PHOENIX (Nov. 22, 2021) — The US Youth Soccer Desert Conference Showcase took place Nov. 19-21 in the Phoenix area, as more than 100 boys and girls teams in the 12U-19U age groups competed in league matches over the course of the weekend.
RECAPS: Nov. 19 | Nov. 20 | Nov. 21
PHOTOS: Nov. 19 | Nov. 20 | Nov. 21
The first Desert Conference titles were captured during play in Phoenix, as four sides in 12U-14U age groups clinched first-place finishes. Meanwhile, the older age groups saw their first games of the season take place in Phoenix, as those teams will continue to compete for conference titles through the February event in Las Vegas.
Desert Conference teams that win division titles in the 13U-19U age groups earn berths to the 2022 USYS Far West Regional Championships. Teams in the 13U-18U age groups can also secure a place in the 2022-23 season of National League P.R.O. with top finishes in the conference this season.
Vegas United 07 Girls Elite (NV) has been in the Desert Conference for three years, and its experience in the league has helped the club grow. The 07 team, in particular, has seen the benefits of challenging itself against the competition in the conference. After finishing 10th out of 10 in 2019-20, it improved to secure a fourth-place finish in 2020-21. Now, after a win in a matchup of undefeated teams on Sunday, Vegas United is 3-0-0 to start its 15U Girls campaign.
“It’s progress. You can’t progress without quality competition, so we’re thankful to be involved,” Vegas United 07 coach David Wren said. “Without the exposure to the Desert Conference and National League P.R.O., which we’re also a part of, we wouldn’t be able to progress the way that we have been. It’s the stiff competition that is going to help the girls drive forward to push on to achieve whatever they want to achieve.”
The competition was just as high in Phoenix on the boys’ side. Former U.S. Men’s National Team forward Eric Wynalda got a close look at the Desert Conference action while coaching Downtown LVSC (NV) teams in the 17U and 18U Boys age groups.
Wynalda said he was “really impressed” with the level of play on display in Phoenix and noted that the environment created a good mix of learning opportunities with meaningful games.
“I am a big believer that development is developing a mentality of how to win. You’ve got to lose a lot of games sometimes, and you’ve got to understand why you’re losing games, before you figure that out,” Wynalda said. “The development is really the teaching and learning component of the game. Sometimes we get all wrapped up in the results and define that as success. The truth is that it’s all a process.”
With challenging games and circumstances that presented themselves during the Desert Conference weekend in Phoenix, it offered the players with a prime opportunity to improve and adapt.
“I love the environment. I think that’s been something I’ve been preaching for a while. The beauty about this game is you’re going to find out what you’re all about — good, bad or indifferent — as long as you stay true to yourself,” Wynalda said. “I think the Desert Conference, more so than other places, you see so much personality. You have to overcome a lot of adversity at times. That’s really important in your development as a player.”
A look at where the girls’ divisions stand after the Phoenix weekend…
- In the 12U Girls age group, Arsenal Colorado 10 Girls Academy finished with 18 points, but UCSC Blu Sox Premier G10 is just two points back with one game left to play.
- A Las Vegas Surf Select G09 win on Sunday, combined with a Wasatch SC 09G PO draw, allowed the Nevada side to finish in first place in a tight race at the top of the 13U Girls age group.
- The 14U Girls age group still have some games remaining that will impact the final placements at the top of the table. Las Vegas Surf Select G08 currently leads the group with 14 points, but Arsenal Colorado 08 Girls Academy and Impact MN are both just one point back with games remaining.
- Vegas United '07 Girls Elite is the lone team in the 15U Girls age group that has yet to drop points, as it picked up three wins in Phoenix.
- L30 Masia G06 showcased a powerful attack in Phoenix, as it scored 14 goals en route to a 3-0-0 start in the 16U Girls age group.
- Avalanche 05 Black DW is off to a 4-0-0 start and holds an early lead in the 17U Girls age group. CCV STARS 05 Girls PEO also picked up all possible points over the weekend and is just behind Avalanche.
- Utah Celtic G03 held on for a 2-1 win against UCSC Northern Peaks on Sunday in a matchup of unbeaten teams. The win allowed Celtic to move to 4-0-0 and keep a spot on top of the standings.
A look at where the boys’ divisions stand after the Phoenix weekend…
- RSL AZ 10 Boys West Espinoza capped off its title-winning 12U Boys campaign with a win on Sunday to finish 7-0-0.
- Sparta B09 Premier JK and CASA FC Inter Sandoval 09 each finished with 19 points in the 13U Boys standings, but Sparta managed to secure the top spot thanks to an edge in goal differential.
- A win on Sunday allowed Diversity FC 08 National League to move to 5-1-1 and claim the top spot in the 14U Boys age group.
- The 15U Boys age group features one of the tightest tables in the conference, as four teams are within a point of the top after three games of play. Downtown LVSC 07 Gold, Tuzos Academy 07 Jonathan and La Roca-J Milla each secured seven points in Phoenix, while La Roca TJ finished with six.
- Las Vegas Pros FC 06 Boys and La Roca Salt Lake 2006 D. Acosta each started strong in the 16U Boys age group, as both sides went 3-0-0 in Phoenix with identical plus-9 goal differentials.
- Every team has played four games in the 17U Boys age group, and just two have come away unbeaten. LVSA 05 Boys Red and RSL AZ 05 Boys Haouala each secured 10 points, but LVSA has an edge in goal differential thanks to a defense that has yet to concede a goal.
- Downtown LVSC 04 Gold has shown a strong all-around game in the 18U Boys age group, as it started 4-0-0 in league play. Downtown has conceded just once while netting 13 goals.
- In the 19U Boys age group, 03 Boys RSL Southern Haouala has yet to drop any points, as it secured four wins from as many games. Meanwhile, Sparta Premier 03B MD/AH is also undefeated after picking up three wins and a draw during the action in Phoenix.
The next Desert Conference event will take place Feb. 25-27, 2022, in Las Vegas, as boys and girls teams in the 15U-19U age groups take the field to resume their conference seasons.