Host El Farolito won the US Open Cup’s San Francisco derby, scoring all their goals in extra time to beat International San Francisco 3-0 on Wednesday afternoon at Ohlone College in Fremont.
While the two clubs are in different leagues, they share some connections. Inter has two former El Farolito players on their roster and Farolito has competed against several Inter players who also have played for one of their NPSL rivals, Oakland SC.
Inter was founded in May of 2021 and has already earned promotion to the Premier Division of the San Francisco Football Soccer League (SFSFL). El Farolito’s soccer club was founded in 1985 and is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its 1993 US Open Cup championship (won under their previous name, Club Deportivo (CD) Mexico).
It was a wide open game, with the home side maintaining a 19-13 advantage in shots over the 120 minutes. But both clubs looked slightly out of sync at times, struggling to take advantage of finishing opportunities. Farolito’s NPSL season doesn’t begin until April 1 and each of Inter’s first three scheduled SFSFL matches have been postponed due to inclement weather.
International SF Maintains Slight Edge in First Half
The intensity of the match was established within the first minute of play, when Inter’s veteran striker Matt Fondy was taken down hard near the corner flag.
El Farolito had the first chance of the match in the 5th minute, when they won three consecutive corner kicks. On the second corner, Judas Herrera’s header from close range deflected off of Inter’s Nikolai Littleton and went just wide.
Inter’s first chance came in the 11th minute on a one-timer from veteran striker Matt Fondy at the right side of the box that sailed just wide.
The first card of the match came in the 19th minute, when Farolito’s Jonatan Mosquera received a yellow for elbowing Fondy in the face.
Five minutes later, Inter defender Jack Callan was unable to clear a long ball into the box. Farolito’s Judas Higuera crossed the ball to César Benitez, whose shot went high up in the air and was eventually grabbed by goalkeeper Mason Kealy.
Inter’s best scoring chance of the first half came in the 31st minute and was set up by a former El Farolito player, Leo Lázaro. His free kick from 20 yards out found Javier Rivera for a soft header, but goalkeeper Johan Lizarralde got a fingertip on the ball and was able to deflect it away. Lázaro grabbed the rebound and sent in another cross, but Fondy’s shot attempt deflected back to Lázaro, who was called for a foul from climbing onto the back of a Farolito defender.
Inter kept pressing forward to try and take the lead before halftime. In the 39th minute, Nikolai Littleton’s soft shot from well outside the box was deflected away by Lizarralde for a corner. On the subsequent corner kick, Fondy got his head on the ball, but it sailed over the crossbar.
In the second minute of stoppage time, Fondy sent in a low cross that bounced past Lazarralde. Lázaro was waiting at the far post, but Hurick Balierio stole the ball, dribbled to safety and eventually cleared it away.
Farolito Takes Over, With Second Half Substitutions
In the second half, El Farolito made key tactical adjustments, pressing Inter’s ball-handlers and increasing the tempo.
The clubs traded chances early in the half, with El Farolito nearly scoring when Higuera’s shot from 25 yards out barely missed sneaking in under the crossbar.
Four minutes later, Fondy received a pass at the near post after a corner kick. Four International players were perched on the goal line, but Fondy’s soft header floated over the bar.
And then El Farolito began bringing on substitutions who would make a major difference in the game. In the 64th minute, they brought in Javier Calle and Daniel Butrago. Coach Santiago Lopez explained his strategy.
“Our four subs in 10 minutes helped a lot. We knew they would continue to play more direct so we wanted two new central midfields to dispute second balls.”
And in the 71st minute, Lopez brought on Jhon “Saya” Quinoñes and Jhonathan Perez.
“Shortly after that we noticed the opponent’s left side was their weakest and we added two fresh players attacking that side,” Lopez said. “Perez –sitting more back to support Saya in case he wasn’t able to return to defend but with the freedom to attack as well. Saya –to look for spaces behind the defensive line and to create 1v1 situations in the final third.”
While El Farolito was bringing on fresh players, International SF did not make any substitutions until Carlos Quintero came into the match in the 79th minute. As the match went on, their players appeared to be tiring, no longer able to chase after long passes.
Inter did have a rare second half chance in the 80th minute, when Littleton crossed the ball into the box as Fondy was making his run to the far post. Lizarralde was out of position, but a Farolito defender was able to prevent Fondy from getting enough on his header to keep it from going in.
And then the momentum seemed to change in their favor in the 85th minute, when El Farolito’s captain Herlbert Soto was red carded for allegedly retaliating after being hit in the jaw by an International San Francisco player.
The 10-man Farolito squad regrouped to play out the final few minutes before extra time and got their first shot on goal in the 4th minute of stoppage time, with Kealy making a kick save at the near post.
Farolito Breaks the Scoring Drought in Extra Time
As the extra session began, Coach Lopez remained confident in his club’s ability to keep creating goal scoring opportunities.
“I am very fortunate to have a group of many leaders. They all organized and motivated each other at all times,” he said. “I just told them to keep focus on their individual roles and that regardless of the red card, they have the talent and preparation to win the game.”
And Farolito finally broke through in the 94th minute, when Mosquera headed home Butrago’s corner kick. The ball deflected off an International San Francisco player’s shoulder while Kealy tried to reach for the ball in vain.
Farolito doubled their lead on another set piece in the 99th minute. Butrago’s corner kick ended up in a group of players in the box. Kealy deflected away two shots from close range, but the ball eventually ended up on the right foot of Quinoñes who slammed it home.
International San Francisco had a glimmer of hope at the end of the first extra session when Littleton was clipped from behind in the box, but the referee said play on. And they earned another corner in the 3rd minute of stoppage time, but Callan rushed his shot and lifted well over the bar.
In the second half of the extra session, International SF had one final chance when substitute Gamal Abdul Nasser Compaore was open for a shot at the top of the box, but his shot went straight into Lizzarde’s arms.
And Farolito added another exclamation mark in the 113th minute, thanks to two of their second half substitutes. Calle sent Quinoñes to chase a long ball into the penalty area. Inter’s Kealy and Littleton converged on him, so he fed the ball to Benitez at the far post for the finish.