U16 Boys Champions League Preview: 2019
After a long break winter break, league action is now back in Northern California as the NPL resumes with games all across the state this Spring for girls from the U14-U19 age groups. Culminating with the NPL Spring College Showcase at Davis Legacy Soccer Complex on May 18-19, the NPL features some of the highest level of play in the country. The top two teams for the U14-U17 age groups and the first place finisher in the U19 division on the boys side will qualify for US Club Soccer’s ENPL playoffs from June 28-July 2 in Rockford, Ill.
ATLETICO SANTA ROSA COBRAS
Head Coach: Guillaume Cruvellie
In a division that featured two unbeaten teams, Atletico Santa Rosa qualified for the Champions League out of a tough NPL 1 South. With a 4-2-0 record, nine goals scored, and just seven allowed, Atletico proved to be a tough out in the fall and will surely be in every game that they play when the season picks back up this weekend. Atletico are quick on the attack and will look to cause problems for other teams on the counter.
CALIFORNIA ODYSSEY RED
Head Coach: Santiago Aguilera
With a 5-1-1 record in the fall NPL 1 North, California Odyssey just missed out on the top overall spot in the division but still comfortably qualified for the Champions League on the basis of a league-leading 18 goals scored. But the Odyssey also proved to be a well-rounded squad, allowing just five goals overall, good for second in the division. Featuring a squad that has been mostly unchanged for the past decade, Odyssey will be a tough to beat for anyone this spring due to the cohesion that they bring from such experience.
MERCED UNITED GREEN
Head Coach: Ramon Lomeli
Dropping just two results in six games, Merced United managed to finish in third place in a tough NPL 1 North division this fall. Led by PDP State Selection standout Julian Lomeli, the strength for Merced was their attack where they scored 15 goals in just six games, while allowing just nine. Look for this Merced side to challenge for the top of the table as the Champions League season progresses.
NAPA SOCCER ACADEMY
Head Coach: Gabe Rood
One of the favorites to top it all, Napa Soccer Academy qualified for the Champions League by virtue of a fall season that saw them top the table with a 5-0-0 record. It seems almost impossible, but in the fall, Napa allowed just one goal, while scoring a league-leading 16. Leaning on attacker Gerardo Perez and defenders Sammy Villanueva and Angel Tapia, Napa are one of the most well-rounded sides in all of Northern California, regardless of age group.
SF GLENS EVOLUTION
Head Coach: Javier Ayala-Hill
While Napa Soccer Academy may have won the NPL 1 South by virtue of a better goal differential than SFGE Celtic Academy, this squad was perhaps unlucky to miss out on the title as it also sported a perfect 5-0-0 record. Celtic were strong in the attack with 15 goals and stout in defending with just two allowed, showing that they will be among the favorites for the Champions League. This squad will be led by center back Xander Sagatlyan, who is part of the Glens’ USL 2 squad already.
SPURS FC NAVY
Head Coach: Scott Allen
Finalists in a pair of prestigious tournaments over the past year, the newly-rebranded Spurs FC will look to take some of that cup form into the Champions League this spring. Playing in six games in the NPL 1 South, Spurs managed to score just eight goals in posting a 4-2-0 record, but also only allowed five strikes, showing its ability to stay in matches, no matter who the opponent is. Anchoring that strong defense is goalkeeper Irving Toledo Sanchez and defender Zachary Hoffman, who will both look to combine to keep up the squad’s stellar defensive record.
TURLOCK ACADEMICA JRS
Head Coach: Jorge Barajas
Topping a quality NPL 1 North division with 14 points from six games, Turlock Academica Jrs completed a stellar fall season without losing a single match. While the defense for Turlock is notable for having allowed just three goals, the squad’s strength is its dynamism in attack, with winger Kaleb McDonald scoring six times and setting up four additional goals. Meanwhile, center back Adrian Diaz is a threat on set pieces and chipped in three goals, while center mid Xavier Barajas may want to consider dropping the “er” and just go by “Xavi” after setting up seven goals in the fall.
UNION SACRAMENTO FC
Head Coach: Antonio Sutton
Finishing with a 2-2-2 record, Union Sacramento just snuck into the Champions League after a fourth-place finish in the fall’s NPL 1 North. While Sacramento hit the back of the net nine times in league games, the strength of the team actually came from the back line. Led by PDP defenders Michael Rossi and Aiden Raftery, Union allowed just eight goals all season, good for third best in their division. With quality defending, expect Sacramento to be a tough out for all the teams in this spring’s Champions League.