COLUMBUS-- The Crew Soccer Academy Under-18 squad bested the United States Under-17 side 2-1 in a thrilling match at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on Monday night.
CSA product and Grove City native Benny Swanson nearly put the Stars and Stripes ahead in the 11th minute when he got free in the penalty area, but Crew goalkeeper Carter Richardson darted off his line to snuff out Swanson's attack.
Six minutes later, the Black & Gold took a 1-0 lead when Rylee Woods blasted a rebound from his own shot to beat US 'keeper Jeff Caldwell to the far post.
Later in the first half, CSA nearly doubled its lead when John Schuman found space within 10 yards of the net, but Caldwell made a stellar save to deny the midfielder.
Just before the halftime whistle, US midfielder Rubio Rubin had an open look at goal but his tight-angled shot was just wide right. In the 42nd minute, Rolando Munoz nearly equalized before the break, but his shot from distance curled just over the crossbar.
In the 61st minute, Alex Bumpus put CSA ahead 2-0 when he headed substitute Noah Hutchins' cross into the net past a diving Caldwell.
The United States earned one back in the 77th minute when CSA Wolves product Ahinga Selemani beat his defender and curled a left-footed shot past Richardson to open the Stars & Stripes scoring. The Ann Arbor, Mich. native nearly drew even in the 89th but his shot was deflected out of bounds by a Crew defender to maintain the result.
"We felt our best was going to be enough to compete with [the US U-17s]," Crew Juniors Executive Director Andrew Arthurs said after the win."We feel like if the players show up and do the things we ask on a daily basis, we're going to be good."
Arthurs was also happy to see two CSA products succeeding on the field at the international level.
"Ahinga [Selemani] was a handful the entire night. He scored a really good goal." Arthurs explained. "I think Benny [Swanson] for being one of the youngest, if not the youngest kid, on the field to be 90 minutes in and able to do that well is remarkable."
Crew Soccer Academy U-18: Carter Richardson, Alex Bumpus, Tyler Kidwell, Alex Crognale (George Braima), Charlie Reymann (Noah Hutchins); Brady Blackwell (Nicholas Parianos), Sam Brown (Aiden Bean), John Schuman (Blake Townes) ; Nathan Kohl (Thomas Harr), Andrew McKelvey (William Bayemi), Rylee Woods.
Subs not used: Nicholas Ciraldo, Carter Grimm, Daniel Allen
United States U-17: Jeff Caldwell, Bryce Cregan, Peter Schropp, Conor Donovan (Wesley Wade), Tyler Turner, Ben Swanson, Rubio Rubin, Rolando Munoz (Junior Flores), Ahinga Selemani, Christopher Lema, Alan Winn (Bradford Jamieson).
Subs not used: Evan Louro, Adonis Amaya, Jorge Miranda, Elijah Martin
18' Crew Soccer Academy- Rylee Woods (Unassisted)
61' Crew Soccer Academy- Alex Bumpus (Noah Hutchins)
77' US U17- Ahinga Selemani (Unassisted)
29' Crew Soccer Academy- Charlie Reymann
36' Crew Soccer Academy- Nathan Kohl
58' US U-17- Alan Winn
85' Crew Soccer Academy- George Braima
87' US U-17- Bryce Cregan