U-18s draw with Empire United 1-1 in Academy Playoffs

O'Neill removed from match after knock to the head, will be further evaluated

The Rapids U-18s tied Empire United 1-1 on the second match of group of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoffs being played in Frisco, Texas. Ricardo Perez scored on a penalty kick in the second half to equalized for the Rapids, which for the second match lost a key player early to injury.

The upper-New York club's Anthony Rozzano put his side up 1-0 after seven minutes when he picked up a loose ball and smashed it into the net.

While the goal was unfortunate, the worry for Colorado was on midfielder Shane O'Neill. The newly signed pro had taken a hit to the right side of his head and was taken off the field and examined by U.S. Soccer's training staff. He returned to the field but was then removed as a precaution after 18 minutes.

The team moved to a 4-4-2 to start the second half and found the tying goal in the 68'. Idrissa Camara drew a penalty kick after he was taken down in the penalty box. With O'Neill out and Dillon Serna being attended to after collision, Ricardo Perez stepped up and knocked in the penalty to draw even.

O'Neill's injury is the third to the roster in three days. Early on the U18s 4-1 win over South Carolina's Battery United, defender Jason Pillard was removed with a knee injury. Forward Daniel Nevarez was ruled out prior to the opening match with an injury. O'Neill is returning to Colorado for further evaluation.

In the other Group match, the Dallas Texans defeated SC Battery United 3-1. The Rapids and Texans are tied atop the group with 4 pts each, with Colorado holding the tie-breaker with a higher goal differential. The two teams will meet on Thursday morning. The Rapids will win the group and advance to the Academy Finals in Houston if they beat the Texans, or if they tie and Empire does not defeat United by more than three goals.

U-16s WIN SHOWCASE OPENER: While the Rapids Development Academy U16s did not qualify for the Academy Playoffs, they are participating in U.S. Soccer's Showcase, which is also taking place in Frisco. The 16s defeated California's Nomads SC 4-0 on Tuesday with goals from Jovanni Chavez, Remington Ellis, Victor Rolph, and Alex Toderica. The team will play New York's Metropolitan Oval on Wednesday afternoon in the final Showcase match.