U14 Boys Champions League Preview
California Odyssey and Force South will come into the Champions League as the clear favorites to qualify for the NPL National Finals, having topped their respective fall divisions, but don’t sleep on any of the other teams, who all finished within eight points of the top of the table.
CALIFORNIA ODYSSEY RED
Head Coach: Santiago Aguilera
Six State PDP players helped California Odyssey to an unbeaten 8-0-1 fall record, where the Odyssey scored an incredible 51 goals, nearly twice as many as anyone else in their division including 18 goals from U14-NPL leading scorer Alejandro Chavez. Armando Neri added 10 goals for Odyssey while Ethan Saephanh scored an additional 8. Don’t sleep on the Odyssey defense, as the club allowed just 10 goals in nine games thanks to stellar play from goalkeeper Jesus Rodrigo Sanchez.
Head Coach: Noah Delgado
Want to watch an exciting game? Go see this Force North side, which finished second in the NPL 1 West with 25 goals scored and last in that same league with 25 goals allowed. Absurd scorelines like 6-5, 5-0, and 5-1 are the norm for this Force side that finished without a single draw in the Fall season.
Head Coach: Mark Christie
As many players from this Force side have moved onto the Developmental Academy squad, not much is known about a team that went 7-1-1 in the fall season while scoring 21 goals and allowing just nine. NorCal PDP players Tyler Reavis and Max Farnum will be expected to contribute to a squad who are among the favorites for the Champions League title.
NAPA SOCCER ACADEMY
Head Coach: Gavin Taylor
Though Napa Soccer Academy features an impressive five PDP players, according to coach Gavin Taylor, it’s the teamwork of the squad that has helped them to success. “The team has many strong individuals, but collectively they make each other better,” Taylor said. Napa are also known for their technical, attacking style of soccer, one that saw them finish third in the NPL 1 East with 29 goals scored in nine games with Cesar Molina, Gerardo Perez, and Kevin Trujillo Galaviz each scoring six.
SF GLENS EVOLUTION BLACK
Head Coach: Shaun Ramsden
The team was the star for SFGE Celtic Academy in garnering a 6-1-2 record that saw the Celtic miss out on a fall title by just two points. Part of the reason for the success of SFGE was an organized and cohesive defensive unit that allowed just six goals in nine games, the best rate of any of the eight teams in the Champions League. Pierre Lesperance led the team with five goals in the Fall. The squad participated in the fall season as “SF Glens Evolution,” but have partnered with legendary Scottish club Celtic FC to rebrand for 2017.
TAHUICHI FC Red
Head Coach: Jose Espinoza
For Tahuichi, it was defense that made the difference in the fall season, as goalkeeper Emmanuel Padilla shepherded the second best defense in the NPL West, allowing just 17 goals overall in a 5-2-2 season. Starting just in front of Padilla’s goal are center backs Martin Lopez and Noemi Monroy, who lead a stifling defense that should be just as good come Champions League season.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR EAST BAY NAVY
Head Coach: Scott Allen
Tottenham Hotspurs East Bay were surprise qualifiers to the Champions League — the fall of 2016 was their first year playing in NPL 1. Still, Tottenham were able to scrape together a 6-3-0 season thanks to a high-powered attack that led the NPL 1 West with 26 goals. Fynn Hayton-Ruffner scored fifteen goals in the Fall but will not be with the team this Spring, so look for striker Adolfo Yoc-Masaryk, to pick up the scoring slack in the team’s first foray into the Champions League.
TURLOCK TORNADOS SC
Head Coach: Jorge Barajas
While Turlock feature a strong core of three State PDP players, it’s been some of their athletes outside of the program that made the difference in collecting the Fall NPL 1 East title. The attacking trio of Alex Bautista, Tyler Tipton, and Bryce Castro combined for an impressive 14 goals and seven assists in just nine games in leading Turlock 6-1-2 record. With a core that has been together for roughly six years, Turlock suffocate their opponents and should be a tough test for even the best sides to cope with.