San Francisco City FC’s third season in the Premier Development League had its ups and downs, but, looking back, the Iron and Gold have a great deal to be proud of on and off the field in 2018.
Following a successful preseason that included three victories over nearby colleges and a narrow loss to three-peating national champion Stanford, City faced a daunting half-dozen away matches to begin the PDL campaign. The road was not kind to the squad, as a scoreless draw at the Orange County U23s provided the only point of the stretch. On the difficult opening, head coach Paddy Coyne remarked, “Although we lost on the road, I didn’t think we played badly. Orange County, Southern California, and San Diego should have all been wins, in my opinion, but that’s sports.”
The start of the season did have one major bright spot, however. On May 9, SF City, along with our diehard supporters, the Northsiders, journeyed to Oakland to face CD Aguiluchos in the first round of the US Open Cup. At the end of the ninety minutes, City had roared to a 4-0 victory to the delight of the traveling fans. It was the club’s first Open Cup win in our history, and it earned us a date one week later with the USL’s Sacramento Republic in our state’s capital. In front of spirited support for both sides, City fought valiantly and gave the strongly favored Republic a scare, taking a 1-1 draw into halftime before falling 3-1. Despite the setback, the Cup run certainly represented a big step forward, one the club will look to build on in the coming years.
Back in PDL play, SF City at last returned to Kezar on May 27. Said Coyne, “Returning to Kezar allowed to reset our focus and goals; playing in front of fans in our hometown gave the group a hunger to go the extra mile and it helped a lot.” The grueling road schedule seemed to carry a bit of a hangover, however, as the Iron and Gold dropped a 2-0 decision to the San Diego Zest. The team had to put it behind them, though, as the next match was a massive away day despite being in San Francisco. It was the inaugural San Francisco Derby at Boxer Stadium, home to the SF Glens. With the vast majority of the crowd noise coming from the Northsiders, City took bragging rights with a 2-1 victory. What a way to earn the first league win of the year!
The lads carried the momentum to their next match, downing the Ventura County Fusion 2-0 at Kezar. Frustration, though, again came to visit for the next two weeks, as City came up short at home against the U23 teams of Orange County and Fresno. The season had certainly not gone according to plan thus far; how would the team react in the final four matches?
They reacted very well, as it turned out. The arrival of July delivered much better results, as SF City exploded for a total of seven goals in home triumphs over Santa Cruz and the Southern California Seahorses. The squad thus carried some confidence into the Kezar edition of the SF Derby, but, unfortunately, the fates were against the home team that night, as a controversial penalty allowed the Glens to leave with the 1-0 win. However, City rebounded admirably just three days later, earning a convincing 2-0 victory in Santa Cruz to finish the PDL season.
SF City thus finished the campaign with sixteen points in fourteen matches, good for sixth place among the nine teams in the Southwest Division. Said Coyne, “The season was dramatic to say the least. It was the toughest opening I’ve had as a coach, and the league had the deepest pool of talent I’ve seen in a while, pretty balanced outside of [runaway division winners] Golden State.” The final result was perhaps not what the team had envisioned at the start of the season, but they certainly finished on an upswing. Plus, City finished above our crosstown rivals by winning the tiebreaker with a higher number of wins. San Francisco is Iron and Gold!
This club, though, is about so much more than results on the field. Our supporter-owned structure continues to be a robust and rewarding model amid the often chaotic landscape of soccer in the US. It allows fans truly to be members, involved in the organization and its decisions. The club, in turn, prides itself on being involved with its city and working to make San Francisco a better place.
This commitment is most evident in our involvement with our community. As Executive Board of Directors member Joachim Steinberg puts it, “This was another great year for community service and engagement by SF City FC. I’m thrilled to see our members continue to volunteer their time, energy, and money to causes around the Bay, and to work with so many great organizations.” This year, club members took part in the Best Buddies Friendship Walk, served meals at St. Anthony’s, and helped to clean up the AIDS Memorial Grove. In addition, we fielded a team for Street Soccer USA’s San Francisco Cup and raised the most money for that organization.
We also kept our city in mind during our matchdays. In June, we celebrated Community Spirit Day, inviting our non-profit partners to join us at the match as we called attention to the great work they do for San Francisco. Later in the month, the team celebrated Pride Weekend by wearing special rainbow kits, which were auctioned off after the match to benefit the AIDS Legal Referral Panel.
Amidst all this activity, there was, quite simply, plenty of fun to be had as a devotee of SF City this year. Dedicated Northsiders made the trips to our matches in Palo Alto, Fresno, Oakland, Sacramento, and Santa Cruz. At home matches, supporters could always be found in the parking lot just outside Kezar Stadium enjoying grilled meat and veggies, Standard Deviant brews, and laughs. Familiar faces abounded at our community service events. Looking forward to later this year, we still have our Annual General Meeting, in which we’ll discuss the state of the club and vote for next year’s board members. And, in December, we’ll have our holiday party and look back on our achievements in 2018.
Indeed, this year represents one more chapter in the ongoing story of San Francisco City FC. We hope you’ll stay with us in future years to help us continue to write it!