U15 Boys Champions League Preview – 2018
The much-anticipated NPL Champions League finally returns this weekend as teams kick off their games at various sites around the state. There’s more at stake than just the glory of winning the Champions League as the NPL Champion and Runner-up qualify for the ENPL Western Playoffs taking place from June 29-July 3 in San Diego, CA.
ATLETICO SANTA ROSA
Head Coach: Guillaume Cruvellie
Last year’s State Cup runners up in Atletico Santa Rosa are back at it again and have qualified for the prestigious Champions League via a second-place finish in the NPL 1 West. Atletico went 5-3-0 with 16 goals scored and 13 allowed this fall. Led by State PDP players Adrian Gonzalez and Edgar Nunez, this team can strike at any time and fully deserves their placement in NorCal’s top competition.
CALIFORNIA ODYSSEY RED
Head Coach: Santiago Aguilera
Perhaps the most impressive side in all of the U15 boys division in the fall were California Odyssey, who were simply unstoppable in their division in scoring 34 goals and allowing just nine to finish with a 7-0-1 record. The Odyssey’s offense was paced by players who put up video game numbers as Nathan Jimenez hit the back of the net 18 times, while Alexandro Chavez finished second in the U15 division with eight goals.
Head Coach: Cesar Chavez
After falling last year in the State Cup semifinals on penalties, Heritage SC plowed through their competition in the NPL 1 East, finishing with a 5-1-2 record with 15 goals scored and just six allowed. That stingy defense is led by goalkeeper Agustin Duenas and center back Oliver King, who combined to concede the fewest goals in their division.
NAPA SOCCER ACADEMY
Head Coach: Gabe Rood
One of the most exciting and fun sides to watch last year was Napa Soccer Academy, whose young program captured the State Cup title in 2017. And that group is back at it this year, with 11 State PDP players to boot. With such a deep squad full of quality, Napa finished 5-1-2 in the NPL 1 East to qualify for the Champions League, where they will be a good bet to capture the league title.
SF GLENS EVOLUTION
Head Coach: Mike McNeill
SF Glens Evolution have just one goal for the spring Champions League: win it. And the side’s pedigree proves that this is possible as the Glens went 4-2-2 in fall NPL 1 West play to finish third. With State PDP players in Pete Lesperance, Xander Sagatalyan, Zach Thomas, Killian Folan, and Kevin Estrada, Evolution has the talent to play with any side and should look a strong bet to finish near the top.
TAHUICHI FC RED
Head Coach: Jose Espinoza
Lining up in a traditional 4-4-2, Tahuichi was simply able to dominate their opponents in the NPL 1 West by sheer quality of players. The North Bay side topped that division with a 5-1-2 record with 20 goals scored and just 10 allowed to put them among the favorites for the Champions League title. Sporting State PDP players in Sergio Bermudez, Duilo Garcia, and Emmanuel Padilla, Tahuichi looks to be a tough side for any team to defeat this spring.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR EAST BAY
Head Coach: Scott Allen
Led by goalkeeper Irving Toledo Sanchez and centerback Zachary Hoffman, Tottenham Hotspur East Bay had the stingiest defense of all NPL 1 West teams, allowing just seven goals in eight games to qualify for the Champions League with a 4-2-2 record. Tottenham has steadily been climbing the ranks of youth soccer in the area, with this being their second consecutive Champions League berth for a squad that has been competitive in top tournaments such as Surf Cup.
Head Coach: Jorge Barajas
As one of only two unbeaten sides in the NPL 1 East, the 3-0-5 Turlock Tornados qualified for the Champions League via a four-point margin. The Tornados are truly a team without a star, as multiple goalscorers contributed to their 23-goal output, while their defense stood stout in allowing just nine strikes all year. Though they only won three games, Turlock can’t be counted out of any game with their singular desire to simply not lose matches.