San Francisco City FC hosted the San Diego Zest on Sunday afternoon, for the 2018 PDL home opener at Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park. It was a clear, yet windy day, with blue skies and the iconic Sutro Tower providing a glorious backdrop for the action that unfolded on the pitch. Families, casual fans and the most fervent supporters of the club came together to create an electric and encouraging atmosphere, cheering on the Iron and Gold from Kezar’s northside bleachers. Despite a spirited effort by the home team, SF City FC found itself down two-nil at the end of the day.
In the opening minutes, the Zest created a variety of chances from set pieces and the corner, applying early pressure on the SF City backline. The Iron and Gold fought back with a few counter attacks of their own, but were unable to establish rhythm or find the net. In the 36th minute, a dicey back-pass left SF City with a tough one-on-one, which was calmly snuffed out by stalwart defender #4, Robert Hines.
Just moments later, in the 42nd minute the Zest found their breakthrough via the head of #13, Nico Tagaloa. Zest midfielder #11, Andy Sartor, swung in a cross from the left flank and Tagaloa was able to rise above his defender to nod the ball home. At the end of the first half, SF City had one final chance that was narrowly kept in-bounds by the Zest goalkeeper, and headed to the locker room down one-nil.
San Francisco came out in the second half looking resolved to score a goal. In the 62nd minute, City played a beautiful ball across the face of goal that was begging to be tapped-in, but no one was there to finish it. Just minutes later, a questionable call on the endline left the Zest with a goal kick, and SF City supporters wondering if a penalty was in order. As the clock rolled past the 70 minute mark, SF City continued to push for a goal, with a couple narrowly missed headers at the far post, and a close range shot into the side netting.
In the 84th minute, SF City’s #8, Danny Kirkland, stepped up to a set piece just beyond the penalty area, and nearly treated the crowd to a spectacular goal. A wonderful curling ball made contact with the inside of the far post, and bounced across the face of goal, just inches from putting SF City on the scoreboard.
The Zest added another goal to their tally in the final minutes off the boot of #10 midfielder, Shota Fukuda. A careless SF City takeaway resulted in a long ball over-the-top, which was picked up by Fukuda and deflected into the net off the outstretched boot of SF City’s goalkeeper. As the final minutes expired, the official’s whistle confirmed the two-nil result. Next week, San Francisco City FC returns to action against local rival, the San Francisco Glens SC. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 PM on Saturday at Boxer Stadium. Roll fog!
-Match Report by Alex Englund