Cal FC may not be a professional team. Prior to Sunday’s Lamar Hunt US Open Cup open division qualifying match, they had never hosted a tournament game of any kind.
But its name means something in the competition, especially in the early stages. The opponent was a highlight for coach Laura Garcia in Valley United SC’s 4-0 loss against Cal FC in the first round at Agoura High School in Agoura Hills, Calif.
“For us, this was great,” Garcia said. “To play against a team like this, that has a history of going all the way, was special.”
Of course, Cal FC has never won the US Open Cup. But it did perhaps achieve the USASA club equivalent in 2012, when it upset the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer to earn a fourth round trip to Seattle to play the Sounders.
Michael Friedman is only part of Cal FC who remains from that run. The general manager was proud to see his club host its first Open Cup home match in his alma mater’s stadium.
The event went smoothly in front of a nice crowd for a Sunday night. The only snafu was a lack of corner flags, which were locked away for the weekend.
TJ Fairchild scored two goals and Max Madrigal had a goal and two assists as Cal FC advanced to a second-round qualifying date with the Los Angeles Wolves on Nov. 21.
“We weren’t perfect,” Cal FC head coach Ross Greaney said. “They had a few chances and we missed a few chances.
“We have work to do, but I think the familiarity and the overall talent took us through tonight.”
Madrigal set up the opening goal in the 26th minute by slipping Fairchild, his former Oxnard College teammate, through on goal. After his initial shot was saved, Fairchild pounced on the rebound from close range.
“TJ got up and down the field,” Greaney said. “Max just had a really great night. He was all over the place.”
Madrigal scored the second goal in the 31st minute before setting up Pacifica High product Albert Anguiano for the third goal three minutes before halftime.
“(Anguiano) was a constant threat all the time,” said Greaney, who added that former professional Gabriel Gonzalez ran the game for Cal FC from a playmaking position.
Valley United had their moments. Striker Gerardo Espinoza nearly capitalized on a Cal FC turnover at the back to put the San Fernando Valley-based club ahead in the 10th minute. Irvin Morales sprinted down a ball over the top to earn a great chance on the half hour mark, but his finish rolled wide.
Cal FC goalkeeper Osvaldo Vallodolid, made two highlight-caliber diving saves in the second half, combined with the back four of Diego Ortega, Juan Vallodolid, Stevie Trujillo and Jamie Alvarado to keep the clean sheet.
Fairchild added the fourth goal on another rebound three minutes before full time.
“It’s a lot of fun to get back together, see everybody play and get a win in the US Open Cup,” Greaney said. “Collectively, we did well.”
Highlights (VCStar.com): Valley United SC at Cal FC