Youth: Florida Rush crowned USYS National Champions
Orlando City U18s Head Coach and three U18 players lead Rush to National ChampionshipRock Hill, S.C. - On July 29, the U18 Florida Rush boys were crowned the 2012 US Youth Soccer National Champions!
Three members of the Rush squad, as well as Head Coach Nate Omodt, will be part of the Orlando City U18 Development Academy team. Orlando City and the Rush are partners in the Development Academy process.
“I am very proud of the National Championship and the level of professionalism the boys displayed both on and off the pitch during the series,” said Omodt. “The boys won First Place in the nation and did it with class and professionalism."
"Our goals coming into the tournament were to first and foremost qualify for the National Final match on Sunday and then our second goal was to ultimately win the National title. The third goal that we continued to reinforce was to display a quality product on the pitch and get positive results through staying disciplined to our style of play. Not only did we win the National Championship, but we also won the ‘Fair Play’ award as voted by the referees and tournament officials at the U-18 age level.”
If becoming National Champions wasn't enough, our U18s also became the FIRST ever youth soccer club in Central Florida to achieve such a feat. They also ended the State of Florida’s 15 year title drought.
Following the win, Florida Rush president Richie Gray had this to say,
"I could not be more proud of all of the players and Coaches Nate Omodt, Marcos Machado and Erick Garcia who have molded this team over the years"
"Winning the National Championship is absolutely phenomenal, especially at this age with all the pressures on 18 year old players. You have all made the Florida Rush, the National Rush and all teams in Central Florida proud."
It was just last year that the Florida Rush attended their first ever US Youth Soccer National Championship; And after a disappointing exit last summer, they came back stronger and more determined than ever and took it all.
After a challenging campaign to the final, the Rush were matched against last year’s Champions, Michigan's own Grand Rapids Crew Jrs. The Grand Rapids Crew are part of the Columbus Crew’s (MLS) youth development system.
The match started off as a battle for possession. Each team continuously tested each other in the opening minutes, waiting for a breakthrough. Grand Rapids would find a hole in the Rush defense to strike first in the 12th minute through Charles Constantino.
After Constantino’s goal, the Rush found themselves with their backs’ against the wall. Thanks to some brilliant defending from the Rush’s back line, and some excellent goalkeeping from Juanes Fajardo, they were able to regroup and once again gain their composure.
Just like our Orlando City Senior Squad, these young men have that, never say die, attitude the Lions are famous for. Their hard work and patience would pay off in the 78th minute.
Jeremy Tilley leveled the score at 1-1 when he decided to have a chance on goal. Sliding past multiple defenders, Tilley baffled the opposition with his smooth movement. Sliding past the back line with ease, Tilley decided to take on the Grand Rapids keeper one-on-one. Calm and collected, Tilley threaded the ball into the net past the keeper, giving his side a fighting chance by sending the match into overtime with the winner to be determined by golden goal.
After getting the all important equalizer, the tempo was now in the Rush’s favor. With tired legs and tired minds, the play became much for physical in the opening minutes of overtime. Out of fatigue and frustration, Grand Rapids gave away a penalty just six minutes into overtime.
With confidence, North Florida native and 2011 Region III Golden Ball winner, Jean Rivaroli stepped up to the spot. Taking a deep breath and focusing on only what was in front of him, Rivaroli sent his chance right past the Grand Rapids keeper, giving his side the win and the title of National Champions. The goal also gave Rivaroli his second-consecutive Golden Ball award at the National Championships series. Rivaroli won the award last year as a U17s player.
"We have been climbing this mountain for long time,” said Rivaroli. “To finish number one in the nation is extremely gratifying and something that I will be proud of for the rest of my life."
Goalkeeper Juanes Fajardo also received honors at the tournament earning the Golden Glove for the third time in two years. Fajardo earned the award for the first time in 2011 at the Region III Championship and received it once more at the Regional Championships in 2012. This year, Fajardo took the Golden Glove on the National Stage, an achievement that he is sure to never forget. Fajardo is one of the three players that will be part of the Orlando City Development Academy’s U18 squad.
Congratulations to the Florida Rush players, coaching staff, and the parents on winning the US Youth Soccer National Championship!
For more info on Orlando City's youth soccer and development programs, visit www.orlandocityyouth.org today!