By Gabe Zitrin
Early goals from Ben Brewster and Edu Calvo-Salinas and a second half finish from Bobby Edwards were more than enough to give San Francisco City FC a solid 3-1 win over NCAA Division II’s Academy of Art University in their final pre-season tune-up before they head to Los Angeles to open the 2017 Premier Development League season this coming weekend.
With just six days left until the start of the 2017 Premier Development League season, SF City took the field at sunny City College with 90 more minutes to develop as a cohesive unit before the results start counting. They wasted no time in opening the scoring, as captain Danny Kirkland’s 7th minute corner kick from the left side was headed in at the back post by vice captain Brewster to give the Iron and Gold the early lead.
Just five minutes later it looked as though it could be a long afternoon for the Urban Knights as Kirkland played provider again, this time for Calvo’s theatrics. The former USF man’s throughball beat the first defender, and Calvo, making the most of his start, took advantage of an awkward challenge to beat the second, rounded the goalkeeper, and finished neatly from a tight angle with the left foot to double the lead.
The Urban Knights settled down after their early setbacks, though, and played City tough through the midfield until finally finding some life in the 38th minute as a late runner into the box forced a hard challenge by Brewster that the referee judged a foul. The ensuing penalty kick sent SF City goalkeeper Taylor Bailey the wrong way, and made the scoreline 2-1.
Kirkland nearly restored the lead to two before the half with a long-distance volley that was met by an acrobatic, full-extension save at the top corner. The resulting corner kick wound up a strong scoring chance too, as Brewster headed back across goal and found Chris Kennedy, but the holdup man’s header was over the bar.
The second half saw SF City calmly controlling play at the back and limiting AAU’s chances largely to speculative long-distance pulls, but one such shot just minutes into the half looked as though it might tie the game before sailing high.
SF City never relinquished the momentum after that point, and finally got their two-goal lead back in the 62nd minute. Ashley Watson, off one of the many fouls he forced on the day, sent a free kick at AAU’s second-half substitute keeper, whose save bounced right at Edwards for the former Stanford Cardinal to power home from point-blank range.
That did it for the scoring, but even after closing out a very strong preseason that included a win over reigning NCAA champion Stanford and a draw at USL’s Sacramento Republic, SF City has no time to savor victory. FC Golden State Force awaits as the results start counting for real, and the air around the park after the match was one of energy and anticipation as head coach Paddy Coyne laid down his last few commandments before the road trip that will launch the club’s second-ever PDL season on May 5th.
SF City Man of the Match: Danny Kirkland
Shots (on goal): SF City: 10(9), AAU: 6(2)
Fouls: SF City: 7, AAU: 15
Corner kicks: SF City: 4, AAU: 0
Offside: SF City: 2, AAU: 0
Cautions: AAU #10, 68th (late challenge)