FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Heading into the final match of last week’s U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoffs group stage, the New England Revolution’s Under-18 team knew that only a victory over the LA Galaxy could keep their season alive.
They just weren’t sure it would be enough.
Not only did the Revolution’s U18s require a victory over the Galaxy, but they also needed the San Jose Earthquakes to defeat the Dallas Texans. Only in that scenario could the Revs top the group and claim a spot in the Development Academy Finals Week with a shot at a national championship.
“We’re famous for saying it throughout the course of the year; control the controllables,” said Director of Youth Development Bryan Scales. “The only thing you can control in that situation is winning the game against LA.”
The Revs did just that behind a hat trick from Attleboro’s Dominik Machado, downing the Galaxy by a score of 4-2. And they got the help they needed from the Earthquakes, who scored late to claim a 3-2 win over the Texans.
Just like that, the Revolution’s U18s booked their first-ever spot at Finals Week.
“Against the Galaxy, we were outstanding,” said Scales. “It was our best performance of the tournament. Dominik Machado was excellent. An overall great team performance and (Under-18 head coach) John Frederick and the rest of the staff deserve a ton of credit.”
Scales is particularly proud of the fact that the Revolution’s U18s have reached Finals Week despite being the youngest team in the Under-18 division. Because the club’s Under-16 side was eliminated from playoff contention on the final day of the regular season, the Revs were able to pull the top U16s into the mix with the older squad.
The young Revolution U18s will now have their chance to claim a national championship as one of eight teams competing at Finals Week – each of the group winners from the playoff stage – which takes place July 14-20 in Houston.
Revolution fans have witnessed firsthand the benefits of a strong youth program with the development of Homegrown products Scott Caldwell and Diego Fagundez, both of whom are now regular contributors with the first team. Competing as one of the top U18 teams in the country at Finals Week is yet another sign that the Revolution’s Academy program is doing it right.
“These things always take time to build,” said Scales. “At the time, during training sessions and throughout the months of the season, you’re just trying to make a little progress each day. Over the course of the last five years, we’ve felt like we’ve found the right players, trained the right players and have the right guys in the right spots.
“It doesn’t always work out from game to game, but over the long run we feel like we have a very, very strong group. For them to be able to go down and play for a national championship is very gratifying. They’ve got as good a shot as any to win it. It’s another tangible sign that we’re continuing to make slow but steady progress.”