The Colorado Rapids Under-16 Team captured a 2-0 win over the Baltimore Bays on Wednesday evening in Dallas, putting the team at the top of the Group 2 standings at the Development Academy Playoffs in Dallas. The Rapids’ final game in the group stage is on Friday morning, with a win or a tie in that match ensuring the top spot in the group and a trip to Finals Week in Houston from July 14-20.
The Rapids won with goals early and late in the match, but it was Baltimore that took initiative right after the opening whistle. The Bays had a pair of great chances, but Rapids goalkeeper Hayden Davis and the Colorado defense kept the Bays off the board. Then, at the other end of the field, the Rapids went up 1-0 thanks to an Enda O’Neill goal in just the 4th minute. After a corner kick was cleared, Colorado played a ball back into the box and O’Neill, the younger brother of Rapids defender and U.S. Under-20 National Team standout Shane O’Neill, tucked it in at the back post.
After scoring, the Rapids took control of the match, and limited Baltimore’s opportunities on goal. The Bays, with the Development Academy’s leading scorer in Abdallah Bangura who had 20 goals this season, were stifled by the Colorado defense. The Rapids had the chance to go up by more, as Dakota Peterson hit the woodwork on consecutive free kicks in the middle of the first half.
“They’re a very dangerous team, 66 goals on the year, and they’ve only given up 18, so the idea was to not let any of our defenders get isolated with their key players,” said Mitch Murray, the Rapids Under-16’s Head Coach. “Our back four and midfielders did a great job taking away space and keeping the ball.”
In the second half, the Rapids continued to control the match, and were rewarded in the 63rd minute when Jovanni Chavez doubled Colorado’s advantage. Davis and the rest of the defensive unit held strong, and took advantage of a Bays red card with 10 minutes remaining to preserve the shutout.
“The longer the game went on, the better a job we did of getting on the ball, moving it quickly, and making them chase the game,” said Murray. “It was a much stronger performance tonight than last night, when we showed a little excitement and nerves. Today was a very mature performance, and we could’ve possibly won by more.”
The win puts the Rapids at 2-0-0 in Group 2 play ahead of Friday’s match against Revolution Empire from New York. With a win or a tie, Colorado will guarantee a spot in 2013 Finals Week, which runs from July 14-20 in Houston and features the top eight teams out of the 80 Development Academy programs across the country.
Rapids U-16 Lineup vs. Baltimore Bays:
Hayden Davis; Enda O'Neill, Quentin Pearson, Kortne Thompson-Ford, Bryce Montes; Dakota Peterson, Victor Rolph, Jacob Smits-Kagoshima, Jovanni Chavez, Hayden Heinrich (Esdrel Peinado 78’), Edward Venta-Yepes (Daniel Jimenez 72’)