All three teams posed for a photo under the famous Las Vegas sign.
Front Row: SDU Arsenal team members (U18 boys) - Left to right - Derek Dreher, Christian Whitesell, Erik Mendez, Dalton Keiser, Matt Post, Brier Derby, Josh Burr, Nick Tschakert, Caleb Smith, Levi Peterson, Adam Johnson (missing Gio Gusmano and Kyle Jensen)
Middle Row: SDU Pachuca team members (U16 Boys) - Left to right - John Gregg, Brennan Lytle, Blake Bacon, Radovan Mirkovic, Brandon VanMeter, Isa Rodriguez, Scott Jensen, Braxton Large, Colin Zimprich, Cole Cruse, Derek Beaumont, Adam Brandner, Trey Culver, Morgan Ness, Jordon Haefs, Derek Leiferman
Back Row: SDU Barcelona team members (U17 Boys) - left to right - Jordan Kaubisch, Zuheer Al-Abase, Tyler Greener, Matt Deboer, Ekow Annan, Jordy Henderson, Alejandro Peralta, Miah Wills, Zach Donnelly, Lyle Lehmann, Brywn Ractliffe, Griffin Schroeder, Ryan Martire, Adam Belhaj
SDU Pachuca played 4 games while down in Las Vegas and those matches were against Forza FC (Salt Lake City, UT), NSYSL Anfield United (Las Vegas, NV), Cleveland FC (Cleveland, OH) and Elm Grove Blues (Elm Grove, WI). SDU Pachuca lost their first match 2-3 against Forza FC and then bouncing back with a hard fought tie against NSYSL Anfield United, 0-0. This tie was significant because the SDU Pachuca boys played 90% of the game a man down due to a red card early in the match. Coach Amber Briden had this to say about the match,”It was a hard fought match and I thought the boys played extremely well given the situation with the early red card.”
On Sunday the Pachuca boys were in a great position to get 2nd in their bracket possibly but a late goal by Cleveland FC thwarted that effort handing the Pachuca boys a tough 0-1 loss. In the boys’ final match, which was a consolation match, the boys had the lead again going into the final moments thanks to a counter attack goal by Brennan Lytle until a questionable late call gave the boys from Elm Grove a free kick from the top of the 18 yd box, which they capitalized on thanks to a perfectly placed kick. The Pachuca boys would have to settle for another draw since the referee blew the whistle for the match as soon as the ball was taken out of the net. Coach Briden on the weekend for the boys, “Overall I thought that these boys played well this weekend being their first outdoor tournament since November and that we also have a new group of boys that have never played together. There is room for growth and I am excited to see that develop with the spring and summer season coming upon us.”
SDU Barcelona played 4 matches as well while at the tourney. Their opponents for these matches were Blitz United FC (Tulsa, OK), Futeca Camp Elite Premier (Guatemala), Chivas JR USA (Fontana, CA) and Downtown Rapids 96 Gold (Las Vegas, NV). The Barca boys had a tough run of games losing 3 and tying their final match against the home team from Las Vegas, 3-3. The highlight of the weekend for the boys was their match though against their international competition from Guatamala. The match saw a scoreless 1st half and then lots of fireworks in the 2nd half. Guatemala scored 1st with Barca drawing even shortly after on a goal from winger Ekow Annan. Guatemala then pulled ahead again later on in the half with a beautiful upper 90 shot by their elusive striker. Barca would again answer shortly after on a counter attack goal by striker Adam Belhaj. The match looked to be heading towards a draw when in the final moments the team from Guatemala got a break away goal again by the same striker that put them up earlier in the match. The match would end in a 3-2 loss for the boys but respect had been earned as Guatemala never gave up any other goals in any of their other three matches. Coach Derry on the weekend, “There were some moments of greatness out there this weekend by our boys and some other moments of learning. Overall for the weekend I felt that we played pretty well considering every team we played had been playing on grass for the months leading up to this tourney and we hadn’t seen an outdoor pitch since Nov. I think we have some great things ahead of us this spring and summer!”
SDU Arsenal’s 4 opponents for the tournament in Las Vegas were Heat FC 95 (Las Vegas, NV), Joga FC (Salt Lake City, UT), Grand Junction Fire (Grand Junction, CO) and Beijing Ethos Saints (Beijing, China). SDU Arsenal were in every match they played missing several scoring chances and for the most part having the run of play in each and every match. But, again, due to the lack of outdoor matches leading up to the tourney they just couldn’t find the scoring touch to put away the games. There were several highlights from the weekend for the boys but probably the most exciting was their 1-0 win over Grand Junction Colorado. Coach Briden on the match and the game winning goal, “We dominated that game for 90% of it. We had some chances that were missed, but then Brier Derby made an attack on the wing and struck the ball outside the 18 yd box. The ball floated nicely and went in the upper 90 over the keeper. It was a beautiful goal! It was a good win for this boys, as they dominated the game for the majority of the time and it was nice to see it pay off.”
The final match of the weekend for all of the SDU teams and of course Arsenal was the match against Beijing China. This was a very back and forth match that saw both teams attacking the goal with a certain vigor and looking to make that game changing moment each time they touched the ball.
Coach Briden on the game, “It was a game of equal talent, unfortunately they capitalized on their attacks where we came up just a little short. This weekend overall is some of the best soccer that I have seen Arsenal play. That is the game of soccer though, you can dominate a game for a majority of the time but still come up short on the score board. Given that most of these boys have not played together since State last year, I was really impressed with the level of soccer that they brought to Las Vegas. I am proud to be a part of the South Dakota United organization and felt that we represented South Dakota well.”
Overall for the weekend the SDU boys had a very respectable showing at one of the largest and most competitive tournaments in the nation. The SDU Pachuca and SDU Arsenal boys each played opponents who were in the Championship matches of their divisions and SDU Barcelona played the eventual tournament champions for the U17 boys, Blitz United FC. All in all there are great things ahead for each of these teams as both SDU Pachuca and SDU Barcelona gearing up for their matches in the MRL (Midwest Regional League) and SDU Arsenal has several matches set up including matches against local colleges DWU and Mount Marty.