Sacramento Gold FC returns home on Sunday for a 3 p.m. contest. The Gold will be looking to rebound after suffering its first loss of the season. But it won't be easy.
The Gold will play host to a powerhouse from the Northwest Conference looking to establish itself against the Golden Gate's best. But just who are these guys looking to dethrone the defending West Region champs? In the latest edition of “Know Your Opponent” find out more about Sacramento’s newest opponent, Portland Spartans FC.
City: Portland, OR
Stadium: Delta Park
Owner: Gary Allen
Head Coach: Victor Usher-Garcette
Spartans Futbol Club was founded in 2012 and joined the NPSL in 2014. One of 31 teams to join the league last season, Portland is making strides to not only sticking around, but making an impact as well. The drive to compete and succeed comes from the top of their front office.
Owner Gary Allen knows what it takes to win in both the business world and on the track. Allen is both a seasoned business executive and a competitive cyclist, and looks to stretch his success onto the field. Head coach Victor Usher-Garcette is also a successful veteran, having played for Club Olimpia, the oldest and most successful professional soccer team in Paraguay.
Portland takes advantage of the city's proximity to the state of Washington. Though the team's name and home ground are based in the Rose City, its headquarters is located in Vancouver (not the Canada one). This allows the club to be in the mix for recruiting the top talent in two rival neighbor states.
Speaking of home ground, the Spartans are still breaking in their new turf at Delta Park. Having moved there after playing their inaugural season at Concordia University, Portland is enjoying their pristine field. Located just south of the natural border of the Columbia River, Delta Park takes advantage of both states' natural beauty while adding a touch of modern to the equation.
The Spartans' debut season in the NPSL was one to remember. The team tore through the Northwest Conference, not losing an entire game during the regular season and posting a 10-0-2 overall record. The final tally was 32 points, good enough for the number one seed in the West Region playoffs. Unfortunately for the Spartan faithful, their playoff run ended in the regional semifinals.
David Hernandez: The Spartan attack is spearheaded by David Hernandez. The midfielder finished in a three-way tie (along with Sacramento's own Jason Jones) for the NPSL Golden Boot last season with 13 goals. The Gold defense will have to be on its toes to contain Hernandez.
Roberto Farfan: Also dangerous is midfielder Roberto Farfan. Having played for both Oregon State University and the Portland Timbers U-23 squads, Farfan's talent and impact has already been noticable to local fans. Farfan, however, is still serving a suspension for a red card accumulated in the Spartans' last game.
Christian Desir: Another attacker to test the Gold defense will be Christian Desir. The Portland forward is leading the Spartans in goals this season and continues to be a menace toward defenses. Desir is also a local product, born and raised the Rose City before playing for Clark College.
Like the Gold, the Spartans quest for the U.S. Open Cup ended early, with Portland falling to local rival FC Tacoma 253 in the first game. Nevertheless, the Spartans regrouped and took care of business in the season opener. Portland took care of business early and often against Real San Jose, winning 4-0.
The Spartans split their April contest. Taking on the Bay Area in one weekend, Portland made quick work of the San Francisco Stompers 3-0. Their next game was a nightmare for the club, as they surrendered five unanswered goals in a 5-1 loss to CD Aguiluchos USA.
2015 Season Matchups:
Sunday, May 3: Portland @ Sacramento, 3 p.m., Capital Christian High School
Saturday, May 16: Sacramento @ Portland, 7 p.m., Delta Park
Three Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know:
The negativity after the team's loss to CD Aguiluchos didn't end after the game. An arguement between teammates led to a fight between Roberto Farfan and Jordan White. As a result, the two were each given red cards and three-game suspensions. They will miss both regular season matchups against Sacramento.
The Spartans will be well rested for their trip to Northern California. Portland has played only three games in the months of March and April, they will play in San Francisco the night before they take on the Gold. The Spartans' legs will be quite heavy at the end of the month, as May sees the team play a whopping six games, with three back-to-back sessions.
Sunday's game will be the first time Sacramento and Portland will face off on the soccer field. However, the two almost met in the playoffs last season. Though the two were the favorites to make it to the West Region finals, the Spartans were defeated by the Sonoma County Sol in the semifinals. The Gold would beat the Sol to win the West Region.
Credit for all above photos goes to Michelle Allen/Spartans FC.