San Francisco City FC Strong Out of the Gate
SF City kicked off its 2019 campaign with an incredible weekend of action on the field, winning all six points from their first two matches, including a thrilling victory in the San Francisco Derby at Kezar Stadium.
"This is a great start for the team," said head coach Evan Sassano. "These were two tough matches against two very good teams. Our boys showed a lot of personality in the way they competed until the last minute. As a coach, you have to be proud of the way we started things off, but we still have a lot of matches to go. We are certainly going to work to become better every day."
On Friday, the team traveled to Santa Cruz to take part in the very first match in the newly christened USL League 2, and defeated the Breakers by a score of 3-1. The visitors enjoyed spirited traveling support from the fans who made what has become the season's premier road trip.
Coach Sassano went with an aggressive 4-3-3 formation, which paid off early when Gerardo Mendoza scored in the 3rd minute and again in the 19th. Santa Cruz countered with significant pressure, but failed to score, and the half ended at 0-2. The home team broke through to halve the lead in the 75th minute, but the goal spurred City to net a third, this time from winger Seiya Otsuka, to bring the match to its final score.
Sunday night's local derby was an altogether more dramatic affair, with five goals, two comebacks, and a red card. The Glens scored in the 2nd minute and 57th minute, but in both cases, Conrad negated the lead less than ten minutes later. The drama ratcheted up in the 85th minute, when the Glens' Yohannes Harish was sent off after a rash tackle on City's Gustav Fink-Jensen gave him his second yellow card. Just two minutes later, Glens goalkeeper Andrew Konstantino put a heavy touch on a back pass from a teammate, and Conrad pounced on the ball before rounding the keeper and putting home the game-winner.
"At halftime, Coach Sassano told the front-runners he wanted us pressing a bit higher," said Conrad. "We followed that game plan and fortunately, we were able to capitalize off a key pressing moment."
On his first goal of the night, Conrad said, "[It] started with a great pressing moment from Seiya, and a well-timed cross by Mario [Arrocha]. He read my movement well and delivered a great ball in."
Immediately after scoring, Conrad bounded across the field to the Northside supporters and leapt up to the rail to celebrate with them. "I always love to celebrate with a group that has shown us so much love and support, even at preseason games in the rain!"
Conrad remarked on his second goal, "This was the best team goal of the three. We worked the ball well coming out of the back, great lofted ball in behind from Barry McCabe, and Ihson Nassiri put a beautifully weighted ball just inside the box. As a center forward, that's a play you dream about. Great night to be a part of!"
On the victory, Sassano said, "The response from the guys was tremendous. After we tied the game a second time, we started to say, 'Hey, we're gonna win this one.'"
Next up, SF City go on the road to face LA Galaxy affiliate San Diego Zest FC on Saturday at 5:00PM. Be sure to follow the live stream of the game here: https://mycujoo.tv/video/san-diego-zest?id=43317