Sounders U-23 didn’t quite make it to the PDL final it will host Sunday at Starfire. But here’s a preview from the league:
The second-seeded New York Red Bulls U23 and top-seeded K-W United FC have advanced to the title match of the 2015 PDL Championship presented by Nike. NYRB U23 defeated third-seeded Ocala Stampede 2-1 in overtime and top-seeded K-W United defeated Sounders FC U23 1-0 at Starfire Stadium. Both clubs are in search of their first PDL crown.
The title game of the 2015 PDL Championship kicks off at 5 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on the PDL’s YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/USLPDL), with live updates also available through the league’s official Twitter account (@USLPDL).
NO. 2 NEW YORK RED BULLS U23 2, NO. 3 OCALA STAMPEDE 1 (AET) (RECAP): The New York Red Bulls U23’s Joe Farrell scored a go-ahead goal in the 114th minute and New York defeated the Ocala Stampede in overtime to advance to the title match of the 2015 PDL Championship presented by Nike.
Farrell’s winner developed from a Scott Thomson throw-in from the left side. Farrell turned with the ball and found an opening, looping his shot over Ocala goalkeeper Lex Craggs and into the back of the net as NYRB U23 held firm to win the semifinal match.
“From a developmental standpoint it’s an important moment for the guys to see how they react and deal with difficult situations,” NYRB U23 head coach Rob Elliot said. “They were pushed today. Ocala was a good team. We bent a few times there, but I think the guys were mentally strong and that’s important in terms of development too. I give our guys a lot of credit. We dug in and made some plays.”
NYRB U23 earned the early advantage in the seventh minute when Mike Innocenzi’s shot toward the near right post was nearly stopped by Craggs. The ball just crossed over the goal line, with the assistant referee confirming, as the Red Bulls took a 1-0 lead. Chris Thorsheim provided the assist to Innocenzi.
Despite New York’s heavy possession for much of the first half, Ocala found a way to break through the Red Bulls’ defense through Karamba Janneh. He made a strong run up the middle, then dribbled toward the right post and slotted inside the left of the frame to tie the score at 1-1 in the 38th minute.
Both sides had opportunities to gain the upper hand during regulation. One of the closest chances came in the 79th minute when Ocala’s Victor Parreiras unleashed a massive right-footed shot toward the upper left corner of the frame. Red Bulls goalkeeper Joe Ohaus was up to the task, stretching to his right to parry the ball for an Ocala corner kick.
Neither team could find the coveted second strike through regulation and the first 15-minute overtime period, until Farrell’s go-ahead goal during the final 15-minute stretch.
“We put Joe Farrell up there because he’s very good at holding the ball and he’s strong,” Elliot said. “He was able to get a little bit of space there and get it over the goalkeeper.”
NO. 1 K-W UNITED FC 1, NO. 4 SOUNDERS FC U23 0 (RECAP): Sounders FC U23 had the home field, Seattle Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid on hand for a portion of the match and a big advantage with a vocal fan base. Those elements did not halt a strong performance from Canada-based K-W United FC, which was in fact the home team on the scoreboard.
Julian Buscher, who played in only two regular-season matches for K-W, scored a free kick winner in stoppage time to lift his side to a victory against Sounders FC U23 in the semifinals of the 2015 PDL Championship presented by Nike.
The semifinal win catapulted K-W into its first PDL final on Sunday, where they will meet the New York Red Bulls U23.
“We found a breakthrough in the end,” K-W United head coach Chris Pozniak said. “We did have better chances, but Seattle is very good, very organized, and they have athletic and committed players. They’re dangerous on the counter, so it was always very nervy every time they came up the field because they came with four or five players attacking. You never know what’s going to happen if you don’t get that first goal.”
Top-seeded K-W controlled the majority of Saturday’s semifinal and also hit the frame multiple times. K-W had a strong attacking stretch in the 18th minute when Ben Polk’s shot was blocked off the goal line by the Seattle defense. The rebound popped out toward the top of the 18 and Oyvind Alseth’s strike caromed off the crossbar.
K-W hit the frame again later in the half as Sergio Camargo hit the left post in the 32nd minute.
The theme was familiar for K-W in the second have when Ken Krolicki’s 51st-minute shot hit the crossbar and then Sounders FC U23 goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell came up with perhaps the save of the match – a full-extension stretch to his left to deny Camargo.
With the game moving to stoppage time, it appeared that things were headed to overtime, but Buscher came through in the clutch. His free kick from above the box eluded Sounders FC U23’s four-man wall, dipped down and got past Caldwell inside the left post for the winner.