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MESA, Ariz. (Jan. 26, 2023) — Several of the top 15U-19U Boys teams and players in the US Youth Soccer National League competed Jan. 22-24 in Mesa, Ariz. The event featured teams from both National League P.R.O. and Elite 64, and all games took place at Bell Bank Park, Powered by Legacy Sports USA.
The Elite 64 matches allowed players from US Youth Soccer’s top club-based league to compete against each other in unique matchups. Meanwhile, National League P.R.O. — the top team-based league in US Youth Soccer — featured games that saw league standings near their final form and teams begin to secure berths to the 2023 US Youth Soccer National Championships.
During the action in Mesa, 18 boys teams secured their place in the National Championships via National League P.R.O.
“It feels amazing. We set that goal for ourselves at the start of the season,” said defender Bo Robertson of 19U Group A winner Oregon Premier 04/05B (OR). “Right when we joined National League P.R.O., we had our eyes set on winning it the whole time. Now, it’s winning Nationals. Our priorities change, and we’re not satisfied yet.
“Playing some of greatest competition in the nation is an honor, especially to finish on top of National League P.R.O.”
2023 USYS National Championships | Qualifiers via National League P.R.O. (Boys)
*National League P.R.O. Group Champion
15U Boys – Group A
Pateadores SC Nashville 2008B (TN)
Las Vegas Diversity FC 08 NL (NV)
15U Boys – Group B
Utah Celtic FC 08 Boys (UT)*
Yardley Makefield Soccer 08B Celtic (PA-E)
16U Boys – Group A
Hoosier FC 2007 Elite Wolves (IN)*
16U Boys – Group C
La Roca Milla SC (UT)*
17U Boys – Group A
LFA Goddard 2006B (MO)
JB Marine Academy McKeon 06B (MO)
17U Boys – Group B
Juventus Academy Boston EDS N 06 Bianco (MA)
CFJC 2006B Premier (IL)
18U Boys – Group A
Galaxy 2005 Boys Blue (IL)*
Indiana Fire 2005B NL (IN)
18U Boys – Group C
FC Bucks Dominion 05 Boys (PA-E)*
SAC Boys 2005 Pre-Academy (MD)
19U Boys – Group A
Oregon Premier FC 04/05B Academy (OR)*
LFA Williams 2004B (MO)
Galaxy 2004 Boys Yellow (IL)
19U Boys – Group B
Spire FC 2004 Boys (OH)*
“Once again, we got to see the best boys teams in Elite 64 and National League P.R.O. competing at the same event,” National League Commissioner Simon Collins said. “While the Arizona temperatures were cold, the on-field competition provided plenty of heat — seeing our top teams from across the country fighting hard to either earn their place at Nationals through NL P.R.O. or to prove their status in the club-based Elite 64 — making it an amazing event.
“We can’t wait to see the boys in the younger age groups continue the great performances when they take the field Feb. 10-13 in Tampa.”
Mesa Look Back: National League P.R.O.
Recap some of the NL P.R.O. matchups and performances from Mesa…
Utah Celtic FC 08 Boys (UT) earned its sixth win in as many games with a 2-0 victory against Savannah United 08B Premier (GA) on Tuesday — helping Celtic clinch the top spot in NL P.R.O. 15U Group B.
Needing a win to clinch the group title, Celtic grabbed an early advantage with a goal in the 6th minute of action. The Utah side took another step closer to securing a first-place finish by doubling its lead through a Chris Castro strike in the 36th minute.
The Celtic back line held strong in the second half, as the team secured its fourth clean sheet of the season en route to the 2-0 victory and Group B title.
Four 16U Group A teams entered Monday unbeaten, but just two walked away without losses as the top four sides in the standings matched up in Mesa.
Tied for second place with identical 3-0-1 records, Hoosier FC 2007 Elite Wolves (IN) and Bethesda Blue 2007 (MD) played a closely contested game that came down to the final minutes. After controlling several periods of play throughout the contest, Hoosier FC finally broke through in the final minutes. Shawn Houser received a 78th-minute through ball on the right side of the box and hammered a shot to the near post that found the net — providing the difference in Hoosier’s 1-0 victory.
The win allowed Hoosier FC to move to the top of the standings, thanks to a 4-0 Spire FC 2007 Boys (OH) win over previous group leader Potomac Premier I 07B (MD) on Monday.
Hoosier won its final game in Mesa to clinch the Group A title, while the second spot in the group is still up in the air with some seventh games left to play.
Two of the teams that entered Tuesday in a three-way tie atop the 17U Group C standings squared off on their final day in Mesa, as Dix Hills EST Ultimatum B2006 (NY-E) and Juventus Miami Buffon (FL) played to a 1-1 draw.
The first strike of the game came courtesy of Garfield Gillespie, whose 25th-minute goal put Dix Hills in front, 1-0. The Eastern New York side’s lead lasted just 10 minutes, as Jordan Bueso netted an equalizer for Juventus to send the teams into the second half knotted at 1-1.
Juventus enjoyed periods of play in the attacking third and saw a couple half-chances narrowly miss the mark. Neither side managed to produce a winner in the final minutes, and they settled for a split of the points with the draw. Arsenal FC of Pittsburgh 06B Academy (PA-W) won its final game in Arizona to take sole possession of first place in Group C with one game remaining for all sides.
Potomac Blue 05B (MD) came away with a crucial three points on Monday in an extremely tight 18U Group B, as it secured a 3-2 win against Future SA 05 (NJ).
Future grabbed the opening goal from a corner kick, as Aidan Browen sent a 22nd-minute near-post header into the net. Potomac replied quick from a corner of its own when Azaria Tewodros followed an initial attempt that hit the crossbar and headed in the rebound.
The Maryland side went up before halftime with another assist from the woodwork, as Eyakeam Samson followed up a shot off the post and hit it into the open net. Potomac added a third in the 87th minute when Samson squared a ball to Joe Emmanuel Balumuene for a first-touch finish. Future immediately responded with a flicked volley by Alexander Hlawacz, but Potomac held on in the final minutes to claim the 3-2 win.
Four teams are still alive for the top-two finishes in Group B, with each side having its seventh game left to play.
Spire FC 2004 Boys (OH) completed an unbeaten 19U Group B campaign with a 3-1 win on Tuesday against ID Houston Legends 04B (TX-S) — giving the Ohio side the NL P.R.O. group title.
Spire wasted little time in gaining an advantage, as Petar Janjetovic netted the opener in just the 3rd minute. Colin Link doubled the Spire lead when he found the back of the net in the 26th minute, but ID Houston pulled a goal back shortly after when Kenneth Escobar Lopez scored to cut the Spire lead to 2-1 after a busy opening 30 minutes.
Nolan Spicer helped extend the Spire lead back to two goals, as his 56th-minute strike put his side in front, 3-1. Spire did well to see out the final 35 minutes and secured the win it needed to clinch first place in Group B.
To view all of the standings and results from the National League P.R.O. season, click here.
Mesa Look Back: Elite 64
Fresh off winning its first two showcase games at National League Mesa, Sporting Blue Valley Elite 64 08B saved its best performance for last. Dispatching Princeton SA Elite 64 08B 3-0, Sporting cemented an undefeated week against some top competition.
Alexander Cadena opened the scoring in the first half, putting his side in front in the third minute. Even though the score remained as such for the rest of the period, Sporting Blue Valley frequently threatened for more and came close numerous times.
Connor Dierks’ second-half double, with goals coming in the 50th and 79th minutes, put the marks on a deserving win and a strong showing out west for the side from Kansas.
Chicago FC United Elite 64 07B and Boise Timbers I Thorns Elite 64 07B’s draw provided a great opportunity for both teams in their first E64 showcase match out west.
Chicago FC United struck first, with Adrian Jaramillo’s eighth-minute goal giving his side an early edge. Boise Timbers made sure not to fall behind for long, however, and Fabian Arguello’s headed goal leveled the game once more in the 19th minute.
In a competitive second half, the side from Oregon had the best chance to go ahead. Following a foul from FC United, Boise Timbers had a golden opportunity in the form of a penalty kick, but FC United’s keeper made a terrific save to keep the game even.
National League Mesa’s Elite 64 showcase play was highly competitive throughout the event, and Chicago FC United Elite 64 06B and Princeton SA Elite 64 06B’s contest provided one final entertaining match.
Both teams entered the finale having produced strong offensive efforts out west, with each breaking the five-goal mark in one of their prior two matches.
Chicago FC United and Princeton SA were evenly matched, though, and instead of a high-scoring affair, this was a close game with a one goal margin. Kyle Moore’s 57th minute winner for Princeton was the difference in this one and proved a fitting sendoff in Mesa.
Following a win in its first showcase match during National League Mesa, El Paso Locomotive Academy Elite 64 04/05B’s performance against Oregon Premier FC Elite 64 04/05B set them up to play for an undefeated week during its finale tomorrow.
Peleg Armendariz’s follow-up effort on a saved shot produced the first goal for El Paso in the eighth minute. The South Texas squad used that initial goal to propel them into the half with a lead, where they would go on take control of the match in the second period.
Diego Garcia added El Paso’s second in the 52nd minute after dispossessing Oregon Premier deep in their own half, and then Peleg Armendariz’s added his second of the day -- a cool finish from the penalty spot -- just three minutes later. Rodrigo Chavira put the finishing touches on an impressive performance for El Paso with a goal in the 75th minute, cementing a strong shutout win.
To view all of the results from the Elite 64 action in Mesa, click here.
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Click here to view a full list of National League P.R.O. events for the 2022-23 season, and click here to view a full list of Elite 64 national events for the 2022-23 season.
About USYS National League P.R.O.
USYS National League P.R.O. represents the top team-based competition in the USYS National League. National League P.R.O. provides teams in the 14U-19U Boys and Girls age groups with the ability to earn their place into the league, where they have the opportunity to play against the top teams in the country while competing for berths to the USYS National Championships. For each gender, 12 teams per age group will advance to the National Championships from National League P.R.O.
About USYS National League Elite 64
USYS National League Elite 64 represents the elite club-based platform in the USYS National League. Elite 64 features year-round competition in six age groups (13U through 18/19U) for the top 64 boys clubs and top 64 girls clubs in the country. The annual competition calendar includes the league season, national showcases and the Elite 64 National Finals. Thanks to partnerships with world leaders in their respective fields, Elite 64 players have access to tools and technology to capture key information that can be shared with college coaches and professional scouts — making every game a recruitable moment.