It was a busy weekend for Barça Academy, with all teams (U-15, U-16, U-17, U-18 and U-19) in action. The U-15, U-17 and U-19 Academy sides traveled to Irvine, CA to take on Pateadores Academy in U.S. Soccer Development Academy regular season play. Barça Academy’s U-15s put on a show, winning by a score of 5-0, while the U-17s and U-19s suffered losses. Meanwhile, the U-16 and U-18 Pre-Academy teams were in action in the Arizona State League and the Arizona Premier League, respectively. The U-16s had a great weekend, winning both matches against Tucson Aztecs and SC Del Sol Premier, while the U-18s suffered losses against Arizona ASA USA and Phoenix Premier FC.
The weekend kicked off with Coach Ged Quinn’s Academy U-15 team running out to a 5-0 win against Pateadores Academy at UC Irvine in California. The match began at a low tempo but picked up quickly after.
“I thought we started the game a little slowly and struggled to break down a well-organized Pateadores team despite controlling the possession and the tempo of the game in the first half,” said Quinn. “Our first goal came from good pressure to win the ball back in the final third but we had struggled to create many clear-cut opportunities other than that, despite having a lot of the ball.”
The U-15s entered halftime up 1-0 over Pateadores Academy on a goal by Jacob Spurgiesz that came in the 31st minute.
The players responded to a strong halftime team-talk from Quinn and the second half resembled a totally different match. Ricardo Benitez scored a goal right out of halftime in the 43rd minute. Luk Mikula found the back of the net in the 62nd minute, quickly followed by another goal by Benitez in the 66th minute, his second of the match. The final goal came from Dante Williams when he put the game out of reach for Pateadores in the 70th minute, lengthening the score to 5-0.
“In the second half, we were excellent and there were a lot of positives to take from the performance,” said Quinn. “We were a lot braver in our passes and managed to break the lines consistently which helped us open up Pateadores and create a lot more goal scoring opportunities.”
“We scored some very well worked goals and it was great to see some of the work the guys have put in during training translate into the game. We will look to build on this performance as we prepare for Real So Cal next weekend”
Next up to take on Pateadores at UC Irvine would be the Barça Academy U-17s, coached by Sean McCafferty. The match would end in a 2-1 loss, as Barça Academy would be made to pay for a slow start to the match.
“We started very poorly and gifted the opposition a goal inside the first 10-12 seconds which is certainly not the way to start any game never mind against the league leaders,” said McCafferty. “Pateadores pressed very high early in the game and we didn’t deal with it well, we struggled to break their press and ultimately conceded the 2nd goal from a free kick which was down to poor marking on our end.”
Despite being down two goals within 15 minutes of the match, the U-17s would rally to grab a goal back when Jake LaCava found the back of the net in the 38th minute. Barça Academy trailed 1-2 at the half.
With a foothold in the game, the U-17s would press to find an equalizer.
“Second half we possessed the ball for what seemed like 90% of the half, we were patient, linked up well and created a few excellent chances but unfortunately we were unable to find the goal which would have given us a deserved share of the spoils, but it wasn’t to be,” said McCafferty.
The second half ended without incident and the U-17s fell, 1-2 to Pateadores Academy.
The U-19s would round out the day with a loss to the Pateadores. The first half was fairly even, though a sloppy goal off of a set piece tipped the balance against Barça Academy early in the first half.
“It was a fast-paced, physical game. We conceded a poor goal from a corner in the 19th minute,” said Coach Daniel Antunez. “Besides being down 1-0 in the first half, the game evenly matched. Both teams struggled to create chances in the first half and I think we were in a good spot to turn things around going into halftime.”
Trailing 0-1, Barça Academy was unable to match Pateadores in the second period of play. Barça Academy conceded 5 goals in the second half, while only scoring one. Enrique Zamora had a late consolation goal in the 71st minute.
“We dropped our intensity and level of concentration and got punished for it early on in the second half,” said Antunez. “We will need to work hard to get a result this weekend and attempt to turn things around”. The U-19’s lost by a score of 6-1.
Back in Arizona, Brady Taylor’s U-16 pre-Academy team had a very successful weekend, claiming wins over Tucson Aztecs and SC Del Sol Premier.
The U-16 team opened the weekend by traveling down to Tucson to take on the Tucson Aztecs. The team was in good form, coming off of a 6-2 win in their last match, but conditions on the pitch made it hard for Barça Academy to get going.
“The boys started out slow in the first 10 minutes,” said Taylor. “It was the worst field we had played on all year, so it took some time to get used to the surface.”
On a bumpy pitch, Barça Academy had to adapt their game, but once the team acclimatized, they dominated the match, running out to a 4-0 win.
“After about 15 minutes, we had complete control of the game,” said Taylor. “Tucson Aztecs decided not to keep a deep defensive line, which allowed us to move the ball in and out of pressure well and get many chances on goal”.
“The boys had executed exactly what we had trained the previous two weeks of practice and it showed in the scoreline”.
Flying high after two consecutive wins, the U-16s entered their match against SC Del Sol Premier full of confidence. They met an opponent who played proactively and tried to win the ball back high up the pitch, which allowed Barça Academy space to break into.
“SC Del Sol decided to come out and press us. Their pressure was well organized and forced us to play quick,” said Taylor. “Within this, we were able to break their high line of pressure several times in the first half to score two good goals”.
The U-16s led SC del Sol 2-0 at the half.
SC del Sol increased their tempo in the second half, resulting in an end-to-end match. However, Barça Academy was strong at the back and shut SC del Sol out, 2-0.
The Barça Academy U-18s also played two matches on the weekend as well, taking on Arizona ASA USA and Phoenix Premier FC in the Arizona Premier League. On Saturday, Cristian Lopez’s U-18s matched up against Arizona ASA USA.
“In the first half, we kept the possession of the ball forcing them to defend in their own half of the field. However, we did not penetrate, creating only one or two chances at goal,” said Lopez. Barça Academy conceded two goals in the first half, one from AZ ASA USA’s only shot on target and the other coming from a penalty kick.
The U-18s found themselves down 0-2 at halftime. A change in formation spurred the U-18s on in the second half. Changing to a 3-4-3 formation in the second half, Barça Academy scored quickly within the first minute of the half, closing the margin to 2-1.
On the hunt for an equalizer, Barça conceded a goal, giving AZ ASA USA a 3-1 lead. “The change in shape affected our defending,” said Lopez. “From this moment, we played very well, creating chances but their goalkeeper stopped them all”. Barça scored to bring the match to 3-2 in the 90th minute, but time was not on their side. Resulting in an untimely 3-2 loss.
On Sunday evening, Barça Academy’s U-18s made the trip up to Scottsdale to take on Phoenix Premier FC.
“We found an opponent defending very low in their own half, waiting for our mistakes and playing directly after winning the ball,” said Lopez. “We played pretty good, moving the ball side to side, and arriving into the box but not having any clear shots.”
Barça Academy conceded an early goal in the first half and entered halftime down 0-1.
“[In the] second half we changed to 3-4-3 trying to come back, but we conceded the second goal from nearly the same corner kick”, said Lopez.
Barça Academy kept pushing forward, showing bravery as they creating some chances. Barça Academy struggled with ASA USA’s long balls and conceded the third goal on a counter attack and the fourth from a badly defended throw in, making the score 4-0. “We fought until the end,” said Lopez, scoring a consolation in 89th minute. Barça Academy ultimately fell to Phoenix Premier 1-4.
U-15: Barça Academy 5 vs. Pateadores 0 | University of California, Irvine
U-17: Barça Academy 1 vs. Pateadores 2| University of California, Irvine
U-19: Barça Academy 1 vs. Pateadores 6 | University of California, Irvine
U-16: Barça Academy 4 vs. Tucson Aztecs FC 0 | Tucson, AZ
U-18: Barça Academy 2 vs. Arizona ASA USA 3 | Scottsdale, AZ
U-16: Barça Academy 2 vs. SC del Sol 0 | Mesa, AZ
U-18: Barça Academy 4 vs. Phoenix Premier FC 1| Scottsdale, AZ
Barça Academy U-15, U-17 and U-19 teams are next in action on Sunday, October 29th when they host Real So-Cal at Grande Sports World. The U-18s will also be in action on the 29th, taking on FBSL Tuzos in Scottsdale, while the U-16s have the weekend off.
All Barça Academy teams will be off for the next two weekends, resuming play on November 18th at home when the Academy teams take on the Portland Timbers Academy.
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