U16s Continue Win Streak, U17s Grab Four Points in MLS Next
In their first game against Michigan Wolves, the U17s played to a 2-2 draw in a tight matchup that on another day could have been victories for either team. Both teams started the match with high intensity, and while STL CITY controlled possession in the early stages, the Michigan Wolves’ defensive compactness proved to be a major challenge for the boys.
As STL CITY expanded their shape in search of the opening goal, they were caught out defensively after a misplaced pass near the half-line sent the Michigan Wolves striker in on his way to goal. While the defenders managed to catch up to the striker, they couldn’t prevent him from hitting an almost perfect shot off the post and into the back of the net – giving Michigan Wolves the lead in the 31st minute.
While the goal was against the run of play, STL CITY continued to attack and almost leveled the game in the 34th minute when Caden Glover dribbled past three defenders in the box before seeing his shot saved by the goalkeeper. Four minutes later, Miguel Perez slipped a pass to Anthony Faupel, who tucked a low shot in the bottom corner of the net, sending the teams into the break all squared. After starting the second half on the front foot, STL CITY’s U17s took the lead in the 49th minute after Josh Maher slammed home a shot from close range. Eight minutes later Michigan Wolves equalized after pouncing on a defensive error. Despite creating quality chances to take the lead late in the game, both teams had to settle for a point.
In their second game against Vardar, STL CITY started the game hungry as they looked to secure a win in front of the home fans. The U17s created chance after chance in the opening minutes but it felt like it was going to be one of those days when the ball just wouldn’t go in. After piling the pressure on Vardar’s defense, STL CITY won a corner in the 28th minute. Aaron Heard ran over to take the kick and delivered an inch-perfect cross into the box to Braydon Sellers who powered a header home to break the deadlock.
The boys continued their relentless attack and added another goal in the 33rd minute when Max Vuong whipped in a cross from the right to Kai Pope who nodded a header over the goalkeeper. Having all the momentum, the U17s kept up the pressure in search of the killer goal and found it in the 38th minute when Tyler Sargent found himself 1v1 with Vardar’s goalkeeper. Sargent sent a shot on frame that the goalkeeper got a hand on, but he parried the ball into the path of Pope who finished in the open net. Pope’s second goal of the half wrapped up a dominant first half from the STL CITY team.
At the start of the second half, the team made a few changes, but the intensity and effort remained intact. With the team controlling the pace of the game and unsettling Vardar’s defense, Nathan Ferguson picked up the ball in midfield before sliding a pass into Perez who thumped a left-footed shot past the goalkeeper, scoring STL CITY’s fourth goal of the match. With the game fading, the boys tightened things at the back and secured a big win along with their first clean sheet of the season.
“We wanted to win both games to maintain our winning record at home but unfortunately it didn’t happen,” said Luis Swisher, St. Louis CITY SC Academy Assistant Coach. “I thought we did a great job this weekend, but in the first game, Michigan Wolves were more decisive in the key moments. We played a more complete game against Vardar, and I am happy our guys got to celebrate a big win as well as a clean sheet.”
In the U16s first game of the weekend, the boys put on a solid performance to secure their fourth straight MLS NEXT win this season. The game started slowly, with STL CITY dominating possession and Michigan Wolves content with defending in a low block. After pinning back Michigan Wolves off a corner in the 9th minute, STL CITY’s U16s opened the scoring when Jack DiMaria’s deflected header found its way into the back of the net. The goal opened the game, with Michigan Wolves expanding their shape as they searched for the equalizer. The switch in their approach caused STL CITY some problems but the boys were able to take the one goal lead into halftime.
STL CITY opened the second half with promise and purpose, controlling the game and creating goalscoring opportunities at will. In the 49th minute, Jack DiMaria thought he scored his second goal of the game, but the flag was raised by the assistant referee after he drifted offside before his shot. STL CITY kept knocking on the door and were rewarded in the 64th minute when Eddie Stewart scored from the penalty spot after Nathan Harmon was fouled in the box. Eight minutes later, Edin Prgo scored STL CITY’s third, after latching onto a pass from Omar Cilic in the 18-yard box, to cap off a lovely display from the team.
In their second game of the weekend, the U16s dominated possession at the start of their game against Vardar and had a lot of success out wide in the offensive zone. STL CITY opened the scoring in the 4th minute after Dustin Randazzo put in a wonderful cross for Cilic to head home, following a lovely buildup play on the left. After the goal, Vardar found their groove and could have added a few goals, after creating quality goalscoring opportunities, but weren’t able to break through until the 35th minute when they tied the game, sending in both team’s level at the halftime break.
STL CITY made a few changes at the start of the second half and immediately ramped up the pressure in the attacking third of the field, which lead to a ton of chances. In the 47th minute, Eddie Stewart played a long ball over Vardar’s defense for Jackson Delkus, who slotted a composed shot past the goalkeeper to restore STL CITY’s lead. As the U16s looked to maintain their advantage, the team increased the tempo of their passing, forcing Vardar to drop their lines and defend deeper in their half. After creating numerous chances, STL CITY finally added another goal in the 65th minute through Cilic who tapped home his second goal of the game. One minute later, Gavin Netzel scored STL CITY’s fourth goal to extend the team’s win streak in MLS NEXT competition.
“Overall, we are happy with the results this weekend,” said David Critchley, St. Louis CITY SC Academy Assistant Coach. “I thought we did a great job of controlling the game and identifying key opportunities to attack the opponents. We wanted a clean sheet in both matches this weekend, but the lads can be happy with their effort in both games. Now it is important for us to start thinking about ways we can improve for our game next week.”
MATCHDAY NOTES – STARTING XI
vs Michigan Wolves
Tyson Pearce, Thomas Pratl, Zach Stanton, Kyle Schwartz, Gavin Netzel, Sam Leonard, Eddie Stewart, Jack DiMaria, Zach Van Hee, Jackson Delkus, Nick Bishop
Jacob Lusignan, Joshua Maher, Anthony Faupel, Aaron Heard, Miguel Perez, Brian Franco, Nathan Yao, Fritz Volmar, Nolan McGuire, Caden Glover, Mason Beck
Dustin Randazzo, Jacksen McNeal, Zach Stanton, Edin Prgo, Landon Weber, Landon Veach, Cooper Ludwig, Jack DiMaria, Nathan Harmon, Omar Cilic, Robert Martinez
Max Vuong, Harrison Engel, Mikey Lay, Aaron Heard, Braydon Sellers, Tyler Sargent, Nathan Yao, Fritz Volmar, Oscar Solis, Kai Pope, Owen Spore
To learn more about the academy, find player bios and rosters here. Stay up to date on all things St. Louis CITY SC by downloading the official team app and following the club on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.