City Section soccer looks strong again, led by defending champion Birmingham

City Section boys’ soccer might be the most competitive, high-quality competition season after season. The teams, the players and the coaches fear no one, including Southern Section teams.

Last year Birmingham won the upper-division championship and made it to the Southern California championship game before losing to Mira Costa in overtime in a memorable regional final.

The Patriots will be tough to beat again with leading scorer Enrique Pineda returning. He had 23 goals. Also back is David Diaz, one of the most feared forwards anywhere. He had 21 goals. Cristian Moran was just beginning to show off his skills as a sophomore. And a couple of outstanding freshmen have arrived.

West Valley League rival El Camino Real was the lone City team to threaten the Patriots, and the Conquistadores will be strong again with the trio of junior Pedro Perez and seniors Sebastian Cortes and Gabriel Nieto.

There’s plenty of competition. Bell is the defending Eastern League champion and has lined up a nonleague game against Birmingham. The Eagles return Adam Abou Hamad, a midfielder and captain, goalie Hussein Farhat, and seniors Daniel Saavedra and Marcel Martinez. South East has a large senior class, led by goalie Edward Fletes and midfielder Nicolas Magana.

Banning is the defending Marine League champion and a favorite to repeat. San Fernando and Sylmar should battle it out in the Valley Mission League. Fremont should win the Coliseum League behind goalie Fidencio Flores and midfielder Edwind Marcia.

The City Section girls’ soccer competition usually comes down to El Camino Real, Granada Hills and Palisades.

El Camino Real returns West Valley League player of the year Ava Tibor, who scored 11 goals as a freshman during a shortened COVID-19 season.

Anahi Aranda of Granada Hills was the City player of the year as a freshman and is joined by All-City player Lindsay Matsubayashi.

Granada Hills returns sophomore All-City player Melissa Nevarez, and Venice won the Division III title and returns All-City players Sophia Lee and Julia Piolo.

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