NLCL 24: SMS and City collide in mega clash, as semifinals kick off in Marabella


Defending champions Soccer Made Simple (SMS) and tournament favourites City FC face each other from 3.30pm on Sunday 10 March, in what might be the biggest domestic youth football match of 2024 so far.

SMS and City FC play the closing match in a double header at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella, as the NLCL U19 Community Cup semifinal round kicks off.

City FC midfielder Caden Trestrail (left) flicks the ball for a teammate during NLCL U19 Community Cup quarterfinal action against Central Soccer World at the Larry Gomes Stadium on 2 March 2024.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

Earlier, from 1.30pm, Tobago champions Ball Blasters Youth Academy tackle Athletic International Academy (AIA) at the same venue.

No south team advanced to the final four, in a competition that has only ever been won by clubs from the East Zone or Eastern Counties.


MaGuaya United claimed the inaugural U19 Community Cup in 2020 while SMS, who are based in Bon Air, lifted the trophy in 2022 and 2023.

City FC, formerly QPCC, competed on the east-west corridor but are a Port of Spain-based team.

Point Fortin Youth FA forward Jeremiah Abraham (second from right) prepares to go for goal while Kamillionare FC right back Emmanuel Edwards (right) watches on and goalkeeper Jayden Meharris tries to recover during their NLCL U19 Community Cup contest at the Techier Recreation Ground in La Brea on 21 January 2024.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

At the 2024 quarterfinal stage, all four South Zone representatives fell by the wayside.

Point Fortin Youth Academy, who topped the south zone, trailed AIA 2-1 at the interval but recovered to go two goals clear by the hour mark—after strikes by Djibril Felix and Jeremiah Abraham at the Larry Gomes Stadium.

And AIA, the third placed finishers in the east group, went down to 10 men in the 89th minute when captain and star player Theo Crovador received a second yellow card for dissent.

Remarkably, AIA still conjured up an equaliser through Dalon Sankar—after Point Fortin failed to clear a cross into the area. And, in kicks from the penalty mark, the Trincity-based team prevailed 5-4 in sudden death.

AIA goalkeeper Joash Harris makes his first save during the penalty shootout against Point Fortin Youth Academy during their NLCL U-19 Community Cup quarterfinal match at the Larry Gomes Stadium on 2 March 2024.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

There was little daylight space between Central Soccer World and City either. Again, there was a last minute hero, as 15-year-old maestro Caden Trestrail scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time to seal a 2-1 triumph for City.

It was Trestrail’s 15th goal of the competition, which is the best individual tally this season. Incidentally, the second most prolific marksman is City forward Luke Correia with 13 items.

There was more drama in Marabella last Sunday as Ball Blasters recovered from a 2-1 deficit to defeat Made In La Brea 4-2—thanks to three goals in the last 10 minutes of play by Malik Wilson, Jaeden King and Kyle James respectively.

Ball Blasters FA goal scorer Kyle James (third from left) is congratulated by teammates during their NLCL U19 Community Cup quarterfinal clash with Made In La Brea at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on 5 February 2023.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

And the final southern representative, Gasparillo Youths, fell 2-0 to SMS on Sunday afternoon at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium.

Both teams were deadlocked up until the 73rd minute. However, two goals in a five-minute spell by Khaleem Prince and Jonathan Emrith completed the roster for the semifinal round.

Ball Blasters will try to ensure that the NLCL U19 Community Cup final is not contested solely between teams from Trinidad’s east-west corridor. And AIA certainly have a tall task ahead without their suspended captain, Crovador.

AIA attacker Dalon Sankar (left) prepares to run at the QPCC City FC team during NLCL U19 Community Cup action at Eddie Hart on 7 January 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

Meanwhile SMS have a real job ahead to make it a hattrick of Community Cup trophies.

In their first meeting with City this season on 11 January, SMS were routed 6-1 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium training ground. The score was 1-1 at the interval before the host team went up a gear, with Micah Nelson and Kade Collier both getting doubles.

In their rematch on 4 February, SMS thought Ezekiel Ramdialsingh’s terrific first half volley had secured all three points for the defending champions.

However, not for the last time, Trestrail popped with a late item to help City stave off defeat.

On Sunday, there can only be one winner at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium though.

NLCL U19 Community Cup Quarterfinal results

(Sat 2 March)

Pt Fortin Youth Academy 3 (Joshua Bernard 26, Djibril Felix 51, Jeremiah Abraham 58), AIA 3 (Theo Crovador 14, Jahdel Chase-Charles 29, Dalon Sankar 90) at Larry Gomes Stadium;

*–AIA won 5-4 in sudden death penalties.

City FC 2 (Luke Correia 68, Caden Trestrail 90+4), Central Soccer World 1 (Kelon Williams 70) at Larry Gomes Stadium;

(Sun 3 March)

Ball Blasters Youth Academy 4 (Kyle James 8, 90+1, Malik Wilson 80, Jaeden King 83), Made In La Brea 2 (Omari Edwards 38, Jaheim Phillip 49) at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;

SMS 2 (Khaleem Prince 73, Jonathan Emrith 78), Gasparillo Youths 0 at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium.

SMS attacker Khaleem Prince (left) outfoxes World Class left back Jahronite Pierre during the NLCL U19 Community Cup final against SMS at the Larry Gomes Stadium on 26 February 2023.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

NLCL U19 Community Cup semifinal fixtures

(Sunday 10 March)

AIA vs Ball Blasters YA, 1.30pm, Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;

City FC vs Soccer Made Simple, 3.30pm, Mannie Ramjohn Stadium.

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