D.C. United’s U-18 and U-16 Academy teams both played two matches over the weekend, with neither team dropping a match and both improving their respective records in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) league.
The U-18s (15-5-2) picked up an emphatic six points over the weekend with a 6-1 victory against the Richmond Strikers (3-15-3) on Saturday and a 6-0 win against Match Fit Chelsea (5-14-2) on Sunday. After conceding the first goal to the Strikers in the 38th minute, United would quickly answer with Jimmy Doll (Bethesda, Md.; Pachuca) notching a goal in the 44th minute and teammate Michael Sauers (Glen Arm, Md.; Baltimore Bays Chelsea) netting again in the 45th minute, putting the U-18s up 2-1 at the half. The second half was all United, as Cristhyan Najar (Alexandria, Va.), Jorge Calix (Alexandria, Va.; Team American Premier), Abdi Yusuf (Herndon, Va.; Reston Soccer Assn.), and Robert Palmer (Bethesda, Md.; Potomac Soccer Alliance) all grabbed goals, capping the six goal barrage. Against Match Fit Chelsea, Cristhyan Najar (Alexandria, Va.) would open scoring in the 17th minute, finding the back of the net for the second consecutive match. Teammate Josh Golob (Potomac, Md.; DCU Pre-Academy) tallied in the 36th minute to give United a 2-0 lead at the half. United then scored four goals in the second half, seeing Ian Harkes (Fairfax, Va.; Herndon Youth Soccer), Denis Najar (Alexandria, Va.), Bashir Hooper (Haymarket, Va.; McLean Soccer Academy) and Chike Nwaezeapu (Washington, D.C.; D.C. Stoddert) all tally in the U-18s 6-0 win.
“We were pleased with the results and the style in which we won,” said D.C. United U-18s Head Coach Nolan Sheldon. “We controlled both games and showcased quality attacking soccer. Eleven different players scored this weekend, including six substitutes, which highlights the team's balanced attack and depth.”
Meanwhile, the U-16s (15-2-5) battled the Richmond Strikers (6-13-2) to a come-from-behind 3-2 win on Saturday and played a mid-table U-16 Match Fit Chelsea (6-12-3) team to a 0-0 draw on Sunday, grabbing a vital four points on the weekend. Last week’s USSDA Player of the Week Gerson Umana (Lorton, Va.; Prince William Soccer Inc.) – who scored a hat trick in the U16’s 5-3 win over FC DELCO on 4/20 – tallied again in the 37th minute of Saturday’s match against the Strikers. However, the U-16s would find itself down 2-1 in the 65th minute before Julian Cummings (Fredericksburg, Va.; McLean Development Academy) equalized with header from a set piece. Christian Jones (King George, Va.; Stafford Soccer Area Soccer Association) – credited for changing the complexity of the game with his work rate and sacrifice – would net the game-winner after a cross from Rodrigo Hernandez (College Park, Md.; Team America Premier) in the 78th minute. After the hard fought 3-2 win, the U-16s resumed play on Sunday against Match Fit Chelsea. The U-16s put in a dominant performance, but were unable to finish one of its multiple opportunities to score, as both teams posted strong defensive efforts in the 0-0 draw.
“Overall, the weekend was a success in many areas,” said U-16 Head Coach Tom Torres. “We saw the group show a lot of character in their comeback. It would be common for heads to go down, but this group, energized by Jones, kept pushing and equalized. That wasn't enough for them, which was great to see. We have some team defensive work to do to not get in that hole, but both matches provided some glimpses as we get into the home stretch of the regular season.”
Both the U-18s and U-16s now sit in third place in the USSDA East Conference’s Atlantic Division of the teams’ respective age groups. With just three games left on the schedule, the squads will travel to Holmdel, NJ this Saturday, May 5 to face New Jersey Soccer Academy 04.