SDCCU Stadium- San Diego, California
San Diego’s 1904 FC played their third match of the NISA showcase with a 4-3 triumph over the Oakland Roots in what quickly became a hard-fought match. On September 28th, under the stars at SDDCU Stadium in San Diego’s Mission Valley, 1904 FC earned a positive result in front of their home crowd.
From the moment of their first touch at kick-off, the Oakland Roots set the tone of the match with a very fast pace to their attack. The Roots offense pressed on 1904’s back line hard, but San Diego’s defense held on through the Roots initial attacks and was able to recoup about ten minutes into the match.
In the 22-minute mark, San Diego’s back line intercepted a Roots pass forward and dribbled it up the sideline. Just outside the box, 1904 took the first chance of the match with a cross to the middle of Oakland’s penalty box that was met by Lorenzo Ramirez Jr. with a driven header that bounced off the crossbar. The miss was a let down but Ramirez Jr stayed focused “I was looking to score on that, I was upset, but as soon as it hit that bar, I thought of the next play, we don’t have the time to think about that. I’m so thankful that we won because that’s the whole objective.”
1904 FC kept on pressing, and in the 25th minute, San Diego center midfielder Billy Garton gathered a ball at the top of the box off a cross that was deflected out by Oakland’s goalie. Garton took his chance with a strong shot toward the goal that found the back of the net for a 1-0 1904 lead. Garton described the moment of the game’s first goal, “As I was running forward I had this inkling that it was just going to come out to me, and fortunately it did. I am just happy to have two goals in two starts, Alex (Gotran) says its nice to play well with the ball, but you have to convert goals for us, and I did, so I feel really blessed to have two on two.”
The match was played with high intensity, and after giving up the match’s first goal, Oakland was eager to keep possession of the ball. After a hard foul in the 29th minute, San Diego was given a free kick from about 40 yards from the goal. Nelson Flores Blanco bent a beautiful searching ball around Oakland’s defensive wall and into the back corner of the goal that put San Diego up 2-0.
Despite being down by two goals, Oakland kept up the game’s pace and in the 31st minute almost caught San Diego off-guard. Off a cross from the southwest corner of the field, the Roots attack met the ball with a strong header from the eight-yard box that forced 1904’s goalie Jean Gamain Antoine to dive and make a point-blank save.
With Oakland still pressing hard, San Diego was working diligently to withstand the pressure. In the 35th minute, Antoine was forced off his back line while trying to control a cross from Oakland. To corral the ball, Antoine collided with a charging forward from the Roots at the top of the box. The ball squirted out of 1904’s grasp and to the feet of Oakland’s forward attack. They sent a shot towards San Diego’s open goal. 1904’s defense-man Alexis Velela Mayo alertly ran to the goal to position himself just in time and just in the right position to block Oakland’s shot from going into the goal.
In the 38th minute the Roots pressure finally paid off and they found the back of 1904’s net. Oakland’s Ryan Mench gathered the ball at the top of San Diego’s penalty box, cut back and found a window for a shot that he took. It bounced off Antoine’s out-stretched hand, up into the top of San Diego’s goal and cut the score in half to 2-1.
Seven minutes later in the 45th minute, San Diego answered back. Ramirez Jr. recovered the ball at the top of Oakland’s half-dome above the box. After a quick glance at the Oakland’s positioning, Ramirez Jr. shot the ball low and hard to the right corner of the net just out of the reach of the Roots goalie.
1904 FC took advantage of Oakland’s miscues and went into to their locker room at the half up 3-1.
From the start of the match’s second forty-five minutes, the intensity level of the first half carried into the second.
In the 47th minute, there was a tough collision at midfield. After opposing midfielders collided, the Oakland player Christian Christensen emphasized the encounter by taking down 1904’s midfielder to the ground after the whistle had already blown. The two sides formed a scrum where many of the players were trying to deescalate the confrontation. Christensen was given a red card and sent off the field. San Diego was given a one-man advantage for the first time in the young season with a little over forty-two minutes left in the match.
San Diego tried to spread out the Oakland’s formation and take advantage of the extra space on the field. However, undaunted by being down a man, the Oakland Roots were relentless and kept on mounting attack on 1904’s defense. “I feel like we fell off a little after that red card but, I guess we gained momentum as the game went on and them being a man down helped us a lot. Things got a little personal after the red card, every challenge is pretty dangerous, but we ended it well and ended it as men,” said Flores Blanco.
As the game carried on into the 60th minute, San Diego tried to slow down the pace, but Oakland kept hanging around by creating offensive opportunities. 1904 looked surprised by Oakland’s determination and resiliency. In the 68th minute, the Roots back line sent a lofty lob from midfield all the way to the top of San Diego’s penalty box. The ball found the head of a Roots forward through the out-stretched arms of Antoine who had come too far out of goal. The ball bounced into San Diego’s goal and tightened the score at 3-2.
About ten minutes later in the 79th minute, Oakland’s defense delivered a hard body check that was just inside the outline of their twenty-five-yard box and set up a penalty kick for 1904’s Adonis Amaya. The referee blew his whistle, and with an initial hesitation-step, Amaya strode toward the still ball and fired it low and hard toward the right corner. The ball bounced off the post and into Oakland’s goal.
San Diego was up 4-2 going into the last ten minutes of the match. 1904 began to play more cautiously to preserve their lead, but in the 87th minute, Oakland converted another goal. The Roots had found a way to pull 1904 back within striking distance by scoring their third score of the night and second while playing with only ten men compared to 1904’s eleven.
With one last frantic push in the match’s 90th minute, Oakland earned a free kick just to the left of San Diego’s penalty box. Oakland crossed the ball into the center of the box but was swatted away by Antoine, collected by San Diego’s defense, and cleared out to midfield. The referee blew the final whistle and brought the match to a close with San Diego’s 1904 FC up 4-3 over Oakland’s Roots.
The victory was San Diego’s second of the season and Oakland’s first loss. Both clubs have now played three matches. 1904 FC moves to third on NISA’s table with two wins and one loss for a total of six points. Roots SC moves to last place on the table with one loss and two ties for a total of two points.
1904 FC manager Alex Gotran was satisfied with his team’s performance and is proud that they were able to step-up with a strong effort for the city of San Diego. “These players fight for their community, they fight for their city, and they want to make the community proud. I don’t know about you, but I think that is important, they are fighting for the team, and they fight for the city.”
Tony Fantano is a native and current resident San Diegan who is all about pushing the city of San Diego to its full potential nationally and internationally. Tony earned a Bachelor’s in broadcasting and journalism from San Francisco State, where he learned the importance of civic pride. Tony wants to inspire readers everywhere to be their greatest and help each other pursue personal and civic prominence.