Casa Grande, AZ (October 8, 2021) – Continuing their 2021-22 MLS Next campaign, Barça Residency Academy faced off against Phoenix Rising FC on Saturday at Grande Sports World – Home of Barça Residency Academy. A battle with Phoenix Rising across four age groups saw Barça’s U-19s, U-17s, and U-15s earn victories, while the U-16s fell by the narrowest of margins.
Barça Residency Academy U-19s 3-2 Phoenix Rising Academy
In the morning on Saturday, Barça’s U-19s captured a 3-2 win over Phoenix Rising FC to move to a perfect 7-0 on the season. There was no shortage of energy when the game kicked off – both teams ventured forward and moved towards goal with aggression and intensity. Playing quickly, Barça created a chance just minutes into the match when winger Samuel Mendoza headed a cross towards goal that ultimately flew over the bar.
Later in the first half, center back Moises Mondragon clipped a beautiful ball in behind for winger Korede Osundina, who also headed the ball but couldn’t quite direct it towards goal. Barça continued to move the ball and create chances in the first half, taking advantage of Osundina’s speed on the wing, but it wasn’t until the second half that they broke the 0-0 deadlock.
In the second half, forward Daron Iskendarion pounced on a loose ball in the box before showing some composure and finding the back of the net to put Barça up 1-0 in the 58th minute. Five minutes later, though, Phoenix Rising hit back with a goal of their own to tie the match at one goal apiece. Not to be outdone, Barça climbed back into the lead in the 65th minute. Left back Uly Martinez moved in behind the opposing backline and played a lovely low cross over to Emmanel Johnson, who finished on the right side of the box to put his team up 2-1.
As the second half came to a close, Osundina added another goal to Barça’s tally with a clean finish from inside the 18-yard box. Phoenix Rising scored once more in the 83rd minute, but it was too little too late from the visitors as Barça secured a 3-2 win.
“It was what we expected,” Eddie Wilding, who stood in for Ged Quinn for the U-19s, said. “They came out and pressed us high early on and as we gained control of the game, the dynamic completely changed. We were playing and it was about breaking down a team and we found solutions.”
Barca’s U-17s split over the weekend, falling 0-2 to Albion on Saturday and defeating City SC the following day by a score of 2-0 with goals by Idoh Zeltzer-Zubida and Moises Arciniega.
Barça Residency Academy U-17s 4-3 Phoenix Rising Academy
Also on Saturday, Barça’s U-17s played a thrilling match against Phoenix Rising FC. While cheers erupted across Grande Sports World, Barça scored four goals en route to a 4-3 home win. A brace from Joel Torbic in addition to goals from both Idoh Zeltzer Zubida and Anthony Diaz led Barça to victory.
Barça Residency Academy U-16s 0-1 Phoenix Rising Academy
Though they possessed the ball well, created chances, and put in a strong defensive performance Barça’s U-16s fell 0-1 to their in-state foes on Saturday morning.
Barça Residency Academy U-15s 2-1 Phoenix Rising Academy
Later on Saturday, the U-15s faced off against Phoenix Rising FC – and provided plenty of entertainment for the crowd. It was a promising start for Barça, who controlled the ball and counter-pressed well from the opening whistle. 13 minutes into the match, central midfielder Liam Schumacher got on the ball in the final third and took a shot from inside the box, but his shot was blocked.
Undeterred, Barça continued attacking and found the back of the net in the 29th minute, thanks to a phenomenal header from left back Dylan Thomas. Using his momentum to add power to the header, Thomas attacked the ball in the air and stuck his shot in the back of the net to give his team a 1-0 lead.
Up 1-0, Barça carried their momentum into and out of halftime. In the 49th minute, striker Sanjay Gerry put his head on a cross, but couldn’t quite direct it on frame. In the 58th minute, attacker Diego Zepeda took a shot from outside the box, but had his effort saved by the opposing goalkeeper.
As the second half wore on, the game started getting tense. In the closing minutes, Phoenix Rising scored a goal of their own to tie the game at 1-1. With only stoppage time remaining, it appeared that Barça would have to settle for a draw. However, a moment of quality from Zepeda completely changed the game. In second half stoppage time, Zepeda attacked the left side of the box, drove to the end line, and played a clever ball across the face of goal that forced a Phoenix Rising player to score an own goal.
“The most important thing was the group,” U-15 coach Eddie Wilding said. “We said at the start that we need solutions from everybody and I think the one moment at the very end that was very positive was obviously from Diego [Zepeda] with a lovely bit of skill to create the winning goal. But I think the players who came off the bench and everybody really contributed in a good way.”
With Thomas’ goal in the first half and that own goal from Phoenix Rising in the second half, Barça ended with a 2-1 win.
“I think we deserved the game overall,” Wilding said. “The first half, we pretty much dominated the game, dominated the ball and then the second half, naturally, it can open up and become a little bit difficult. I think had we drawn the game it would not have been deserved, but we kept going, we kept pushing, and got the winner in the end.”
The Barça Residency Academy MLS Next teams will play away next, the U-19s and U-17s will take on RSL Arizona on Friday, November 12th while the U-16s and U-15s will battle RSL Arizona on Saturday, November 13th in Phoenix, AZ.