ECNL TEXAS DAY ONE RECAP: LONE STAR STATE SHOWDOWN
The stars of the ECNL Boys were out on Friday night in Texas as the Continental Tire ECNL National Selection Game took center stage in Round Rock.
Throughout the opening half, the East team controlled the majority of the possession and had the bulk of the scoring chances. Even with all that possession though, the two teams went into halftime scoreless, as the East were unable to capitalize on their advantage in possession.
Minutes into the second half the East saw one of their best chances to score when a ball was crossed right in front of the goal, but no one was able to get on the other end of it at the back post.
In the 50th minute, against the run of play, the West found the first goal of the night. Damien Valeriano (San Juan SC) stole the ball away from the East defense and found Lennon Kindred (FC Dallas) making a run past the East defense. Kindred then calmly slotted one past the keeper to put the West on top.
“We pressed really high and ended up getting the ball. They played me in and I just had a cool head,” said Kindred.
Just over 10 minutes later, Kindred would make another massive mark on the game. On a ball played over the top, Kindred spun his defender around and earned a penalty inside the box on a handball.
In the 64th minute, Kindred stepped up to the spot and coolly sent the goalie the wrong way and put the penalty home to double the West lead.
The East continued to generate chances going forward in an attempt to make a comeback, but throughout the night were just unable to turn all their possession into any goals.
In the closing minutes, Alexis Cervantes (MVLA) put the finishing touch on the game for the West side, making it 3-0 with a great goal, and broke out the signature Kylian Mbappe knee slide with his arms crossed to celebrate the 3-0 win for the West.
“I got subbed in as a 10 to try to get some counter attacks,” said Cervantes. “I was open, I timed my run, and just slotted it in, and the celebration was just crazy from there.”
“He hit one of the best celebrations I have ever seen,” said Kindred. “I’m never going to forget that.”
Both Kindred and Cervantes talked about how it was the biggest crowd they had ever played in front of and what a great experience it was for both of them.
“It was a really fun game playing with a lot of different players,” Kindred said. “It was a different emotion, a different experience. I was just really happy I got picked so I could meet a bunch of nice people.”
“It was awesome. The experience is another level. You can hear all the cheering in the background,” Cervantes said. “I’m happy to get the goal, happy to help the team win, and we move forward from this.”