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Academy Update: Junior Goats Impress against Tough Competition

After a bit of a rocky start, Chivas USA's U16 team looks to be rounding into form.

Jeff Vinnick

The Chivas USA U.S. Soccer Development Academy teams did not have a match this past weekend, but they have been quite busy lately. In particular, the U16 squad has been racking up impressive performances. It started October 28, when the junior Goats defeated Real So Cal 3-0 in league play. Goals from Mark Hernandez (24th minute), Alejandro Vergara (38th minute), and Edgar Murillo (79th minute) gave Chivas the win, and took the U16s up to second place in the Southwest Division, behind only Real Salt Lake-Arizona. After a start where the results didn't come, they seem to be settling nicely, and are in good position at the moment.

They followed up that performance with a friendly last Thursday against the U15 U.S. National Team. The national team squad included Chivas Academy players Josh Perez and Hugo Arellano, and while Perez scored two goals in a separate scrimmage against the Irvine Strikers last Tuesday, Chivas beat the national team 3-1. Perez and Arellano both started against their regular teammates, but Chivas put in a very strong performance. Caleb Calvert opened the scoring in the 17th minute off a corner kick from Vergara, and the national team knotted the score minutes later with a goal from Orrin Gaines. Just a few minutes after that, Daniel Crisostomo gave Chivas the lead for good, and Vergara added a goal of his own later in the second half.

Partly as a result of that match, as well as a 6-0 thrashing by the national team at the hands of the San Diego Surf, the U15 National Team faced some real criticism following the training camp, as discussed by J.R. Eskilson in TopDrawerSoccer.com. The good news is that there is no imminent major tournament for this group, they are young, and the camp gives them experience and helps their development. For Chivas, it is a good notch on their belt, but they should be sure to understand that they had an age advantage over their opponents, even if they were some of the top U15 players.

The Chivas USA U18 team was not as busy, but they also played Real So Cal on October 28, and tied 1-1. Ben Spencer opened the scoring in the 65th minute for Chivas, but Daniel Mondragon leveled the scoring in the 82nd minute. The result puts the U18s in fourth place in the division, still pretty good, but they have some work to do.

Both age groups will be back in action in league play on Saturday, when they take on Arsenal FC.

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