FRISCO, Texas - The FC Dallas U-19 Boys Academy advanced to the semifinals of the MLS NEXT Playoffs following a 4-1 win over Wake FC of North Carolina Wednesday afternoon at Toyota Soccer Center.
"I thought that the game probably should have been over a little earlier," said U-19s head coach John Gall. "Nighte (Pickering) had a few chances in offense, the goalkeeper made some really good saves. We've talked all year about getting in good areas and creating chances. So we certainly got in there. But the motivation of the players is to keep going and we're gonna get the next one, so all credit to the boys. They kept going and got the second goal and we knew once we got the second the floodgates were gonna open."
Forward Nighte Pickering opened the scoring within five minutes with a downward header following a corner from Cesar “Danny” Elizalde. But the lead was short lived as Wake FC equalized three minutes later with an impressive shot from distance into the top corner past goalkeeper Aaron Salinas.
Wake was reduced to 10 men after 20 minutes when its #17 was shown a second yellow card for a mistimed tackle on Timothy Ospina. Pickering had a great chance for his second of the game when Diego Hernandez slipped the ball behind Wake’s backline but the goalkeeper made a good 1v1 save.
The second half was largely devoid of chances for both sides until Tarik Scott snuck behind Wake’s backline and put Dallas ahead with a confident near-post finish. The goal helped Dallas settle into the game and they controlled the majority of possession until substitute Jalen Belong added a third goal with a back-post tap-in following a long run by Pickering. Fellow substitute Mikey Morales put the icing on the cake with a late penalty to make it 4-1 Dallas.
The U-19s move on to the semifinals where they’ll face either New England Revolution or Players Development Academy on Friday, July 1 at 9AM.