By Gabe Zitrin
As he prepared for the team’s final regular season game of 2017, San Francisco City FC head coach Paddy Coyne spoke with sfcityfc.com about how a strong but not-quite-spectacular season points to a bright future. The club ends its season on Saturday at 1pm at Negoesco Stadium against local arch-rivals Burlingame Dragons. Although SF City was eliminated from playoff contention as the regular season entered the final week, Coyne has come away from the campaign with a positive outlook on the past and the future.
“So many guys went out there and really wanted to show something, guys who want to go on and play at the next level. We had great play from veteran guys who brought a lot of experience. As the year went on, playing together as a team, we started to see some results.”
After the flurry of becoming a PDL team and fielding the squad immediately, Coyne says the 2017 season offered more resources to conduct the business of a professional organization. “So much was great about the second year that was different,” he said. “The first year we found out we were in the league maybe in March [two months from kickoff]. We didn’t have the kind of time, the kind of preparation that we had this year. We had a lot more to look at to figure out what worked and what didn’t from the first year. This year we had, I think, an 11-game preseason. I went to about 40 college games, recruiting was totally different from last year. So we were trying out things tactically, we had the local players, college players, guys who were excited about playing. We were playing three at the back for most of that, and most of the guys hadn’t really played that, so we had time to get used to the system, and we did well with that in the season.”
Playing at tightly-packed Negoesco Stadium instead of cavernous Kezar might have made a difference, too. “It’s a great environment, with the fans, with the Northsiders, it’s so intimate, it’s a really great place to play. And we play on turf. We play on turf at practice, so just having that turf as a field to play on is good, we can play our passing the way we practice. You know, going from that to grass at Kezar, you’d just see it really slowed things down. And just being on a college campus for all these guys, it’s a natural environment for a lot of them.”
All PDL clubs struggle to maintain team play with the constant changes in the game day rosters throughout the season, but Coyne says the way SF City is constructed was a key to its success in weathering that storm, and will remain so going forward. “In my ideal world, there’d be a few of the guys who’d go on to the next level, and then we’d have our pipeline of college guys who are going to be there for us, and then there are the local players that we use. We’ve got those to draw from where a lot of teams, they have to struggle to get some of that going. That whole melting pot has the ingredients that make us special.”
Sounds like a very San Francisco way to build a soccer team.