Recap: Cal FC vs. Cal United FC II
After a rescheduling of venue, the match eventually kicked off at 8:15 PM PST. While it got cold during the late hours, the tempo on the field was hot. Both of these undefeated teams were battling it out for Open Cup glory and to be crowned champion of California, in name only.
The match started and Cal FC immediately began to cause trouble. After catching the Cal United midfield off guard, Cal FC caused a turnover near the center circle and within three passes found an open Irvin Parra, who slotted away the first goal of the night. Even after coughing up that turnover, the United side was still relaxed, moving the ball at a slow pace as it tried to transition into offense. And just like in the first goal, Cal FC caused a turnover in midfield and with two quick passes Parra found the ball his feet about thirty yards out and with a perfect shooting lane. After a few touches on the ball, he launched in the second goal of the night.
Down by two after twelve minutes, Cal United was forced to find its way into the match. United adjusted its lineup and pushed down its defensive midfielder right above the center back line. This gave it an extra outlet to pass to and someone to help cover any other counter attacks launched at it. It was a successful tactic and began to allow the United offense to gain traction in the match. It began to pass through the Cal FC midfield, but often focused on playing through one side at a time, never really changing the direction of attack. United finally got back into the match after a sweet cross from the left wing that was directed at the open target on the back post. At the fortieth minute, United began to focus on using the entire pitch while in possession. This would open up the field and eventually lead to a brilliant set of passing attempts that found their way into the box and led to the second goal for Cal United and the half ended 2-2.
The second half, while goalless, was some of the most open and exciting soccer I have seen in the lower leagues. Cal United played compact defensively and started the half holding possession. This seemed to throw off the Cal FC team that was unable to break at pace like it did during the first half. Each team began to take turns attacking one another. United began to have the better chances in the half, but couldn't break the wall that was covering the Cal FC goal. Cal FC keeper Marquez came up with a multitude of huge saves, often back to back attempts that began to frustrate the United offense. The match remained heated and in contention all the way until the 89th minute. Then darkness consumed the entire stadium as all the lights were shut off. Due to a city ordinance, the lights were not allowed to come back on and the match was suspended in the 89th minute of play.
This matchup between the two SoCal giants is currently postponed until a later date. Even after the disappointment of this unfinished match, the battle for California remains one of the best matches played all season.
- Steven Ramirez