February 23, 2018
Grande Sports World played host to all three Barça Academy sides competing in US Soccer Development Academy action as De Anza Force came to town. Barça Academy looked to get back into the swing of things, playing its first triple-header of the new year against the visitors from Saratoga, CA. The U-15s kicked off the day, but quickly fell behind and conceded all three of the goals of the match during a brutal 11-minute stretch. The U-17s would continue their push towards the playoffs with a resounding 5-1 win, scoring five goals unanswered after conceding early on. The U-19s rounded out the triple-header with a hard-fought 1-0 loss in the day’s most competitive match.
Barça Academy’s U-15s would start the day brightly and looked dangerous in the opening moments of the match. Andres Zavaleta would carve out the opening chance of the match in the fourth minute, skipping a low service from wide across the face of goal. Dante Williams and Dylan Akau were both in the box and bearing down on goal, but neither could get the decisive touch to put the ball into the back of the net from three yards away.
In the 20th minute, the U-15s would create another chance, isolating Juan Verdugo in a wide position against De Anza’s fullback. Verdugo skipped past his man with a clever shimmy, cut inside and struck a powerful shot which the goalkeeper did well to hang on to.
However, the match came undone for Barça Academy during an 11-minute period between the 21st and 32nd minutes, where they would concede three times from similar situations. All three times, the U-15s were caught out in their press and left goalkeeper Emiliano Andraux heavily exposed, and there was little he could do to prevent De Anza from scoring in 1-v-1 opportunities.
Barça Academy would have good chances to get back into the game before halftime but couldn’t find the finishing touches in moments where they normal proved to be clinical. Caden Clark lifted a shot over the bar from five yards after being played in by Akau, and Diego Yang’s cross skipped over Verdugo’s foot with the goal beckoning.
The second half was devoid of chances, and the match ended with the final score standing at 3-0 to De Anza.
“I’m really disappointed,” said U-15s coach Ged Quinn. “I thought we actually started the game okay, we were high pressing well, and created a couple chances and on another day could have been one or two-nil up. But we got caught in transition on all three goals, and I think it was three sucker punches in the first half and ultimately then, we were chasing it.”
Next up on the day were Barça Academy’s U-17 side, who entered the game chasing a playoff spot and needing a win to propel themselves into a wildcard spot for the week. Calamity struck early on for the U-17s though, as a defensive mix-up in the 10th minute between goalkeeper Samuel Lee and left back Christian Ortiz allowed De Anza’s striker to nip in and open the scoring from a tight angle.
Barça Academy would respond immediately, and carve out chances for Jake LaCava and Matthew Hoppe, but neither could convert.
The equalizer would come in the 20th minute when Hoppe’s low fizzing shot was palmed away by De Anza’s goalkeeper, but Julian Araujo was on hand to tap the ball into an empty net to level the score.
The U-17s would take the lead six minutes later when Enzo Mauriz sent in a lovely cross which picked out Cameron Fisher at the back post, and the midfielder headed home to take the score to 2-1 in favor of Barça Academy.
Barça Academy would double their advantage right on the stroke of halftime through a touch fortune. A De Anza defender rose highest to clear away a corner kick from Barça Academy, but his header would hit Pedro Mondragon square in the face and fly into the back of the net past a helpless goalkeeper.
The U-17s would continue to assert their dominance in the second half, and in the 47th minute, they would add another goal. Mauriz lined up a free kick from a wide area, which initially started as a service for onrushing teammates, but evaded everyone and bounced into the back of the net with the goalkeeper frozen in place.
The final goal for Barça Academy came in the 65th minute when substitute Roberto Molina beat his man wide and swung in a service across the face of goal. Matthew Hoppe beat his man to the spot and flicked the ball past the goalkeeper with a glancing header to take the score to 5-1.
“I thought we were really good, start to finish,” said Academy Director and U-17s head coach Sean McCafferty. “Obviously the goal we conceded was a little bit sloppy and we could have dealt with it a little bit better, but I thought the response was excellent. We didn’t change anything, we just continued to play in our style and thought we thoroughly deserved the victory.”
The last match of the day saw Barça Academy’s U-19s match up against De Anza. Barça Academy started the match very well, and in the sixth minute carved out two chances in rapid succession for George Kobel. The De Anza goalkeeper produced a pair of excellent saves, low to his left and high to his right, to keep the match level.
In the 39th minute, Barça Academy would create their best chance of the match when Taylor Koptieff picked out Johnny Fitzgerald’s clever run with a precise through ball that put him through 1-v-1 with the keeper. Fitzgerald wasn’t able to get his shot away early enough though, and the goalkeeper was able to smother the ball at close range.
The remainder of the first half would pass without incident, but Barça Academy would fall behind shortly after resuming play for the second half. Goalkeeper Dante Perez would make an excellent save at close range, but the rebound fell to a De Anza player, who would score the match’s only goal in the 50th minute.
“I think we started off pretty well during the first 20 minutes of the game and had some good scoring opportunities during the first half,” said U-19s head coach Daniel Antunez. “But we stopped applying as much pressure with our press, which led to opportunities for them, and unfortunately we conceded pretty early in the second half.”
All three Barça Academy USDA sides travel to San Diego next week to take on San Diego Surf at Surf Cup Sports Park. The U-15s will kick off first at 10 a.m., followed by the U-17s at noon and the U-19s at 2:30 p.m.
U-15: Barça Academy 0 vs. De Anza Force 3
U-17: Barça Academy 5 vs. De Anza Force 1
U-19: Barça Academy 0 vs. De Anza Force 1
U-15: Barça Academy vs. San Diego Surf | 10:00 AM | Surf Cup Sports Park # 8
U-17: Barça Academy vs. San Diego Surf | 12:00 PM | Surf Cup Sports Park # 8
U-19: Barça Academy vs. San Diego Surf | 2:30 PM | Surf Cup Sports Park # 8
U-17: Barça Academy vs. Real Salt Lake | 11:00 AM | Zions Bank RSL Academy Complex
U-19: Barça Academy vs. Real Salt Lake | 1:30 PM | Zions Bank RSL Academy Complex
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