Frisco, TX (Sunday, June 18, 2023) - The RSL Academy U-15 squad defeated, Chicago Fire in the Round of 16 to advance to the Quarterfinals of MLS NEXT Cup. After a scoreless 80 minutes of play, the match was decided from the penalty spot. RSL goalkeeper Will Mackay made two saves in the shootout, while Garrett Windle converted the game-winning penalty.
Chicago started the match on the front foot, dominating possession and stifling the RSL attack. Neither side could generate a quality chance until the 17th minute when RSL was able to launch a successful counter attack. Omar Marquez chipped a ball over the back line to Armani Haro who played a cutback to Javier Ruelas. The shot ended up flying just wide of the Chicago net. As the first half came to a close, Chicago nearly stole the lead, hitting the crossbar after a forward was allowed to go one-on-one with Mackay.
In the second half, the game began to open up with Marquez having the opportunity to break the deadlock. Luca Moisa played a through ball, and Marquez used his pace to beat his defenders and round the goalkeeper. Right when Marquez was about to hit the back of the net, the referee blew the play dead in a moment of confusion regarding the re-entry of a player who had stepped off. Instead of a goal, RSL was given possession at midfield via a drop ball.
In the 57th minute, Linkon Ream showcased his incredible speed beating three players on the left flank with pure pace. His cutback cross found Haro who could not keep his shot under the crossbar. A left footed shot from Chicago Fire in the 68th minute looked bound for the upper right corner of the net, but Mackay pulled off an incredible save to tip the ball over and out. The match ended 0-0 and both teams prepared for a shootout.
After the first two rounds of penalty kicks, the teams were tied 2-2 with both Haro and Marquez converting their attempts. RSL then fell behind in the third round after Chicago scored and Axel Uriostegui’s shot was saved. However, Chicago’s lead did not last long. Mackay came up huge once again, keeping out the Chicago attempt, and immediately after Camron Estala brought the score level again. Moisa, Ruelas, and Javier Martinez all scored their penalties, while Chicago did the same, taking the shootout to the ninth round. Mackay was once again the hero, diving down to his right to give Windle the chance to win it all. Windle made no mistake from the spot, calmly converting his chance, and punching the U15 squad’s ticket to the Quarterfinals.
What’s Next: RSL Academy U15’s will play CF Montreal in the Quarterfinals of MLS NEXT Cup on Tuesday, June 20 at 12:00pm. The match will be shown on MLS Season Pass through AppleTV.