1904 FC played their very first home match at SDCCU Stadium and their second of the NISA Challenge Cup on Saturday, Sept 14, 2019, against the Cal Strikers FC. In only 1904 FC’s second match of NISA’s inaugural season chances were taken, fan loyalties were earned, and rivalries began to take shape. Ernesto “Moe” Espinoza starting midfielder for 1904, who grew up in San Ysidro, was excited about the debut, “I’ve always wanted to play in Qualcomm, so right now it feels amazing, I feel great because we got our first win at our home stadium.” At the end of ninety minutes in a back and forth ordeal,1904 FC played their heart’s out trying to earn the love and loyalty of the 3,000 San Diegans in attendance.
From the initial kick-off at exactly 19:04, there was a torrid speed to the game. The back and forth nature of play kept both defensive sides alert and slightly overwhelmed. San Diego’s club came out with a mission to prove a point. The two clubs battled each other, trying to establish a winning tradition for their clubs and future pro careers. They wanted to set the tone for the match, their season, and 1904’s emerging culture.
Behind the west goal was 1904’s loyalist section where1904 patrons beat the drums and chanted the hymns of San Diego’s infant football club. With huge ominous flags of Che Guevara, Old Glory, and Mexico being waved in unison and “19-04” chants howling into the evening sky, one could see the promising potential for the growing fan base.
Lorenzo Ramirez Jr. from 1904 FC earned the first goal of the night as well as the first goal in the history of San Diego’s newest pro football club. In the eleventh minute, the bleached-blonde distributor Ernesto “Moe” Espinoza sent in a strong cross that lead to the opening goal. After a long ground pass up the sideline, Moe received the ball and dribbled it, cutting across the field toward the penalty box. As the Cal Striker defenders closed in, he directed a powerful cross right in front of the eight-yard box. Ramirez Jr., who was charging the back door, lowered his frame and headed the ball into the back of the net.
The Cal Strikers United out of Orange County answered back quickly in the twenty-fifth minute when the Strikers midfield found Omar Sanchez, who posted up a 1904 defender with the ball at his feet. Sanchez settled the ball, then turned and hammered a quick strike into the right corner of the goal past the out-stretched hand of 1904 FC goalie Jean Antoine to tie the score.
Both teams played with intensity and spread out the field well. The extra room on the pitch kept space open and lead to plenty of chances for attacks on goal from either side. Both teams went into the half tied 1-1.
1904 FC came out in the second half with even more energy. They were winning the majority of the 50-50 balls and putting relentless pressure on Cal Striker’s defense. In the fifty-first minute, 1904 found an open man at the top of the penalty box, who delivered a give-and-go to a San Diego forward who had pierced the Striker’s backline. The last defender stopped the attack with a calculated foul, and the referee blew her whistle for a penalty kick inside the box. 1904’s William Garton stepped up and scored the penalty kick with ease and put his side up 2-1.
Five minutes later in the fifty-fourth minute, 1904’s forward Ramirez Jr. was once again found, this time by the back post. On the end of a forty-yard long ball into the heart of the penalty box. Ramirez Jr. delivered his second goal of the match when he laid-out and met the ball with a soft flick from his outside right foot just out of the goalies reach that was arced over the goalie’s hand into the eastern goal. Up 3-1, the men from 1904 FC rode out the remaining thirty-six minutes to earn their first victory in the history of the young San Diego club.
San Diego 1904 FC’s first victory will go along way to galvanizing the team’s chemistry and foster connections that will strengthen the club on and off the field. In two weeks 1904 FC will host Oakland Roots at SDCCU on September 28, Espinoza describes the nature of the upcoming week of preparation “We will be out here every day, early in the morning getting ready to play, and our coach works with us mentally to stay concentrated on the game 100%, the full ninety minutes, he is really on us making sure that we are concentrating the whole time.”