By Gabe Zitrin
Among the other storylines spinning around the third annual Bay City Derby, kicking off Saturday at 7pm between the San Francisco City FC and the University of San Francisco Dons, is the tale of three players on each side who will be using the match to be better and more effective when they join forces in a few months’ time.
Not only does San Francisco City boast three former Dons players — defenders Christian De Luna and Ludwing Vargas, and midfielder Danny Kirkland, but is soon to boast three more that are likely to show up as opponents on Saturday — midfielder Matt Orr, forward Bryce Kaminski, and midfielder Jordan Hughes, in his second season playing with both teams.
In a sport where a player’s sharpness can fade in far less time than it takes for an offseason to conclude, the West Coast Conference stalwarts and Premier Development League newcomers each have a strong incentive to help their players develop year-round. In practice, and given the strong connections both teams share with San Francisco, this has led to the sharing of a great deal of talent between USF and SF City. Of course, it also leads annually to the sight of past, future, and what amount to current teammates battling it out in San Francisco’s signature derby.
“To tell you the truth, I think it’s a part of why this is such a big game,” said SF City Head Coach Paddy Coyne. “Everyone knows each other, everyone wants to help each other be the best players they can be, but at the same time no one wants to lose. And when no one wants to lose, that’s what brings out the best in all the players.”
De Luna says playing against current and former teammates kick’s everyone’s competitive drive into a higher gear. “I’m still close to a lot of the [USF] guys and I know they are really excited to be playing against some USF alumni. There is definitely a lot of smack talking, but it’s all in good fun. I definitely can’t wait to teach the young USF boys a thing or two.”
Not surprisingly, the USF players have much the same idea.