Academy Notebook: 16s continue to shine
Whatever the U16 Earthquakes Academy club is doing, they shouldn’t change it. They finished off another unbeaten weekend in the Pacific Northwest recently, taking home a win and a tie, and clinching a playoff spot in the process.
The 16s run includes a current 9-match unbeaten streak, and overall they haven’t lost in the Pacific Time Zone since Sept. 21, the only blemishes coming in the Winter Showcase in Florida in December.
The 16s opened the weekend with a 0-0 tie against the only division opponent to defeat them this season, the Vancouver Whitecaps, who clipped the Quakes 4-0 on Sept. 15. Vancouver sits just behind San Jose in the third position of the Northwest Division, one spot ahead of their other opponent for the weekend, Crossfire Premiere. The Whitecaps and Quakes fought hard; each side battled for loose balls and played gritty defense. San Jose got back to their stingy ways, not allowing a goal for the 7th time this season, bringing their total to 18 goals allowed through their first 20 matches.
Sunday’s match against Crossfire Premiere finished the same way their season-opening meeting did, a 2-1 Quakes victory. Midfielder Rory Birse clinched the win with his first goal of the year and Remi Prieur was solid in net as usual for San Jose. Prieur was up to his normal tricks, allowing just a single first-half goal, in the 34th minute. The Quakes offense came from a pair of unlikely sources, with both goal-scorers tallying their first of the year. Uriel Cordoba, playing in just his second match with the U16 Quakes, got San Jose on the board with a 7th minute goal. Just moments after Crossfire netted the equalizer, Birse found the back of the net for his first goal in 18 matches (13 starts), and provided the difference in the victory.
The 1-0-1 weekend leaves San Jose in a virtual tie for first place with Seattle at 43 points, and has the Quakes sitting in the 11th playoff spot. The 5-point lead over third-place Vancouver is crucial, as only the top two seeds in each division make the playoff brackets. The Whitecaps currently sit atop the wildcard bracket with 38 points.
Another big road trip looms for the 16s as they head south to take on Chivas USA and the LA Galaxy this weekend. Saturday at 2:30 p.m., the Quakes will face a hungry Chivas side that is thrilled to see the calendar turn,finishing March 0-4-2, and sitting in the 5th spot in the Southwest Division. The Galaxy are still undefeated at 15-0-6, but don’t even lead their division as Real Salt Lake AZ rests percentage points ahead of them and in the second overall playoff spot. The third-seeded (playoff) Galaxy will be another great test for San Jose as the playoffs draw closer, having already knocked off top-seeded RSL-AZ in recent weeks. The 16s face the Galaxy Sunday at the StubHub Center in Carson at 12:30 p.m.
The 18s split their weekend up north, taking a 2-0 victory from Crossfire and dropping the Saturday match, 4-3 to Vancouver.
The Whitecaps jumped out to a two-goal lead before San Jose came firing back just before the half. Macario Hing-Glover scored his 6th of the season in the 40th minute to get the Quakes scoring started. Josh Morton added his second of the year shortly after the half to tie it 2-2. Three minutes later, Vancouver pulled ahead again, but Amir Bashti found the equalizer in the 55th minute to tie the score for the second time in five minutes. Fourteen minutes of scoreless play ensued, leading to the decisive tally, a 69th minute goal, the second of the game for Kianz Froese of Vancouver.
JT Marcinkowski led the 18s to a 2-0 victory over Crossfire Premiere on Sunday to push the Quakes into the 11th spot of the wildcard field. After a scoreless first half, Morton found the back of the net for his second of the weekend and third of the year. Moments later, Alex Liua added his 6th of the season to extend the lead and seal the 10th victory of the season for San Jose. The Quakes’ 34 points are good for 4th place in the division and have them staring down a postseason berth with 5 matches left to play.
The 18s’ trip south this weekend pits them against a pair of potential playoff foes, Saturday against Chivas USA and Sunday versus the LA Galaxy. San Jose could improve their position immensely with a couple of wins; Chivas is just three points ahead of the Quakes in the wildcard standings, sitting in the 6th position. They’ll face off at noon on Saturday in Bell Gardens. Sunday at 10 a.m., San Jose will head to the StubHub Center to take on the Galaxy, who sit in second place in the Southwest Division.
While the 16s and 18s are making their respective playoff pushes, the 14s are quietly having a phenomenal inaugural season. San Jose won its 6th straight and improved their record to 14-2-0 with a 3-1 win over Placer United Soccer Club. Daniel Sanchez was fantastic in net, but San Jose trailed 1-0 heading into the half. In the 48th minute, Amado Lozano took the lid off the Placer net with his 8th of the season, which was promptly followed by an own goal to put San Jose up 2-1. In the 65th minute, Ivan Valencia added his 23rd of the season to salt away the win and cap an undefeated month of March.
This weekend, the 14s will square off with Diablo Futbol Club of Concord at John Mise Park in San Jose. DFC comes in as losers of four straight and will without a doubt have their hands full with the red-hot Quakes side in the 3 p.m. match.
- Richter Media