Barça Academy Splits Over the Weekend


Four Barça Academy teams were in action this weekend, as the U-15s, U-17s and U-19s took on Real So Cal Academy in US Soccer Development Academy matchups, while the U-18s faced an Arizona Premier League matchup with FBSL Tuzos. All four of the matches were hard fought, closely contested affairs; Barça Academy ended the weekend collecting two wins and two losses. The U-15s and U-19s both kept clean sheets as they defeated Real SoCal by a score of 2-0 and 1-0, respectively, while the U-17s fell 2-1 in a tight match, and the U-18s lost by the same margin to a heart-breaking late goal.

The weekend began with the Barça Academy U-15 and U-17 sides kicking off simultaneously at Grande Sports World. Across all three age groups, Real SoCal employed an organized, high-energy pressing style, so chances were hard to come by in the opening moments.

The U-15s started with the confidence one would expect from a team which had claimed four wins in their last five matches. They were positive in possession despite the high press of the opposition but had to be patient in probing Real SoCal’s defense.

Barça Academy would come close to making the breakthrough in the tenth minute with a lovely piece of skill from Caden Clark. With the ball behind him and seemingly about to bounce away, Clark used the back of his heel to flick it over his defender’s head. Clark would connect sweetly on a volley which had the keeper worried, but couldn’t get enough dip on the shot to find the target.

Next to have a go would be Luc Mikula, as the big defender would rise highest to win a header in the box, only to see it loop just over the crossbar.

In the 30th minute, Clark would come closest to opening the score in the first half. The midfielder had an opportunity to show off his dead ball prowess and curled a pacey free-kick over the wall and past the keeper, but off the post, from 25 yards out.

Barça Academy would have to wait until after the break to open the score. They came out from halftime with a point to prove, pressing Real SoCal high up the pitch.

The pressure would pay off in the 50th minute when a dangerous ball whipped in by Frank Alvarez forced a Real So Cal defender to poke the ball into his own net with two Barça Academy players lurking behind him ready to score.

Juan Verdugo, on as a substitute, would prove dangerous from wide areas as well. In the 63rd minute, he would beat his man for pace out wide, and bearing down on the goal, he would nutmeg the keeper, who had spread himself wide in an effort to save. Unfortunately, Verdugo’s effort would touch off the post and roll, teasing across the face of goal and out.

Barça Academy would wrap up the match with an insurance goal in the 80th minute when Real SoCal’s keeper couldn’t deal with substitute Jacob Spurgiesz’s shot from a cross.

“We controlled the game for the most part,” said U-15 coach Ged Quinn after the match. “I think if we were a little more clinical in front of goal in the first half, we could have been a bit more comfortable as the game goes on. Overall, there were a lot of things we could have done better, but it was good to see the guys carry on the success that they’ve had”. The U-15s won by a score of 2-0.

Meanwhile, the U-17s would find some joy in the sixth minute, as Jake LaCava found space in the right channel, and thumped a shot towards the far post, only to see the goalkeeper get two strong hands to the ball to push it away.

The game would settle into a pattern of midfield pressure and re-pressure, and it wouldn’t be until the 20th minute when Barça Academy would find a bit of quality to cut through the press. From his berth in the midfield, Cameron Fisher showed off quick feet and tight control to take the ball past a crowd of defenders, but could not find the target after creating the space to shoot.

Eleven minutes later, Barça would threaten again. Max Garcia worked a bit of space for himself on the left wing, and his deflected shot turned into a near perfect cross for Matthew Hoppe, who was loitering dangerously in the middle. He found himself unmarked eight yards out from goal, but the keeper was out quickly to smother his shot just as it left his foot.

Two more chances would fall to Barça Academy before the half ended. In the 37th minute, Fisher would again find himself with an opportunity to score, but this time it was a defender who managed to block the ball. The ball ricocheted out and made its way to Roberto Molino, who went past a pair of defenders and curled an effort just wide of the post.

The U17s would look dangerous on the other side of the interval as well, with the first chance of the second period of play falling just four minutes into the half. The dangerous Cameron Fisher took aim at the top corner but saw his curling shot fly just high and wide of the target.

Perhaps Barça Academy was still fixating on this missed chance, two minutes later, when a mix-up at the back allowed Real SoCal’s Anthony Mercado in to score.

Down one goal, the U-17s really came to life and produced some of their best attacking play of the match. They came close to grabbing an equalizer in the 63rd minute when beautiful combination play between LaCava and Hoppe put LaCava in 1-vs-1 against the keeper from seven yards, but a big save kept the scoreline at 1-0.

A goal-line scramble in the 75th minute had the Barça Academy players and staff on their feet asking questions about whether the ball crossed the line, but the referee waved “play on”, and five minutes later, Real SoCal would double their advantage from a defensive breakdown.

Barça Academy would pull a goal back in the 87th minute, with Michael Scavuzzo poking a ball bouncing in the box past the keeper and into the back of the net, but did not have time to find an equalizer.

“Same old story,” said U-17 coach Sean McCafferty. “I thought we were excellent in the first half, had a lot of possession, created some good chances and they never really tested us at all. Unfortunately, we were lacking in the final third, and if you don’t take your chances, you won’t win very many games.”
The U-19s would close out the Development Academy slate with a 1-0 win. Barça Academy would fly out of the blocks and nearly claim an early lead in the second minute. Kristian Frroku would get on the end of a low cross, which he had to slide to reach. The ball lifted off his foot and onto the crossbar and Johnny Fitzgerald headed the follow-up off the crossbar.

Continuing the lively start, Julian Araujo would be next to test the keeper in the seventh minute as he drove forward from his fullback posting and hammered a shot which flew wide of the near post.

Austin Amer would round out the chances in the early goings with a free kick which forced a sprawling Real So Cal goalkeeper to parry wide.

Despite the fast start, Barça Academy would be forced to lean on their goalkeeper during the next passage of play, they were lucky to find Dante Perez in outstanding form. In the 22nd minute, Perez came up with a huge foot save to keep the match even when faced with a Real SoCal attacker 1-v-1.

Perez would double the heroics just three minutes later, scrambling across his line to palm away a shot at the far post that looked destined for the back of the net as a low cross eliminated the Barça Academy defense.

The next big chances of the match would come in the 34th minute and would fall to Frroku, who was released on a 1-v-1 against the goalkeeper with a beautiful long through ball from Antonio Pugliese. Frroku couldn’t find a finish to beat the keeper with the defense bearing down on him.

The lone goal of the match came in the dying moments of the opening half on a piece of exceptional quality. Austin Amer picked up the ball from his deep-lying midfield role and powered a shot straight into the top corner just beyond the outstretched fingertips of the keeper.

Barça Academy remained on top throughout the second half, with good chances falling to Taylor Koptieff, Arturo Ernand and George Kobel, but when the referee blew for full time, the result stood at 1-0 to Barça Academy.

“I thought it was a difficult match and in the first half especially, we created just as many opportunities as they did,” said U-19 coach Daniel Antunez. “I think early on, we could have gotten one or two goals which would have created a bit of a buffer, but the boys battled through, and the last few minutes, they did great to grind it out.”

In the final match of the weekend, Cristian Lopez’s U-18s took on FBSL Tuzos on a bumpy pitch in Scottsdale.

The first half passed nearly without incident, as Barça Academy tried to play out from the back. They found two opponents on the day: Tuzos, who defended in a medium block, looked to win the ball back in the midfield and counter with pace and the field, which made every bounce and touch unpredictable.

Despite dominating possession, the U-18s headed into the halftime interval trailing, after the last kick of the half was put into the back of the net. Daniel Dubiel did well to make an initial save on a powerful shot, but a Tuzos player reacted quickest to poke one in past the Barça Academy goalkeeper.

Barça Academy responded well out of the break and it was Fidel Rangel-Gallardo who would prove to be the danger man. In the 53rd minute, a couple of stepovers and a subtle drop of the shoulder allowed the winger to breeze past his man and take aim at goal. Unfortunately, his low shot found the side netting wide of the post.

Just one minute later though, Rangel-Gallardo would grab an equalizer for Barça Academy, beating both the wall and the keeper with a curling free kick from the edge of the area.

Unfortunately, Barça Academy could not keep hold of the scoreline and take home a share of the spoils. In the 83rd minute, a scuffed clearance wrong-footed Dubiel and allowed a Tuzos player in around the back to tap home the winner, 2-1 FBSL Tuzos.

All four teams now face time off to analyze and improve. The next match for Barça Academy comes next weekend when the U-16s take on United Latinos in the Arizona State League.


October 29

U-15: Barça Academy 2 vs. Real So Cal 0 | Grande Sports World

U-17: Barça Academy 1 vs. Real So Cal 2 | Grande Sports World

U-19: Barça Academy 2 vs. Real So Cal 0 | Grande Sports World

U-18: Barça Academy 1 vs. FBSL Tuzos 2  | Scottsdale, AZ


November 4

Barça Academy U-16 vs. United Latinos U-16 | 2:40 pm | Grande Sports World


Next weekend’s U-16 game concludes the first half of the season for the U-16s and U-18s. The U-15s, U-17s and U-19s will enjoy the weekend off and pick back up the following weekend, November 12th at Albion.

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