Frisco, Tx. – The two most compelling semifinal matches on this Saturday’s US Youth National Championship schedule this morning outside of Dallas were the U18 Girls games featuring Carlsbad Elite (CA-S) and Ambassadors FC (OH-N) and unfortunately the interest was for all the wrong reasons.
— Livster (@TheLivster59) July 28, 2016
The two clubs played to a somnolent 0-0 draw on Thursday, drawing scrutiny from observers and accusations of match fixing from Top Drawer Soccer.
At 8:34 this morning, just over an hour after Carlsbad had kicked off against KHA Red (OH-S) and Ambassadors had gotten underway versus Tennessee SC (TN) US Youth Soccer released a statement on the unseemly affair which we have included at the end of this article in its entirety.
The teams involved reacted very differently on the field to the trauma with Carlsbad battling to a 2-1 win over KHA while Ambassadors gave a dispirited display in falling 2-0 to Tennessee.
Afterward, GotSoccer spoke to a contrite Ambassadors boss Caleb Fortune, although Carlsbad coach Courtney Drummond declined the opportunity to address the controversy when asked.
Noting the quiet behavior of his team on the bench during the loss, I asked Fortune if the furor surrounding Thursday’s match had affected his players. “Yeah, it was a little bit (quiet)” Fortune conceded, but it’s fine.”
“U.S. (Youth Soccer) yesterday made a decision that we were cleared, so thankfully when they spoke to all parties and they looked to see the appropriate people that were involved and made a decision that it wasn’t (collusion) and we were cleared.”
“We were very happy to hear that but it definitely affected the girls today,” Fortune said. As many of his players hugged and cried in the aftermath of today’s 2-0 loss, Fortune admitted that it “was a little bit tough for the girls, some of them were upset during the game but it’s fine.”
I pointed out to Fortune that the US Youth Soccer statement had not, in fact, cleared the teams, saying among other things that the clubs had “disrespected the game.”
To that the coach wanted to emphasize that “we never collaborated with the other team,” adding that “mainstream media outlets ESPN and Fox Soccer said that we needed a tie to go through but we didn’t need a tie.”
“I think we were portrayed in a pretty bad way,” Fortune said noting “the kids have had a lot of hate mail on social media.” Expanding on that topic Fortune said, “on the sideline, there were a lot of parents shouting at them and we had to sub a kid out because she was in tears.”
“It’s not been great,” the coach understated, before admitting that he would do it differently if he had the chance. “Oh definitely,” Fortune said. “We didn’t mean any disrespect to Syracuse (Syracuse Development Academy 97/98 (NY-W) felt they were cheated by Thursday’s debacle) we felt very bad about that.”
“We definitely don’t want to advocate bad sportsmanship,” Fortune said, continuing, “that’s definitely not what the club’s about, what I’m about, what the team’s about, so we do feel bad that we’ve been taken this way,” but Fortune conceded, “I understand where it’s coming from.”
So, it sounds like a case of lesson learned by Ambassadors. Meanwhile, the other half of this morality play in shin pads takes place tomorrow morning when Carlsbad and Tennessee contest the U18 Girls Championship match at 10:20 am.
US Youth Soccer Statement on Under-18 Girls Ambassadors vs. Carlsbad game.
FRISCO, TEXAS (July 30, 2016) – US Youth Soccer takes the issues of fair play and respect for the game very seriously. Following the July 28 game between Carlsbad Elite 97/98 (CA-S) and Ambassadors FC (OH-N), the National Championship Series (NCS) Committee of US Youth Soccer met on Thursday evening to examine the conduct of the coaches and teams, and has reached a determination based on the evidence presented and reviewed.
After meeting with both teams, the Committee found the teams were disrespectful to the game, the competition and US Youth Soccer. The integrity of the National Championships Series Competition is predicated on fair play and sportsmanship by all participants and those ideals were compromised.
Upon completion of a thorough investigation, including interviews with the teams in question and game officials, the NCS Committee did not find sufficient evidence of collusion. However, it determined the coaches may have had a material effect on the outcome of the match. Disciplinary action and monetary fines have been assessed to both teams.
While it supports the disciplinary process of the National Championship Series, the US Youth Soccer Board of Directors is also investigating this matter to determine whether potential violations of US Youth Soccer bylaws occurred, or if the actions of the coaches were adverse to the best interests of soccer or US Youth Soccer.
While each team worked hard on the first two days of play to put themselves in a position to advance, we believe the strategy of the coaches in this game failed their players, the competition and the principles of sportsmanship and fair play.
US Youth Soccer will review its policies and make any necessary alterations to ensure this type of display doesn’t happen in the future.