NYCFC’s Boys U-19 team celebrates winning the U.S. Soccer Development Academy playoffs. (Photo courtesy of NYCFC)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — New York City FC’s Boys Under-19 team defeated the LA Galaxy on penalty kicks Tuesday night to capture the U-18/U-19 title at the U.S. Soccer Development Academy playoffs.
City won its second piece of silverware in as many years, after capturing the Generation adidas Cup win in Frisco, Texas in 2017. Many players on that squad played on this year’s team.
Following a goalless 120 minutes, goalkeeper Johan Peñaranda saved Galaxy’s fourth penalty to give James Sands the opportunity to win it. City’s first-ever Homegrown Player converted the final kick to win the shootout, 4-3.
“This is a fantastic achievement, especially in the oldest age group,” said NYCFC head coach Matt Pilkington, who was the East Conference coach of the year. “For some of these players, it’s their last youth game. These are memories they will cherish forever. Obviously, this is the highest level of youth soccer, at this oldest age group, and they’ve really performed well. I think they’ll enjoy this for a long time and it will be something to look back on. Overall, I’m very pleased with the result, the performance and what the players have achieved as a group.”
After both teams converted their first three attempts from the spot, Peñaranda dove to his right to stop the Galaxy’s fourth shot and tee-up Sands for the game-winner. The defender nailed it to the top left corner to clinch the championship.
Both teams had goal-scoring opportunities in regulation and extra time, but Sands, a key player at last fall’s U-17 World Cup, led the back line to a clean sheet, while Peñaranda was called upon to make some sterling saves.
To lift the trophy, NYCFC had to overcome a difficult Galaxy side that had defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps in the semifinals.
City bested Columbus Crew SC for the right to take on its bicoastal rivals after successful 2017/18 season in the Northeastern Division.
In the final, NYCFC dominated the first half and came close to taking the lead inside the opening 10 minutes when Gio Reyna found the crossbar with a dipping free kick.
Good chances were at a premium until the second half.
It was from City’s seventh corner when it forced the ball into the net through the head of Justin Haak but the celebrations were brought to an abrupt end by the referee who disallowed the goal for a perceived infringement.
The game grew more fragmented and tense after the break with regular stoppages following tough challenges, with chances drying up after that disallowed goals.
Peñaranda was required to make a huge double save in extratime, while Sands brought out the best of the Galaxy goalkeeper in the 112th minute.