Barça Academy Sweeps Santa Cruz Breakers Academy at Home


Barça Academy’s U15, U17 and U19 sides all tallied big wins over Santa Cruz Breakers Academy on Saturday, winning by scores of 4-0, 3-0 and 3-1 respectively.

Before all three matches, the teams participated in a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims in Las Vegas.

The U15s kicked off the action with a flurry of chances in the opening 15 minutes. Juan Verdugo was lively early on creating several chances for his partners in the front three. The opening chance of the half came when Verdugo crossed for Caden Clark, who couldn’t find the target.

Barça Academy continued to pile on the pressure, moments later, Dylan Akau fired wide from a tight angle. Verdugo, Clark and Mikula would all have chances in the opening moments as well.

The breakthrough goal came for Barça Academy in the 22nd minute when Verdugo rose highest to head home a cross.

Just moments later, Caden Clark doubled Barça Academy’s advantage by looping the ball over the goalkeeper from long distance.

Barça Academy added a third goal for good measure just moments later, in the 25th minute. Defender Frank Alvarez freed himself on a corner kick and was unmarked at the far post to slam home a volley from inside the six-yard box.

The U15 team took a 3-0 lead into the half and saw out the early parts of the second half at a relatively low tempo. The match remained that way until the 70th minute when goalkeeper Danis Cajis was called into action to make a save low to his near post.

Barça Academy added the cherry on top of the cake with a fourth goal from Jacob Spurgiesz, whose volley from inside the area flew into the back of the net in the 80th minute.

The remainder of the game would pass without incident and Barça Academy’s U15 side would win by a score of 4-0.

“I thought the guys did well,” said coach Ged Quinn. “Thought we came out strong, could have been a few goals up early. It was one of the instances though, that once we got the first goal, we got the second a third quickly after it.”

“I thought a little bit of complacency crept in over the first ten minutes [of the second half]… but we finished the game stronger.”

Meanwhile, on the next field over, the U17s kicked off and immediately created problems for Santa Cruz Breakers Academy. Barça Academy was dangerous in the early goings on set pieces, and in the 12th minute, Jose Olmos would nearly open the score. The fullback beat his man to the near post on a corner kick, but his header flashed just over the bar.

Nine minutes later, Olmos would atone for his miss, rising highest to head home a corner to open the scoring.

Just four minutes later in the 25th minute, Carter Payne would double the advantage. The defender would score from a wonderful solo effort: pressing to win the ball back high up the pitch and showing composure to slot away when 1v1 with the goalkeeper.

Barça Academy took a 2-0 lead into halftime. The U17s would nearly open the second half with a goal in the 46th minute when a low cross found Jake LaCava at the far post, but he couldn’t beat the keeper.

Goalkeeper Samuel Lee was then tested with a long shot high to his right, but he held on comfortably.

It was at that point where Matthew Hoppe began to take over. In the 53rd minute, two chances fell to him in succession, the first of which he tucked into the top corner only to see the linesman flagging for offside. Next, he was played in down the right channel but fired just wide from a tight angle to the far post.

Two minutes later in the 55th, Hoppe would finally get the goal that would end the game as a contest. Once again, down the right channel, he would skip around the goalkeeper, but his touch would nearly take him out of play. He showed great composure to cut the ball back and fire high into the net ahead of a sliding defender.

Barça Academy’s U17 team would control the rest of the match, seeing out a 3-0 win.

“I thought we dominated the game, even though we missed a lot of opportunities, but we still played well and got a 3-0 win,” said Hoppe after the game.

“As a coach today, I am happy with the players, they made a good match,” added technical director Denis Silva. “All the match, more or less, it was under control.”

In the final match of the day, the U19s fought to a 3-1 win behind goals from Arturo Ernand, Taylor Koptieff and Evan Morrison.

The first chance of the match for Barça Academy came in the ninth minute when Kyle Frudakis’ weighted through ball was latch onto by Pugliese, but he couldn’t beat the goalkeeper 1v1.

Enrique Zamora would get the next chance in the 25th minute, curling a free kick towards the top corner which the goalkeeper was able to scramble across to tip over.

Barça Academy would have to wait until nearly the end of the half to open the scoring. Ernand would be the man to do it, guiding a low shot into the corner after picking up the ball in the box.

The U19s would immediately score on the other side of the interval as well. Taylor Koptieff made a run out of the midfield that went untracked, and he slotted coolly past the goalkeeper to double Barça Academy’s advantage in the 48th minute.

Goalkeeper Ryan Bilichuk would make a big save in the 56th minute when faced with a 1v1 situation at a narrow angle, but would concede from a cross five minutes later.

The team would show great mentality though, bouncing back to score a 3rd goal to secure the result just four minutes later.

Zamora, who was dangerous throughout the match, would pick out Evan Morrison at the back post off of a free kick, and the defender powered a header home to add to Barça Academy’s advantage.

Zamora would nearly get a goal himself, curling an effort off the crossbar in the 70th minute. Barça Academy saw out the remainder of the game to claim a 3-1 win over Santa Cruz Breakers Academy.

“Sometimes, because of the way we play, we are going to concede goals, but today, we saw a shift in the boys’ mentality” said coach Daniel Antunez after the match. “After we conceded the goal, we just kept pushing on. It’s a good learning moment for the boys, I think, as a unit, it’s going to help us move forward.”

The U17s and U19s return to action next weekend at Grande Sports World against Real Salt Lake, while the U15s next play on October 21st against Pateadores in Irvine.



U-15: Barça Academy 4 vs. Santa Cruz Breakers SC 0 | 9:00 a.m. PT, Grande Sports World

U-17: Barça Academy 3 vs. Santa Cruz Breakers SC 0 | 9:00 a.m. PT, Grande Sports World

U-19: Barça Academy 3 vs. Santa Cruz Breakers SC 1 | 11:30 a.m. PT, Grande Sports World



Barça Academy U-17 vs. Real Salt Lake U-17 | 9:00 a.m. PT, Grande Sports World

Barça Academy U-19 vs. Real Salt Lake U-19  | 11:30 a.m. PT, Grande Sports World

Barça Academy U-18 vs. SC Del Sol U-18  | 9:00 a.m. PT, Scottsdale Sports Complex, Field #2


All Barça Academy teams will play the following weekend, September 21-22. The Academy teams will travel to Irvine, California to face the Pateadores on Saturday, October 21st. The U-16s will return to action that day in an Arizona State League (ASL) match against the Tucson Aztecs FC, time and location TBD. The U-18s will also play on the 21st against Arizona ASA USA and again the following day, October 22nd, against Phoenix Premier FC, both Arizona Premier League (APL) matches.


Denis Silva, Barça Academy Technical Director

“The matches against Santa Cruz were in general, controlled well by us. We succeeded in commanding the time and the chances of the match, the first half we missed a few chances to score, so always creating opportunities is one of our goals. We also focus on having the ball as much as possible and without rush, controlling the game.  We didn’t give up any counterattacks or any real chances to concede a goal. Our players understood the importance of not losing easy balls in the midfield and not making a lot of risky passes when & where it’s not necessary, these two principles helped all the team improve this weekend.”

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