The Orlando City USSDA men’s U-18 and U-16 teams were back in action on Sunday, Dec. 7. The teams came off of a big weekend in the Academy Showcase and continued their winning ways.
After a long week at the Academy Showcase, the U-18 team returned to the pitch for a game with the Charlotte Soccer Academy. Benjamin Michel opened the scoring for Orlando City with an 11th-minute goal. Charlotte Soccer Academy evened the game at one goal apiece with an early second-half goal. The Lions then used Dennis Zapata, Tristan Johnson, and Cormac Begley goals to pull away to a comfortable final score of 4-1.
After a rough October and November, the team has turned things around and is on a winning streak. The winning form from the Showcase appears to have spilled over into league play as well. Though winning is not as important as development in the youth ranks, it is great to see the young men pull together and win games as a team.
The next match on the schedule is set for Jan. 24 against the IMG Academy U-18 team in what is a crucial league game for both squads.
Hoping to continue their winning ways, the U-16s also hosted the Charlotte Soccer Academy. Nathaniel Adamolekun scored the game’s opening goal. Juan Esteban Carmona and David Loera each tallied second half goals to award City the 3-0 win.
Adamolekun is having a fantastic season so far, with ten goals for the Lions. Loera has also found the back of the net often this year, scoring seven goals in league play thus far. The Lions are sitting atop the conference standings and do not appear to be in danger of falling to second anytime soon.
The Orlando City U-16s' next league game will take place on Saturday, Jan. 24. Like their U-18 counterparts, the U-16 Lions will host the IMG Academy team in a tough match.
All five of the Orlando City ECNL women’s teams faced Concorde Fire on Saturday and Birmingham United on Sunday in league play. Some teams got results, while others struggled. Concorde Fire gave most of the City teams fits and seem to be a great regional rival.
The U-18 women traveled to face off with Concorde Fire ECNL U-18. City fell, 6-1, with Kasey Rakauskas scoring the lone goal for Orlando off of an assist from Miranda Lucas.
The next day, the U-18s squared off against Birmingham United, looking to bounce back. The defensive effort was much better in this match, which ended in a scoreless stalemate.
The U-18 women had a disappointing weekend, but the youth leagues stress development more than winning. The bright spot was the assist from Miranda Lucas. Lucas is technically a U-17, but was asked to move up to the U-18 level for the weekend.
It's a big deal that Lucas was able to create a goal while playing up. Midfielder Ashley Kreinbring and goalkeeper Olivia Printy, both U-17s, were also asked to play up and started for the U-18 women on Saturday as well. Two U-16 players, midfielder Madison Mascheri and forward Kiara Paz Montenegro, also started for the U-18 team on Saturday.
Number one and two in the conference clashed on Saturday afternoon. The Lions fell 3-0 to top ranked Concorde Fire, missing an opportunity to rise to the top of the table.
Orlando City came out strong against Birmingham United and bounced back on Sunday. The Lions played outstanding defense and managed three goals on the offensive end in a 3-0 win for the Lions.
The City U-16 team came into the weekend sitting in first place in the conference table. On Saturday they took on the second-place Concorde Fire. The game between the two conference titans ended in a 1-1 draw. These teams will meet again early in 2015.
Entering Saturday, the Lady Lions were sitting mid-table and looking to move up in the playoff race. They came up just short against second-place Concorde Fire, falling 3-2 at the final whistle.
Saturday’s game saw the second- and third-place teams duking it out for position in the conference standings. Orlando City was trying to take over first place with a win, but, despite playing a solid ninety minutes, could not keep up with Concorde Fire. City fell 3-1.
The Mane Land will continue to track Orlando City's youth development programs. Stay tuned for regular updates.