SF City Comes Back, and More, to Down OCSC 6-2

IMG_2672By Gabe Zitrin, photo by Alaina Preston

Backed against the wall, finding themselves down 2-0 at home, San Francisco City Football Club responded with a massive second-half outburst to down Orange County SC Under-23 by a 6-2 score line at Negoesco Stadium on Sunday.

Captain Danny Kirkland scored a hat trick’s worth of penalty kicks, with Kamron Crow, Bryce Kaminski and Robert Hines adding second half goals to turn a two-goal home deficit into victory for the second time this year.

SF City’s scoring threats began almost at the opening whistle, but despite half-chances in the early going from two of their Stanford contingent, Foster Langsdorf and Bryce Marion, it was the visitors who went ahead against the run of play after 12 minutes. OC captain Shinya Kadono made a charging run down the right channel and put a leading pass straight into the path of Alcantara, who finished neatly past SF City goalkeeper Taylor Bailey.

SF City continued to dominate the chances created, with back-to-back shots from Kirkland and Davi Ramos being cleared off the line by the defense in the 22nd minute, and Hines and Ramos coming inches away in the 23rd. So SF City’s fans were doubly shocked to see the visitors score the second goal of the game in the 25th minute, after Christian De Luna was adjudged to have fouled his man on a ball across the penalty box and Alex Sanchez converted neatly from the penalty spot.

But turnabout is fair play, and what was shaping up to be a long day for SF City got a lot shorter just before the break. A quick one-two between Hines and Bobby Edwards in the OC box put Hines in on goal and forced a foul from behind. Kirkland made his spot kick easily to reduce the halftime deficit to a less-intimidating one.

Coming out of the locker room, SF City dominated, first equalizing from the penalty spot in the 50th after Langsdorf juked past keeper Patrick Harding and forced him into a takedown, and when the referee raised a yellow card and pointed to the spot, Kirkland obligingly tied the score. It took only six minutes after that for SF City to take a lead they would not relinquish, as Ramos found Langsdorf on the right wing, who sent a screaming low cross that was hammered home by second half substitute Kamron Crow. And just a minute later, the home side found a two-goal lead of their own after Manny Padilla’s charging run forced yet another penalty box foul, and Kirkland completed his hat trick.

Now playing quickly and confidently with the deficit fading in the rearview mirror, SF City methodically worked two more second half goals from the run of play to give the home crowd their money’s worth – Hines’ slick move past a defender to fire home from the left side, and late sub Bryce Kaminski’s tenacious work to win the ball inches from goal and fire home from point blank range.

Playing with the disappointment of having been eliminated from Premier Development League playoff contention by the FC Golden State Force and Fresno Fuego wins the previous evening, SF City still needed to win to keep their hopes of a U.S. Open Cup berth alive by locking up third place in the Southwest Division, and with one regular season game left to play, they stand every chance of reaching one of the at-large qualification spots. That last game comes at home on Saturday, July 15 at 1pm, against peninsula archrivals Burlingame Dragons in front of the Negoesco home crowd.

SF City tops FC Golden State Force 2-1

IMG_2186By Gabe Zitrin, photo by Alaina Preston

Facing the runaway Southwest Division leaders needing at least a draw to keep their playoff hopes realistic, San Francisco City FC electrified the home crowd with their third straight Premier Development League win, 2-1 over FC Golden State Force at Negoesco Stadium. Bryce Kaminski and Manny Padilla put SF City ahead, and the Iron and Gold sustained Pedro Fonseca’s catch-up strike and a barrage of late pressure to hold on for the win and take control of their own playoff destiny. The game also saw SF City’s players debut the team’s alternate Pride jerseys, and the game-worn shirts will be auctioned off on sfcityfc.com through the end of the season to benefit the AIDS Legal Referral Panel.

Playing against a fast, physical team that had defeated them to open the season in Glendora, SF City started brightly with the obvious intent to match the physicality of the division leaders and use their own speed on the wings to stretch the field. Gerardo Mendoza was the biggest early threat, nearly getting onto crosses from Bryce Marion and Padilla in the early going to keep SF City on the front foot. The visitors responded by creating chances of their own born of some of their nine corner kicks. Center back Abraham Placito may have had the Force’s best look at goal in the first half when he rifled an open header off one such corner a couple of feet over the bar.

SF City captain Danny Kirkland’s free kicks were repeatedly threatening in the first half, and after one such kick was caught by Force goalkeeper Jose Miranda inches from the charging Kaminsky, the next one put the hosts ahead. Great work from Mendoza in the 42nd minute forced a foul at the right edge of the FC Golden State box, and Kirkland rifled a low free kick into the mixer where Kaminsky got just enough of a touch on the ball to deflect it in.

“The idea was to put it on target,” Kirkland said of his free kick, “from that short range you’re just hoping somebody gets a touch, whether it be our player or one of them. You give yourself a chance, and hopefully someone touches it over the line, and that’s exactly what Bryce did.”

Coming out of the locker room with the lead, SF City carried their energy into the second half and had what would prove to be an insurmountable lead after a beautiful exchange in the 54th minute. Padilla took a Mendoza pass near the top of the FC Golden State box, lofted a ball in to Ramos, and cut to the left in perfect time to receive Ramos’ chested return pass. He finished clinically with the left foot, doubling the lead and sending the fans crazy again.

“A lot of times me and Manny are trying to combine,” Ramos said, “back at USF playing together, and we’d done this together already at SF City, but unfortunately it never ended up in the goal. It finally ended up there, and I think we deserved it.”

But no strangers this season to having to frantically defend late one-goal leads at home, SF City would find themselves having to do it again after Fonseca’s excellent individual effort in the 69th minute. The second-half substitute took the ball at the left corner of the SF City box, juked out his first defender to create space to shoot with his right foot, and hit a laser beam of a shot that seemed to curve in several directions on its way to the top far corner, giving Keenan Weekes no chance to save.

Now back in the game, FC Golden State played with renewed energy and dominated the possession for the rest of the game. Despite not managing any more shots on goal, they forced a number of desperate clearances in the final 20 minutes and fired close several times, highlighted by Mark Verso’s free kick that rocketed just over the bar five minutes from time.

The win puts SF City in playoff position in second place in the PDL Southwest Division, three points closer to the leaders and with control of their own playoff chances regardless of anyone else’s results. Their next task is a challenging road match against fellow postseason hopefuls Fresno Fuego on July 1 before they finish the regular season with two home games in a final push for 2017 playoff soccer.

Head Coach Paddy Coyne Eyes Home Stretch

12779043_1218606251502647_4940345337482298661_oBy Gabe Zitrin

With four games left to play, and the team either in or out of a playoff spot depending on the day and how one values “games in hand”, San Francisco City FC head coach Paddy Coyne has no off days. He spoke with sfcityfc.com about the frenetic final push as the squad prepares to host FC Golden State Force at Negoesco Stadium on Sunday, June 25 at 1pm.

“We’re good to go,” he said of taking on the Premier Development League’s Southwest Division leaders, who defeated SF City in Glendora, California, to open the season. “The roster’s full, all our college guys will be with us by this week. We know how Golden State play, they’ve got great individual players, they’ve got some great attacking threats, so we’ve got to play well defensively, and we’ve got to take our chances, because we will get chances. We got plenty of chances last time even though we lost.”

As with every PDL team, SF City’s roster has seen plenty of changes throughout the year as the players balance school, work, and personal commitments with their PDL duties. For Coyne the battle between roster consistency and the use of fresh talent is just part of the game. “It’s a tough balance,” he says, “but I was recruiting guys seven months ago for this team, and we knew we were going to have some different additions. So with that mix, having the influx of players coming in, always keeps the competitive juices going for the guys.”

The availability of more talent serves another purpose: depth has been critical for SF City FC in a season that has seen them play on back to back days or twice in three days on road trips to Southern California. But with the right balance of lineup changes, they’ve picked up enough points on those trips to keep them near the top of the standings. On their latest trip they defeated Southern California Seahorses 1-0 in La Mirada, California, and two days later beat Orange County SC U-23 2-0 in Norco.

“Going down to LA, stuck in a van for 12 hours and having to play 90 minutes of football on Friday, that was tough,” Coyne says. “And then Sunday, it was 115 degrees or something. It was so hot. But, I mean, we won both games, the guys were up for it.” Besides a massive endurance test, the schedule also left the team with a Saturday in Los Angeles to kill, and the perfect way to do it: a Major League Soccer game. “We took the team to see the LA Galaxy, the Galaxy hosted us, gave us 22 tickets, they were really good hosts. I bumped into [USA head coach] Bruce Arena, too. That’s always great, it was a nice conversation.”

With momentum carrying over from the successful trip South, Coyne is excited to play three of the last four games in front of the raucous home crowd and the fourth in front of an equally raucous crowd in Fresno. “With the games behind us, we’re comfortable now playing at home, we get the speed of the turf, we’ve got our fans behind us, the guys go out there really pumped. And Fresno, the crowd down there is just, the atmosphere is incredible. The guys love going out there.”

But there’s a clear message he wants to send going into the final stretch of games, especially against the Division leaders: “It’s about peaking at the right time. The playoffs? It’s in our hands, our destiny. We’re the ones who get to decide whether we’re going or not.” The home stretch begins Sunday afternoon at USF, and concludes there with a derby against local rivals Burlingame Dragons on July 15. Any goal in any match between then and now could be the difference.

Leading Scorer Ramos Reflects on Past and Future


By Gabe Zitrin, photo by Alaina Preston

Since its founding, San Francisco has been a place where people come to pursue what hasn’t worked out elsewhere quite the way they’d hoped, and the number of them who put down roots here is a testament to the success they find. The City hands down tales of miners and musicians, but its legacy of athletes’ dreams leading them here is just as strong.

Davi Ramos’ path to San Francisco was a winding one, and as he’s just 22 no one can say where it will end, but 2017 has been a success so far as he leads San Francisco City FC in scoring as they’ve pushed into playoff position in the Premier Development League Southwest Division midway through the season. With five goals in SF City’s last five games, his emergence has been among the most noticeable parts of the Iron and Gold’s run of form. He sat down with sfcityfc.com to talk about the long path to his exciting month, and where it might lead.

The University of San Francisco forward began his journey in his native Sao Paolo, Brazil, a fan of the historic Sao Paolo FC. At 16, noting that friends and teammates were finding unexpected playing opportunities in the United States, he tried out for one of the companies that can help place high school- and college- age Brazilian players with American schools, and soon found himself in Fayetteville, North Carolina, joining the state’s rapidly expanding soccer scene as a high school junior. “Soccerwise, it’s much more fast-paced, the game, less technical, more physical,” Ramos said of what he found there. “You need to think fast, you need to play fast. A lot of Brazilians that come over here, that’s one of the main things that they have trouble with. The time on the ball is not the time you have in Brazil.”

Two State Championships and a NSCAA High School Scholar All-American nod later, Ramos had a number of options for continuing on in the NCAA, eventually declining to pursue opportunities at North Carolina, Memphis, and Michigan State to head to Raleigh and the North Carolina State Wolfpack. At NC State he enjoyed a lot of playing time as a freshman but ran into his first major speed bump: the coaching staff wanted to see him playing more with his back to goal as a hold-up forward.

“It was really good to play in the ACC, a lot of guys that I played against are now playing in MLS, so it’s nice to see them do big things,” he says, but “I didn’t really like playing as a 9, and the style the coach played didn’t really fit the style I played.” SF City fans will surely notice that they haven’t seen him deployed in that role for head coach Paddy Coyne, who allows Ramos more freedom to create chances for himself on the ball. “After the Fall, I was already saying, should I leave, should I not? I had a talk with the coaches and told them I wanted to see how Spring went. In the Spring I decided that it was the best thing for me to leave, because of the style of play.”

With the success he’d had as a freshman, even in a position that wasn’t ideal, Ramos could have looked anywhere for a transfer, but like so many others, his dreams drew him West. “I just decided to come to California. I’d been already three years in North Carolina and wanted a change, so I emailed a lot of schools in California with my [NCAA] release papers, and I had my video, and got offers from a couple of them. Eddie Soto had just left UCLA and he was the brand new coach here, so I had the chance to be in the first incoming class for him.”

USF’s location proved to be a benefit, too. “The people in San Francisco are really different,” Ramos says of the experience. “They’re really accepting, they don’t judge you, you can be whatever you want to be.” But Ramos’ first year at USF, as a sophomore, also brought major speed bump number two: a dislocated kneecap and partially torn patellar tendon. But after missing just seven games, he was able to finish out the season on a high note, scoring in his first two games back. He also found his first opportunity in the PDL later in his USF career, but it might surprise some SF City fans that when he first became familiar with SF City is was as an opponent with the rival Burlingame Dragons.

After graduating from USF in December following a strong senior season, Ramos played his first professional soccer with América Pernambuco in Brazil, but with the rapid expansion of the PDL and the increasing quality of play, he wanted back into the league, and had an idea which club he’d enjoy playing for. “I talked to Christian De Luna, I lived with him, and he talked to Paddy, and Paddy was really interested. I felt like he really wanted me here and that I could help the team.”

And where does he want his time and success at SF City to take him? “I want to play as a professional. That’s all I want. I’ve always wanted it.” His last five games have to have helped him in that pursuit, and the rest of the SF City season will see him running just as hard after his lifelong dream.

part0 (3)

SF City Gears Up for Pride Week 2017

By Gabe Zitrin

47 years after the first San Francisco Pride Parade, Pride Week in San Francisco has become much more than a protest, or even a celebration of gay rights — it is a citywide celebration of San Francisco’s vibrant, open culture, and its values of equality, diversity, and acceptance.

San Francisco City Football Club, the Premier Development League soccer team that has called the City home since 2001, have joined the celebration in solidarity with their hometown with a special jersey for their Pride Parade day match, a new partnership with the AIDS Legal Referral Panel, which provides free and low-cost legal services to people with HIV/AIDS in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“Soccer is the perfect way to celebrate diversity, because anyone can meet one day in a park and play,” said SF City President Jacques Pelham. “You can be from anywhere, you can by gay, straight, trans, black, white, purple, doesn’t matter. If you’ve got six human beings and a ball, you can all have a great time.”

With the team missing the parade itself on June 25 to take on PDL Southwest Division leaders FC Golden State Force at Negoesco Stadium, it will be proudly play a game that unites all manner of people around the world, and do it in a new San Francisco Pride jersey for the occasion. The Classy logo on the front of the jersey will be rainbow-colored for the day, and the classic SF City crest will be replaced by the team’s alternate “Tower” crest, with the lightning bolts in rainbow colors. The game-worn jerseys will be auctioned off at the end of the season, with the proceeds benefitting ALRP.

“ALRP and SF City FC are a great partnership.” said Joachim Steinberg, who sits on the Board of Directors of ALRP and SF City. “SF City FC and ALRP share common values, including standing up for the most vulnerable people in our city.”

There is a long precedent in San Francisco and soccer of using sports to pull a fan-base closer and advocate for vulnerable communities. The Giants have held an annual “Until There’s a Cure Day” to support HIV and AIDS research at their home games for more than 20 years, and the United States Men’s National Soccer Team recently donned jerseys with rainbow-colored numbers for their June 3 friendly match with Venezuela in Sandy, Utah.


SF City falls 2-1 to SoCal Seahorses


By Gabe Zitrin

San Francisco City FC’s three match Premier Development League winning streak came to an end at home on Sunday, as the Southern California Seahorses pulled off a 2-1 upset at Negoesco Stadium. T.J. Ifaturoti’s 20th minute strike gave the visitors the lead before SF City’s Davi Ramos took it away ten minutes later, but Emilio Huerta’s free kick goal just after the restart held up as the game winner. The loss further muddles the standings in the PDL’s Southwest Division, but SF City have more than enough season left to make another challenge for the top of the standings.

SF City started brightly, with midfield captain Danny Kirkland forcing a diving second-minute save from SoCal goalkeeper Vincent Morales and putting a 17th minute free kick from near the right corner inches from both the far post and the feet of several charging teammates. But against the run of play, the Seahorses went ahead through Ifaturoti. SF City headed a long free kick away from the box, but it was gathered in by Seahorses winger Leo Contreras, whose end-line run and centering pass set off a mad scramble before Ifaturoti calmly slotted past SF City’s Kienan Weekes from six yards.

SF City fought to erase the deficit and thought they’d done it nine minutes later when Barry McCabe’s cross deflected to Bryce Kaminski, whose neat first touch put the ball past Morales. Celebrations were put on hold when the assistant referee signaled for offside. Rather than get flustered, SF City continued to press and got even the following minute. Robert Hines lofted a long ball that Ramos got to before Morales, flicking a header over the top from outside the box and into the back of the net.

Though SF City took the momentum into the locker room, the Seahorses came out with it, and in the 48th minute pulled ahead for good. Huerta’s long free kick got caught in the swirling winds that made balls fly strangely all afternoon, and the ball bounced at the edge of the box before finding the top left corner of the goal.

SF City controlled much of the match after conceding a second goal and managed far more scoring chances, many of them in a furious ten-minute rally to end the game that saw huge saves from Morales and a stoppage-time rocket shot off the crossbar from SF City’s Manny Padilla.

But the equalizer wasn’t to be found, and the Seahorses finish their trip North on a high note. With the lion’s share of possession, shots, and chances created, SF City will be out for what they feel is a deserved revenge win this Friday, when the two teams meet again at Biola University in La Mirada, California.

SF City Momentum Builds With 2-1 Win Over Fuego

By Gabe Zitrin

Behind first half strikes from Gerardo Mendoza and Davi Ramos and a feisty, tough defensive line, San Francisco City FC continued their winning ways at home with a 2-1 win over Fresno Fuego on a bright Sunday afternoon at Negoesco Stadium. The win and the three points that go with it vault the Iron and Gold into second place in the scrum that is the Premier Development League’s Southwest Division.

Against an opponent that had won all three of its PDL matches to start the 2017 season, SF City came in with some momentum themselves after their 3-2 comeback win a week earlier over Ventura County Fusion. And in front of a screaming crowd of Northsiders and other dedicated fans, their momentum netted them a game-changing goal just eight minutes in through Mendoza’s brilliant volley. Midfielder Danny Kirkland lofted a long cross-field ball for Mendoza near the edge of the Fresno box, and Mendoza chested the ball down and craftily backed his defender off while letting the ball bounce twice to set up his shot, before rocketing it over goalkeeper Agustin Rey.

SF City continued to battle in midfield to maintain control of the game, and Mendoza nearly had a second from a tight angle in the 21st minute after outmuscling his defender, but this time Rey parried the ball away with a smart reflex save. SF City were able to continue to press and to limit the Fuego to half-chances before they extended their lead in the 36th minute through three USF players combining for a goal on their home field. Right back Manny Padilla’s cross was chested up in the box by Ramos for Bryce Kaminski, whose struggle with his defender saw the ball bounce perfectly back to Ramos, who finished emphatically from close range.

The home squad managed to close out the first half with a two-goal lead, but Jose Cuevas gave them a scare with a sharp run down the right channel and a shot that forced a quality save from Weekes for the Fuego’s best chance of the first half.

Cuevas figured prominently in the major events of the second half, beginning in the 58th minute. He lofted a free kick into the SF City box, and after SF City defender Ben Brewster and Fuego attacker Carlos Delgadillo collided, the referee whistled Brewster for a foul and pointed to the penalty spot. Cuevas was the man chosen to convert the attempt, but he skied his spot kick well over the bar.

He wasn’t out of the fight for long, though, and scored from close range just ten minutes later after Weekes’ diving save on Renato Bustamante. The SF City keeper’s only real option was to push the ball wide, and Cuevas made a darting run onto the ball to finish from a tight angle. The Fire Squad, consistently the largest and loudest opposing fan group to appear at SF City home matches, erupted, and redoubled their efforts to spur their players on to the second goal they’d need to take something from the contest.

But though they had the lion’s share of the chances after pulling within one, and though defender Trevor Spurgeon’s 81st minute cross skidded past the entire SF City goal just inches from the line, there was no equalizer to be had. As they had against Ventura, SF City burned the clock with determined holdup play and managed enough scrambling clearances as the game wound down to secure a slim victory.

Some good news for the away fans, Fresno Freeze FC managed a 1-0 win over the San Francisco Nighthawks in a back-and-forth Women’s Premier Soccer League match earlier in the day on the same field.

From here, Fresno Fuego return home to face San Diego Zest on Thursday, and San Francisco City FC head South for a Wednesday rematch with the Fusion in Ventura.

Revenge the Theme as SF City Host Fresno Fuego

18518081_1669474589749142_4623843532742197830_oBy Gabe Zitrin

Two historic Northern California clubs and two of the loudest supporters’ groups in the West — there’s rarely been a lull in the action when San Francisco City FC meets Fresno Fuego, and there isn’t likely to be one when they meet Sunday either for a 1pm kickoff at Negoesco Stadium.

Though both teams in the Premier Development League’s Southwest Division have undergone a host of roster changes from a year ago, no one in either legendarily noisy fan-base will forget the controversy of that year, when the Fuego were forced to forfeit their home match to SF City after accidentally exceeding the number of permitted substitutions. And neither fan-base will forget the Fuego’s revenge either, as they won 2-0 against SF City at Kezar Stadium two months later to eliminate the Iron and Gold from PDL playoff contention.

Off to a blazing 2017 start worthy of their name, the Fuego have won all three of their Premier Development League games this season, outscoring their opponents 11-2. Jose Cuevas’ four goals lead the way for Fresno, followed by Joey Chica’s three. Each punished SF City rivals Burlingame Dragons with two in a game earlier in the season, and both will look to continue to feast on Bay Area opponents.

SF City, meanwhile, are fully rested after a hectic opening to the season, and won’t be playing on the second of back to back days as they were in last year’s home loss. They’re also increasingly confident that they can handle whatever challenges are presented to them in their new mountaintop home — last-minute heroics have been the theme of their home games so far, with Bryce Kaminski’s 90th minute header earning a draw with the Dragons, and Carlos Carranza’s one-time strike capping a three-goal comeback in last week’s 3-2 win over Ventura County Fusion.

Down 2-0 a half-hour in on two Fusion goals against the run of play, SF City rebounded brilliantly behind captain Danny Kirkland, whose penalty kick and free kick goals tied the score before the half, giving SF City the momentum they needed coming out of the locker room. One beautiful buildup and one game-winning goal from Carranza later, they took home three much-needed points in the PDL Southwest Division standings. With two teams with perfect records ahead of them, including Sunday’s opponent, SF City won’t be able to take a game off in their push for Division supremacy.

Fans who arrive early to Negoesco will get another treat — as they did last year, the San Francisco Nighthawks of the Women’s Premier Soccer League will host the Fresno Fuego Ladies for an opening match, beginning at 11am. The two teams drew 1-1 last year at Kezar and will be battling every bit as hard as the men will for points and bragging rights alike.

SF City Come Back to Down Ventura County Fusion 3-2

DSC_0829By Gabe Zitrin

Backs to the wall, down 2-0 at home to a team they defeated earlier in the year, San Francisco City FC pulled together to put together an exciting 3-2 comeback win over Ventura County Fusion on a blustery Sunday afternoon at Negoesco Stadium.

Niklas Korber’s two first-half strikes for the visitors were cancelled out before the break by two SF City captain Danny Kirkland, and Carlos Carranza’s goal early in the second half would prove to be the game-winner. With the win, SF City jumps in the Premier Development League’s Southwest Division standings, but needs to continue the effort to get into playoff position. Still, Head Coach Paddy Coyne will feel better about those prospects as his triumphant return to the sidelines was greeted by his players with a number of scrappy, physical performances and a strong show of will in the face of adversity.

SF City started brightly, spending much more time in the attacking third and forcing two reflex saves from the Fusion’s Max Watkin, first Carranza off a pretty 7th minute layoff from Bryce Kaminski, and then Kirkland off one of his trademark free kicks. But it was the visitors struck first against the run of play in the 16th minute when Sumara Sulieman’s shifty run along the top of the box ended with him playing the ball to Korber in the left channel, and Korber had plenty of time to get off a shot that gave goalkeeper Keenan Weekes no chance and Ventura County the lead.

If SF City’s fans were frustrated by the first goal they were downright stunned by the second, which came in the 30th minute off a confused and inadequate effort to clear the ball following a Ventura corner kick. This time Korber saw the ball deflected to him right on his shooting foot, and he enthusiastically fired home from point-blank range.

The team responded splendidly. “We were the better side up to that point,” said center back Ben Brewster of confronting the deficit. “We were creating chances, we were confident that the way were playing was fine. If we could get one back before halftime we’d be fine, and we wound up getting both back.”

Trust in their abilities brought them the goals they needed to do it. In the 38th, Gerardo Mendoza’s run down the right saw him play Beqaj into the right channel of the Fusion box, where the Cal man drew a nasty collision from his defender, and the referee pointed instantly to the spot. Kirkland calmly sent Watkin the wrong way and cut the lead to one.

It vanished altogether just four minutes later after a Kirkland free kick. The captain beat the wall from just beyond the center of the box, and although Watkin got his hands to the ball, he couldn’t hold onto the shot. With both sides desperately trying to get to the ball as it hit the ground, it wound up sneaking inside the post to level the score.

For his part, Coyne credited not only Kirkland’s role on the field in erasing the 2-0 deficit, but also his role as a leader. “Our captain spoke to the players, and they went out there and won that penalty through pressure, and scored that, and then the energy was high again, and then we brought it level.”

With most of the momentum coming out of the locker room, SF City pressed for the lead in the early second half and found it through a well-worked team goal. Substitute Edu Calvo-Salinas, on the most dangerous of his many threatening runs on the afternoon, found right back Manny Padilla, who played a nifty square ball into the center of the box. Carranza ran onto it and made no mistake with his one-time shot, putting SF City into the lead for the rest of the match.

Ventura County’s attempts to tie the score as the game went on rarely troubled Weekes, but they did force a number of awkward clearances and desperate scrambles in the box for the SF City defense to deal with. It was SF City who were came the closest to adding to what would be the final scoreline, when in second half stoppage time Christian de Luna found Chris Kennedy over the top with the offside trap beaten, and Kennedy forced a stretched save from substitute Fusion goalkeeper Eric Kam before SF City’s Bernardo Berardinelli’s rebound shot went over the bar.

As they try to build on the momentum of the moment, SF City remain at home next week, when they host the Fresno Fuego at Negoesco at 1pm on June 4. The Fuego are known for bringing along a large and vocal continent of road fans, so SF City will look to pack the stands with as many of the faithful as possible.

Both Teams Need Strong Showing in SF City-Fusion Rematch

18518081_1669474589749142_4623843532742197830_oBy Gabe Zitrin

Coming off a tough loss is a challenge every soccer player will know at some point in his life, and an opportunity that every team now and then must seize to pull together to right their ship. San Francisco City FC will get that opportunity at 1pm Sunday at Negoesco Stadium as they look to move past last weekend’s defeat away to Burlingame Dragons by taking down Ventura County Fusion.

Despite the difficulties of their trip down the Peninsula a week ago, SF City have a few factors going in their favor — a full week’s rest, the return of head coach Paddy Coyne after a two-match absence, and the still-fresh memory of having defeated the Fusion once already, a comfortable 3-0 triumph in Ventura on May 6. The second-half outburst, with goals from Bryce Kaminski, Danny Kirkland, and Ben Brewster, was all the more impressive given that SF City had played a full 90 minute competitive match the previous day.

The Fusion have an impressive history in the PDL, and their 2016 incarnation featured three first round picks in the 2017 Major League Soccer draft. They’ve recovered a bit from their home loss to SF City, with a win and a draw since then, and last year avenged a similar home loss to SF City by winning in San Francisco later in the year, a feat they hope to repeat Sunday afternoon.

Either team could use the three points on offer as the Southwest Division of the Premier Development League is starting to crowd in the middle after four weeks of action, and mid-division teams don’t make the PDL playoffs.