Chuck Keers is the Executive Director of Oregon Youth Soccer Association.

Day 6 (Sunday June 26, 2011)

Monday, June 27, 2011
Posted by: Chuck Keers
US Youth Soccer Far West Regionals
June 26, 2011
It was Red against White at 1:00 PM in Boise, Idaho. The defending National Champion U19 Boys Eastside United FC 91 Liverpool Red was going to play the Arizona Sereno 92 White to see who would be best in the west. The US Youth Soccer Far West Regional Championship was on the line. It was to be a rematch of the game played last Wednesday that ended in a 0-0 tie. It was the finals. The winner today would represent Region IV at the US Youth Soccer National Championships in Phoenix, Arizona in July. 
It was a clear afternoon, warm and breezy with barely a cloud in the sky when the game began. Sereno threatened early with a wild goal attempt over the crossbar. Mikhail Doholis made a good steal at minute 5 and then made a good pass to Sujinda Dangvan who brought it down the field for an unsuccessful goal attempt. Mikhail tired to put it in himself from in front of the goal at minute 8 but it was blocked by the Arizona keeper. A minute later Steven Hughes launched a corner to Dangvan who missed it with his foot. Mikhail was backing him up but also missed the ball. The goal was open if either had connected. Mikhail shot and missed again at minute 11 and at minute 14 Alexander Eckerson took a corner in open field and made a great shot that also missed. The Liverpool was pounding at the door but the fates would not let them in.
Nevada threatened again at minute 17 with a killer cross that fortunately didn’t find a friendly foot. Dangvan tried again at minute 19 but it sailed well high. A few minutes later Dangvan sent another one high, but this time only by inches and then tried a third time but was blocked by a defender. These were hard, serious shots and reflected the chemistry of the game and the mood of the Liverpool. 
Ricardo Carrillo showed very impressive speed and agility when he took the ball across the field in a burst of energy that seemed almost super-human. Like his teammates, however, when he turned and fired, his shot missed. The young ones called Liverpool all controlled the ball impressively, passing seemingly at will. At minute 28 Hughes kicked a corner to Steven Evans who passed it to Jonathan Flores in front with an open target but he blew it high as well. The Liverpool was out shooting the Sereno 5 to 1. A ball almost went in at minute 31 as Carrillo brought it down the left side and fired, only to have the Arizona keeper knock it down. That one was close. 
I no sooner wrote in my notes that Oregon seemed to be in comfortable control, in not dominating the game when Arizona sent one long that got some amazing help and went in. It was at minute 39 and it was a great shot by the Arizona player from far on the right side to a narrow target and just went inside the far post. 1-0 Arizona. Oregon had a few more chances the first half, the most notable was an attempted bicycle kick by Thomas Iwasaki at minute 44 in front of the goal but he didn’t connect well and the ball went wide. It was 1-0 at the half.
The second half started with Arizona threatening again early when a corner got nudged just above the goal. At minute 49, Hughes rolled a free kick untouched that slid just left of the post. The Liverpool fought hard. Caleb Nyone showed some spirit and great defense by chasing a breakaway Sereno player half the length of the field and kicking it clear in front of our goal. I held my breath minute 56 my breath as a high, arching Arizona shot actually bounced on top of the crossbar. 
At minute 58 Mikhail made a great cross that was unlucky and knocked away by a defender. It occurred to me that now the ball was spending much more time on our side of the field. The momentum seemed to have shifted. Then Eckerson made a great cross to Jonathan Flores who struck it hard just ten yards out, but it was blocked by the Sereno player with the big gloves. It was our best chance of the game up to that point. Then we returned the favor five minutes later when Arizona fired a shot from a free kick that keeper Ryan Harding knocked away with tremendous speed and timing.
Steven Evans came closer still with a header off a pass from Sujinda that just missed – I mean just inches over the crossbar. The guys were just not getting any breaks. To prove this point, at minute 80 a wild Arizona goal attempt flew high toward the goal and took a bad bounce that sailed over Harding’s head and limped in for Sereno goal number two. It was 2-0 Arizona.   
The guys fought on with more shots that simply did not get inside. Dangvan, Iwasaki, Doholis and Eckerson all tried in the last few minutes, but it simply wasn’t to be this time around. The whistle blew and the game was over. So were the hopes of back to back Regional Championships for the Liverpool Red.

The men played a heck of a game, though. One great shot and one fluke combined with no breaks at all on goal attempts was the difference. This is a great team. The men can be proud of their performance here this week. Second best U18 Boys team in the fourteen western United States is damn good. Heck, it is great. And nobody will ever take away the fact that they were and always will be the very best U18 Boys team in the nation in 2010. Nice job, men.

Day 5 (Saturday June 25, 2011)

Saturday, June 25, 2011
Posted by: Chuck Keers
US Youth Soccer Far West Regionals
June 25, 2011
Three were left standing as the sun came up over the arid plains around Boise, Idaho on the fifth day of competition of the US Youth Soccer Far West Regionals. The Cascade FC U12 Boys Real Madrid, the U17 Girls Oregon Rush 93 Nike and the U19 Boys Eastside United FC 91 Liverpool Red. Today was the Semi-Finals. Today was about getting to the Finals. Today, it was sunny again, but cool in the morning. There was no breeze and the grass was wet with dew.    
The U12 Boys got started today at 8:00 AM against the Cal North Mt. Hamilton YSL PAC Atlas. The Real Madrid had played like big boys yesterday defeating Utah 1-5. From the opening whistle today, however Cal came on strong.  They threatened at minute 2, and then scored in minute 5 with a high bouncer over keeper Benjamin Orozco’s head. 0-1, Atlas. A couple of minutes later Stewart Aeschliman took a shot on goal and missed only inches left. The Atlas scored again at minute 8 and then again at minute 13 when a close-in shot backed Orozco into the goal. Just like that it was 0-3 and the Real Madrid was playing uphill. The boys played hard, though, and when Orozco blocked a shot and got out of position trying to follow up on a rebound, Jonathan Ramirez saved a fourth Cal goal with some great defense at minute 20. Miguel Ponce Catarino contributed by popping a good one through traffic at minute 25, but the Atlas keeper didn’t let it in.  The score at the half was 0-3.
The good news in the second half was that the Oregon boys held Cal North scoreless, but the bad news was that they couldn’t make a goal of their own. They tried mightily, however. The game got “chippy” in the last ten minutes or so as frustration began to grow within the Salem-based team. It didn’t help that Joshua Bailey was literally picked up and thrown down by an Atlas player and the offender only got a caution. These are some impressive young men. They played an exceptionally strong Cal North team and made a game of it. Aeschliman continually impresses with footwork and ball control way beyond his years. Orozco played his heart out, too – they all did. This team is going places. 
The U17 Girls Oregon Rush 93 Nike game against the Southern California Blues also started at 8:00 AM and I joined the girls a few minutes into the second half. The first half ended 1-1; the score for the Rush coming from a PK by Alexandria (“Alex”) Carter at about minute 10. I was told it was a pretty even first half but in the first few minutes of the second half the Blues scored twice, making it 1-3, Cal South. The girls continued to play well, not giving up any more goals in the second half, but they were also not able to convert their efforts into points, either. I saw Kristen Parr aggressively bring the ball through multiple defenders only to have her shot miss just high and left of the far post. Courtney Shearer, the Rush keeper, made save after save to keep the differential respectable. This game could have gone either way, but the Blues had more shots on goal and for sure had more get in. That is, I am told, how they determine the winner. This had to be a disappointing loss, but the young women can hold their heads high…being third in the Region is an outstanding accomplishment. 
Ten O’clock in the morning and there is only one left standing…the defending US Youth Soccer National Champions, the U19 Boys ESU 91 Liverpool Red. They were squaring off against the Nevada Las Vegas Premier 92. The Liverpool got off to a fast start as two minutes in Sujinda Dangvan kicked one that literally rolled over the crossbar. A few minutes later Tyler Pummel made a great pass to Steven Evens but it, too, just missed. Mikhail Doholis broke the ice at minute 18 with a break-away from midfield and rolled it hard along the ground past the Vegas keeper. Liverpool 1, Vegas Premier 0. 
Liverpool keeper Ryan Harding made some great saves at minute 27. The ball was bouncing around in front of the goal for 10 seconds while several Nevada strikers bounced it off of Ryan until he stopped it cold. Mikhail bounced one off of a Vegas defender in front of their goal at minute 34 but nobody was near the bounce-back to capitalize. A few minutes later, however, Steven Evans approached a high bouncing ball about 35 yards out, turned and fired a rocket that never touched a defender or the ground until it rolled down the inside back of the net. 2-0 Oregon.
The young men from the northwest were playing well, seeming to be able to move the ball at will. Ricardo Carrillo showed impressive speed and style right before the end of the half as he blocked a shot with his face, then dribbled across the field outrunning first one, two, then three defenders; and when he got out front, he took the shot but it sailed high, over the goal. The half ended 2-0.
In the first minute of the second half, Thomas Iwasaki had a hard shot on goal blocked by the keeper. Harding made another great one-on-one save for the Liverpool a few minutes later. Sujinda Dangvan missed a close one at minute 53 after bringing it most of the length of the field. Evans got fouled just past the 18 and the free kick was perfectly executed by Dangvan off the hands of the keeper. It was now 3-0. It was beginning to look like the Liverpool might just win this one. Ricardo Carrillo made a great pass to Doholis at minute 65, but the header attempt was slightly off the mark. It was a beautiful play, none-the-less. Another beautiful play was a dramatic one-handed deflection by keeper Harding in minute 89 that kept it a 3-0 shut-out for the Liverpool. All-in-all it was a very impressive exhibition.

The Liverpool faces Arizona's Sereno 92 White tomorrow, Sunday June 26, 2011 at 1:00 PM on field #20 at the Simplot Sports Complex in Boise, Idaho.  Be there or be square.

Day 4 (Friday June 24, 2011)

Friday, June 24, 2011
Posted by: Chuck Keers
US Youth Soccer Far West Regionals
June 24, 2011
It was cool and breezy on day for of the US Youth Soccer Far West Regionals in Boise, Idaho. It was the Quarter-Finals, single elimination; a day when the competition was sure to be tough.
There were two games at 8:00 AM and I started with the U12 Cascade FC Real Madrid U12 Boys who were playing the Arsenal RL from Utah. The Real Madrid got off to a fast start and at minute five when Jared Lee had a clear shot on goal with the Arsenal keeper out of position but the excitement of the moment caused him to sail it over the net. Not to worry, though, as the team from Salem kept coming and in minute 9, Conner Karsseboom kicked it in easily with the help of a great pass from Stuart Aeschliman. 1-0 Cascade. At minute 15 Aeschliman showed composure when the ball bounced high off the keeper and he struck it with his shin securely into the goal. 2-0 Cascade. Five minutes into the second half Stuart was on the spot again when he attempted a free kick from over 30 yards out. He hit it hard toward the left side…the ball bent to the left and hit the Arsenal keeper’s outstretched hands with enough force to slide through and into the net. 3-0 Real Madrid. Diego Olvera came very close at minute 50, and then at minute 55 the Arsenal scored to make it 3-1. Just seconds before the end of the game, Conner showed some great ball control at the 18…fooling two defenders, looking up and almost casually putting the ball where the keeper wasn’t. I thought the final score was 4-1 but the official score was 5-1, so I obviously missed a goal…I did go over to the Rush 93 Girls game at the half and all I can think is that it must have happened in the early seconds of the second half. Good for these young men…going to the Semi-Finals in the biggest tournament of their lives. They will face the Cal South Mt. Hamilton YSL PAC Atlas tomorrow at 8:00 AM. Deep breaths, gentlemen.
I went back to the Oregon Rush 93 Girls game. They were playing the Cal North Mustang Rampage and I saw the Rampage score against the Rush as I walked up well into the first half. As it turned out, that was the first score of the game, so it was 1-0 Cal North which is how the half ended. Victoria Morris had a free kick at minute 80 that was untouched until the Cal keeper knocked it down. Five minutes left and it wasn’t looking good for the Rush when Maryn Beutler made a great solo goal from the left side. It was a soft looping shot that hung up in the wind just enough to fall in the far corner to tie it up 1-1. Maryn almost won it outright in the 89th minute with a rocket that was stopped by the Mustang keep. It ended a 1-1 tie; however ties in the Quarter-Finals go to two 15 minute overtimes at the U17 level, so after a brief break, off they went to play some more soccer. The Mustangs threatened early when a free kick was barely nudged by Rush keeper Courtney Shearer over the crossbar. A few minutes later a great cross by a Cal player passes right in front of a Mustang’s head, but she reacted just a split second too slowly and it sailed by. Maryn had another opportunity early in the second half of the overtime when she was awarded a free kick but it sailed high. Victoria Morris had her chance a few minutes later. She sailed hers hard into a crowd and a Mustang defender shot up to head it out but the ball deflected off of her head, away from the keeper and into the net for an own goal…The crowd went wild and Rush took the lead with only minutes to play. That turned out to be all she wrote…this one would not be decided by kicks from the mark. The Rush came back from a 0-1 deficit to win 2-1. They will face the Southern California Blues Saturday at 8:00 AM.
I only got to watch part of the first half of the U19 ESU 91 Liverpool Red game against the Arsenal Colorado Gold because of the overtime with the Rush 93 Girls. It was 0-0 when I arrived about 30 minutes into the game. The Liverpool shot on goal several times with no result. There was a five minute period when they had five corners but still couldn’t get the ball where it needed to go. Thomas Iwasaki made a strong left-footed shot at minute 42 from 30 years out only to have it just graze the top of the crossbar. The half ended 0-0 and I need to get to the Neon game which was all the way across the complex. I am sorry I can’t do the drama justice, because there must have been drama, but the Liverpool ended up defeating the Gold with a goal by Cameron French with a great assist from Jonathan (“Jonnie”) Flores. The Liverpool live to fight another day. That being tomorrow in the Semi-Finals at 10:00 AM against the Nevada Las Vegas Premier. Good luck, men.   
Could the U10 Girls THUSC Neon make it a clean sweep for Oregon today?  They were playing the Super Nova from Idaho. I arrived just as the first half ended and learned that the Neon were up 1-0 from a hard-fought goal by Danielle Brown at about minute 22. There were four or five shots in succession while the ball bounced around in a crowd up front when Danielle stepped up and put it away. Early in the second half, Neon keeper Taylor Collinsworth made a great save to keep the Neon ahead. Alicia Barrett got hurt and stopped play for five minutes while she was attended to. Kallie Neimann took it to them and had only one defender and the keeper to deal with but fired it high. Two minutes later Idaho came back hard with a near miss of their own. A minute after that, the Nova fired an absolute missile from about 10 yards out and Danielle’s quick reflexes blocked the shot. Then a Nova corner kick almost went in. The Neon kept fighting as Kioymi Cook fired and almost scored at minute 65. The Super Nova finally made one of their shots two minutes later – it was a clean, hard hit ball that simply went in. The score was 1-1 and it looked like we might have another over-time. But the Nova wasn’t done. They came very close twice more; great saves by Collinsworth kept it 1-1. Then, with a little more than five minutes left, Idaho kicked a corner and the ball bounced around, got blocked and then finally kicked in on a rebound. Tylyn Hughes with the Neon nearly tied it again with a corner that almost went directly into the net, but sailed just high. The Neon lost a heartbreaker.

All in all, three out of four was not a bad day for Oregon.  We have three legitimate shots at making it to the finals, which is a respectable number any year a state the size of Oregon plays against such rarified competition.

Day 3 (Wednesday June 22, 2011)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Posted by: Chuck Keers
US Youth Soccer Far West Regionals
June 22, 2011
It was 68 degrees at 8:00 AM on day three of the US Youth Soccer Far West Regionals in Boise, Idaho. It was the end of the preliminary rounds and a day that would decide how many Oregon teams would advance to the Quarter Finals on Friday. The U19 Boys Eastside United FC 91 Liverpool Red and the U12 Real Madrid Boys from Cascade FC had won their first two games and were virtual locks to advance. Eight teams from Oregon had lost their first two games and were almost certainly out of it, while six other teams had either won or tied at least one game…so today would make the difference for them.
Even thought the U15 Boys WAFC Arsenal was out of contention, I had not yet seen them play so that is where I started my day. They were up against the RVFC Reds from New Mexico. It was all Reds for the first few minutes of the game. They must have taken six or seven serious shots on goal in the first five minutes. There were two hard shots right in front of the goal within ten seconds of each other that Arsenal keeper Jonathan Flores knocked down with amazing quickness. It took until minute 25 before an Arsenal player, Anthony Reyna, made an authoritative shot at the Red goal, only to have it knocked down by their keeper. It was 0-0 at the half. The Red began to get their legs in the second half as at minute 58 New Mexico finally got one through. At minute 65 they did it again and it looked like the Arsenal might be fading. I left to catch the Eastside Liverpool on the other side of the complex to give them their OYSA pins (to trade with their opponents at Quarter Finals) before they left the field and apparently the Arsenal still had metal as they got a goal. The Reds also got an additional goal so the final was 3-1 New Mexico. These young WAFC men played a great game against a tough opponent.
I tried to see the RVSC Fuego U18 Boys play the Idaho Boise Nationals U18 Premier as they could advance to the Quarters with a win today. But their 10:00 AM game was rescheduled to 8:00 AM for reasons I am not aware of. I am sorry I missed it because while our boys lost, the score was 1-0 so it must have been a great game. 
I watched the U17 Girls Oregon Rush 93 play the Nevada Las Vegas Premier 94. The Rush had lost on Monday but won on Tuesday and so they needed this to advance. Kristen Parr got things going by scoring the first goal at minute 10. She took it herself from mid-field and when she got close she pushed it between defenders straight into the net. It was 1-0 Rush. Five minutes later the Premier made it 1-1 with a goal of their own. Ajia Pennavaria shot and missed at minute 20 and five minutes later Maryn Beutler also had a strong shot stopped by the Las Vegas keeper. Then the Rush exploded. Gabriela Vasquez made a perfect cross to Tash Anderson who shot a bullet past the keeper into the net. One minute later Tash dribbled half the length of the field and scored again. All of a sudden it was 3-1 Oregon. At minute 50 Gabriela Vazquez (I think it was her, my notes say it was #3, Chloe Donegan, but a parent said it was Gabriela…I am trusting the parent, but my apologies for not being sure)…brought it across from the right side, threading her way through defenders and then blasting it sideways for goal number four. The Premier scored twice more, but the Rush held on to the victory with a final score of 4-3. Another Oregon team advances to the Quarter-Finals.
The U14 CFC Boca Junior lost their previous two games, but these three-time Oregon State Cup winners are always good and fun to watch so that is where I went next. They were playing the Cal South Fullerton Rangers B 96 White. Seven minutes into the game, Spencer Aeschliman hit a hard one that was blocked by the Ranger’s keeper. Cal scored at minute 12, but the Boca came back and answered back less than a minute later with a goal of their own Carlos Cabrera. Reid Baez got a great shot off at minute 21, but the keeper kept it from going in. The half ended a 1-1. I had to go cover the Rush 94 Girls and left the Boca to do it alone. Sadly, the final score was 2-6, Rangers but these young guys held their own with one of Cal South’s best. 
The U16 Oregon Rush 94 Girls took on the Cal South San Diego Surf White. The Rush had earlier tied one and lost one, so they needed a win today to have any chance. They played a very tough Surf team and managed to keep the score 0-0 through the first half. Early in the second half Alyssa Pease dribbled the ball three-quarters of the length of the field, faking passes and dodging defenders in a spectacular display of athleticism and ball control before she had the audacity to kick it in the goal. 1-0 Rush. Minutes later, however the Surf found the net themselves and evened it up again at 1-1. Amanda Pease had a chance to put the Rush ahead again with a PK from about 15 yards out but the San Diego keeper was too quick. It stayed 1-1 and that was the way it ended. 
I walked across the complex again to check on the THUSC Neon U19 Girls against the Cal North East Fresno United. With a loss and a win, they needed a win today to advance to the Quarters. Taylor Coon, who sat out the first two games due to a red card during State Cup finals, was back in the game today and after the mix up with the cards during game one, I was hoping upon hope they had managed a win. It turns out I didn’t have to worry, they squeaked by with an 8-0 victory over Cal North. Another Oregon team to the Quarter-Finals.
The U14 Oregon Rush 96 Girls were playing the Real Colorado National 96/97 and the U17 Boys Valley FC Vipers were playing the Utah La Roca Premier 94 AO in the last time slot of the day, but I had to leave. Both games would determine if the teams advanced. As fate would have it, the Rush and the Vipers both lost, so it ends here for each of them. 
Oregon teams advancing to the Quarter-Finals are:
-          U12 Boys CFC Real Madrid
-          U17 Girls Oregon Rush 93 Girls Nike
-          U19 Girls THUSC Neon
-     U19 Boys Eastside United FC 91 Liverpool Red (Defending National Champions)

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