The 115th San Francisco Soccer Football League (SFSFL) final took place this past weekend as El Farolito came back from down 2-0 to top the Olympic Club by a score of 3-2. The SFSFL is the oldest continuously running soccer league in the United States having been founded in 1902. It is 9 years older than the founding of the US Soccer Federation.
The match took place at historic Boxer Stadium in San Francisco. While other stadiums try and take the claim, Boxer is in fact the oldest soccer specific stadium in the United States having been built in 1953 and continuously used by the SFSFL ever since.
The match up for the 115th final is one that has become somewhat common over the last few seasons. The Olympic Club and El Farolito have traded off titles over the last 4 years, with Olympic Club winning in 2014 and 2016, and El Farolito winning in 2015 and 2017.
The Olympic Club’s Soccer team was founded in 1916 and has historically been one of the Leagues most dominant teams. El Farolito was founded in 1985 and famously won the 1993 US Open Cup. El Farolito has begun to equal the League dominance of Olympic Club.
The match kicked off at 10:00 am in some very non-SF weather as the sun was shining and there was no fog in sight. The match itself was an epic one with El Farolito Head Coach Santiago Lopez saying, “It was one of the most exciting (SFSFL) finals I’ve seen in a while.”
The match was a fairly balanced game for the first 30 minutes or so, as both teams were clearly feeling each other out. Neither team created any major goal scoring opportunities. The best effort of the match came in the 34th minute when El Farolito’s Eduardo Salton fired his volley from the top of the box just over the bar.
Not long after that, in the 38th minute, the Olympic Club got on the board first with what has to be one of the goals of the season in the League as Dylan Murphy fired a rocket from the top of the box and into the upper right hand corner of the net to give his side the 1-0 lead.
Within 5 minutes, Olympic Club would double their lead when Eric Anderson made a brilliant run down the right wing and played in an inch perfect cross to Diego Rovira who calmly finished it at the back post to make the score 2-0 with just minutes to play in the first half. “At Olympic Club, everyone is such a good player, and they have Shani (Simpson) now who is an excellent coach,” said Santiago after the match about what put his side behind early.
El Farolito would head into the half time break down 2-0 with 45 minutes left to play with their season on the line. “At half time, I talked to them and I said that the attitude has to change because, we were pressing very well with the ball, but without it we weren’t coming back and we weren’t being intense. So we just touched on those key points, by showing a better attitude, but keeping the same structure,” said Santiago about his half time team talk.
El Farolito came out of the half time break and began to take the match to their opponents. They would pull the first goal back in the 52nd minute to make the socre 2-1 when Eduardo Salton scored after a keeper error that led to a scramble in the box. However, minutes later when play resumed Salton would pick up his 2nd yellow of the match and was sent off leaving his side to play with 10 men for the remaining 35 minutes of the match.
El Farolito’s dominance in the 2nd half did not go away, even down a man. They have become somewhat used to this position in the last year having to play down a man in both the League and the US Open Cup on multiple occasions. “That red card was just really out of no where, but everyone reacted and knew what they were supposed to do and that brought out more fire in them,” said Saintiago before saying, “I think the players realize that we have to run more and maybe they are overconfident with 11 players.”
In the 68th minute the equalizing goal was found by El Farolito after some dominant pressure when Alejandro Uribe’s shot trickled in at the near post of Olympic Club’s keeper Ben Stadler. This made the score 2-2 with 20 minutes to play and everything to play for.
The match started to become one-way traffic in the final 20 minutes as the 10-man El Farolito controlled much of the match. Finally in the 81st minute of the match a penalty was awarded to El Farolito to give them a chance to take their first lead in the final. Ederson De Silva would step up coolly to covert the penalty to put his side ahead 3-2, thereby completing an epic turn around.
Olympic Club would push hard in the final 10 minutes to find an equalizer and send the match into extra time. Their pressure resulted in a second red card shown to El Farolito who would have to play the final 5 minutes of the game with just 9 men. However, the Olympic Club never was able to find another goal, and El Farolito was able to reclaim the SFSFL title after seeing Olympic Club take home the trophy last season.
“It was very fortunate, there’s been so many ups and downs and it’s such a long season, and there were so many key players out of this final because of injury, so it was an extremely difficult game,” said Santiago about the match. “But I love and respect the players because they don’t give up.”