Three games highlighted the 2014 North American Soccer League Player Combine, which kicked off today at the University of California, Irvine with more than 80 invited players from 24 countries participating in the three-day event.
Red vs. Dark Blue:
After a scoreless first half the second half picked up and forward Brian Behrad of Dark Blue chipped a shot from the left side of the box over the keeper and in for the deciding goal in the final five minutes, giving Dark Blue the 1-0 victory over Red.
Orange vs. Light Blue:
An explosive match was filled with goals early on. Light Blue maintained the attack for the first 15 minutes, but Orange broke through first as midfielder Ricardo Dario Blanco started the scoring off with a chip over the keeper.
Forward Ruben Valencia connected with Argentinean midfielder Martin Santiago Maidana to close the gap to 2-1, but forward Cesar Rivera put away his second of the half to extend the lead back to two goals. After missing from point-blank range earlier, midfielder Nicholas Russo won a 1v1 matchup near-side to add another tally as Orange took a 4-2 lead into the half.
Light Blue rallied late, but the defense held up for Orange holding for the 5-4 victory.
Black vs. Green:
The two sides matched up well in the first half. Green drew a penalty, but midfielder Anthony Salciccia’s PK rang off the left post. The ensuing play saw another ball hit the post keep the sides even.
English midfielder Scott Smith and Team Black forged on as he lead a brilliant cross from the left sideline onto forward Reco McLaren on the right post. His volley was flicked just high by the keeper and kept the match scoreless at the half.
The sides remained deadlocked even after a brilliant header off a corner kick fell onto left crossbar, however, Green struck first in the final 15 minutes. Forward Enrique Cardenas muscled his way down low and retrieved his own rebound with a nifty, half-bicycle volley through traffic and in to break the tie.
Team Black’s keeper played magnificently stopping numerous scoring opportunities, however, the Green side found a way as midfielder Sean Verbanic headed in a spot-on cross from the right wing to put the match away, 2-0.