By Gabe Zitrin
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. If no one succeeded in your first rivalry game of the year — a tense 1-1 draw that ended with a 90th minute equalizer and one stoppage time near-miss apiece — your second one eight days later should be one firecracker of a match.
So it will be when San Francisco City Football Club heads to the Peninsula to take on Burlingame Dragons, at 4pm on May 21st at Burlingame High School, after Bryce Kaminski’s header earned SF City a point at home at Negoesco Stadium on the 13th. Burlingame’s Matt Wiesenfarth opened the scoring for the Dragons earlier in the second half with a one-timed shot from the top of the box, but the visitors couldn’t quite hold the lead to the final whistle.
SF City is coming into the match the more rested of the two sides, and maybe the one with more momentum, after the Dragons’ 2-1 midweek defeat in U.S. Open Cup competition. But Burlingame dominated possession for stretches of the Negoesco match, and will be eager to take more than a point from a rematch in front of their home fans.
The early goings of the nine-team Southwest Division of the Premier Development League have been as chaotic as advertised, but what is clear is that each of these teams will almost certainly need to take points off the other in their three games this season if they want a spot in the PDL playoffs when the regular season is over. SF City’s roller-coaster season shows no signs of settling into a pattern after their third match, with one entry each in the win, loss, and draw columns. But they have shown flashes of their ability to take over long stretches of games and finish enough scoring chances to be a force in the Southwest.
Despite stretches of quality play on Saturday, the Dragons, an affiliate of Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes, have started slowly in their first year under former Earthquakes goalkeeper and U.S. international Joe Cannon. Their goal against SF City was well-worked and well-finished, but it also remains their only goal of the PDL season after three matches, and they will need a better showing against SF City on Sunday to register their first win.
Just as intense as the battle on the field is the growing rivalry between the two fan bases, as each has pretty easy access to the other’s home base just 15 miles away. SF City’s Northsiders supporters group is planning a noisy appearance at its usual perch at the far side of Burlingame High’s bleachers, and the history between these two sides has proven that the Northsiders know how to influence a match from the stands. Their leadership has long let it be known that they need and expect all the help they can get from SF City fans who make the brief trip South to cheer on the Iron and Gold.
SF City will be without head coach Paddy Coyne for the second straight game, after a sideline collision with an opposing player of FC Golden State Force in the season opener. In his absence, assistant coach Shaun Ramsden once again has the reins, and a rested and fully stocked roster to work with. Coyne is scheduled to return for SF City’s May 28 home clash with Ventura County Fusion.