U15 Boys Champions League Preview
Out of all the teams in the U-15 Boys Champions League, California Odyssey finished with the most points, but that doesn’t necessarily put them as the favorites as Lamorinda SC played one fewer game, but finished with just one fewer point. Oh, and they didn’t lose a single game, meaning that they should be thought of right up alongside Odyssey. There appears to be a drop off after the top two, but as in soccer, nothing is a given, and the race for this division’s title could go down to the very last day.
ATLETICO SANTA ROSA CHIVITAS
Head Coach: Gustavo Reyes
With only one loss in the NPL 1 West season, the well-rounded Atletico Santa Rosa Chivitas will be a tough out for each of the other seven teams in the U-15 Champions League. Chivitas will have no problem scoring goals, with the club finishing in third in the NPL 1 West with 34 goals, just one off the mark set by first and second place sides (in both goals and standings) Lamorinda and Napa.
CALIFORNIA ODYSSEY RED
Head Coach: Vitalis Otieno
The California Odyssey topped their Fall NPL 1 group by an impressive seven points, scoring 28 goals (second in their group), while allowing just 10 strikes (first). Their offense heavily relied on the efforts of PDP player Juan “Tony” Serrano, who finished third in the NPL 1 East with an impressive nine strikes, while Shawn Williamson led a defense that allowed just one goal per game.
CV SJ EARTHQUAKES PDA
Head Coach: Simon Tobin
This Earthquakes side has the benefit of continuity, having played together for over three years, perhaps why they were able to squeak out a fifth-place finish in the NPL 1 West to grab the final Champions League spot via a single-point margin. The Earthquakes will enter the Spring as an experience side, having recently strutted their stuff against a squad from the esteemed West Ham United Academy.
EARTHQUAKES – EAST VALLEY BLUE
Head Coach: John Powell
Finishing second behind the triumphant Odyssey in that NPL 1 East group was Earthquakes East Valley 2002, whose 5-3-2 record equaled that of Sacramento United. The Earthquakes were able to edge out United though based on goal differential, as they were able to keep a tight ship in the back and allow just 19 goals, compared to 25 from the Sacramento. Captains Joel Arellano and Jeremey Valenzuela deserve much of the praise for the quality fall season, leading the Earthquakes side from the back line on team in which no player scored more than three goals.
Head Coach: Chris Stott
This Force team wins games when it matters, putting together a 6-1 thrashing of Diablo FC on the last day of the NPL 1 West season to just squeak into the Champions League. Though Force finished in the middle of the table in the Fall, their plus-10 goal differential indicates that they may have been unlucky to not garner a higher finish.
Head Coach: Billal Samy
The only unbeaten side heading into Champions League play, Lamorinda United have to be considered the favorites by neutrals after finishing atop the NPL 1 West with an impressive 7-0-2 record. It’s hard to pinpoint a specific strength for Lamorinda simply because they’re so good at everything they do. Lamorinda’s 35 goals tied atop the scoring charts in the NPL 1 West, while the six goals they allowed served as the best defensive record.
NAPA SOCCER ACADEMY
Head Coach: Gavin Taylor
Only two squads in the NPL 1 West were able to secure a draw with league winner’s Lamorinda, one of which was this solid Napa side that finished second overall. Opponents will have to be careful of Napa’s powerful offense, led by Angel Dominguez and Esany Strong, who finished at the top of the scoring charts in the U-15 Boys NPL with 14 and 11 strikes, respectively. Napa also featured the second best defense in the NPL 1 West, allowing just nine goals all year thanks to strong defending from Elias Garcia, Angel Rodriguez, Jose Avina, and Luke Shea.
SACRAMENTO UNITED RED
Head Coach: Zack Gordon
Sacramento United enjoyed a bit of an up and down fall season, but won games when it mattered, and managed to book a spot in the Champions League via a third place finish in the NPL 1 East. Though Sacramento’s goal differential stood at just plus-one, they average over three goals per game in all competitions with Luis Cruz leading the charge up front. Darren Garrett and Julian Churchill are other players to watch in midfield along with Afghanistan Youth International Mustafa Argandawai.