Monday’s two games – including the showcase championship game – presented the last opportunity for the top NPSL players from across all four regions to flash their talent and potential to possible future employers of theirs before the NPSL season gets underway in the spring.
The showcase championship match featured the two-time defending showcase champions, the Midwest, versus the West Region side.
Both teams both got off to a spirited start, filled with a bevy of chances. The style of play for both sides was back-and-forth and more up-tempo than the previous day. The speed of play definitely helped evaluate some of the players much better in a more intimate setting away from the StubHub Center Track and Field Complex because of an early-morning venue switch due to rain the night before.
The West broke through late in the first half off a quick, composed counterattack finished at the other end by (F/CM) Richard Cervantes of Albion SC Pros assisted by (M/D/F) Armbrust of the Sacramento Gold.
The West would go into halftime with that same 1-0 lead.
Retooled with halftime adjustments from former MLS coach John Kowalski, the Midwest came out with a more attacking-minded mentality in the second half that helped the dictate the game until they nearly found their equalizer in the 75th minute but it went out for a goal kick.
Two-minutes later in the 77th minute, the Midwest would equalize finding a streaking (F) Peter Ceesay of the New York Athletic Club who slotted the ball past a diving keeper.
The Midwest would not let their foot off the pedal and continued to push for the win.
In the 85th, the Midwest would strike again grabbing a 2-1 lead. This time lead by Cuban National Team player and AFC Ann Arbor star, (F) Dario Suarez who calmly knocked one in past a frozen goalkeeper for the game-winner.
Shortly thereafter the finish of the championship game, a consolation game between the Northeast and South regional sides was still to be played in front of onlooking coaches, scouts, and agents.
The South took an early lead 1-0 over the Northeast with a screaming strike from the right foot of (F) Ali Sodal of the Joplin Demize assisted by (D) Diego Hurtado of Miami United FC. The South would grab another goal in the 40th minute to subdue the Northeast right before halftime scored by (M) Russell Alvarez of the Shreveport Rafters, assisted by (D) Derick Pettiway of the Liverpool Warriors.
That score line would hold the rest of the way as the South salvaged a win to end the showcase.
NPSL Chairman and Brooklyn Italians Vice President Joe Barone had this to say about this year’s showcase in review. “This year’s showcase was the best one we’ve had to date. Three exciting days full of opportunities for our players from our four regions. We’re glad we get to give back to our players for showing their commitment to the NPSL and our member clubs. A big ‘thank you’ to all our-hard working staff for making this happen and to MLS, NASL, and the USL for showing their support.”
Showcase Committee Chairman and Owner of the New Orleans Jesters, Kenneth Farrell said: “We’re extremely proud and grateful to all of our coaches and players that came to Los Angeles to showcase their abilities. It’s especially encouraging to reward the best players from coast-to-coast with this type of event. We hope the access that was provided to them can help continue their development leading to opportunities to play professionally outside the NPSL.”
Head Coach of the Tulsa Roughnecks (USL) and former D.C. United defender David Vaudreuil had only kind words to say about this week’s showcase. “I thought the NPSL did a great job with the showcase and brought some talented players here to be seen by USL, MLS, and NASL coaches. The commitment the league and its teams have shown has been great and it can only help developing players going forward.”