The Sharks playing staff underwent an overhaul after winning Nationals in August with a foursome of Mikey Lynch, Braden Kemp, Eric Brody and Bryson Pink. The additions of Randall Congreaves and Assyed Sanchez made the team deeper and more athletic for the World Championships this past weekend. The Sharks entered the weekend as the top seed, but before beginning the Championships had the not so small matter of playing a full team game against Jacksonville United in the Florida Premier League.
Jacksonville brought a loaded team and took an early 1-0 lead, but FC America created chances at will building a 3-1 lead. Jacksonville pulled a goal back, but Zues Rodriguez sealed the game with a running header to make it 4-2.
The six Sharks set out for Disney with sandwiches in tow for a 2:30 match with FC Brazil from Colorado. The Sharks were sluggish most of the game and trailed 2-1 before rallying for the win on a pk conversion at the final whistle. The impression was that we played poorly amd our opponent was good, but not great.
Game two was against The Avengers from Illinois. The Avengers packed it in defensively and literally gave the ball away with long kick when placed under duress. It was a strange and ultimately futile strategy resulting in a comfortable 5-2 Sharks win.
Sunday, the Sharks played their final group game against Bloomington Elite from Indiana, who provided little resistance in a 7-2 game. The Sharks were second seed entering the playoffs on goal difference.
The Sharks played The Flying Dutchman from Buffalo, New York in the opening round. It was a cagey, tactical match that saw the Sharks take a 3-2 lead with about two minutes to play. The Flying Dutchman mounted a late flurry of pressure in front of goal, but were beaten when the Sharks won possession late. The Sharks played for a decisive goal, but lost possession and the lead on a counter attack forcing overtime. The Sharks dominated the extra session and won it with a Mikey Lynch goal from an acute angle.
Monday morning saw a rematch with FC Brazil. The first half was tight at 1-1. Midway through the second half the Sharks scored three quick goals to go up 4-1. FC Brazil capitalized on some mistakes cutting the lead to 4-3 before capitulating.
In the final we played Stronghold from New Jersey. Stronghold was impressive during our scouting operations and presented a significant challenge. Playing our best soccer of the weekend, we lead 2-0 at half and extended it to 3-0 early in the second half. It was a mop up operation from there 5-2.
The core three of Mikey Lynch, Braden Kemp and Eric Brody had won Nationals several times, but always come up short in Worlds. Bryson joined the team in August, Randall and Assyed this month. They all play together at FC America, but the intimacy of this experience in 3 v 3, joining and fulfilling a longer narrative was something I hope each of them appreciates.