SAN ANTONIO, Texas. — When the United Soccer League announced its initial field for the inaugural USL Academy Cup Under-17 tournament, some raised their eyebrows at the inclusion of the San Francisco Glens.
Then the City-based club ran roughshod through their three opponents last week at the nearby STAR Soccer Complex, beating prospects from three pro clubs by a total of 14-4, scoring the most goals by any club in the tournament.
“[Head coach] Danny [Kirkland] and I are really proud of how the lads stepped up to the challenge we presented them,” said Glens director of coaching Mike McNeill. “As a club, we pride ourselves on giving our players opportunities to show they belong at the next level, and I think we represented San Francisco soccer well.”
In the Western Conference regionals, the Glens defeated El Paso Locomotive FC 5-1, Oklahoma City Energy FC 4-1 and Tulsa Roughnecks FC 5-2, earning them a berth in the USL Academy’s national finals, which will take place in May 2020 in Tampa.
The newly-established USL Academy’s purpose is to help the various clubs under the league’s umbrella to further develop their Under-17 academy players by pitting them against one another while serving as a showcase for college and professional scouts. In the American soccer pyramid, where Major League Soccer occupies the top division, the USL runs three competitions in the second, third and fourth divisions — the USL Championship, USL League One and USL League Two, respectively.
However, although the USL’s top two leagues are full-fledged professional, USL League Two — where the Glens recently entered their first team last year — is not. For the Glens to go unbeaten against three professional academies makes their run all the more impressive — a testament to the burgeoning prep soccer talent in San Francisco. All but two of the Glens’ 17 players on the roster attend high school in The City.
“The standard of youth soccer has grown so much in San Francisco over the past few years,” said McNeill, who also doubles as head coach at Sacred Heart Cathedral. “We’re just continuing to build from the ground up, and it’s only a matter of time until you see these lads shine on our USL League Two first team.”
SF GLENS 5, EL PASO LOCOMOTIVE FC 1
Spearheaded by Leadership High School junior Kevin Estrada’s two goals, San Francisco was unselfish and precise in attack. The Sacred Heart Cathedral duo of Diego Grande and Kilian Folan, as well as Summit Shasta’s Ángel Iñiguez all scored to set the tone for the rest of the regionals against Locomotive FC, whose first team competes in the USL Championship.
SF GLENS 4, OKLAHOMA CITY ENERGY FC 1
Entering the match, Energy FC aimed to apply high pressure on the Glens, and it was effective early on as they forced a turnover that led to a 1-0 lead. But the Glens’ back line of Peter Mahoney, Kian Jones, Devin McNamara-Pittler and Xander Sagatelyan regrouped. The starting midfield of James Millman, Iñiguez and Owen Riess found creative ways to unlock the OKC defense, and by halftime, the Glens reasserted control through goals by Iñiguez and Estrada. Grande and substitute Nick Northrop later scored to give San Francisco another big win over a USL Championship side.
SF GLENS 5, TULSA ROUGHNECKS FC 2
After the Glens got out to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals by Estrada and Grande, the Roughnecks battled back to even the score with 20 minutes remaining. In a show of depth, two new Glens — Roel Cahill-Rosqueta and Alejandro Palos — opened their scoring accounts at the most opportune time, with the latter adding a second goal to put the game away in style.
SF STATE MEN CLIMB INTO FOURTH AFTER WIN IN MONTEREY
The San Francisco State men’s soccer team (6-3, 3-2 CCAA) bounced back from a tough road loss at UC San Diego to record a home conference win at Cox Stadium over Cal State Monterey Bay (6-2-1, 1-2-1) on Friday.
In the 21st minute, Brandon Sands fed junior midfielder Francisco Saucedo in the attacking third for a low goal to help lift the Gators to fourth place in the CCAA standings.
SF STATE WOMEN SEEK FIRST WIN AT HOME
Mired in a seven-game losing streak, the San Francisco State women’s team (2-8-1, 0-6-0 CCAA) hosts Cal State East Bay (3-5-3, 2-2-1) on Sunday at 11:30 a.m.
The Gators hope to see promising sophomore forward Katelyn Patterson regain her scoring touch. After five goals in her first five games this season, she hasn’t scored in the last six games. A return home to Cox Stadium might be just what she needs to get back on track.
USF MEN, WOMEN FACE ROAD TESTS
The USF men (2-7-1, 0-1-0 WCC) head to No. 5 Stanford (9-1-2) on Wednesday, followed by No. 9 St. Mary’s (10-1-0) on Saturday. Glens USL League Two defender Shayan Charalaghi paces the Dons with two goals and an assist.
Meanwhile, the Dons women (8-4-2, 1-1-1 WCC) take on San Diego (5-6-1, 1-2-0) on Wednesday before a Saturday clash at Portland (4-4-3, 0-2-1). Miciah Madison continues to be one to watch for the pro ranks; the senior forward from Tracy already has seven goals and nine assists this season.