Photo Credit: @theprojectfc
The top two clubs in the NPSL’s Golden Gate Conference met up for the first time in what is destined to become one of the more intense rivalries in the League. The match between CD Aguiluchos USA of Oakland, California and El Farolito of San Francisco, California will soon become the El Clásico de la Bahia if the intensity of the first match is any indication.
The match was played at historic Boxer Stadium in San Francisco. The home fans were treated to a scrappy 2-2 all draw between the teams tied for 1st place in the Conference.
The match got off to a quick start as the Aguiluchos leading striker, Simon Rawnsley, was fouled in the box inside of 5 minutes by the Farolito keeper, Jorge Rosales, who earned himself a yellow for the challenge. The former 2-time NPSL Golden Boot winner Rawsley took the penalty himself and buried it into the keeper right side netting to get the match off to a flying start.
The early goal only caused Farolito to press as they began to play very aggressively, going after every 50-50 ball. This aggressive play almost led to an immediate equalizer when Carlos Montes made a beautiful turn in the box to beat two Aguiluchos’ defenders, but his centering cross was just barely cleared away.
The host would not have to wait to long for their equalizer however as Arnhold Rivas was taken down in the box by Aguiluchos keeper, Kevin Gonzales, to earn his side a penalty in just the 15th minute of play. Edson Cardona would step up for the host to score the equalizing goal from the penalty spot.
The rest of the first half saw more tackles and dust ups than chances as the only other major chance of the first half came in the 28th minute when Carlos Montes of Farolito forced Kevin Gonzales of Aguiluchos into an awkward save to keep the match level.
The first 15 minutes of the 2nd half played out like the end of the first half as neither side was really able to take control of the match or put the other side under any major pressure.
This all changed in the 60th minute when Ocatavio Guzman of Aguiluchos forced the Farolito keeper Rosales into a big save. However the save rebounded to Jesus Maldonado who saw his shot blocked as well. Finally however, the ball would fall to the feet of the Afghanistan International, Ahmad Hatifie, who gave the Aguiluchos the lead once again.
Once the Aguiluchos took the lead, they began to play a possession game, controlling the ball for long spells without putting Farolito under too much more pressure. This possession game would come back to bite them when in the 75th minute Aguiluchos keeper, Kevin Gonzales, cheaply gave the ball away allowing Edson Cardona to walk the ball into the net for his 2nd goal on the day, tying the match at two goals each.
Despite the mistake, the Aguiluchos had the final chance of the game when Ocatvio Guzman found himself 1v1 with the keeper all the way from the half way line in the final seconds of stoppage time. He would do everything right, rounding the keeper before firing well over the empty net, something no one would have expected from the former Sacramento Republic player.
In the end the match ended 2-2 with both sides earning a point to both remain undefeated and tied on points atop the Golden Gate Conference standings. Expect the second match between the two teams in Oakland to be an even more heated affair later in the season.