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Sueño MLS: Six finalists advance from New York tryout to final phase of competition in Los Angeles

HANOVER, N.J. – For half a dozen Sueño MLS hopefuls, Sunday was at once a very nerve-racking and a very special day.

Six teenagers saw their dreams move a step closer to being fulfilled as the New York Red Bulls wrapped up the second round of their 2014 Sueño MLS tryouts at their training facility on Sunday afternoon. Red Bulls scouts chose five field players and a goalkeeper from a pool of 26 teenagers that had impressed on Day 1, and the decisions were not easy.

The six players chosen from the Red Bulls’ competition – which started with 396 entrees on Saturday – will advance (along with the 12 combined finalists from tryouts hosted by the LA Galaxy and Colorado Rapids) to the final phase of the competition in Los Angeles from May 13-18.

On Sunday the players, clearly nervous and excited about the opportunity they had in front of them, showcased their abilities in a 60-minute game that ended 2-0. Afterward, the New York coaches deliberated on whom to pick before the six finalists were announced live on Univision’s Republica Deportiva.

“Obviously, it was much improved from yesterday,” said Red Bulls director of youth programs Bob Montgomery. “They’re also a little more relaxed on Day 2, and they’ve gotten to know each other a little. As it went on throughout the day today, it got better.”

While Montgomery and the rest of the Red Bulls staff were looking for players who really left their stamp on the match, there were also other attributes that Colombian legend Carlos Valderrama said would help the teenagers, aged 14-17, get noticed in the second round.

“What impresses you is the will, the energy,” said Valderrama. “That’s a building block to see the attitude they have as they chase their dreams.”

Of the 18 teenagers competing in Los Angeles, only two – a field player and goalkeeper – will ultimately win. That, however, does not mean that the others will be lacking in future opportunities.

“We’re very pleased,” said Montgomery. “There’s some Jersey players there that are of interest to our academy. A couple of them have tried out with us in the past and did not join our academy, but they have an interest now. That’s the benefit of this: that we’re looking to find players, and we’ve been successful so far.”

NEW YORK FINALISTS

Goalkeeper | Steven Ortiz | 14 years old | Linden, N.J.
Defender | Joseph Sepulveda | 14 years old | Bayside, N.Y.
Defender | Sergio Duran | 16 years old | Racine, Wisc.
Defender | Ronaldo Yepes | 16 years old | North Bergen, N.J.
Midfielder | Joseph DeZart | 15 years old | Jackson, N.J.
Midfielder | David Lopez | 17 years old | Bronson, Fla.

Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.