SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento Gold FC controlled possession for most of the night Saturday, but Real San Jose’s counter attack proved to be the difference in a physical 3-0 loss for the home side at Capital Christian High School.
It didn’t take long for the game between two conference rivals to turn into a chippy affair. Just 12 minutes in, San Jose’s Joseph Kay picked up the game’s first yellow card with a hard challenge on Clemente Fonseca.
Three minutes later, Fonseca had arguably the Gold’s best chance of the game. Jason Jones sent a through ball to Fonseca along the right side of the box. Fonseca chipped San Jose keeper Jonathan Arellano what looked to be a sure goal. Just before the ball crossed the goal line, Real’s Nick Vargas made a last-ditch clearance to keep the game level.
San Jose used the ensuing momentum to create several changes. Edwin Luna’s free kick in the 27th minute sailed just over the crossbar.
At the half hour mark, a defensive miscommunication by the Gold led to a one-on-one for San Jose. Gold goalkeeper John Connelly was able to stop the trouble.
Only one minute later, however, San Jose got its break. Sacramento’s Zach Ulrich was called for a foul slightly inside the box, for which we was yellow carded. Alfredo Martinez’s ensuing right-footed penalty kick sent Connelly the wrong way and gave San Jose a 1-0 lead.
The Gold earned a few chances with minutes left in the half. Jones’ 45th minute header was easily saved by Arellano, and Sacramento went into halftime with a one-goal deficit.
The second half began with the Gold looking to quickly erase the difference. Ernesto Carranza sent a shot from the box wide right of the net in the 47th minute. Less than a minute later, Fonseca got another one-on-one on the left side. Fonseca’s shot was saved and corralled by Arellano.
The teams traded yellow cards until San Jose got another good chance in the 68th minute. Two Real attackers managed to split the Gold defense. However, Connelly again rose to the occasion to stop the attack.
In the 74th minute, Sacramento substitute Andrew Robles’ chance from outside the box went slightly over the bar.
With 15 minutes left to play, Carranza was hip-checked by San Jose’s Eric Bettencourt on the near sideline. The center official produced his red card, ending Bettencourt’s night early and sending San Jose down to 10 men for the remainder of the game. The Gold had seemingly got their break.
It turned out to be the exact opposite just two minutes later. With Sacramento’s numbers forward, San Jose was able to clear it out for a counter attack. The ball eventually found Luna, who went around the defense, chipped Connelly and doubled the San Jose lead at 2-0.
Now desperate for a response, the Gold attacked San Jose’s net furiously. In the 82nd minute, Danny Mititelu’s header clanked off the right of the crossbar. The ball found Zach Ulrich in the left of the box for a good chance. However, Ulrich’s shot was straight at Arellano, who made the save.
Despite chance after chance, the Gold could not convert for a goal. In the 94th minute, San Jose drove the final nail in the coffin. Another counter attack saw Luna again dribble to the left of the Gold goal. This time, he sent a ball across goal to a wide open Salifu Jatta, who slotted it home to make it a 3-0 final.
Real San Jose will now host the Sonoma County Sol on March 14. The winner will take on either CD Aguiluchos USA or the San Francisco Stompers to determine the NPSL Golden Gate Conference representative in the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Sacramento Gold FC will now have three weeks to prepare for the 2015 NPSL regular season. The Gold begins the schedule with a road contest against the San Francisco Stompers, with kickoff set for Saturday, March 28 at 7 p.m. at Lowell High School.