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The Road to USL Academy Finals: North Carolina FC, El Paso Locomotive FC, Utah Red Wolves, Ironbound Soccer Club

By USL Academy Staff, 11/30/23, 4:00PM EST


North Carolina FC Academy

Location: Raleigh, NC

Head Coach: Christopher Harrington

Academy Director: John Bradford

Overall Record: 8-2-2

Goals Scored/Conceded: 40/11

Season Snapshot:

The club navigated a tough spring and fall season with a player pool of roughly 45 players that included 2004–2007 birth year players. The season started with good performances before a bit of a dip in the middle part of the season, but ended strong to eventually qualify for USL Academy Finals. Many young players broke out of their normal environment to play well against older competition was a testament to the club's coaching staff and Academy program.  

Key Moment of Season:

The away victory against Charlotte Independence Pro. This victory nearly solidified the club's spot in USL Academy Finals and was used as great momentum for the games to come.

Key Player: Kevin Jimenez

Secret Weapon: Aedon Sundstrom

Utah Red Wolves

Location: Salt Lake City, UT

Head Coach: Ronny Charry

Academy Director: David Mayer

Overall Record: 9-2-1

Goals Scored/Conceded: 38/12

Season Snapshot:

The group had a really good season with some excellent results against some other top USL Academy programs. The club started extremely well, winning the first four games, before splitting the series against New Mexico United. The team played a lot of games this season and consistently delivered a high level of performances.

Key Moment of Season:

Bouncing back after losing to New Mexico United to beat them in the second game. That game put the Red Wolves in a great position, before traveling to Real Colorado and beating them away from home, to qualify for the USL Academy Finals.

Key Player: Blake Oberholzer 

Secret Weapon: Elijah Tenger

Ironbound Soccer Club

Location: Newark, NJ

Head Coach: Nick Lavrador 

Academy Director: Pedro Correia

Overall Record: 9-2-3

Goals Scored/Conceded: 30/20

Season Snapshot:

Ironbound SC competed the entire season without the use of any overage players and focused on youth to development. The team had six clean sheets all season and played solid offensively throughout as well. The club also won the NJ State Cup with players from USL Academy and is proud that the competition prepared them for that level of play.

Key Moment of Season:

Beating STA FC Motown late in the year to secure a spot in the USL Academy Finals was the highlight of the season. It was an intense game versus a tough opponent and the team was able to secure the win.

Key Player: Hans Zoller

Secret Weapon: Dylan Sousa 

El Paso Locomotive FC

Location: El Paso, TX

Head Coach: Ivan Militar

Academy Director: Ivan Militar

Overall Record: 8-3-1

Goals Scored/Conceded: 36/15

Season Snapshot:

El Paso fielded a very young team and did not have many first team players helping which was a great opportunity for the youth players to grow. The team recorded statement wins over Utah Red Wolves and Real Colorado, but also lost important games to New Mexico United.

Key Moment of Season: 

The key moment for El Paso came in the 97th minute of the final game of the regular season. They played Park City Red Wolves at Southwest University Park and it was tied at 2-2. In order to have a chance to go to the Finals, the club needed to win. Brendan Carillo, one of our team's competitive players, scored the game winner to send Southwest University Park into rapturous celebrations in the corner.

Key Player: Finnley O’Brien

Secret Weapon: Raul Vazquez