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The Road to USL Academy Finals: FC Copa, AC Connecticut, Indy Eleven, New Mexico United

By USL Academy Staff, 11/20/23, 2:00PM EST


FC Copa Academy

Location: Hillsborough Township, New Jersey

Head Coach: David Atkinson

Academy Director: Roberto Aguas

Overall Record: 7-2-3

Goals Scored/Conceded: 30/17

Season Snapshot:

It was FC Copa Academy’s third year competing in the USL Academy League and the club managed to qualify for the USL Academy Finals for the first time under first-year head coach David Atkinson. FC Copa managed to go 7-3-2 throughout the season, losing only two games early in the season before going on an eight-game unbeaten run to secure the wildcard spot.

The club has players from the three locations of FC Copa Academy – Rutgers, Flemington and Brooklyn – in a model the club is looking to continue to build on to provide players the pathway to pro that the USL Academy provides.

Key Moment of Season:

“The stretch at the end of the season included a 3-3 result against FA Euro where we thought we'd likely be out of the running. We spoke as a team about ensuring that we win our last two games to try and put ourselves in the best possible chance to finish in the wildcard slot. We beat the two other teams in Westchester and Morristown who were also trying to qualify for the same position as us. This felt like the defining moment in the season for us as a team and something we're incredibly proud to have achieved.”

Key Player: Baker Diaz

Secret Weapon: Semir Markisic

AC Connecticut 

Location: Danbury, CT

Head Coach: Antony Howard

General Manager: Robin Schuppert

Overall Record: 9-2-1

Goals Scored/Conceded: 49/20

Season Snapshot:

Started the season winning 7 of their first 8 league matches after reaching the Championship Match in the USL Academy Cup. Toward the early part of the summer, Connecticut pushed some of their U19 players up to our USL League Two team and re-enforced the squad with some U17 prospects who deceloped nicely and will be the cornerstones of the squad headed into the Championship weekend in December.

Key Moment of Season:

The club's first match vs Hartford Athletic. The 7-1 win over a good USL Championship Academy gave AC Connecitcut's players the confidence that they could win the league title for a second consecucutive season.

Secret Weapon: Danny Istambouli

Indy Eleven

Location: Indianapolis, IN

Head Coach: Gabe Zapponi

Academy Director: Kiki Wallace

Overall Record: 9-0-0

Goals Scored/Conceded: 31/4

Season Snapshot

Indy Eleven has gone unbeaten through the USL Academy League even with a challenging schedule and player turnover with notable players departing for college.

Key Moment of Season:

“The key moment for our season was the 3-0 win at Louisville to open the season. We were shorthanded with only 14 players, and they played three professionals. It was 0-0 at halftime and we scored three second half goals to win it.”

Key Player: Diego Sanchez

Secret Weapon: Benji Chavarria

New Mexico united

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico 

Head Coach: David Estrada

Academy Director: Junro Narita

Overall Record: 10-1-1 

Goals Scored/Conceded: 39/6

Season Snapshot:

Great leadership from several players elevated this group to a higher ground throughout the season. New Mexico displayed a huge deal of resiliency in multiple adversity moments to find a way to gain crucial results. 

Key Moment of Season:

A snow covered away game in Denver in late April, where United played a very good Real Colorado side and came away with a 1-0 win, was a defining moment to build confidence and momentum. 

Key Players: Javi Trujillo, Chase Ricker, Victor Andrade

Secret Weapons: Jace Sais, Leo Bencomo, Yuto Oketani

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