By Gabe Zitrin
Ashley Watson returned to torment his former team with a goal, and Chris Kennedy alertly added another, as San Francisco City FC remained undefeated in five preseason games with a comfortable 2-0 win over the Gators of San Francisco State at SFSU’s Cox Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
SF State opened the affair by working a few half-chance shots from the perimeter, including a free kick shot on goal in the fifth minute, but none significantly stretched SF City goalkeeper Alex Clewis. SF City went on to create the better of the chances for the rest of the first half, nearly scoring off a free kick near the right corner flag in the 19th minute. Captain Danny Kirkland’s in-ball headed for SF State’s back post and was headed inches wide.
Watson, a Gators player last year in addition to his work with SF City, finally broke through in the 44th minute. After a foul was called against SF State about 40 yards out on the left-hand side, Kirkland put his free kick on a dime into the center of the box, where it was headed down by Kennedy in front of the charging goalkeeper. Watson ran onto Kennedy’s header, took a touch to the left, and fired into a largely open goal.
SF City’s second came out of nothing six minutes after the restart as a reward for its high-pressing strategy. Kennedy smartly charged at an errant back pass that was within his reach near the edge of the SF State area, and the forward made no mistake with a one-time shot, doubling the lead in an instant and very much giving the game the feeling of having already been decided.
Three minutes later, it looked as though he’d created another goal under similar circumstances as he worked hard to dispossess his man at the edge of the box and play quickly to winger Bobby Edwards, who found Kirkland before the defense could recover for a shot that sailed inches high.
Though they weren’t able to convert any more of their chances on the day, SF City closed out the rest of the match without really looking in danger of conceding a goal, even as the game opened and sped up in the final half-hour. Their persistence in midfield consistently disrupted SF State’s passing and prevented many long spells of possession by the Gators, and allowing few threatening attacks.
SF City have two more games remaining on the postseason schedule, the next being played April 22 at 1pm at San Jose State University. Their second Premier Development League season begins on May 5 at FC Golden State Force, with their home opener coming on May 13 against peninsula archrival Burlingame Dragons.