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US Youth Soccer 2024 Elite 64 Playoffs: 14U-19U Boys Preview

January 24, 2024, | Courtesy of www.soccerwire.com



The boys kick off their US Youth Soccer Elite 64 Playoffs in Orlando, Fla., when more than 190 teams compete Jan. 26-30.


Each age group features a champions pool, where teams will play in a tournament style to determine the event champion. In the 14U-19U age groups, teams in every pool are also competing for qualifying spots into the February National League P.R.O. event, where teams play to qualify for the 2024 USYS National Championships.


While teams in the 13U age group will see a Playoff winner crowned, the Playoffs primarily serve as an introduction to national events and do not include advancement in the 13U age group.


14U Boys


Oregon Premier 10B Elite 64 will be coming across the country to make some noise at the playoffs. Oregon finished in first in the Elite 64 Northwest last season, and it advanced to the championship game at the Elite 64 National Finals. That experience will make it a challenging match for any opponent in Florida.


Oregon Premier squeaked by United FA 10B Elite 64 when the teams met at the National Finals. That was a rare shortfall for the Georgia side, which won the Elite 64 Southeast last season and is unbeaten through 10 games in the current campaign. With that form, United FA should be a team to watch in Orlando.


Toca FC 10B Elite 64 and Galaxy SC 2010B Elite 64 will be two sides out of the Elite 64 Midwest that could make runs at the Champions Pool title. Toca finished atop the standings last season, and it’s back in that same position in the early portions of the 2023-24 league schedule. Galaxy finished second last year and showed its tournament ability by advancing to the semifinals at the National Finals.


Two more first-place finishers from the 2022-23 league season — STA MOSC 10B Elite 64 and Lobos Rush 10B Elite 64 — will also look to carry their winning ways into Champions Pool action.


DAY 1 GAME TO WATCH


Two teams with plenty of momentum will face off Jan. 27 when Toca FC 10B Elite 64 and PSA Monmouth 10B Elite 64 meet with a National League P.R.O. spot on the line. Toca has yet to concede a goal during a 3-0-1 start to its 2023-24 Elite 64 campaign after it finished first last season. Meanwhile, PSA — a second-place finisher in 2022-23 — is currently atop the Elite 64 Northeast after seven unbeaten games to start this season.


PROSCORE PLAYERS TO WATCH


Cory Faust (Defender – Coppermine SC)Faust is a standout defender for Coppermine SC 2010B. He shows dominance in the air, consistently winning challenges against opponents and posing a threat in offense. Faust also regularly makes robust, well-timed challenges to halt opposition attacks.


Nico Mangieri (Midfielder – SCS United)Mangieri, a promising midfielder, contributes defensively with a high work rate and adept tracking back, while his physical presence allows him to make an impact at both ends of the field. Mangieri’s dual effectiveness makes him a vital cog in his team.


15U Boys


The 15U age group will include four teams that finished first in Elite 64 league play last season. Among those league winners, two teams — Lobos Rush 09B Elite 64 and Oregon Premier 09B Elite 64 — compiled perfect records with no losses or ties.


Lobos finished on top of the Elite 64 South standings with a 9-0-0 record in 2022-23, while Oregon Premier compiled an 8-0-0 record and conceded just two goals. Oregon is unbeaten through four games this season, and it will look to carry over that success to the playoffs.


Galaxy SC 09B Elite 64 compiled an unbeaten record last season in the Elite 64 Midwest, as it earned 11 wins and three draws. At the Elite 64 National Finals, it displayed an ability to earn results while securing two wins to go with a narrow defeat in penalties. That experience should help it in the Champions Pool at the playoffs.


Like Galaxy, STA MOSC 09B Elite 64 finished first in Elite 64 league play in 2022-23 without suffering any defeats. STA’s attacking prowess powered its success, as it netted 50 goals in 13 games. With that threat, it will be a handful for opponents in Florida.


DAY 1 GAME TO WATCH


Galaxy SC 09B Elite 64 and Michigan Tigers 09B Elite 64 face off on Jan. 27 to determine a National League P.R.O. qualifier. After its unbeaten run to a first-place league finish last year, Galaxy is looking to regain that form on the national stage. Meanwhile, the Tigers finished second in the Elite 64 Great Lakes in 2022-23, and it is right back near the top of the standings after four games this season. The past results for both sides suggest this should be a close matchup.


PROSCORE PLAYERS TO WATCH


Benjamin Massey (Midfielder – Lobos Rush)Massey is a scoring sensation, as he bagged 10+ goals for Lobos Rush last season, including multiple hat-tricks. His pace and dribbling skills make him particularly lethal on the counter-attack. Defenses beware!


Randy Lemus-arredondo (Midfielder – United Futbol Academy)Lemus-Arredondo stands out for his on and off-ball intelligence. Exceptional at reading the game, he contributes at both ends of the field. His shooting proficiency adds a valuable goal-scoring threat, making him a well-rounded midfielder.


16U Boys


A strong Champions Pool field in the 16U age group is highlighted by the two championship game contenders from last season’s Elite 64 National Finals. Toca FC 08B Elite 64 claimed that title and will look to repeat its success on the national stage when it travels to Florida for the playoffs. In league play, Toca finished atop the Elite 64 Midwest standings last season, and is back in the position after four early games in the 2023-24 campaign.


Galaxy SC 08B Elite 64 fell to Toca in the National Final title game, and it also finished second to the Kansas side in the Elite 64 Midwest. After coming up just short despite strong showings, Galaxy will aim to capture the Champions Pool title during play in Orlando.

Another team to watch will be PDA Hibernian 08B Elite 64 after it finished on top of the Elite 64 Northeast standings last season. Early results this year suggest PDA picked up right where it left off, as it opened league play with three straight wins.


United FA 08B Elite 64 advanced to the semifinals of last year’s National Finals, and it will aim to make another deep run in the Champions Pool at the playoffs in Florida. One of the teams United FA defeated at the finals, Oregon Premier 08B Elite 64, will aim to get back to its winning ways during the playoffs after it finished in first place in the Elite 64 Northwest in 2022-23.


DAY 1 GAME TO WATCH


The Jan. 26 game between United FA 08B Elite 64 and Cedar Stars 08B Elite 64 will match up two teams with strong resumes from last season. While United FA finished first in the Elite 64 Southeast, Cedar Stars enjoyed plenty of success during an 11-3-0 second-place campaign in the Elite 64 Northeast. The winner will punch its ticket to National League P.R.O., so the players will be ready to go.


PROSCORE PLAYERS TO WATCH


Juan Andres Pujol (Midfielder – Nona Soccer Academy)Pujol is a clinical finisher who has netted a number of eye-catching regular season goals ahead of the Playoffs. His outstanding dribbling and passing complement his scoring prowess, making him a valuable asset. Pujol is also dangerous from set pieces!


Brandon Hamilton (Defender – Toca FC)Hamilton is an impressive defender. Consistently well positioned, he often produces strong tackles and provides impeccable distribution from the back. Hamilton is a linchpin in a strong team, and he was rewarded with a spot in the E64 Team of the Season for 2022-23.


17U Boys


After success in multiple areas last season, Toca FC 07B Elite 64 will be a strong contender at the playoffs in Florida. The Kansas side finished first in the Elite 64 Midwest standings before advancing to the semifinals at the Elite 64 National Finals. It will look to string together more wins when it travels to Orlando.


Another semifinalist from the National Finals, Coppermine SC Boys 07B Elite 64 is competing in the Champions Pool and will look to build off its semifinal run and second-place showing in last season’s Elite 64 Northeast. PDA Hibernian 07B Elite 64 took the 2022-23 Northeast title and will be another side to keep an eye on in Orlando.


United FA 07B Elite 64 and Oregon Premier 07B Elite 64 also secured first-place league finishes in the Elite 64 Southeast and Northwest, respectively, last season. Both sides are off to strong starts again this year and wouldn’t surprise if they strung together some wins at the playoffs.


DAY 1 GAME TO WATCH


Libertyville FC 1974-07B Elite 64 and Cedar Stars 07B Elite 64 play in a rematch of a 1-0 Libertyville victory from last year’s National Finals. Each side finished near the top of its table in 2022-23 league play and will be looking to jumpstart a strong Spring 2024 season with success at the playoffs. This match will determine a National League P.R.O. spot, so there’s plenty of motivation for each team.


PROSCORE PLAYERS TO WATCH


Video clips and descriptions provided by ProScore.


Will Lynch (Forward – Players Development Academy)Lynch is a dynamic forward who made the E64 Team of the Season for 2022-23. His adept dribbling, fast footwork, and movement in the final third make him a constant threat for opposition defenses. Lynch achieved an impressive goal-to-game ratio last season, so look out for big contributions in Florida.


Jackson Calamela (Midfielder – Azzurri Storm)  Calamela brings dynamism to the field. His exceptional dribbling, fast footwork and on-ball intelligence distinguish him from others, while his pinpoint passes add a cutting edge to Azzurri’s offense.


19U Boys


With a history on performing well in national events, Cedar Stars 05/06B Elite 64 will be a team to watch at the playoffs in the 19U age group. After finishing in first place last season in the Elite 64 Northeast, Cedar Stars advanced to the semifinal round at the Elite 64 National Finals. A narrow defeat in penalties kept Cedar Stars from playing for that title, but it has a chance to win the Champions Pool this year in Florida.


Oregon Premier 05/06B Elite 64 is another team looking to build off a first-place finish in league play last season. Oregon has followed its 2022-23 Elite 64 Northwest title by securing a 4-0-0 start this campaign so it’s heading to Florida in good form.


Another league winner from last season, Libertyville FC 1974 05/06B Elite 64 is tested in high-pressure games. The Illinois side needed every point from its 10-1-3 Midwest-winning campaign in 2022-23, when it held off two sides that finished within a game of the top spot in a crowded title race.


PSA Monmouth 05/06B Elite 64, which finished second in the Northeast in 2022-23, was the lone team to defeat Cedar Stars last year in Elite 64 league play, and it started this season with a 1-0 win when the two teams faced off. Its consistency the last two seasons should make PSA a difficult matchup for opponents in Florida.


DAY 1 GAME TO WATCH


Cedar Stars 05/06B Elite 64 has the strong resume outlined above, but it will face a challenge in its opening game on Jan. 26 against Lobos Rush 05/06B Elite 64. Lobos went 6-0-0 to start its 2023-24 Elite 64 South campaign, so it should have plenty of confidence heading into the playoffs. With a National League P.R.O. berth on the line, this will certainly be an exciting matchup.


PROSCORE PLAYERS TO WATCH


Cameron Hernandez (Midfielder – Steel City FC)Hernandez excels defensively, with adept tracking and smart positioning. Additionally, Hernandez’s vision in possession adds a valuable dimension to his game, allowing him to initiate attacks and put his team on the front foot.


Caleb Margolis (Midfielder – Coppermine SC)Margolis is a midfield maestro. With an exceptional passing range, he dictates the tempo and adeptly picks out teammates all over the field. Margolis also demonstrates off-ball intelligence, positioning himself to receive the ball in space and stop opposition attacks. Don’t underestimate his goal threat, either.





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