NEW YORK CITY FC U-18/19 PUNCHES SEMIFINAL TICKET WITH 2-1 VICTORY OVER CROSSFIRE PREMIER

OCEANSIDE, Calif. (June 25, 2018) - In its U-18/19 Academy Playoffs Quarterfinal, New York City FC U-18/19 found the back of the net twice in a high-flying first half. The goals proved sufficient to take down Crossfire Premier and clinch a spot in the semifinals. Justin Haak and Esad Mackic netted for City in the opening frame, and while Crossfire Premier fought back for one second half goal, NYC closed out the Northwest Division side down the stretch to secure passage to the Academy Championships in Kansas City with a 2-1 victory.

NYC came out aggressively from the opening kick, testing the Crossfire back line and goalkeeper Evan Owens early. Giovanni Reyna scored two goals for the Blues in the group stage, and got his first knock on goal in the eighth minute after a nice run through the midfield. Reyna was dynamic in the center, and his fellow U-17 Men's National Team teammates Joseph Scally and Andres Jasson found room to run on the wings.

While NYC played some patient build-up, the Northeast Division squad's attack made themselves at home in the Crossfire half. As the front line continued to test Owens, the Blues earned several threatening corner and free kick opportunities. In the 30th, a corner kick from Reyna sparked his team's opening goal. The 15-year-old slipped it out above the box to a waiting Will Sands, who launched the ball into the crowded box. After a favorable deflection, Sands' twin brother James then hit it on frame, but Owens dove to deflect the attempt. The rebound trickled out near the end line on the opposite side, and Haak pounced on the loose ball and chipped it past the 'keeper.

NYC didn't slow down after the opening score. Scally proved instrumental in the City attack down the stretch, pairing deep-cutting runs on the right side with booming crosses into the box. After the Empire State squad forced a Crossfire turnover, Reyna found the ball at the half line. He served a looping ball to Scally on the run up the right side, who then wheeled past one defender before cutting a cross back through the box. The ball bounced past one defender to a lurking Mackic. Mackic took a touch to cut inside around another Crossfire player. The forward tapped it to the near post, nutmegging a sliding defender and airing it past Owens.

Crossfire came out of the break striving to get back in the game. While the Kirkland, Wash. team had created some danger on the counter, it forced the issue with a more aggressive second half attack. Its efforts were rewarded in the 56th. Manuel Segura Sandoval made a shifty run through the midfield and dished to Aiden Massey on the left wing. He launched a ball to the far post and it whizzed by the diving NYC 'keeper.

While Crossfire pressed for an equalizer down the stretch, 'keeper Johan Peneranda and the New York back line held strong to preserve the victory. In its first year with am U-18/19 Academy program, City punched its ticket to the semifinals in Kansas City, Mo.