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Friday, March 23, 2012
National League: Titles still up for grabs

By Sheldon Shealer

The US Youth Soccer National League wraps up play for the 2012 season this weekend in Las Vegas with eight age group titles on the line. Each group winner advances to the US Youth Soccer National Championships this summer.

ESPNHS previews this week's National League's key match-ups:

Under-18
Blue Division
Leader:
Lou Fusz Gold (Mo), 15 points (finished)
In The Running: Annandale United (Va.) 2-0-2, 8 points; Penn Fusion (Pa.) 2-2, 6 points
Key Match: Annandale United vs. Penn Fusion, Sunday
Outlook: By the time Sunday's showdown rolls around, the issue may be settled. Annandale will need a perfect run to snag the title and Penn Fusion needs a 3-0 showing just to tie for the top spot. Annandale United seems to have plenty of firepower with EK Korvah and Eric Schmidt, who have six goals each through the team's first four matches.

Red Division
Leader:
Javanon (Ky.), 11 points (finished)
In The Running: Grand Rapids Crew Juniors (Mich) 3-0-0, 9 points; Dallas Texans (Texas) 1-0-2, 5 points; Rush Nike (N.M.) 1-1-1, 4 points.
Key Match: Grand Rapids Crew vs. Rush Nike, Friday
Outlook: Grand Rapids Crew Juniors is in the driver's seat in this division. All it needs is one win to overtake Javanon and two wins will secure a title and the National Championship berth for the defending national champions. Keep an eye on Sean Conerty (four goals) and Jason Stacy (three goals) for Grand Rapids Crew Juniors.

Under-17
Blue Division
Leader:
Beadling (Pa.), 11 points; AHFC (Texas), 11 points (both finished)
In The Running: Albion White (Calif.) 3-1, 9 points; Galaxy (Ill.) 1-0-3, 6 points.
Key Match: Albion White vs. Galaxy, Friday
Outlook: Albion needs only one win to head back to the national tournament. Meanwhile, Galaxy needs a near perfect weekend to snag the top spot. Friday's opener could pretty well seal the deal if it goes Albion's way.

Red Division
Leader:
Raiders (Ill.), 16 points (finished)
In The Running: Eastside FC (Wash.) 4-0-0, 12 points
Key Match: Eastside vs. Downtown Rapid (Nev.), Sunday
Outlook: Eastside, led by Jordan Morris' offense, plays the three bottom teams in the standing this week and needs only two wins to claim the outright division title.

Under-16
Blue Division
Leader:
OBGC Rangers (Md.), 15 points (finished)
In The Running: Scottsdale (Ariz.), 3-0-1, 10 points
Key Match: Scottsdale vs. WAZA Black (Mich.)
Outlook: A 2-1 showing this weekend will give Scottsdale the title, which is very possible given Scottsdale opponents are a combined 3-6-3 in National League play.

Red Division
Leader:
GSA (Ga.), 15 points (finished)
In The Running: Beachside (Conn.) 2-1-1, 7 points; Michigan Jaguars 2-2, 6 points
Key Match: Beachside vs. Michigan Jaguars, Friday
Outlook: This group may be settled on Friday. If the Beachside-Jaguars match ends in a tie, GSA wins the division. However, if there is a winner Friday, that team remains alive for the chase for first. Michigan Jaguars' Ken Krolicki, who has three goals in four matches, will be a player to watch this weekend.

Under-15
Blue Division
Leader:
Chicago Magic (Ill.), 14 points (finished)
In The Running: Albion SC (Calif.) 2-2, 6 points
Key Match: Albion SC vs. CUP Crew Juniors (Ohio), Saturday
Outlook: Anything short of a 3-0 weekend by Albion will leave the Chicago Magic as the group champion. Albion will need big production from Emmanuel Lopez to stay in the race.

Red Division
Leader:
Smithtown Arsenal (N.Y.), 12 points (finished)
In The Running: CUP Crew Juniors (Ohio) 3-0-1, 10 points; SLSG Academy (Mo.), 3-0-1, 10 points
Key Match: CUP Crew Juniors vs. SLSG Academy, Friday
Outlook: Smithtown's group lead may disappear after Friday's round. CUP Crew Juniors and SLSG Academy are in control of their destinies this week and Friday's clash will set the tone.