Sacramento Gold FC reaches the midway point of the 2015 NPSL season tomorrow at 7 p.m. While the Gold hopes to carry positive momentum into the second half of the season, it will take a good effort against a dangerous opponent to do so.
Saturday's visitors are a hungry group looking to finally take the next step into the ranks of the West Region's elite. In the latest edition of "Know Your Opponent," learn more about CD Aguiluchos USA.
City: Oakland, CA
Stadium: Raimondi Park
President: Roger Amaya
Head Coach: Hugo Coria
Club Deportivo Aguiluchos USA was founded in 2012 as a tribute to C.D. Águila, one of the most successful clubs in the history of El Salvador soccer. Though the club is not affiliated with the Salvadoran club, it borrows its colors and plays off its moniker.
The pride of El Salvador flows deeply through the heart of Aguiluchos (quite literally, as the flag of El Salvador flies in the center of the club's crest). President Roger Amaya is the self-proclaimed No. 1 Águila fan, and his large ambitions for the club are reflected in the hiring of head coach Hugo Coria. The Argentinian led Águila to three league titles and twice served as manager of the club.
In addition to fielding a country-based brass, Aguiluchos serves as a community club for the many players of Salvadoran descent in Northern California. Its roots in the Bay Area (as well as ties to cities such as Los Angeles and Stockton) allow for access to communities with a high Salvadoran concentration.
Its Bay Area home turf allows for additional advantages. Raimondi Park is located just off the Bay in West Oakland, allowing for nice views and an easy access point from both sides of the Bay. It also creates the NPSL's own version of the Battle of the Bay with a rivalry against the San Francisco Stompers.
After a disappointing inaugural season in 2013, Aguiluchos made strides last year. The club claimed the Golden Gate Conference's spot in the 2014 U.S. Open Cup after winning the qualifying tournament. Aguiluchos would lose in the first round to PDL side Ventura County Fusion. The club is looking to qualify for the NPSL playoffs for the first time this season.
Ross Middlemiss: The biggest story of the offseason in the West Region was Sonoma County Sol star Ross Middlemiss departing the club for Aguiluchos. Middlemiss, the 2013 NPSL National Player of the Year and member of the 2013 NPSL Supporters XI, has a nose for goal which makes him one of the biggest threats on top in the country.
Simón Rawnsley: No one has lit the net up this season quite like Simón Rawnsley, who was named the NPSL Mitre National Player of the Week for his four-goal performance against Portland Spartans FC last month. Rawnsley currently leads the team with five goals.
Greivin Pacheco: Often overlooked by his two teammates, Greivin Pacheco nonetheless brings vital support up top. Combining with Middlemiss and Rawnsley, Pacheco caps off a lethal attacking front for Aguiluchos.
It has been an up-and-down season so far for Aguiluchos, but they seem to be picking up speed lately. After coming up short in a tough loss to Sonoma for the Golden Gate's bid for this year's Open Cup (and again in the season opener), Aguiluchos has won three of its last four games.
Those wins include notable results against the two Northwest Region teams. Rawnsley's four-goal effort led Aguiluchos to a dominant 5-1 road win over powerhouse Portland in April. The club's most recent game saw them cap a season sweep over FC Tacoma 253 with a 2-0 win.
2014 Season Results:
Saturday, March 29: Sacramento 4 @ Aguiluchos 1
Saturday, May 3: Aguilichos 0 @ Sacramento 2
Saturday, June 7: Sacramento 0 @ Aguiluchos 1
2015 Season Matchups:
Saturday, May 9: Aguiluchos @ Sacramento, 7 p.m., Capital Christian High School
Saturday, June 27: Sacramento @ Aguiluchos, 8 p.m., Raimondi Park
Three Things You (Probably) Didn't Know:
Aguiluchos pays tribute to C.D. Águila's orange and black colors in everything but the club's away uniforms, which are blue (Águila's is black). Those reflect the colors of the El Salvador flag and model the uniforms of the Salvadoran national team.
Though Aguiluchos has the Salvadoran player market nailed down, Sacramento goalkeeper Max Herrera is from El Salvador. Herrera, who recently played for Salvadoran club Nejapa FC, is expected to start and face a team chock-full of his fellow countrymen.
If a Latin American team sprouting a "sister" squad in the U.S. rings a bell, it's because of Chivas USA. The former Major League Soccer club is the biggest example of Latin American countries trying to get into the big leagues in the U.S. Like the former affiliate of Mexico's Chivas Guadalajara, Aguiluchos has MLS dreams. At the club's founding in 2012, Amaya said his goal is for the club to make it to the MLS, though that goal is still a ways away.