After a delayed and then restarted match on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-16’s advanced to the 2013-14 U.S. Soccer Development Academy semifinals with a 1-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes U-16’s.
In the originally scheduled match on Tuesday, the Claret-and-Cobalt got off to a fantastic start with two goals in the first 26 minutes from forwards Josh Doughty and Brooks Lennon, but the match was stopped and eventually postponed due to approaching storms in the area. In accordance with U.S. Development Academy rules, the game was restarted the next day with a 0-0 score line since the match had not reached halftime.
With the sneak peak of Real Salt Lake’s attack the previous day, San Jose came out better prepared and displayed a much improved defensive effort. Real Salt Lake managed much fewer chances but was able to finish one in the 60th minute through midfielder Evan Waldrep that proved to be enough to send the Claret-and-Cobalt through.
RSL registered its first chance of the reschedule match in the 13th minute. Doughty started the play, connecting with Waldrep who found an open Lennon in the box. Lennon let one rip but the attempt flew over the crossbar. In the 19th minute, Waldrep would again provide service for a teammate, holding up the ball 20 yards from goal until Diego Silva found space on the left wing, shooting from the edge of the box and forcing a deflection away for a corner kick.
At the start of the second half, Real Salt Lake started on the front foot, creating chances almost immediately. In the 44th minute, Lennon passed the ball to the top of the 18 yard box to waiting midfielder Danilo Acosta, whose shot flew over the crossbar, failing to challenge the San Jose keeper. With RSL pressing on the attack, San Jose was able to find some space behind the defense on the counter. RSL goalkeeper Christian Herrera was forced in several moments to make leaping saves to stop San Jose’s crossing attack from the wings.
Real Salt Lake finally found its much awaited goal in the 60th minute. Waldrep was again at the center of the action, finding space at the top of the 18 yard box to blast a shot that deflected off a San Jose defender and into the net.
After going down a goal, San Jose desperately searched for the equalizer forcing more big saves from the Claret-and-Cobalt’s Herrera. Entering the final ten minutes, San Jose began to throw every man forward, resulting in some nervy final moments for Real Salt Lake. In the 73rd minute, San Jose found space on a counter attack, unleashing a shot from 20 yards out that forced another save from Herrera.
Real Salt Lake were able to weather the storm through and secured the 1-0 win to advance. The RSL-Arizona Academy U-16’s will now play in the semifinal match held on Thursday, July 17 in Carson, California. The opponent is still to be determined.