Quakes Academy: Playoff Bound – Reflecting on a Historic (Regular) Season
The San Jose Earthquakes Academy regular season has come to an end and some history has been made. The U18s won a very tough Northwestern Division in the USSDA for the first time in history. Beating out the likes of the Whitecaps, Timbers, Sounders, and De Anza Force academy. This is also the first time in our academies young history that both the U18s and U16s make the playoffs in the same year. The De Anza Force did not make the playoffs at the U18 or U16 level. Our U14 team also had an outstanding season led by head coach Chris Leitch. They end the year winning their unofficial division and finish with a 23-2-5 record.
The U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy (USSDA) is the top youth soccer league in North America and fields hundreds of teams from East to West and is home to most, if not all, MLS youth academies.
There have been quit a few memorable moments from this years U18 team. From starting off the season with a 4 game winning streak, to beating the defending champion LA Galaxy, going 8-0-1, and beating DC United academy in Florida. The game that stood out the most though was the derby against the De Anza Force at the first team training field next to Avaya Stadium. The boys came back from down 2-3 in the 87′ minute, Suliman with a blast from outside of the box to tie it up late. Everyone was happy, they had tied it up to keep our unbeaten streak alive, but the Goonie magic didn’t stop there. On a stoppage time set piece, U18 center-back and UC Irvine commit Jorge Lara found himself open at the back post and with his momentum taking him backwards he lofted a header over everyone to the other end of the goal, side-netting, Quakes win.
The 16s road to the playoffs wasn’t as smooth as the 18s, but with boys stepped up when it mattered and got the results to book their trip to Indiana. I was really impressed with this team, and some particular standouts for me were forward Theo Huxham (who led the team in goals with 13), forward Kaya Fabbretti (who is a very exciting prospect to keep an eye on), and last but not least winger Ivan Valencia. Ivan is really fun to watch, and here* is just one example of the creativity he can display in a match. Valencia is a crafty winger that displays all he tools you’d like to see in a pro winger. He’s creative, can take people on, quick feet, great passer, wins the ball defensively, and has blistering pace. Starting a ton of games for the U18s as a 15 year old really put him on my radar and I look forward to watching him develop even more in the next couple years.
The U14s were incredible this year. They absolutely destroyed most teams they played. What stood out to me is how coach Leitch and coach Jenkins had these kids playing. Beautiful soccer with no kick ball what so ever. There are a lot of standouts, but 3 in particular who shined the brightest would have to be right-back Mario Rocha (exciting right-back prospect that is lethal when he joins the attack), JJ Foe Nuphaus (a USYNT center-mid who got some playing time with U16s), and forward Oscar Govea (who has also been called to YNT camps and participated with the U16s this year).
But the journey is only half way over for these 3 teams as they head to Indiana in a few weeks to participate in the USSDA playoffs. This tournament is extremely difficult to win, but there is no doubt in my mind that they can come home with some silverware. Bring home the trophy boys!