DALLAS -- A one-goal cushion was gone, and if Fram Premier was going to advance to the knockout stage of the 2012 Dallas Cup Youth Tournament, the Southern California side needed to grind it out on defense for 20 grueling minutes.
That’s just what Fram did, holding Prepa Tec FB from Monterrey, Mexico, to a 1-1 draw in the final Under-16 Bracket E match Wednesday at the Richland College Soccer Complex.
A draw was all that Fram needed to advance to Friday’s quarterfinals.
“After they got the equalizer, we had to focus on staying calm and playing at our pace,” said left back Danny Miller, one of many of the defensive heroes for the team from Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.
“They were more physical than the other teams we’ve played in the tournament,” said Fram central defender Kevin Vondrak. “We didn’t want to get caught up in any retaliation. It was important to keep our composure.”
The draw gave Fram a 2-0-1 record in group play, the same as Prepa Tec. Fram advanced by virtue of a +2 goal differential in three preliminary matches.
Lucas Hodges staked Fram to a 1-0 lead with a penalty kick in the first half.
When Prepa Tec tied the score, Fram players were aware that another goal could send them packing.
“You can’t go into a shell,” Vondrak said. “But at the same time, you can’t play the way you would play in other circumstances. You have to be smart about it.”
In Friday’s quarterfinal, Fram will meet another California side, West Coast FC from Laguna Hills. California teams won five of the seven pools in U16.
“We’ve played them before,” Miller said. “We just need to focus on our own game.”
LIVING UP TO THE NAME: Right down to the red and white uniforms emblazoned with “Fly Emirates’’ on the chest, Arsenal FC USSF U15/16 Academy looks a dead ringer for its English Premier League namesake.
This “Arsenal’’ hails from Temecula, Calif., and it is noteworthy that not all the players consider London’s “Arsenal” as their favorite international team.
“For me, it’s between Barcelona and Arsenal,” said midfielder and winger Joab Santoyo following Wednesday’s 4-0 Bracket D clinching victory over GCU Dynamo Premier from Gulfport, Miss. “But other guys have their favorites. Our coach likes Manchester United.”
Santoyo said the recognizable uniforms might put a little pressure on the team to play well, but he said it can also work as a psychological advantage against opponents.
Arsenal’s shutout was its second in a 3-0 breeze through group play.
“We were giving that team too much time early in the match,” Santoyo said. “We made a few hard tackles and that gave us confidence.”
Offensively, center midfielder Jose Garcia provided a spark with three assists.
“The other team came out hard, but once we got our second goal, we gained control of the match,” Garcia said.
Friday’s quarterfinal will be an Arsenal-Chelsea match-up. Solar Chelsea U15/16 USSF Academy of Dallas advances from Bracket E.
GOING HOME ON A GOOD NOTE: The Chicago-based Sockers FC USSF U15/16 Academy team didn’t go away empty-handed, scoring a 2-1 triumph over UAE Precor from Dubai on Wednesday.
And the Sockers aren’t leaving Dallas without some stories about Tuesday’s tornado threat.
“I’d be lying if I said we weren’t a little scared,” said Sockers right winger Franco Cattani. “We were in our hotel at the time and they made an announcement to get away from windows and go into the bathroom. They said if they made another announcement, everybody was supposed to go downstairs into a big room. We heard the tornado came within three miles of us.”
Cattani, who attends Metea Valley High in Aurora, Ill., said he got many text messages from friends asking if he was all right.
On the pitch, the Sockers in previous rounds lost to the PAC Tigres of San Jose, Calif., 4-2 and to the Houston Dynamo U15/16 Academy 5-0.
“It is good to be exposed to the different styles,” Cattani said. “The California team had us chasing the whole time. Houston was a lot bigger and just overpowered us. The UAE team played similar to what you see on television. Winning today was a good way for us to end the tournament. We didn’t want to go home 0-3.”
NOTES -- Shortly after Lewisham College's 2-1 victory over San Francisco entrant Alianza de Futbol in an U19 match, one of the vans transporting the London side from the grounds became stuck in the mud of a makeshift parking lot. Lewisham players good-naturedly gathered sticks to place under the van’s back tires, but it ultimately took a half-dozen of them slogging in the mud to push the vehicle to dry ground. … Wednesday was the final day for games at Richland College. All knockout matches will be at Frisco’s FC Dallas Park. … Six of the eight quarterfinalist teams in U17 are from the U.S. Three are from California, two from Dallas and one from Chicago. The other countries represented are Mexico and Germany. … All seven U16 bracket champions are from the U.S. FC Phoenix Academy from Arizona and OBGC from Maryland are the only non-California bracket winners.