Friday, July 20, 2012

Los Kickers

Thankfully Pateadores don't call themselves that. 

Whenever I see jerseys plastered with an "El" or a "Los" preceding the team's American name, seriously lame vibes are received. I get that it's a marketing ploy, but it always feels forced and kind of cheap. As I said though, the jerseys are not made for me and I am quite capable of getting over it. Pateadores translates to "Kickers," hence this mini-rant is not completely unwarranted.

The club itself, based out of Mission Viejo, Calif., prides itself on an "aggressive, territorial and graceful" style of play. This is said to be represented by the black swan in the team crest. In fact, the four segments of the swan in the 25-year-old club's crest are said to commemorate the four original squads (Under-19, -17, -16 and -15). While the club itself deserves applause for producing upwards of 100 college and professional players, one has to admire the blend of "Worlds" Old and New in its badge. The three alternating vertical stripes of blue and white are reminiscent of some classic Latin American emblems while the Swan in the foreground above the initials "RMO" is sufficiently Europhilic. See for yourself:

Look Ma, no "1836," "Sporting," or "Real."
The "RMO" stands for former American international Robert M. O'Leary, the team's founder and original director and coach who died in 1993 at the far-too-early age of 42. The Galaxy's Jose Villarreal and Rangers' Maurice Edu are among the club's recent alumni.

Last year Villarreal led the team to the U-18 title with two goals in the final over FC Dallas. This year's U-16 squad gave itself a real chance to do the same after a Brian Pacheco hat trick against Charlotte Soccer Academy. While falling to his left, Tomas Hillard-Arce put Charlotte ahead in the 33rd minute, but the lead was to be short-lived as Pacheco tapped in a cross dropped by Charlotte keeper James Pyle in the 40th. Another error at the back gave Pacheco space on the left flank before cutting in for a right-footed finish. As Charlotte fought a losing battle for its tournament life, Pacheco again exploited the Carolina team's defense with Kyle Pianzo putting Pacheco through on goal for his third and final.

In the all-MLS fixture of Group 1, the Chicago Fire and New York Red Bulls ground their way through the first half without a goal. Considering the offensive firepower of the two squads it was a bit of a surprise. Both teams averaged around more than two goals per game in this academy season. Adam Najem would get the game's only goal just after halftime curling in a right-footed shot from 10 yards. The result means any points against Charlotte Saturday sees the Red Bulls through to the championship. Pateadores will look to beat the Fire and make up three goals of goal difference on New York to top the group. A Fire win while making up two goals on a defeated New York would send Chicago through.

Group 2 saw St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri all but assure itself of a spot in the championship with a 4-1 win over Crew Soccer Academy Wolves. Tommy Barlow nearly put SLSG Scott Gallagher ahead in the 12th minute, but Robbie Beckwell denied his doorstep header to preserve the tie in what was a frenetic opening stanza. Wolves' Ahinga Selemani opened the scoring minutes before the half with a powerful shot from 25 yards out. SLSG had the better of play in the early going and deservedly equalized just before the break, finishing a long ball after outpacing the Wolves defense. That unit might consider itself unlucky after two deflection set up Barlow from close range again. This time Beckwell was powerless to stop him and the St. Louis club led 2-1 before running away with goals from Barlow and an own-goaled Mark Segbers cross.

When DC United's Carlos Canas spilled a 7th-minute cross, Connor Maloney cleaned up for PA Classics. Just minutes later Ian Harkes - yep - chested down to Jorge Calix who finished from the edge of the box to equalize. A quick throw-in from PA Classics proved to be DC's undoing as the defense looked to be playing an offside trap when Drew Mahoney found Andrew Mannon wide open on top of the eighteen where he made no mistake in settling and finishing past Canas for the game-winner. PA Classics need a win over Wolves, an SLSG loss and eight goals made up on Scott Gallagher to get to the championship.

The goals:
 
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Tonight the North Carolina Fusion (3 points) and Vancouver Whitecaps (6 points) play for the U-18 Group 1 crown against De Anza Force and the Colorado Rapids respectively. Ben Fisk looks to score his third straight hat trick. That'd be special.

Group 2 comes down to Solar Chelsea (6 points) and FC Dallas (4 points). Chivas USA and Baltimore Bays Chelsea will play for a shot at fifth-place as both sit on a point apiece. In their three regular season meetings FC Dallas swept Solar, outscoring their Dallas rivals 10-0.

- Jacob Klinger

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