U17 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: Oscar Deniz
In the fall’s NPL 1 North, perhaps no team was as impressive on both sides of the ball as division champion Atletico Santa Rosa. As a team, Atletico finished just two goals off the best offense in the NPL 1 North and allowed an astonishing five fewer goals than the next best defense. For a team that truly relies on every player on their roster, Atletico Santa Rosa made the most of their depth and finished unbeaten with a 5-0-3 record to win the division by a point.
BALLISTIC UNITED PREMIER
Head Coach: Jerry Losson
In the fall NPL 1 South, nearly all of Ballistic United’s games were close calls — a few bounces one way and they may not have qualified for the Champions League, but a few the other way and they might have been farther up in the table. Led by State PDP players Eddie Sanchez, Nolan Jetter, and Kamran Matin, United finished with a 6-3-0 record, with 19 goals scored and 18 allowed.
Head Coach: Jake Wilson
Defending State Cup champions Lamorinda SC are back at it again with a powerful attacking side built to beat anyone in their way. While Lamorinda didn’t capture the NPL 1 South, it wasn’t because of a lack of quality as the Bay Area side finished just two points off of the top with a 6-1-2 record. In both goals scored and goals allowed, Lamorinda also finished just one off of the league’s top mark to prove their worth come Champions League.
PLACER UNITED GOLD
Head Coach: Matt Scammacca
Featuring an astonishing eight State PDP players, almost too many to count, Placer United just missed out on claiming the fall NPL 1 North title with a 5-1-2 record. Still, United were able to capture the second-place spot in that division with the third-best goal differential in what was a tough division. With 17 goals in just eight games, expect this squad to attack their way to near the top of the table come Champions League play.
SACRAMENTO UNITED RED
Head Coach: Jason Drury
This pacy side, led by PDP State pool attackers Cole Barrett, Jordan Hongphakdy, and Chris Meyers, just qualified for the Champions League by virtue of a 4-3-1 record in the fall’s NPL 1 North.
SANTA CLARA SPORTING GREEN
Head Coach: John Azevedo
Featuring a strong core of players, Santa Clara Sporting finished the fall season nearly perfect, going 7-1-1 with a plus-19 goal differential. The side seems well-balanced, having led the NPL 1 South with an astonishing 31 goals, while finishing second in goals against with just 12. There really aren’t any holes in this side for opponents to exploit, and thus Sporting should be in contention for the Champions League title.
SF ELITE ACADEMY
Head Coach: Mauricio Diaz De Leon
Behind an attack that averaged nearly three goals a game, SF Elite managed a 6-2-1 record in the fall’s NPL 1 South, good for just three points off of league champions Santa Clara Sporting. Led by top scorer Max Edelstein and winger Tyler Rasmussen, SF Elite can score on anyone at any time and should challenge for a spot near the top of the table in the Champions League.
UNION SACRAMENTO FC
Head Coach: Antonio Sutton
Union Sacramento FC may have just qualified for the Champions League by the skin of their teeth, but it wasn’t for a lack of a quality attack as the squad rode an NPL 1 North second-best 18 goals to a 3-1-4 record. And the Union simply don’t lose very many games as well, thanks to a squad packed with PDP State players in Adrian Galeana, Noel Hernandez, Matthew Kahn, Amadi Okugo, and Emmanuel Rey.