Friday July 29th, 2016

The U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships delivered a bit of controversy on Thursday, as two teams appeared to play to a scoreless draw on purpose so that both could advance to the next stage, Top Drawer Soccer reports.

Carlsbad Elite and Ambassadors FC met on the last day of group play, the former needing a win or draw to win the group and the latter needing a draw to ensure they would advance. 

It sounds a little bit fuzzy as a concept, but the video evidence corroborates it. The teams passed the ball around in a decidedly casual manner, making no attempt to score. The match, to nobody’s surprise, ended in a scoreless draw—much to the chagrin of another team that won its last match 4–1, but was unable to advance with Ambassadors collecting a point.

Ambassadors coach Caleb Fortune even issued a statement, citing the weather as reason for his team’s lack of effort. It’s not clear whether the draw was completely coordinated, but it’s safe to say that both coaches were totally fine with the result, which came at the expense of actual competition.

Fortune’s full statement is below. 

“Both teams were through pretty much, so there was nothing to play for. Earlier in the day, there had been 18 people collapsed due to the heat. Just at the start of the game, we never fixed the result because we didn’t have to. There was nothing there to play for. We just told our players, if the other team has the ball at the back, just don’t press them. There’s no reason to run around and kill yourselves during this event.

“If you watch the start the players were kind of going back and forth and there was a couple of shots. As the game went on, they stopped pressing and kind of asked what’s the point of running? There’s no reason to do it. I do understand that in terms of the event, you have to play the game. But the result was meaningless. We weren’t match fixing.

“The tiebreaker is goals against. So the only way we would’ve gone out is if we would’ve lost 4-0 and 5-0. And the thing with Carlsbad, because they were already through, their leading scorer wasn’t even playing. The beginning of the game was normal. We don’t know Carlsbad at all, but why would they risk this to go through on some match fixing thing?

“In terms of the circumstances, if you look at the other groups, Tennessee won their group and they lost a game 3-0 (on Thursday), and they were resting players. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. In the heat of the day I don’t think they have to run around and do all that stuff.

“In terms of our game itself, I think we were respectful to the other team in terms of them going through, and I think they were respectful to us. And that was pretty much it.”

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