Photo Credit @theprojectfc
The NPSL Golden Gate Conference kicked off this weekend with the 2nd season of the Alameda County Derby between CD Aguiluchos USA and the East Bay Stompers. The first season series last year between these two close rivals went the way of CD Aguiluchos as they won 2 and tied 1 of the 3 matches played in 2016. This season the two rivals are even closer in proximity as the CD Aguliuchos played their first NPSL game since moving from Raimondi Park in Oakland to Burrell Field in San Leandro. The two are now located less than 10 miles apart, a short drive on I-880. Their proximity makes them two of the closest rivals regularly playing in any level of US Soccer.
The first leg of the 2017 series was no different than in 2016 as CD Aguiluchos took their NPSL home opener 2-1 over the Stompers. The match started off rather slowly with neither side willing to take any risk. For the first 30 minutes both sides would see their best chances come off of set pieces. However neither keeper was tested by any of the chances.
The first major chance of the game came in the 35th minute, as Aguiluchos winger Jesus Maldonado smashed one off the post after a small scramble in the box. Less than a minute later, the Stompers responded with their best chance of the game as Jorge Hernandez-Butron played a perfect cross to Tommy Rodda who fired his open header over the bar.
In the final minutes of the first half, Aguiluchos got a few more half-chances, but both teams failed to score as the half ended 0-0.
The game was much more open in the second half. The excitement began in the 49th minute when Aguiluchos two-time defending NPSL Golden Boot winning striker Simon Rawnsley found himself in on goal before the Stompers defender Diego Garcia slid in with a top class goal saving tackle to keep the scores level.
The Stompers followed this up with two chances of their own. In the 55th minute, Stompers midfielder Eder Guzman curled in a perfect free kick that found the open head of Jesse Kehoe, but his effort was right at Aguiluchos keeper Kevin Gonzales. Then just 2 minutes later in the 57th minute, Guzman would play another great ball, this time finding Tommy Rodda whose effort was also saved by the Aguiluchos goalie.
The Stompers would go on to rue these missed chances when in the 63rd minute multiple chances fell Aguiluchos way. A scramble in the box finally fell to the feet of defender Selaad Ghafouri who smashed it home to give Aguiluchos the lead.
This goal seemed to rattle the Stompers as just 3 minutes later in the 66th minute Simon Rawnsley got off the mark in his Golden Boot Title defense, scoring a goal after a Stompers mistake in the back.
Photo Credit @theprojectfc
The Stompers would not go easy however, when in the 78th minute Arturo Gomez missed his open header on the back post in an effort to pull one back for the Stompers. The Stompers got a goal though, when substitute striker Khalid Arramdani was played through by Jesse Kehoe in the 84th minute, and finished easily. This was not enough for the Stompers who went on to fall 2-1 to the home side, giving Aguiluchos the early lead in both the Golden Gate Conference and the Alameda County Derby 2017 series.