FRISCO, Texas – It proved impossible to separate MLS power Real Salt Lake and international guest Stoke City in the 2014 Generation adidas Cup, but Stoke are flying home with the trophy after winning a dramatic shootout Sunday afternoon at Toyota Stadium.
The teams tied 1-1 in regulation, their second tie of the tournament after a frantic 2-2 draw In group play on Tuesday. In that contest, Salt Lake had edged Stoke in a shootout and eventually won the group, but Stoke qualified for the semifinals as the best group runner-up and got revenge on Real Salt Lake in Sunday's 3-2 shootout win. It was the fifth time out of seven editions that the tournament final has been decided by penalty kicks. Real Salt Lake won the 2008 title and lost the 2010 edition, both in shootouts.
On Sunday, Real Salt Lake seemed to respond better to the North Texas heat, controlling possession in the first half. There were few clear-cut scoring chances, however, and the breakthrough came from a free kick in the 26th minute. Lining up a set piece from the left corner of the penalty area, Sebastian Saucedo bent in a low, right-footed delivery that skipped through the penalty area and in at the far post without touching anybody. It was the tournament-best fifth goal of the tournament for Saucedo.
RSL almost added a second goal shortly before halftime, as Evan Waldrep played a through ball behind the Stoke defense, and Tate Schmitt – who had scored a dramatic tying goal against Stoke on Tuesday – raced onto it before rifling a shot to the top right corner, only to see it skip off the frame of the goal.
In the second half, Stoke came out with renewed energy and movement, and they were rewarded with a goal in the 44th minute. From a Salt Lake throw-in, Johnville Renee-Pringle won a header to Theo Brierley, who ran toward the penalty area, fought through a tackle, and slipped a pass toward goal. Forward Julien Ngoy ran onto it and angled a low shot through the legs of charging goalkeeper Christian Herrera, tying the game.
With both teams running out of steam while playing their fifth game in seven days, most of the late scoring opportunities came from free kicks, with Josh Williams heading wide for Stoke and Real Salt Lake's Justen Glad heading his best look straight at the goalkeeper.
So it came down to penalty kicks yet again. After the first two shots were converted by each team, Stoke goalkeeper Tommy Dyche punched away Glad's shot in the third round, only to see Herrera deny the normally lethal Charles Weston-Hayles in the bottom of the round. In the fourth round, Salt Lake's Josh Doughty hit the post with his shot, and Renee-Pringle scored to put Stoke in front.
Dyche then made perhaps the biggest save of his young career, reaching back with his trailing leg to block Aaron Herrera's effort and bring the Generation adidas Cup to foreign soil for the first time.
In the post-tournament awards ceremony, Saucedo took home both the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player and the Golden Boot as its leading scorer, while FC Dallas goalkeeper Charlie Furrer was named the Golden Gloves winner after posting three shutouts in five matches. But Stoke City, who brought only 14 age-eligible players to the tournament, took home the most important hardware, the championship trophy.
Real Salt Lake (3-0-2) vs. Stoke City (2-0-3)
2014 Generation adidas Cup - Final
April 20, 2014 –- Toyota Stadium, Frisco TX
RSL – Sebastian Saucedo 5 (unassisted) 26
STK – Julien Ngoy 2 (Theo Brierley 1) 44
Real Salt Lake – Christian Herrera, Aaron Herrera, Miles Stray, Justen Glad, Diego Silva, Fito Ovalle, Danny Acosta, Tate Schmitt (Leo Fuchs 63), Evan Waldrep (Gavino Carranza 50), Sebastian Saucedo, Josh Doughty.
Stoke City – Tommy Dyche, Daniel Jarvis, Josh Williams, Theo Vassell, Lewis Banks, Theo Brierley, Johnville Renee-Pringle, Ollie Shenton, Tom Shepherd (Kyren Hamilton 59), Julien Ngoy, Charles Weston-Hayles.
STK – Josh Williams (caution) 37
STK – Lewis Banks (caution) 61
Referee: Victor Rivas
Referee's Assistants: Kyle Atkins, Danny Thornberry
Fourth Official: Rubiel Vazquez
Matches played with 35-minute halves.
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial