South Orange County's Pateadores is on target for another U.S. Soccer Development Academy championship, and Chivas USA also is in contention, both headed to Houston next month after winning their groups this week at the playoffs in Frisco, Texas.
Four other local teams -- including the Galaxy's SoCal Division champions in both age groups -- failed to advance.
Pateadores, which won the USSDA U-17/18 title last year, is one of eight finalists in the U-15/16 competition after edging Dallas Texans on goal difference to win Group 2. Chivas USA, with several players who have trained with and played for the first team in reserve and preseason matches, moves on to the U-17/18 finals after rallying for a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls in a showdown for the Group 6 crown.
Temecula-based Arsenal FC in the U-15/16 tournament and Pateadores' U-17/18 side also competed in the five-day event at FC Dallas' complex.
Here is a rundown of the week's action:
PATEADORES: The Mission Viejo club let a two-goal lead get away in a 3-3 draw with the Texans in a group opener, then routed the New England Revolution, 3-0, and rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat Long Island's Albertson SC, 3-2, to win a spot in the July 16-23 finals.
It's a remarkable run for the longtime power, which finished sixth in the SoCal Division but advanced as one of eight wild-card teams in the age group. Brian Pacheco (Anaheim) scored four goals (he has a team-best 21 in 26 games) and U.S. U-17 national-team veteran Kevin De La Torre (Winchester/Temecula Prep) added three in the three matches.
Pateadores (14-5-11), which is unbeaten against non-So Cal Division teams this season, will join the academy teams from the Red Bulls and fellow Major League Soccer club Chicago Fire plus Charlotte Soccer Academy (Matthews, N.C.) in Group 1 at the finals. The other group: Columbus Crew Soccer Academy Wolves, D.C. United, Pennsylvania Classics (East Petersburg, Pa.) and St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri (Fenton, Mo.).
Crew Soccer Academy is the top seed.
CHIVAS USA: UC Santa Barbara-bound striker Ben Spencer, who has seen extensive time with the Goats' first team, scored in all three games for the Goats and netted the decisive goal in the tie with New York.
Mark Verso (La Cañada Flintridge/St. Francis HS), the Goats' top scorer, with 20 goals in 28 games, tallied in the 90th minute to beat Charlotte Soccer Academy, 2-1, in the group opener, and an 87th-minute strike by Julio Chavez (Van Nuys/Birmingham HS) secured a 4-3 win over the New England Revolution in the third game.
The Goats' roster also includes Home Grown Player Marco Delgado (Glendora/Glendora HS), who will be eligible for MLS play in August, first-team regular Eric Gonzalez (Corona/Santiago HS), and Jose Dheming (Gardena/Ellington HS), who has been with Chivas for the past two MLS Reserve League games.
Chivas (19-6-5), which finished second by a point to the Galaxy in the SoCal Division and are ranked ninth overall with 2.07 points per game, are in a very difficult Group 2 for the finals, joined by top-seeded FC Dallas, second-seeded Baltimore Bays Chelsea and Dallas' Solar Chelsea FC, which was second in total points for the age group to FC Dallas. The other group: Vancouver Whitecaps, Colorado Rapids and North Carolina Fusion (Greensboro, N.C.).
OTHER LOCALS: The Galaxy, which won the U-15/16 title last year, finished second in its divisions, behind D.C. United in the U-15/16 competition and Bay Area-based De Anza Force in the U-17/18 age group.
The younger team (18-3-9) was doomed by draws in its first two games, 2-2 with Colorado Rush and 1-1 with D.C. United, before edging Atlanta's Concorde Fire, 4-3, as Justin Dhillon (Rancho Santa Margarita/Tesoro HS) scored twice. The older group (21-5-4), led by Home Grown Player Jose Villarreal (Inglewood/Leuzinger HS) and his younger brother, Jaime, opened with a 5-1 rout of Detroit-area club Vardar SC, but were beaten by De Anza Force, 1-0, and managed just a 1-1 tie with CASL Chelsea FC Academy, from Raleigh, N.C.
Pateadores was in position to also advance in the older age group after wins over the Vancouver Whitecaps and Texans SC Houston -- T.J. Casner (Irvine/University HS) scored twice in both -- but lost, 4-0, to Weston (Fla.) FC in its group finale. Three teams went 2-1-0, and the 'Dores (15-10-5) were third on goal difference. A draw with Weston would have sent them through.
Arsenal (19-4-7) finished second to PA Classics in its U-15/16 group after dropping their meeting, 2-1, in a group opener. Wins over Chicago Magic, with Mason Klerks (Corona/Santiago HS) tallying twice, and Weston FC, with U.S. U-17 national team star Paul Arriola scoring the first goal, couldn't make up for the defeat.