HOUSTON - The Real Salt Lake-Arizona U-16 Academy team scored two late goals and defeated Solar Chelsea SC 4-2 at the 2012-13 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Finals Week Championship.
Justen Glad’s header goal in the 75th minute broke a 2-2 deadlock and Real Salt Lake-AZ padded its lead in the closing minutes to claim the Major League Soccer-affiliated residency program’s first national championship.
Real Salt Lake-AZ held a big possession advantage from the start, but the club fell behind early
Solar Chelsea got on the score sheet first when Alan Winn finished off of a Jordan Shankle throw-in from the right side in the 21st minute. Real Salt Lake-AZ goalkeeper Luis Barraza appeared to have deflected the ball enough out of harm’s way, but it bounced past him and into the net for a 1-0 Solar lead.
Real Salt Lake-AZ was quick to respond as Brooks Lennon finished from about eight yards out off of a Sebastian Saucedo cross to tie the score at 1-1 in the 24th minute.
The RSL duo again broke down Solar’s defense when Lennon set up Saucedo in the 36th minute, driving his shot past Barraza in the 36th minute to take a 2-1 advantage heading into halftime.
Solar’s attack improved in the second half and had a promising sequence in the 51st minute with two shots on goal, including a sharp Brock Dudley from the right side of the box that Barraza deflected away. Nathanael Rennhack eventually collected outside the box, but he did not strike the ball flush and Barraza had an easy save on the rolling shot.
Solar Chelsea’s persistence paid off when Bryson Asher tied the score at 2-2 in the 66th minute when he poked a Caleb Smith cross from the left side into the right of the goal, one-hopping the ground and crossing the goal line.
A pivotal moment came when Solar Chelsea’s Trevor Baum was issued a straight red card with a foul in the box. Lennon took the ensuing penalty kick in the 75th minute, shot toward the left side and Solar goalkeeper Isaac Linnabary dove to his right to make a clutch save.
Solar appeared to have eluded that scare, but on the following play, Glad scored on his header to take a lead that held up the rest of the way. Evan Waldrep had loads of space in front of him and scored off of another Lennon assist in the 78th minute, pushing Real Salt Lake AZ’s lead to 4-2.
Defensively, Barraza made five saves for RSL and Linnabary had three for Solar Chelsea. The second-place finish is Solar Chelsea’s best finish at Development Academy Finals Week.