FRISCO, Texas -- One year removed from the Under-14 Dallas Cup title, the Fullerton Rangers White are focused on the top U15 prize.
The Rangers, from Fullerton, Calif., snatched a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Juventus Forza of Redwood City, Calif., Thursday in a quarterfinal match at FC Dallas Park.
“I think we just worked harder than they did to win,” said the Rangers’ Dylan Smith, who provided the victory margin by scoring the only goal of the second half. “We really want to win this tournament two times in a row for anybody that doubted us last year.”
Smith, a freshman at Servite High in Anaheim, Calif., credited the pass of teammate Amirgy Pineda for positioning his attack down the left flank. Cutting toward goal, he pulled up about 15 yards from the target and struck a left-footed shot that finished entwined in the right side of the netting.
“I actually took a little off that shot because I’d shot high before,” Smith said.
For the 25 minutes that remained, the Rangers withstood comeback attempts by Juventus Forza, a Northern California side they last faced two years ago.
Pineda, a freshman at Century in Santa Ana, Calif., scored the Rangers’ equalizing goal midway in the first half with a 25-yard left-footed strike to the upper left corner.
“I was able to trap the ball down off my chest and I noticed the keeper was off his line,’’ said Pineda, who played with a heavily taped right hand, the result of a pre-tournament injury.
The Rangers will face Tigres from Monterrey, Mexico in a semifinal at 1:30 p.m. Friday. It will be the fifth game in six days for both teams.
MILAN EARNS DATE VS. HIGH-SCORING GERMANS: Only a few minutes after his Milan FC Rossoneri side earned a berth in the U15 semifinals, Alejandro Rodriguez was already thinking about Friday’s German opponent, Eintracht Frankfurt.
Rodriguez was well aware of the Germans’ scoring prowess. Five more goals in Thursday’s semifinal shutout over Mexico’s San Nicolas brought Eintracht Frankfurt’s total to 36 goals scored and one allowed in four tournament matches.
“One thing for sure, we have to finish,” Rodriguez said. “We have to make the most of our chances like we usually do. Obviously, they’re good.”
Rodriguez, a sophomore at Linden in Stockton, Calif., and speedy Donald Benamna scored goals for Milan, of Turlock, Calif., in Thursday’s 2-1 quarterfinal victory over LA Galaxy Academy.
“I had an option of shooting or passing to Donald and I decided to take a shot,” said Rodriguez of his 18-yard right-footed laser that made it 2-0.
Rodriguez assisted on Milan's goal five minutes earlier, a quick-hitting counter that demonstrated the speed of Benamna, an import from Silver Spring, Md., where he is a sophomore at Montgomery Blair.
“Donald is one of our fastest players,” Rodriguez said. “He has played with us in several tournaments before, including this one last year.”
LA Galaxy made it interesting when Collin Hossum scored from a difficult angle left of goal with 10 minutes remaining, but Milan held its ground.
U16, U17 QUARTERFINALS ON FRIDAY: The continuation of Mexico’s four-year dominance in the Dallas Cup U17 division will depend on defending champion Tigres of Monterrey. The Tigres face Albion White of San Diego Calif., in the quarterfinal round that begins Friday morning.
Two Dallas-area teams remain in the U17 mix, with FC Dallas USSF U15/U16 Academy facing German entry Rot Weiss Essen while Solar Chelsea USSF U15/U16 Academy of Dallas faces off against Arsenal FC USSF U15/U16 Academy of Temecula, Calif.
In the remaining quarterfinal, PAC Tigres of San Jose, Calif., go against Chicago Magic PSG USSF U15/U16 Academy.
California teams represent five of the remaining eight hopefuls in the U16 bracket, including an intrastate quarterfinal matching West Coast FC and Fram Premier.
Elsewhere in U16, OBGC Rangers of Maryland face California entry Milan FC. Arizona is represented by FC Phoenix Academy in a quarterfinal against CZ Elite of Pasadena, Calif. Another Pasadena qualifier, FC Golden State, takes on Prepa Tec FB of Monterrey, Mexico.
NOTES -- IMG Soccer Academy of Bradenton, Fla., made a tough exit, beaten in a U15 quarterfinal 2-1. The winning goal was scored in the final five minutes by the Tigres of Monterrey, Mexico. … The U15 championship match is scheduled for main stadium at 4 p.m. Saturday. The U16 title match is set for 10 a.m. Sunday followed by the U17 final at 12:30 p.m.