CARSON, Calif. (July 16, 2009) – Earning their second straight title, Carmel United SC defeated D.C. United 1-0 this evening to win the 2009 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Finals Week U-17/18 Championship at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Midfielder Nikita Kotlov netted the game-winner in the 29th minute on a strong solo effort, while goalkeeper Jon Dawson notched three saves – including one huge stop late in the match – in the winning effort.
Carmel United won the inaugural Under-15/16 Championship in 2008, and returned to Finals Week this year with 10 of the players from their title-winning squad. Led by head coach Dave Costa during both championship campaigns, Carmel has never lost a single game at the Academy Finals Week, compiling a 6-0-2 record.
“This is a special feeling to win the championship again,” said Carmel United SC head coach Dave Costa. “This group of players have guys that played together since they were 11 years old. These kids have great chemistry. There’s a lot of character in the entire team. You mix in a couple of special players that have come along over the years and I think you just get the right ingredients to make a successful team.”
The game started with energy and promise of a high tempo affair. However, by the 15th minute, the match settled into a tense rhythm with both teams searching for an advantage. Most of the battles were being contested in the midfield as both defenses remained tight, playing safe in order not to give away a crucial error.
After almost half an hour without any dangerous chances for either side, the breakthrough came from an early ball out of the back from defender Jared Isenthal down the left sideline. Kotlov, who had the fastest 20 meter sprint and third highest overall SPARQ rating of all players at the Development Academy Showcase in Sarasota, Fla., tracked down the pass near the end line despite a D.C. United defender seeming to have the opportunity to collect the pass first. The Carmel midfielder used his strength to win the ball before his defender was able to control and quickly darted inside the box. With the goal directly in his sights, he looked up and drove a shot near the corner of the six-yard box to the far post past an outstretched Abdul Hamid.
The first half would continue in the same vein as Carmel played high pressure and saw a majority of the possession. At half, both teams had only two shots on goal and just three corner kicks between them.
The second half started with D.C. United pushing for the equalizer and playing better overall compared to the first 45 minutes. They created two chances within the first seven minutes and were looking to will themselves back into the match, however, Carmel continued to be dangerous as well, missing on a close chance of their own that Hamid did well to save.
By the 60th minute, Carmel began to assert themselves on the match, enjoying a majority of the possession and doing well to keep D.C.’s midfield out of synch. The D.C. strikers, Chris Hegngi and Andy Najar, struggled to get going at times during the match as the Carmel defense stood resolute, but were able to create their best chance in the the 81st minute. After a pass was deflected into the air, Najar positioned himself under the ball and skillfully controlled it with his chest, turned and ripped a full volley from the top of the box. Dawson hadn’t been tested much, but the Carmel ‘keeper was able to get his fingertips to the strike and tip it just barely enough to redirect it off the inside of the post. The ball rolled across the face of the goal but for D.C. agonizingly didn’t find the back of the net and Dawson quickly collected the rebound.
The remainder of the match was killed off by Carmel, who either held possession or cleared any dangerous balls out of their defensive area. Carmel also were able to find times to go forward, and had a couple attempts on goal, including a close strike from Harrison Petts that Hamid did well to save.
Development Academy U-17/18 Championship Match Report
Match: Carmel United SC vs D.C. United
Date: July 16, 2009
Competition: Development Academy Finals Week; Championship Match
Venue: The Home Depot Center; Carson, Calif.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. PT
Weather: 62 degrees, clear
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
CAR 1 0 1
DCU 0 0 0
CAR – Nikita Kotlov (Jared Isenthal) 29th minute
CAR: 35-Jon Dawson; 13-James Vollmer, 18-Tyrone Martin, 23-Michael Wignot, 6-Jared Isenthal; 5-Nikita Kotlov, 4-Jarrett Baughman, 19-Jeremy Vollmer, 21-Harrison Petts, 8-Ryan Fier (10-AJ Corrado, 66); 12-Matthew Sanner (7-Austin Oldham, 84)
DCU: 1-Abdul Hamid; 26-Alex Herrera (24-Myles McGinley, 84), 6-Ethan White, 12-Kevin McBride, 3-Nicky Yin (19-Chris Perez, 72); 22-Michael Funes, 33-Julio Arjona, 10-Paul Torres; 15-Andy Najar, 8-Shane Cook (20-Michael Burgos, 57), 9-Christopher Hegngi
Stats Summary: CAR / DCU
Shots: 17 / 11
Shots on Goal: 7 / 3
Saves: 3 / 6
Corner Kicks: 3 / 4
Fouls: 9 / 6
Offside: 4 / 1