LATE GOAL FROM JUSTIN HAAK SENDS NEW YORK CITY FC U-18/19 TO ACADEMY CHAMPIONSHIP

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (July 8, 2018) - In a tightly-contested Development Academy Championships Semifinal, it took until the 84th minute to break a 0-0 deadlock. James Sands took a late corner kick for New York City FC U-18/19 and it sailed over a mass of bodies at the near post to find Justin Haak lurking all alone. The midfielder hit a first-time shot to the opposite side of goal, sending NYC to the final with a 1-0 victory over Crew SC Academy.

The Blues dominated possession in the first half, but a stout defense led by Aboubacar Keita parried away a number of dangerous attacking runs. Crew SC found its way back into the game as the teams traded chances in the second half, but Haak's well-placed shot proved to be the difference-maker in Kansas City.

Though playing without star midfielder Giovanni Reyna, NYC came out on the offensive. City's early press and comfortable, patience play building out of the back earned the team several chances in the opening minutes. Andres Jasson and Joseph Scally created danger on the wings, while Will Sands figured prominently in the middle.

As the New York attack continued to threaten, the Crew's defensive crew rose to meet the challenge. Keita seemed to be everywhere for the Columbus, Ohio squad in its own third, making several key stops, while goalkeeper Logan Kowalcyk contributed some clutch saves. NYC had Columbus on the defensive for much of the first half, including a near-miss from Jasson just before the break, but the Crew did well to hold their shape and keep the game scoreless.

The yellow and black came out much more aggressively after the half. Substitute Jose Rivas lifted the offense as the Crew finally spent more possession in New York's final third. The game opened up in the second half and the Crew responded to NYC's attack with some threatening chances of their own. A free kick by Griffin DeBolt from just outside the box was inches away from finding the top right corner and giving the Crew the opening score. Just a few minutes later, David Wrona set up Rivas for an excellent opportunity, but he didn't get enough on the attempt.

The teams traded chances as the half progressed and substitutions catalyzed a dynamic attack for the Blues. Second half entrants Jhonathan Valbuena and Jonathan Jimenez created some nifty combinations with the ever-dangerous Jasson to test Kowalcyk in the net.

NYC and U.S. U-18 Men's National Team defender Nico Benalcazar found Jimenez on one such run in the 84th minute. He launched a beautiful long ball to the dashing midfielder, and when Jimenez looked to send a cross into the box, Keita deflected it out-of-bounds to set up the pivotal corner kick. Sands sent in the booming service over the crowd to find the free Haak.

New York City advances to the final in its first-ever season at the U-18/19 age group. The Blues will face LA Galaxy in Tuesday's championship match at 8:30 p.m. ET.