Academy Watch: 16s and 18s wrap up season, Dragons earn first win, Reno outscores Phoenix and Seattle 10-0

PHOTO: Lyndsay Radnedge, Center Line Soccer

The San Jose Earthquakes organization didn’t allow a single goal this past weekend. From the top to the bottom, there has been a lot going on in the club.

16s and 18s Wrap Up Academy Season

The U16s (11-13-8) fell short of a playoff spot, but the U18s (15-10-7) managed a late season rally which has them in a very good position to make the final wildcard spot. In their last 9 games, the 18s went 8-0-1 conceding just 1 goal in 9 games. They will find out whether or not they make the playoffs within a couple weeks. The team is losing a number of notable players at the end of this season: GK Dominic Peters (Wake Forest), F Arda Bulut (Stanford), M’s Andrew Paoli (UCLA) and Amado Lozano (Penn), and D CJ Grey (Cal).

Nevertheless, there are still a number of very talented players coming up in the system. Midfielder Ivan Valencia is a midfielder for the 18s that will be playing professionally this summer with the Burlingame Dragons. JJ Foe Nuphuas returned to the Quakes after a trial with 1899 Hoffenheim (Bundesliga), and he will also be playing with the Dragons this summer. Foe Nuphuas scored this goal in the GA Cup which led the U17s to a 3rd place finish in the Premier Division:

Mario Anaya Jr is a versatile player that has been called to the U16 BNT as a central midfielder regularly. Gilbert Fuentes is another very talented and creative midfielder. Fuentes was born in 2002, but still plays for the 16s. Similarly, Nico Lemione plays in an age group above his own. Lemione is a forward who frequented with the 18s this season. Other names to keep an eye out for are GK Victor Juarez, D Ricardo Ibarra, M Dillon Keane, and F William Richmond. And of course, as always, don’t count out a name I didn’t mention. All the players at this level in the Quakes academy are young and talented, and anyone can make a rise at any time.

The 16s and the 18s capped off the season with decisive  2-0 and 4-0 wins against Santa Cruz Breakers Academy. The Earthquakes hosted the two matches at Avaya Stadium and held a fundraiser or the family of 19 year old Alejandro Lopez who passed away two weeks ago. Lopez played for several youth clubs in the Bay Area including the San Jose Earthquakes Academy.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for the Lopez family. 

New-look Dragons earn first win of the season

The Dragons, under newly appointed head coach Joe Cannon, earned their first US Open Cup win in club history. They defeated El Farolito in penalties (6-5) after 120 minutes of scoreless soccer. This gave them the opportunity to face the San Francisco Deltas in the next round where they scored first, but ended up falling just short 2-1. The Deltas will face off against Phoenix Rising FC and the winner of that matchup will visit the San Jose Earthquakes.

The Dragons have lost twice to Fresno Fuego FC (4-0 on the road, 3-0 at home), and have earned a draw and a win against SF City FC (1-1 on the road, 5-0 at home). Forward Matthew Wiesenfarth leads USL PDL in scoring with 5 goals on 5 shots in just 166 minutes played, and earned USL PDL team of the week honors this week. The UC Davis graduate signed a one-year deal with Canterbury United (New Zealand’s top division) in 2016. Wiesenfarth also got called up to the US U20s national camp in 2012 while playing at UC Davis.

One big notable change that Earthquakes fans should be excited about is the number of academy players and alumni that are playing for the Dragons this year. Arda Bulut (F, Stanford), CJ Grey (D, Cal), Andrew Paoli (M, UCLA), Ivan Valencia (M, Uncommitted), and JJ Foe Nuphuas (D, Uncommitted) are all promising players that have yet to play a minute of college soccer. Playing with the Dragons will be a valuable opportunity for them to develop in a professional environment this summer. Among the notable returning alumni are Josh Morton (D, Cal), Amir Bashti (F, Stanford), Jonathan Partida (M, SJSU), and John Austin-Ricks (M, Syracuse).

Each of these players are eligible to be signed as homegrown players, but most of them won’t be looked at until later in their careers. Josh Morton is likely next up on the list. The Quakes took a good look at Morton last season, but decided to let him play out his senior year at Cal. I believe there is a good chance that Morton signs with the Quakes next January just like Nick Lima did this year. There are also several other academy alumni that will be playing for the Dragons, and you can find a full list of Burlingame’s roster here. 

PDL is a league for young players to develop their game, stay in shape during the summer, and expose themselves to professional organizations. The Dragons have helped send some very talented young players to professional teams last year – the two notable ones being Joshua Ray Smith (NE Revolution) and Nick Lima (SJ Earthquakes). We wrote these two articles last year on Smith and Lima, who have both made notable contributions on the field for their respective clubs this year:

Reno 1868’s first two wins in franchise history

2017 is the first year that the San Jose Earthquakes have full control of the technical side of a United Soccer League club. With head coach Ian Russell at the helm, Reno 1868 FC have earned their first two wins in franchise history. The two wins came against Phoenix Rising FC (4-0) and Seattle Sounders FC 2 (6-0). Forward Dane Kelly became the first player in USL history to score two hat tricks in consecutive games. Thanks to these two stellar performances, Kelly earned USL Player of the Week honors two weeks in a row.

Midfielder Junior Burgos also earned another call up to the El Salvador national team. Burgos was the second signing in Atlanta United’s history, but was sent out on loan to the Tampa Bay Rowdies and eventually waived by Atlanta, which is how he ended up in Reno. Burgos has created 9 scoring chances for Reno in just 341 minutes played.

Quakes GK Matt Bersano recorded two consecutive shutouts against Phoenix and Seattle. He has played a total of 540 minutes for Reno and is allowing an average of 2 goals per game.

Lindo Mfeka also earned USL Team of the Week honors for his performance against Phoenix. Mfeka was picked up by the Earthquakes in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft. Against Phoenix, Mfeka picked up 2 assists, created 4 chances, and had a passing accuracy of 94%. Mfeka also had a very good performance against Seattle, scoring his first professional goal.

@SJEarthquakesBR, who has been praising Mfeka even before he was drafted, did an excellent job of compiling each of his touches during the match.

Matheus Silva has sort of fallen out of the rotation for Reno. After a few bad defensive performances early in the season, the young Brazilian has not seen too much of the pitch. Silva has struggled playing on the back line for Reno. I believe his natural position is in the central midfield, and that could be part of the reason why he has not been playing up to standard.

Jackson Yueill has started and played in only 5 games this season, but has created the 2nd most chances on the team (10). Yueill’s natural role is also a central midfielder, but he has been playing on the out wide for Reno. Yueill was GM Jesse Fioranelli’s favorite player in the 2017 MLS combine, and I think there is a very good chance we see him play some first team minutes at some point this season.

Full Reno Scouting Report for Earthquakes Fans

Other News

Newly appointed Girls Academy Director Andres Deaza has already gotten to work on assembling a top tier team. Five US Soccer National Camp attendees have already committed to play for the Quakes — Maya Evens (D), Sophie Jones (M), Jadyn Shinn (M), Kayleen Gowers (M), and Andrea Kitahata (F).

Georgetown sophomore and Earthquakes academy alumni JT Marcinkowski is with the US U20s in South Korea for the U20 World Cup. Jonathan Klinnsman is currently ahead of Marcinkowski in head coach Tab Ramos’ depth chart, so it is unclear whether or not he will feature for the US.

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