By Gabe Zitrin
San Francisco’s signature annual friendly lived up to its billing on a cool and clear Saturday night at the foot of Lone Mountain, but no one could pull ahead in the all-time Bay City Derby as San Francisco City FC and the University of San Francisco Dons fought to a 1-1 draw at Negoesco Stadium.
Carlos Carranza’s headed strike gave SF City the lead at the half, but Aaron Lombardi equalized for USF, and the Dons defense held off a furious late charge to claim a share of the spoils. Of course there were no points on offer, just bragging rights – but fans of both teams will now have to wait a long year for another shot at a full complement of those.
With SF City’s 4-1 win in 2015 and USF’s 3-1 revenge game last year, with current and former players of each team suiting up for the other, and with both teams calling Negoesco their home field for 2017, expectations and spirits were running high for the third annual matchup. A near-capacity Negoesco crowd saw an entertaining Bay City Derby, if maybe a frustrating final scoreline for the most competitive fans.
The game began with high pressure from the Dons and two tightly packed defenses, and solid chances were difficult to come by. The first real chance of the game took until the 29th minute to develop, when City winger Bobby Edwards made a run around his man along the end line and cut the ball back into the box, but the shot from a charging Jose Mendoza was palmed over by alert USF goalkeeper Andre Glasnovic.
City’s breakthrough came seven minutes later through the work of its two most active attackers of the game, as Ash Watson worked himself space for a left-footed cross that found Carranza’s head at the far post with pinpoint accuracy. Carranza made no mistake from close range and gave Glasnovic no chance, and City took the lead.
City, through Carranza’s cutting runs and Edwards’ galloping down the left side, managed the better of the chances in the early second half, but were unable to extend the lead and instead saw it evaporate in the 72nd minute, just after Carranza’s exit. Lombardi found the ball on the right side and worked his way clear of SF City’s defense for a left-footed shot, and although SF City goalkeeper Peter Swinkles got a punch to the ball, it wasn’t enough to keep it out of the net.
SF City responded well to giving up the lead and built several strong chances. Second half substitute Gerardo Mendoza was a consistent threat with long, patient runs and well-worked shots, but couldn’t find the target as the game opened up in the final 20 minutes.
The teams traded half-chances in the waning moments in an effort to break the deadlock, with Dons fullback Manny Padilla striking the side netting in the 88th, setting off a premature celebration from the assembled USF fans. Both defenses bent but neither broke, and with the final whistle the all-time derby still stood at one win apiece.
As USF continue preparations for the 2017 West Coast Conference season, SF City look to recharge quickly before heading to Palo Alto to take on reigning back-to-back NCAA champions Stanford on April 7.
San Francisco City FC Man of the Match: Carlos Carranza
Shots (on goal): USF 4(2), SF City 8(4)
Fouls: USF 11, SF City 10
Corner kicks: USF 2, SF City 1
Offside: USF 1, SF City 4
Cautions: Ben Brewster (SF City), 50’ (hard foul)