San Francisco City FC celebrates after winning the 2015 US Club Soccer Open Cup qualifying tournament. Photo: Lynsday Radnedge | CenterLineSoccer.com
UPDATE: The US Soccer Federation announced the 2015 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup format and San Francisco City have officially qualified. Story updated below.
For the first time in more than two decades, an amateur club from San Franscisco will be represented represented in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. On Saturday, San Francisco City defeated Stanislaus United Academica 3-0 in US Club Soccer’s Open Cup championship game at Cox Field on the campus of San Francisco State University.
City will be US Club Soccer’s lone representative in the 102nd edition of the tournament.
Since the Modern Era began in 1995, the only two San Francisco-based clubs that have taken part in the US Open Cup were both professional teams. The San Franscisco Bay Seals (Division 3) made their improbable run to the semifinals in 1997, and most recently, the short-lived California Victory (USL First Division, Division 2) won two games before falling to the Colorado Rapids in 2007. The last amateur club from San Francisco to play in the tournament won it all as the Greek American AC shut out Milwaukee’s Bavarian SC 3-0 in the 1994 US Open Cup Final.
A boisterous crowd of 483 was on hand to see the city’s cup fortunes change thanks to a brace from Gabriel Silviera and a late goal from Taylor Amman.
Photo: Lynsday Radnedge | CenterLineSoccer.com
“It’s everything,” said head coach Andrew Gardner on representing the city in the Open Cup. “Having an event like this, all these people out here. They barely even know who the players are. What they know is, they know San Francisco. They know what soccer is all about in this city. They’re out supporting hopefully what’s going to be building something special here in the city.”
The tournament began with the top four finishers from last season’s NorCal Adult Premier League. California was the only state to submit teams for the second year in a row and, unlike last year, Southern California did not have any teams sign up this year.
Check out Lynsday Radnedge’s photo gallery from the match
Gardner was the main force behind gathering a team of mostly former Division I college players that raced to a 10-1-0 record in NorCal play last fall. As league champions, they earned the No. 1 seed in the four-team tournament.
In the opening round, San Francisco City defeated Juventus Adult Soccer Academy 7-1 in a two-game aggregate series, setting up the final with Stanislaus, who bettered Impact Soccer Club 15-1 in their two matches.
The highly-anticipated final started off slowly, with chances few and far between as both sides seemed afraid to commit too many numbers forward.
The difference in the game came down to a moment of brilliance as left back Dave Romney chipped a 40-yard through ball into the path of Silviera, who controlled the ball before chipping it over the onrushing United goalkeeper for what would prove to be the winning goal of the match in the 36th minute.
Two minutes later, Silviera doubled the lead. Amid protests for offside, Mauricio Diaz Leon swung a curling ball behind the Stanislaus defense that found the feet of Silviera. The former San Jose Earthquakes PDL player controlled the ball and then calmly passed it into the back of the net from six yards out to put the game out of reach before halftime.
Tayler Amman would put the game away for City in the 66th minute, taking down a long ball from David Taylor off his chest, and side-footing it into the back of the net from 12 yards out.
Stanislaus did have a few chances in the second half, but City goalkeeper Austin Harms stood tall in the goal, making seven saves, including a highlight reel denial of a rocket shot in the 71st minute.
With the win, San Francisco City FC became the fourth US Club Soccer team to qualify for the tournament.
Stanislaus, under the name Stanislaus Turlock Express, became the first team in 2012, but fell to the Fresno Fuego of USL’s Premier Development League (PDL). The following year, the Fresno Fuego entered the US Club Soccer tournament but lost to the NPSL’s FC Hasental. Last year, Southern California’s Corinthians USA qualified, but had to forfeit their opening match with the San Diego Flash because many of their players were not properly registered with the US Soccer Federation.