April 12, 2021
Casa Grande, Ariz – Barça Residency Academy played a full slate of MLS NEXT games over the weekend at Grande Sports World – Home of Barça Residency Academy. On Saturday, Barça’s U-19s, U-17s, U-16s, and U-15s enjoyed an undefeated set of results against Nomads. Then on Sunday, Barça’s U-19s headlined the slate of games with a 6-0 win over Albion SC.
Barça Residency Academy U-19s 1-0 Nomads
Barça’s U-19s battled Nomads on Saturday morning. They started the game off well with aggressive defending and quality movement around the box. The chances began rolling in with Korede Osundina’s shot in the seventh minute and continued until halftime. Striker Shaked Wexsler nearly converted an unreal volley in the 17th minute, but his shot hit off the woodwork. In the 28th minute, right back Miles Lyons took a threatening shot from inside the box but was unable to put it on frame.
Though they didn’t get on the scoreboard in the first half, Barça dominated the ball and had a plethora of dangerous attacking moves in the final third. In particular, winger Ocean Salari caused problems for Nomads with his creativity and dribbling ability out wide. In the 89th minute, that creativity and dribbling ability paid off: Salari drove down the left wing and put a cross into the box for midfielder Daron Iskenderian. Iskenderian showed excellent composure and finished off Ocean’s cross to win the game for Barça in the closing moments.
“I think in the first half the boys did really well,” U-19 head coach Ged Quinn said. “I think on another day it could’ve been two or three nil at halftime. But Nomads are always a difficult team to play against, they always organize themselves, they always battle and make life difficult. It shows a good bit of character to, in the last minute, still be making those runs, still be driving at people and beating people. It was a really great ball in from Ocean [Salari] and a good finish from Daron [Iskenderian]. I think the boys overall deserved the win, but a good test for us today.”
Barça Residency Academy U-17s 2-0 Nomads
Earlier on Saturday morning, Barça’s U-17s also took on Nomads. Thanks to quality play from Moises Arciniega on the left wing and Samuel Mendoza on the right wing, Barça was on top of things from the start, taking shot after shot in the first half. Mendoza had a quality attempt in the 13th minute and fed Abel Salazar in the 24th minute, but Barça couldn’t quite direct their shots towards goal.
11 minutes into the second half, Mendoza broke the 0-0 deadlock by converting a penalty earned by Rafael Avalos. Mendoza kept his penalty attempt low and to the goalkeeper’s right to give Barça a 1-0 advantage.
To close out the match, Mendoza grabbed a second goal in the 90th minute. After dribbling through midfield and beating a pair of defenders, he snuck a lovely finish past the Nomads’ goalkeeper to extend Barça’s lead and end the game at 2-0.
“The boys did really, really well. I think it was probably the best we’ve been able to play this year, putting two halves together,” U-17 head coach Chris Harmon said. “Against a really difficult team who high-pressed we were able to be composed and be brave and play our style.”
“Sammy [Mendoza] and Moises [Arciniega] gave us a lot today,” Harmon said. “They had a lot of one v. one actions. Both of them were, in terms of understanding the times when they could go forward and the times when they needed to help us keep possession, I thought they both were excellent.”
Barça Residency Academy U-16s 1-1 Nomads
Adding to Barça’s undefeated string of results on Saturday, the U-16s secured a 1-1 draw with Nomads. In the 55th minute, Jiro Ushida received a ball from Ryan Firestone and finished to score the crucial goal for Barça.
Barça Residency Academy U-15s 2-0 Nomads
Not to be outdone by the older age groups, Barça’s U-15s bested Nomads on Saturday morning as well. Zachary Smuck’s brace, made up of one goal in the 37th minute and a second in the 56th minute, lifted Barça over their opponents to continue their strong start to the MLS NEXT season.
Barça Residency Academy U-19s 6-0 Albion SC
In the academy’s highest scoring game of the weekend, Barça’s U-19s bested Albion SC 6-0 on Sunday. The scoring began in the first half with forward Korede Osundona’s goal in the 35th minute. Then in the second half, central midfielder Dante Williams finished off an attack with a goal in the 65th minute.
Ten minutes later, winger Ocean Salari got in on the scoring action with one goal in the 75th minute and another in the 83rd minute. Barça closed out the game with a goal from Desmond Sackey in the 85th minute and a strike from Tomas Duenes in the 89th minute. Complete with six goals, five different goal scorers, and a clean sheet, it was quite the performance from Barça.
Barça Residency Academy U-17s 1-2 Albion SC
On Sunday, Barça’s U-17s fought hard but fell to Albion SC by a score of 2-1. Teo Vargas scored in the 10th minute, notching Barça’s lone goal in their first MLS NEXT loss of the year.
Barça Residency Academy U-16s 0-0 Albion SC
Collecting their second point of the weekend, Barça’s U-16s took on Albion SC and kept a clean sheet en route to a 0-0 draw.
“After two strong performances from the boys it was difficult only getting two points, especially because of two clear penalties that we were denied late in both games,” U-16 head coach Brady Taylor said. “However, I am happy with the team because we’ve showed huge improvement on the recovery side of the game which was one of the aspects of the game we worked on this week in training.”
Barça Residency Academy U-15s 0-2 Albion SC
After a strong result against Nomads on Saturday, Barça’s U-15s couldn’t quite top Albion SC on Sunday. Though they controlled the ball and held possession well in the attacking half, Barça was unable to edge Albion SC in a 2-0 loss.
The Academy U-15s and U-16s will take on Chula Vista FC on Saturday, April 24th before all four MLS NEXT teams face off against City SC in Carlsbad, California on Sunday, April 25th.