NEW YORK CITY FC OPENS U-18/19 ACADEMY PLAYOFFS WITH 4-1 VICTORY OVER SAINT LOUIS FC

By Andrew Eakes

OCEANSIDE, Calif. (June 18, 2018) - It was domination that over took the first feature game of the 2018 Boys U-18/19 Development Academy Playoffs. New York City FC overpowered St. Louis FC in a 4-1 victory at the SoCal Sports Complex in Oceanside, CA. The scoring came early and often against a Saint Louis team that only allowed 19 goals in 23 games this year. New York would only need 25 minutes to find its go-ahead, game winning goal.

Architectural footwork was on display early in the 16th minute by midfielder Jhonnatan Valbuena who was able to glide past the Saint Louis FC defense. After progressing with ease, Valbuena passed across the field to find midfielder Will Sands who headed in the first goal of the game.

Saint Louis FC only needed five minutes to recover, however, when forward Chris Bruch capitalized on a mistake made by New York City FC goalkeeper Johan Penaranda. Unable to clear the ball out of his zone, Penaranda made a slight fumble, which was pounced on by Bruch. The Saint Louis FC forward was able to beat his defender to gain possession and quickly score to tie the game in the 20th minute.

This did not teeter New York City, however, as Sands was able to return the favor with a cross pass to Valbuena, who was able to hammer home the go-ahead goal in the 25th minute, sparking a scoring spree of two more goals by forwards Gio Reyna and Vinicius Lansade.

In the 63rd minute, Reyna added some insurance for his team after a penalty in the box resulted in a smooth penalty kick goal that disheveled St. Louis's goalkeeper Grant Abbott.

Fourteen minutes later, the final goal was a result of a sweeping pass from Sands on the left side of the field to Lansade, that drew Abbot out for an easy finish.

Sands finished the day with one goal and two assists.

Sports history has shown fans from any sport, let alone soccer, that governing wins can either boost team moral or become the overconfident downfall. After the game, Sands described how his team must stay focused and determined to continue to perform throughout the rest of the playoffs.

"I think we need to just take it game by game," Sands said. "We can't let this performance affect the next game."

The next opponent for New York City FC is Sacramento Republic FC at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, June 18. St. Louis FC will look to bounce back against perennial power FC Dallas, also on Wednesday at 2 p.m.