The Houston Dynamo Academy U-16s, presented by Statoil, moved one step closer to claiming a national championship with their performance at the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoffs in Frisco, TX last week.
The U-16s won all three of their matches to finish at the top of their playoff group and advanced to Finals Week, which will be held here in Houston from July 14-20.
The tournament proved to be quite the showcase for Elo Ozumba and Christian Lucatero, who scored all of the Dynamo’s eight goals. The Dynamo started with a 3-1 victory over the Concorde Fire, with two goals from Ozumba and Lucatero adding another. The pair provided both goals in the second match against PA Classics, which was enough for a 2-1 win.
The final match of the week was a must-win against defending U-16 national champions New York Red Bulls. New York had lost only once all season, and had conceded a paltry eight goals in 25 regular season games. Both teams entered the match undefeated in group play, but the Red Bulls held the edge in goal differential.
The Dynamo responded by scoring three goals in the opening half-hour of the match. Lucatero opened the scoring with a goal in the 20th minute, and Ozumba followed with his second brace of the tournament over the next ten minutes.
New York finally grabbed a goal in the 60th minute, but goalkeeper Andy Rios made several big saves and the Dynamo were able to ride out the remainder of the match for the upset victory.
The Dynamo will face hometown rivals Texans SC Houston in their first match of Finals Week on July 14 at Houston Amateur Sports Park (5:30 p.m. CT). They then battle Real Salt Lake AZ on July 16 at 8:00 p.m., followed by Albertson SC on July 18th at 5:30 p.m.
The winner of that group will advance to the championship match, which will be held at BBVA Compass Stadium on July 20.
The Dynamo Academy U-18s ended their season with three defeats at the USSDA Playoffs after a 15-5-7 regular season record.