The Cayman Islands ended a youth football competition with an impressive win.
The Cayman Select team – mostly youngsters on the national team at the recent CONCACAF Under-15 Championships – defeated the youth academy of Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo, 2-1. Saturday’s contest at George Town’s T.E. McField Sports Centre – commonly called the Annex – served as the finale for the C3 Cayman International Youth Football Tournament.
Michael Rae Martin Cruz scored the game’s first goal in the 17th minute. Cruz transformed a turnover by Houston defender Matthew Alzate near midfield into a piercing run through the Dynamo defense ending with a clinical 15-yard strike past the goalkeeper. Cayman didn’t have to wait long for the second goal. Nine minutes later, Vincent Lachance scored on a loose ball after the Houston keeper miscued a save on a free kick taken at the edge of the box.
After being thrashed in the tournament opener 4-0 by the youth academy of English League 1 outfit Swindon Town, Cayman came out determined. The local boys had the momentum in the opening minutes and dictated the pace of the game, playing up-tempo, attacking football that featured penetrating runs from star prodigies Zachary Scott and Leighton Thomas Jr.
In the second half, the Dynamo came to life and took the initiative by putting more pressure on the local team through the first 25 minutes. Cayman keeper Finnegan Huffington had to make a couple of big saves to keep his clean sheet. He would also get lucky as he mishandled a cross into the box when Houston forward Vieri Joya’s shot hit the crossbar and bounced out of play. In the 87th minute, Houston finally broke through by taking advantage of lax defending. Christian Nelson muscled his way into the danger area and slotted home a loose ball in front of goal.
The last minutes of the game were marked by undisciplined play, needless fouls and tempers flying as both teams lost their composure.
Ultimately, the win gave Cayman three points and a second place finish in the tournament. Swindon Town, following a 2-2 tie with Houston in their second game, ended up with four points and the competition trophy. The Dynamo went home with just one point.
Aside from the aforementioned teams, the tournament showcased members of the Under-13 national program and the Cayman Islands Youth Football Program. Two Caymanian players at Swindon – Sebastian Martinez and Nathan Borde – also featured with a third, Kray Foster, being present but unable to play due to injury.