The 2022 MLS NEXT Cup came to a close this past weekend, and Inter Miami CF’s Academy presented by Baptist Health South Florida teams left the tournament with many positives.
Both the U-15 and U-17 teams both finished at the top of their divisions leading up to the MLS NEXT Cup playoffs. The U-15 team finished ten points clear of second placed Orlando City SC in one of the toughest divisions in MLS NEXT. Similarly, the U-17 team finished their own tightly contested division in first place, earning 29 points over the course of 14 matches.
The U-17 Academy team kicked things off in the MLS NEXT Cup on Sunday, June 26 against in-state rival Orlando City SC, but narrowly fell in their opening playoff game to a single goal.
In their consolation matches, the U-17s faced FC Dallas, falling in a narrow 1-0 game, and defeating Vardar 3-2.
The U-15 team ran the gauntlet through the tournament; the team first defeated New England Revolution 3-1, with goals scored by Santiago Morales, Mateo Saja and Daniel Pinter. Next, Saja and Morales would each score again to take Inter Miami past Solar SC 2-0. Pinter scored yet again versus Austin FC, with another goal by Victor Fung helping the team emerge victorious with a 2-1 scoreline. In the last game en route to the final, Pinter scored once more to take Inter Miami past LA Galaxy with a 1-0 victory. Inter Miami CF U-15 would face defending champions Real Salt Lake in the tournament’s final.
Inter Miami would take an early lead, opening proceedings in the 13th minute off of a headed goal by Victor Fung. Santiago Morales, whose father Javier played for Real Salt Lake, assisted the goal with a beautiful cross.
Morales would be instrumental again in the 26th minute, starting and finishing a crisp sequence of passing and curling a shot from outside the penalty box into the back of the net, doubling Inter Miami’s lead.
Real Salt Lake pulled one back from the penalty spot, but Inter Miami closed out the game, pressing the defending champions and keeping them on the back foot to be crowned as the 2022 U-15 MLS NEXT Cup champions.
Additionally, Morales was named MLS NEXT Cup playoffs MVP in the U-15 category after his stellar display.
Victor Pastora, head coach of the U-15 team, praised the squad’s hard work and effort.
“Our U-15 team players are a great representation of our South Florida community diversity and culture. They are passionate, talented, happy, brave, appreciative and capable of being disciplined.
Inter Miami CF owners have the vision and commitment to provide an academy where South Florida youth soccer players have the freedom to achieve their dreams. Our U-15 players made their dream of winning the MLS NEXT Cup championship a reality.
One day some of those boys and other academy players will lift the MLS cup for the first team.
We are proud to have represented our community, our club and our families with passion and discipline. We look forward to continuing to work and improve.”
Congratulations to our academy teams for representing Inter Miami CF, South Florida and the future of fútbol.
For additional coverage of our teams or to congratulate the boys on a job well done, you can follow our Academy’s journey online by following our Twitter account @InterMiamiAcad or via Instagram @InterMiamiCFAcademy.