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Dallas Cup steams on towards finale

IMG Academy
The IMG Academy U18 soccer team.

DALLAS, Texas - It’s win or go home time at Dr Pepper Dallas Cup 34 and one of the marquee matchups of the U19 division quarterfinals saw two residency academies from opposite sides of the country, RSL-AZ and IMG Academy, face off.

With bragging rights on the line, the more established IMG Academy flexed their muscles a bit in a comprehensive 3-0 win over their cross-country counterpart that sees the Florida academy move on to face IF Brommapojkarna of Sweden in Saturday’s semifinal.

While the week’s early games were plagued by windy and cold conditions, Friday’s quarterfinal saw the return of warm temperatures and relatively calm winds that brought out some high quality play. It didn’t take IMG long to get on the board either as in just the second minute, the Florida club struck.

Right-winger Victor Rojas had two shots saved in quick succession by RSL goalkeeper Luis Barraza, but the third rebound popped out to Yussuf Olajide who headed it in for the early lead.

With RSL missing arguably their best center back in Santi Carillo due to yellow card accumulation, the back four struggled to keep their shape, though they didn’t allow many chances through the rest of the first half. The Arizona side nearly leveled things in the 30th minute when Jose Hernandez slid a through ball to Jose Navarro, but when he tried to round the ‘keeper, Evan Finney was up to the task smothering the ball well and not allowing a rebound.

RSL held most of the possession through the first half, but IMG doubled the lead with a back-breaking goal just before the halftime whistle. IMG forward Raul Gonzalez found himself free on a breakaway and rounded Barraza before sending a shot in off the post.

“Getting in at 2-0, we said at halftime there would be a third goal, let’s just make sure it’s us because if it’s them, it’s a dogfight,” said IMG Academy Coach Scott Dean. “It stung a little bit for them going into half and it’s a big time goal for sure.”

The late goal seemed to kill any hope of a comeback for RSL and after a few half-chances, IMG finally put the game to bed on the hour mark. It was again Olajide who electrified the crowd with another shifty move before blasting one past Barraza to round out the scoring. A left-sided attacker with lots of flair and plenty of speed, Olajide was the best player for IMG on the day.

“Today I told him it was one of the best games that he’s played,” said Dean. “He’s very dynamic and for him a lot of times, it’s the end result. Can he get the finish or that last pass, and today he hit balls across, he finished when he had to and he played with a lot of confidence.”

While Olajide was the star on offense, much of the credit for the win should go to the smothering IMG defense led by center back Spencer Moeller and defensive midfielder Brendan O’Conner.

“Defensively we’ve given up some late goals so in the last couple games here we haven’t given one up,” said Dean. “They were steady, well organized and got numbers behind the ball.”

California clubs highlight Saturday finals

Three championship games will be contested at Dr Pepper Dallas Cup on Saturday with California clubs featuring in all three championship games. The U15 final sees Sunrise Elite of Florida take on Arsenal FC Academy while the U14 championship pits CF Monterrey of Mexico against Pateadores. The U13 championship will be an all-California affair with Pateadores taking on FC Golden State.

In the older age groups CF Monterrey and CZ Elite will battle in one U16 semifinal while Santa Montica United takes on FC Golden State in the other semifinal.

The U17 semifinals see more California clubs as Santa Clara Sporting takes on FRAM while Aalborg BK of Denmark take on FC Golden State.

The Houston Dynamo are through to the semifinals of the U19 group as Bryan Salazar hit a hat trick in their 5-4 win over Central California Blues. They’ll take on PAC Tigres while the other semifinal is IMG Academy vs. IF Brommapojkarna of Sweden.

The Gordon Jago Super Group championship will see Emerson Hyndman and Fulham, who beat Fluminense on penalty kicks in a thrilling semifinal, take on Kashiwa Reysol of Japan who easily dispatched of Aalborg BK.

Complete Friday scores:

U19 Super Group Quarterfinals

IF Brommapojkarna 3, Solar Chelsea 1

Houston Dynamo 5, Central California Blues 4

PAC Tigres 5, Knowsley Youth 4

IMG Academy 3, Real Salt Lake Arizona Elite 0

U17 Quarterfinals

Santa Clara Sporting 1, Penn Fusion 0

FC Golden State 2, New York SC 1

Aalborg BK 2, TSF Ginga 0

FRAM 3, FC Dallas 2

U16 Quarterfinals

CF Monterrey Rayados 1, FC Dallas El Paso 0

Santa Monica United 2, Sockers FC 0

FC Golden State White 2, Juventus Forza 1

CZ Elite 3, Solar Chelsea 2

U15 Semifinals

Arsenal FC 1, Santa Barbara SC 0

Sunrise Elite 2, Chicago Magic PSG 0

U14 Semifinals

CF Monterrey Rayados 3, Pumas 1

Pateadores 3, Arsenal FC 1

U13 Semifinals

FC Golden State Academy 3, FC Golden State Gold 0

Pateadores Los Angeles 5, Pumas 1

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