The commitment to excellence and the race for playoff spots continues for the Earthquakes academy teams.
Academy coach Stephen Wondolowski, whose brother Chris has set a very high standard with the senior team, can appreciate players who work hard and lead by example.
He cites U-18 player Rory Birse, a San Ramon Valley High junior, and the U-16s Christopher “CJ” Grey as two of the academy program’s most improved players. Both have a great work ethic in practice and games and capture the essence of the academy experience.
“Birse has grown physically from last year and has matched his athleticism with his experience and composure on the field,” Wondolowski said. “His consistent leadership through example is the big reason the 18s have had so much success this season.”
Wondolowski said that Grey has adjusted to the academy level this year by being a consistently solid left back.
“He has added an attacking part to his game, which is very necessary as an outside back in the modern game,” Wondolowski said. “Both of these guys have one of the best work rates I have seen at the academy level. They are always at training, ready to get better. Both are very well-liked by their teammates and will be leaders next year as well.”
In action last week, the U-18s were paced by Amir Bashti’s two goals in a 2-2 draw with the De Anza Force at Mustang Soccer Complex in Danville, and the U-16s beat the De Anza Force 4-0. The U-14s beat Diablo Futbol Club 6-1 for the second time this season, as J.J. Foe Nuphaus and Adonis Diaz had two goals apiece, and Jay Houston and Marco Campos had one goal each.
The U18s (16-6-3, 51 points) are tied with the Crossfire Premier for third place in the Northwest Division of the West Conference, and are currently holding the No. 1 wild card spot for the playoffs. The surging U-16s (11-9-5, 38 points), tied for third place with the Seattle Sounders FC in the division, are just outside the playoff picture with eight games remaining.
The U-14s, U-16s and U-18s have a tripleheader against the San Juan Soccer Club at Mather Soccer Complex on Saturday.