FRISCO, Texas – A pair of hard fought losses against Pumas UNAM and FC Dallas dashed Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-15/16’s hopes of advancing to the knockout stages of the 2015 Generation adidas Cup after a hard-fought qualification phase to earn a place in the Champions Division of the competition.
Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-15/16 1-2 Pumas UNAM
A huge goal from Efren “Junior” Estrada put the Claret-and-Cobalt up early against their Mexican opponents, but a quick response in the form of a penalty kick goal and another tally from the run of play gave Pumas the 2-1 win in the opening round of games.
FC Dallas 1-0 Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-15/16
Needing an outright win or a draw and win on penalty kicks to keep their hopes of advancing alive, RSL-AZ U-15/16 played a very tough game against FC Dallas with chances hard to come by for both teams in the game.
It was FC Dallas substitute Toshiki Yasuda who scored the game-winning goal, bolstering Dallas’ hopes of advancement and officially eliminating RSL from the competition.
Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-15/16 5-4 Athletic Club Bilbao
In what was arguably the most exciting game of the entire competition, RSL-AZ won a wild game in stoppage time against Spanish side Athletic Club Bilbao. After falling down 3-0 and 4-1, it took four unanswered goals for RSL to capture the three points.
Juan Mora started the comeback in the 58th minute, hitting a powerful shot from 22 yards that ricocheted off the Bilbao keeper’s hands before flying into the top corner of goal. With three minutes left to play, Conor Orton cleared the ball from his own 18, sending the ball bouncing up and over the Bilbao keeper to bring the game within one goal.
Just a minute later, Gabriel Mendoza crossed into Miles Stray from the left wing for a headed goal and the equalizer from the center back who was moved up front. In the 71st minute, a Juan Mora free kick from near midfield found the head of Josh Drack at the far post for a fourth unanswered goal and the dramatic game winner.
Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-15/16 0-1 Sporting Kansas City
In the first of two consolation games to finish the tournament, RSL-AZ fell to Sporting Kansas City by a score of 1-0 thanks to a 34th minute conceded goal, giving KC what would be the game-winner just moments before the half time whistle.
Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-15/16 1 (2)-(4) 1 Toronto FC
Aristotle Zarris got the Claret-and-Cobalt off to a quick start at the Toyota Soccer Center in their final game, jumping on a giveaway in the back and rounding the Toronto keeper for an easy tap-in goal in the game’s early minutes.
Toronto struck back late, however, getting an equalizer on a corner kick with five minutes left to play to send the game to a penalty shootout. On PKs, it was Toronto who converted all four of their chances versus RSL’s two-of-four to take home the shootout win.
Despite their disappointing showing in Frisco, Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-15/16 will have to regroup quickly for the next round of U.S. Soccer Development Academy fixtures in Southern California against Pateadores and Strikers FC as the hunt for the playoffs is now in full swing.