Everyone’s heard the old adage: defense wins championships. If the old adage is true, Concorde Fire seems to be a good bet for the Under-15 age group of this weekend’s US Youth Soccer Region III Championships.
The Atlanta area squad made it to the semifinals of last year’s regional, winning four games by scores of 1-0, 2-1, 1-0 and 1-0. The then held eventual champion Dallas Texans to a scoreless draw in regulation in the semifinals, before losing in the second overtime frame.
“If our defense holds up, we can play with anyone,” says coach Everett Webb. He also knows his team is hungry after last year’s disappointment.
“We really have a bit of unfinished business from last year,” he says. “Having gone through that and come so close, we know we came up a bit short, and we kind of use that as a rallying cry for this season.”
This year, Concorde Fire came out hot as ever, despite losing a handful of starters to the club’s academy team. They earned their second straight trip to the regional tournament thanks to a victory in the Southern Premier League. And Webb says that with the way the defense has been playing, he’s confident his boys can rise to the challenge.
Team captain Ericson Bean “really locks down the back,” for the Fire, according to Webb. Fellow defender Tyler Chiu is also an instrumental part of this stellar defense. Offensively, if Channing Park and Jake Mezei can get moving off the ball, we could see a largely defensive team put up some big scoring numbers. It’s all held together in the midfield by Danny Johnston, who is charged with controlling the tempo.
“The talent is there, and we look forward to these kinds of games,” says Webb. “We feel good about our chances.”
FC Dallas (Group D) – They’ve won their last three tournaments, including Copa ESPN, North Texas State Cup and the Ken Smith Memorial Day Tournament
CASL (Group C) – Some big tournament wins in the past six months have shown this team can compete.
Concorde Fire (Group C) – the Georgia State Cup champ was also a Disney Showcase finalist.
Oklahoma FC (Group B) – State Cup win sends team to first Regional tournament
West Pines United (Group A) – Quarterfinalists last year before losing to eventual champion Dallas Texans.
Under-15 Players to Watch
Dominic Jensen, MF, CASL – Regional ODP player looks to control the tempo
Austen Parker, GK, Oklahoma FC – Stellar performance in State Cup helped get OFC here
Sergio Lara, F, FC Dallas – One of the age group’s top scorers at last year’s regionals
Louis Brown, F, West Pines United – WPU’s leading scorer last year at the Region III tournament
Sheffield Young, MF, Vestavia Steamers – Could be a sparkplug for this little-known Alabama squad
Jean Orvil, West Pines United – Region III ODP player and member of the US Soccer Youth National Team player pool
Nicolas Zedan, West Pines United – Region III ODP player and member of the US Soccer Youth National Team player pool
Channing Park, GSA– Region III ODP performer
Josef Samuel , GSA– US Soccer Youth National Team player