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Reflection on Inter CT USL Academy Team Playoff Performance

USL Academy Playoff Review

By Inter CT, 12/10/21, 1:45PM EST


Inter players enjoy inaugural Playoffs in Tampa

This past week saw Inter CT players attend the inaugural USL Academy Playoffs and Championships in Tampa, FL. 

Inter CT players and AC Connecticut players partnered to create Connecticut’s only USL Academy team. The Hartford Athletic —Connecticut’s professional team playing in the USL Championship (the division below MLS) — provides the final step in the collaboration that is our "pathway to pro".

As seen below, the Academy team drew against some tough opposition in the group stages.

  1. The league's number one seed, Charlotte Independence, only conceded 1 goal in the whole of their qualifying campaign
  2. A staple team of the USL Championship, side San Antonio is owned and backed by NBA side San Antonio Spurs
  3. *Indy Eleven, another well-known USL Championship organization,  would go on to win the tournament


Game 1 - Vs. Charlotte Independence

As the smallest, least financially funded Academy program taking part in these playoffs, entering this first game against the number 1 seed required a focus on defensive shape and discipline. Patience was the name of the game, knowing  we had players such as Max Weiss — recent All-American award winner — and Hartford Athletic U19 Pro, Alfonzo Vasquez on the break. 

A Charlotte capitalized on a midfield error 15 minutes in, and took the lead off some good combination play. 

This would be the first test of mental strength for our Academy boys, and one that they passed just two minutes later, after a wonderful fast-break attack led to an equalizer. 

To everyone’s amazement, we look the lead from a well worked corner in the 23rd minute.

Charlotte, now having conceded 2 goals for the first time all year, stepped up a gear and scored just before half-time to make it 2-2.

The second half saw our Academy team take another surprise lead when a free kick from the left floated over everyone, including the Charlotte GK, and fell into the top corner of the net.

What came next was an onslaught of attacking play from the USL Championship side, which has 11,000 players in their program. Our Academy team stood strong until 6 minutes before the final whistle, when a tying goal came from another corner.

Holding on for the draw for the first game, we experienced heartbreak as in injury time, Charlotte found the winner to end the match 4-3. 


Game 2 - Vs. Indy Eleven

Lifted by Game One’s performance, the boys came out confident, up until the 6th minute, when a speculative shot from outside the area hit the post, bounced back, and struck our goalkeeper in the back to rebound in.

Two minutes later, Indy scored again from a breakaway down the right-hand side. 

The double-punch left our Academy team in shock. This wasn't helped by the concession of a third goal to Indy after 19 minutes from some nice play on the left. Though our boys were playing well, clinical finishing by our opponent seemed to be the deciding factor. 

With 10 minutes of the first half remaining, and with Indy sitting deep to protect their lead, we started gaining confidence and created a number of chances that were either saved or wasted at the final moment.

The second half saw us take a new formation and take a more direct approach. These changes worked, and halfway through the second half, we found a well-deserved goal. What followed were 10 minutes of us pushing up & creating a number of scoring chances that made us wonder what could have been against the eventual National Champions.

Game 3 - Vs. San Antonio 

Tired legs, but a good team spirit opened the day for our final group game. Both teams had already missed qualification for 1st or 2nd in the group, and the game seemed flat. 

This game saw some of our best soccer at times. Unfortunately, a long distance taken by San Antonio ended in a deflection into the top corner of the net, giving our opponents a lead on which to cling. The remainder of the half, and the entire second half, was a source of frustration — we knew we were the better team, but technical mistakes and a theme of forcing play due to wanting to get goals led to nothing. 

Game 4 - Vs. Southern Soccer Academy ( Atlanta ) 

The 7th / 8th place cross bracket game against Southern Soccer Academy saw us determined to prove that we were not the worst team in Tampa. Southern, like us, are another USL 2 team. 

Inter CT player, Max Weiss, scored the game's first goal after 11 minutes with a well worked left footed shot. This was reward for our dominant play. 

23 minutes in, Southern scored from a dubious free kick, but normal play resumed three minutes later when Alfonzo Vasquez from Hartford got his first goal of the tournament. Max Weiss scored straight after to help us go enter half-time with a 3-1 lead.

The second half remained balanced in terms of competition, and the game finished with a solid 4-2 win for our boys.

(Shown left to right): Inter CT players Basit, Suriya & Max. 

The USL Academy will be holding tryouts on December 28th and there are monthly training sessions for U10, U12 & U14 players on an invite only basis.


Read more about the USL Academy, our collaboration with AC Connecticut and our pathway to pro here.