Cal United Strikers v 1904 FC Game Recap

Despite chances at both ends, small field makes for tough goalless draw
Published Mar 10, 2020

Cal United Strikers v San Diego 1904 FC Game Recap

Despite chances at both ends, small field makes for tough goalless draw

March 8, 2020

By Dan Minkoff

For Cal United Strikers FC

SAN DIEGO – With the sun setting on a beautiful Sunday, San Diego 1904 FC and Cal United Strikers met in a hectic back and forth match. For the current NISA spring season, 1904 FC has moved to Lincoln Senior High, and drew a crowd of 749. Unfortunately, the size of the Lincoln High pitch is also smaller and makes for difficult playing conditions.

The tight space didn’t allow 1904 FC or Cal United Strikers to get into any type of flow and, despite scoring opportunities on both sides, the game ended in a 0-0 draw.

“From the first moment we stepped on the field to warm up, we knew it was a small field,” said Cal United forward Abraham Villon. “The field was narrow, it wasn’t long, it was bumpy, and we had the sun beaming in our face. We said, ‘let’s see how the first 10 minutes go,” and from the start, we knew we were in for dogfight. There was no real space. We like to build out of the back and play proper soccer, but the conditions didn’t allow it.”

Neither team was able to string more than four or five passes together for long stretches of the game. Both teams had chances to get on the scoreboard, but opportunities were mostly due to mistakes and turnovers created by lack of space and high defensive pressure. Tackles came in fast and hard. Referee Samantha Martinez did a good job keeping the game under control despite numerous physical challenges.

“I think playing on this pitch definitely suited them more than us,” Villon said. “Last year, every time we played them at home, we gave them a run for their money. We’re a mobile team and like to run. Today’s conditions made that almost impossible for us.”

Cal United (1-1-0, 4 points) started slowly. The midfield of Duncan Capriotti, Alec Sundly, Abraham Villon and Kevin Jeon were not able to maintain possession and build the attack but adjusted as the game progressed. After surviving some early pressure by San Diego (0-2-0, 2 points), Strikers, which finished with 13 shots, fired off a series of four shots in three minutes about 30 minutes into first half. 1904 FC goalkeeper Jean Antoine was never forced to make a spectacular save but made all the stops he would be expected to make and kept the Cal United attack at bay.

“It was a good away game,” said Cal United defender Xavier Fuerte. “The field was definitely smaller. There was not that much space. It was hard to get the ball in the middle and knock it around.… We had to adapt when we weren’t having success. We had to find different ways to get opportunities. The middle was way too crowded, so we had to figure something else out.”

The option Cal United tried was to play longer balls in behind the defense. However, the fast turf field and 110-yard length made that strategy difficult to execute. That led to a more open, back-and-forth game in the second half, when both teams had their best chances to score.

In the 57th minute, 1904 FC midfielder William Garton hit a shot off the crossbar. The rebound came back to a teammate, who put the ball in the net, but was ruled offside, and the game remained scoreless. Three minutes later, Cal United’s pressure created a turnover. The ball made its way to Christian Thierjung, the league’s leading scorer in the fall season. His shot from about 16 yards was headed towards the net, but blocked by defender Eder Arreola.


“I’m glad we only play there once,” said Cal United Coach Don Ebert. “I feel bad for San Diego. [The field is] not conducive to play fast on the ground. We struggled. It was a poor game. We were poor connecting and passing, and we just weren’t able to do it on there.”

At the end, players were tired and both teams continued to push for the win, so the game became more open. 1904 FC had a couple of late chances, but Cal United goalkeeper Steven Barrera made two terrific saves to prevent would have been a devastating late goal.

“Everything got stretched,” Ebert said. “I thought Steven made some good saves. We missed chances early on, but I guess at the end, a draw was probably fair to both teams.”

The sides will face each other again this Saturday at Cal United’s home in Irvine.

“(The rematch) will be a much different game,” Ebert said. “They have good skillful players. We’ll be better. It will be much differently played. The best part for us was the defense. Not playing out the back, not passing, but our defending, we were really good. The defense was solid and that was probably the biggest positive.”

Upcoming Schedule

Cal United Strikers’ next game will be 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 14 vs 1904 FC at Orange County Great Park Championship Stadium in Irvine. Click here for tickets. Cal United will then hit the road for four consecutive games: March 21 vs. Chattanooga FC in Chattanooga, Tennessee; March 28 vs. LA Force in Los Angeles; April 4 vs. Michigan Stars FC in Pontiac, Michigan; and April 11 at Oakland Roots.


San Diego 1904 FC 0, Cal United Strikers 0.

Goals: None.

1904 FC (4-3-3): Jean Antoine; Mac Clark, Dallin Cutler, Joseph Perez, Alexis Velela (Eder Arreola 56); Ozzie Ramos, Christian Enriquez (Felipe Liborio 56), William Garton; Don Tchilao (Milo Barton 72); Ernesto Espinoza (Hanif Wright 91), Lorenzo Ramirez Jr.

Cal United Strikers (4-4-2): Steven Barrera; Michael Bryant (Kevin Garcia-Lopez 46), Xavier Ikaika Fuerte, Gonzalo Salguero, Chris Klute; Duncan Capriotti (Shinya Kadono 65), Alec Sundly, Abraham Villon (Omar Nuno 65), Kevin Jeon (Tony Lopez 46); Christian Thierjung, Gustavo Villalobos.

Yellow cards: Cal United – Capriotti 22. 1904 FC – Ramos 26, Garton 80.

Referee: Samantha Martinez.

Venue: Lincoln Senior High School.

Weather: 64 Fahrenheit, calm.

Attendance: 749.


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