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US Youth Soccer National League EDP Conferences Kickoff - Week 1 Feature Games

By Michael Lewis, 09/12/18, 11:15AM EDT


KEy Match-ups & Stories from the NORTH atlantic, Mid Atlantic & SOUTH atlantic US Youth Soccer National League EDP Conferences

North Atlantic EDP CONFERENCE - Premier I (TEAm v. team)

Long Island Premier 14U Boys take down Atletico FC on Opening Day


For Long Island Premier FC director of coaching and coach Elvin Vasquez, it isn't the final score that matters for his team, it’s how the side plays. On Sunday, his team played very well, well enough to register a 5-1 home victory over Atletico FC at Sachem Soccer Park in Holtsville, N.Y.
Vasquez admitted he wasn't paying attention to the score during the game, only the way his squad performed.  "I pay attention to what we're doing," he said. "I'm very strict following the philosophy of the club. It's about teaching the boys to play soccer, their development and how to play a smart and reading the game."
Of course, it didn't hurt that Long Island grabbed a 4-0 halftime lead. "The first half was just great," Vasquez said. "We were on our game. That's our philosophy -- possessing the ball. We created chances and took control of the game."
Eric Martinez led the way with a hat-trick and Hugo Rodriguez added two goals. "It's a pleasure to have the kids," he said. "When I have extra training, they always show up." Martinez places more like a false nine, Rodriguez a fake ten— neither of their positions defined.
"The more freedom you give them the better they play," Vasquez said. Martinez is good for 15-20 goals a season. "He loves the game," Vasquez said. "He constantly plays soccer at home and he worked work on his own. That's a very good thing."
Rodriguez has similar passions about the beautiful game. "He's one of the top players on the team," Vasquez said, adding that his attacking midfielder usually plays a very strong and smart game" and "reads the game very well."
After competing a couple of years in EDP, Vasquez looked forward to playing in the US Youth Soccer National League EDP Conference. "This was the first team I brought to EDP," he said. "Loved the competition. Ver well run and organized. "I think it's going to be an interesting season. I think we have a pretty good team. The higher the competition, the better they get."
Vasquez would prefer closer games, so his players would get accustomed to playing under pressure and learn to close games out. "I don't like it when the score gets lop-sided," he said.

For more information, visit the US Youth Soccer National League North Atlantic EDP Conference page.

MID Atlantic EDP CONFERENCE - Premier I (Club v. Club)


13U & 14U Boys: Ironbound TEAMS face Cedar stars Newark in local CLUB rivalrY


In his Cedar Stars Academy - Newark debut, Allan Umana made a statement or two.

In first game with the club, he scored both goals in his new team's 2-1 season-opening victory over city-rival Ironbound Soccer Club Sunday, the game-winner coming a minute into second-half stoppage time of the 13U Mid Atlantic club vs. club series at Riverfront Park in Newark, N.J.

In the 14U matchup, Ironbound registered an 8-1 win over CSA Newark. In the 13U game, CSA Newark rallied from a 1-0 second-half deficit to win. "It's a great start to the season," CSA Newark director of coaching Kieran Patrick said. "Two goals show he's a cracker of a finisher, which is rare. He's got a good eye for the goal."

It was a hotly contested encounter between teams that are not only based in the same city, but situated "five minutes up the road from us," Patrick said. "Definitely a lot of familiaity but a healthy rivalry."

"It was a keenly contested game," he added. "It's always a tough game when we play these guys. I'm happy to win, but I would have been happy with a tie."

Ironbound drew first blood in the 52nd-minute, scoring off a rebound from a cross. Then Umana went into action. He scored on a breakaway, going 1 v 1 with the goalkepeer in the 63rd minute before finishing a Jacob Cole right-wing cross with little time remaining to seal the three points.

The elements made life difficult for all four teams as a constant rain fell during both contests.

In the 14U league match-up, Ironbound grabbed a 2-0 halftime advantage. Caleb Crawley tallied for CSA Newark before Ironbound scored six times in the second half of the 70-minute affair.

"Our guys gave a good fight," Patrick said. "That's a good Ironbound team. They're very impressive, a good organized team. ... They were just the stronger team on the field."

CSA Newark plays out of St. Benedict's Prep, one of the best high schools in the United States. So, the club wants to play at the highest level possible and performing in the US Youth Soccer National League EDP Conference makes the challenge even greater.

"It was a big step up in competition for our guys," Patrick said. "This is the competitive level we're striving for and trying to attain. Today we weren't at the level of Ironbound [in the 13U game]. We'll go to work to make sure we get there."

For more information, visit the US Youth Soccer National League Mid Atlantic EDP Conference page.


Mid atlantic EDP Conference - Premier I (team v. team)

New Jersey State Champs, NJ Elite 13U Boys face off against Real Jersey, Last year's State Semi-Finalists


Real Jersey Football Club dropped a 2-0 decision to New Jersey Elite in its season opening match at Bob Bende Park in Medford, N.J. Sunday, but director of coaching Jon Kopytko felt his team could use the game as a learning experience.

"We can use it to grow and develop and get better as the season goes on," he said. NJ Elite scored both of its goals in the second half of the 70-minute match, the first during the run of play in the 43rd minute, the second via a penalty kick in the 60th minute.

"Obviously the weather played a part," Kopytko said. "It was raining all day. We have turf and the turf held up. A little cold. Some of the boys were a little bit rigid in their play. It was a good soccer game. A lot of passes were completed, and we enjoyed it."
NJ Elite certainly is a formidable side, the New Jersey champions and Region I runner-up last season. Real New Jersey FC lost to NJ Elite in the State Cup semifinals last year, 2-1, after playing the squad to a 1-1 draw. "They're a great team to play," Kopytko said. "They play the right way. They're well coached, good club and we enjoy thoroughly in regards playing their sides across the board in all the age groups."
Asked what he learned about his team Sunday, Kopytko replied, "I was interested to see how our team -- because I know that Watchung one of the better teams in our age groups, if not the best team in our area -- so, I did learn we can play. We're going to get better. And a lot of that's on me. We're going to get there. We're going to play at a very high level for our age group, compete within the state, regionally and hopefully one day nationally. Watchung is definitely a great barometer, a benchmark to measure up against and I'm sure we’ll see them in the future."
In fact, the competition in this age group is fierce, Kopytko said. "The 13U age group is, I think, a unique one, especially in our immediate area because there a lot of good teams towards the top of the state of New Jersey," he said. "Any one of those teams can beat anyone of those teams on any given day; each with their own style of play. So, it's unique."
Kopytko knew that from personal experience, having coached the club's 14U boys’ team in the US Youth National League. "My 13U team wants to be on the same path," he said. "EDP has put together a good product, especially with the 13U age group where we're playing game in and game out. Those are all hard-fought games. There are not many games where you kind of take a break and rest. All the games are very competitive and if you're not there, you don't bring it that day, you can end up taking a loss."

For more information, visit the US Youth Soccer National League Mid Atlantic EDP Conference page.

South Atlantic EDP CONFERENCE - PREMIER I (Club v. Club)


Lower merion and SJEB Rush 13U & 14U Boys Teams share the spoils on opening weekend


Lower Merion Soccer Club and South Jersey Elite Barons Rush split their South Atlantic Club vs. Club series on Sunday.

In the 14U match, Lower Merion recorded a 2-1 win before the New Jersey side turned the tables in the 13U encounter at Phoenixville High School in Phoenixville, Pa.

Bryce Dodd snapped a 1-1 deadlock in the 39th minute to lift Lower Merion over SJEB Rush in the 14U game. "They did well," Merion coach Jared Harris said. "I thought we came out really strong in the first half. It was good to get a goal early. In the second half it was good to get an early goal. That was huge."

Simon Rosen gave the hosts a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute. Okafor Norkeh raced down the left flank before crossing the ball into Rosen, who finished with his left foot. SJEB Rush then equalized off a corner kick in the 18th minute.

Four minutes into the second half in the 70-minute match, Dodd connected for the game-winner. The ball popped up as Dodd flicked it over the goalkeeper's head, ran onto his "pass" to himself and tapped it into an unattended net.

Lower Merion protected the lead over the final 31 minutes. "I thought the boys did a good job of closing out the game," Harris said. "It was a good result coming out and finding a way to win."

Harris praised two players -- Norkeh for creating many chances on the left side while beating defenders on a consistent basis and center back Eddie Wright.

"He did a great job of closing out the game," he said, adding that Wright cleared a ball off the line midway through the second half. He did a good job of not letting them get behind us. He had a very solid performance as well."

In the 13U contest, SJEB Rush scored a pair of late goals to break a 2-2 tie to register a 4-2 win over Lower Merion. There were several nice goals scored from distance in this confrontation. Center back Griffin Kades started it off for Lower Merion firing home a 25-yard shot in the eighth minute. "It was a cracker of a goal," Lower Merion coach Gabe Betancourt said.

SJEB Rush struck for the next two goals, a shot from the top of the penalty area in the 20th minute and the go-ahead goal from 20 yards out in the 32nd minute of the 70-minute match. "It's hard to take those shots from there, but at 13U, if you shoot it just under the bar [you can score]," Betancourt said.

Fionnan Murray knotted things up at 2-2 for Lower Merion in the 55th minute, with a left-footed effort from 14 yards. Betancourt noted that it wasn't Murray's dominant foot, "which was nice."

SJEB Rush took over the match, scoring twice within an eight-minute span, in the 57th and 65th minutes. The insurance goal was a beauty. "We were opening up, trying to take chances," Betancourt said. Then SJEB sent in a left-wing cross in which a player volleyed it to the upper 90. "It was just stunning," Betancourt said. "South Jersey did a real nice job possessing [the ball], switching the point of attack," he added.

Betancourt noted that his players had to get used to a new substitution system in which once a player is replaced, he cannot return to the match.

"If you're substituted 13 minutes into the first half, you can't come back into the match," he said. "That was definitely a factor for some of my players. It's challenging. It's something they need to adjust to, managing their time on the field."

Lower Merion has six new players on the team."We're still in the process of finding our way for all the pieces to mesh," Betancourt said. "We look forward to playing them in the spring as well."

For more information, visit the US Youth Soccer National League South Atlantic EDP Conference page.

South Atlantic EDP CONFERENCE - Premier I (team v. Team)

EAST REgion & MARYLAND STATE Champs, FC USA 13U boys Draw Even against Takoma Park


Talk about making the most of an opportunity.
Due to an injury FC USA was forced to bring up Diego Marin from a lower team and he made the most of the opportunity, scoring for the team in a 1-1 tie wtih Region I Takoma Park Friends United in the season opener for both teams at Cedar Lane Regional Park in Bel Air, Md. Sunday.
On one of his first touches of the match, Marin scored off a Ryan Tudor feed at the near post in the 17th minute.
Takoma Park equalized on a goal that began on an interception of a pass from a FC USA defender before a player scored from 20 yards out inot the upper 90. "It was a great goal," FC USA director of coaching Peter Einber said. "The goalkeeper did not have a chance."
Einber noted that both goals were scored with the wind behind each team's backs in a game that was played in the rain and much colder weather than earlier in the week when temperatures soared into the 90s.
"The weather was horrible," Einber said. "Wind was a factor. "It was bad. It felt like a game that would be played later in the year. Thursday, we worried that players would suffer from heat exhaustion. Today, the players' lips were blue at halftime."
Still, the poor conditions did not deter both teams. "It was a good game," Einber said. "Both teams played hard. I give them a lot of credit for battling. They hung in there and withstood a lot."
Einber praised his center backs Katris and Lucas Schissler. "They were very good at controlling the game," he said.
He also gave a nod to center midfielder Leandro Cruz. "He's one of those kids who is always fun to watch and he was dangerous all day."
There are no easy games in the US Youth Soccer National League EDP Conference.
"The competition is what we expected," Einber said. "Takoma Park has a very competitive team. We expected every game to be competitive. Takoma Park is one of the best teams."

For more information, visit the US Youth Soccer National League South Atlantic EDP Conference page.

For more on the US Youth Soccer and EDP Soccer partnership, visit our US Youth Soccer homepage.

To find all of this year's Fall League schedules, visit our 2018 Fall Schedules page.