-Cobalt’s lead, finishing from a tight angle near the end line over the keeper’s shoulder thanks to an Anthony Negrete assist to secure the three points.
RSL-AZ finished the match with a 2-0 win, looking strong and hopefully poised to record their best tournament finish to date this season.
Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite U-17 1-2 Tuzos Pachuca
Following last weekend’s 7-0 win in Arizona State League action, RSL-AZ Elite U-17 looked to continue their strong start to the season.
A bit of tricky play from Mikey Lanzetta earned RSL-AZ an early goal when his no-look pass from just outside the Pachuca 18 freed up Mathias Baboun, who turned and fired past the keeper for a goal.
In the 11th minute, Pachuca’s chipped shot hit the crossbar, forcing the Claret-and-Cobalt to clear the ball out for a corner. On the corner kick, a Pachuca player at the far post finished for the quick equalizer.
With five minutes left to play, a giveaway in the RSL-AZ midfield gifted Pachuca a breakaway and goal, giving them the 2-1 lead and eventual win.
Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite U-17 1-0 Pros PSC
After Friday night’s late loss to Tuzos Pachuca, the 17s entered Saturday’s matchup against Pros PSC with a win in mind to keep their hopes of advancing in the tournament alive.
Mathias Baboun opened the scoring for RSL-AZ in the 11th minute, receiving a through ball from the midfield, dribbling past two defenders and firing past the keeper to open up an early 1-0 lead.
After the goal, the 17s fell apart, failing to generate more than a few shots for the remainder of the half.
In the 42nd minute, Kyle Leonard collided with a Pros PSC player. Shaken up, Leonard came out of the game, and with a small roster and no available subs, the team had to play out the final 28 minutes with ten men.
The Claret-and-Cobalt failed to score again, but playing a man down, they did an admirable job of working hard, winning possession and keeping their clean sheet to get the well-deserved win, three points and a place in the semifinals.
Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite U-18 4-0 Valparaiso United TJ
After Friday’s win highlighted by two goals from Martin Lopez, it was his twin brother Andres that left his mark in RSL-AZ Elite U-18’s game against Valparaiso United.
Andres Lopez showcased his creativity and vision in the 16th minute, chipping an out-of-position Valparaiso goalkeeper from 30 yards out to give the Claret-and-Cobalt the 1-0 lead. Ten minutes before the break, Lopez scored again to double the lead and net a first half brace.
Early in the second half, Anthony Negrete’s penetrating pass from midfield cut through the Valparaiso back line, leaving a charging Judah Rashirai to slide and finish the ball for the 3-0 lead.
Also short on players, the 18s subbed on goalkeeper Jared Osgood at half time, allowing starting goalkeeper Antony Siaha to come on as a striker for the last ten minutes.
In the 67th minute, Rashirai was brought down in the box for a penalty, leaving Siaha to score from the spot and celebrate a rare goal and 4-0 RSL-AZ win with the Shmoney Dance.
Valparaiso United 1-4 Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite U-17
Following their gutsy performance against Pros PSC to qualify for the tournament semifinals, RSL-AZ Elite U-17 faced the tournament hosts with a spot in the final at stake.
Ten minutes in, Alex Vedamanikam ran onto a through pass from midfield, rounding three defenders and finishing to give RSL-AZ the lead. Three minutes later, Mikey Lanzetta was brought down in the Valparaiso box, winning a penalty that Mathias Baboun finished low to the keeper’s right to double the 17s lead.
In the 23rd minute, goalkeeper Austin Najib was caught out of position on the counter, gifting Valparaiso an easy goal into a wide-open net to cut the lead in half.
Early in the second half, Callum Ryan found Alex Vedamanikam at the top of the Valparaiso box where he cut in onto his left foot and scored to increase the RSL-AZ lead back to two goals.
Baboun scored again in the 49th minute on a goal similar to the one RSL-AZ conceded, bringing the lead to 4-1 and sending the Claret-and-Cobalt comfortably through into the tournament final.
Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite U-18 2-0 Barcelona AZ
In their final group game, a draw would send the 18s through to the tournament finals to match the achievement of their U-17 counterparts.
The Claret-and-Cobalt kicked off the scoring in the 19th minute when Judah Rashirai crossed to Martin Lopez in front of goal, who played the ball to his brother Andres on the right for the finish back across goal and the 1-0 lead.
After Saturday’s 30 yard chip-in goal, Andres Lopez matched his effort by nutmegging a defender and finishing around the keeper to double the RSL-AZ lead in the 56th minute.
The 18s finished the match with a 2-0 win, qualifying for the final with three wins in three games and zero goals conceded through the group stage of the tournament.
Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite U-17 4-3 Tuzos Pachuca
In the U-17 final, RSL-AZ Elite were given the opportunity to avenge the loss from their opening match of the tournament against Tuzos Pachuca.
In a back-and-forth match, neither team was able to get on the scoreboard after 70 minutes, meaning the champion would be decided in a penalty shootout.
In a heroic effort, Austin Najib would save four of seven penalties taken by Tuzos Pachuca while Cedrick Saint-Joy, Patrick Ring, Alex Vedamanikam and finally Nikolai Shumov would convert their chances to take home the trophy for the Claret-and-Cobalt.
Valparaiso United MT 2-0 Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite U-18
Looking to take home a clean sweep of Valparaiso United Invitational Tournament gold, RSL-AZ Elite U-18 would take on the second Valparaiso United team in the U-18 field in the tournament final.
Much like in the U-17 final, neither side was able to beak through and score in the 70 minutes of regulation. Unlike the U-17 final, the Claret-and-Cobalt had numerous chances throughout the match but simply could not put one away.
In the shootout, Jared Osgood saved each of Valparaiso’s first two shots, but the RSL-AZ kick takers failed to score on any of their four attempts, leaving the U-18 tournament title for the hosts Valparaiso United.
Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite U-17 and U-18 are back in action on Saturday, September 27 in Arizona State League action at Fear Farm Sports Complex. RSL-AZ U-18 face Barcelona AZ at 8:00 a.m. followed by the U-17s against Sereno at 3:40 p.m., with both games taking place on Field 2.