Sacramento Gold FC returns from its post-Northwest road trip bye week to begin a three-game home stand Saturday. The Gold needs a strong late push to guarantee a playoff spot, but none of the team's next three opponents will be easy.
Saturday's opponent may be sitting last after a slow start, but a recent upswing in form has them ready to play spoiler for teams in the postseason race. In the latest edition of "Know Your Opponent," learn more about the San Francisco Stompers.
City: San Francisco, CA
Stadium: Lowell HS/Boxer Stadium
General Manager: Will P. Forte
Head Coach: Martín Sierra Sr.
San Francisco Stompers FC was founded in 2012 as the newest chapter of a surprisingly rich soccer history in the Bay Area. In just a few short years, the Stompers have set up a fruitful and successful academy side, recruited the best and brightest local talent, and carved their own niche in a crowded city.
The local roots begin at the top of the tree. A Forte partnership between general manager William Forte, executive vice president Daniel Forte, and president Terry Forte has set the Stompers a solid foundation in which success is certain to eventually arrive. New head coach Martín Sierra Sr. is a product of the development, having previously served as coach of the U-23 Colts Soccer Academy, one of San Francisco's affiliates.
Even though their home is filled with legendary, historical, successful professional sports franchises, the Stompers have nonetheless managed to establish themselves in the City by the Bay. The club has grabbed the best local club and college players to add to their talent pool. They've played in historic venues across San Francisco and the surrounding area. They're also one half of the NPSL's own Battle of the Bay, along with Oakland's CD Aguiluchos USA.
Despite all the tools for success, it hasn't yet come to the Stompers. In their three previous years of NPSL play, San Francisco has yet to make the playoffs, qualify for a U.S. Open Cup, or even finish above fifth place in the conference. Even so, the Stompers know it's only a matter of time, and they're good enough to give anyone a game.
Khalid Arramdani: The 21-year-old Moroccan-born forward was the lone shining spot durring San Francisco's early slump and has been the centerpiece of their recent surge. Arramdani, who has a staggering 11 goals on the season, earned Player of the Week honors in Week 5 with two goals and an assist against FC Tacoma 253. It took him a mere 19 minutes to net a hat trick against Real San Jose in the Stompers' 4-0 win.
Isiah Castro: Regardless of team form, the Stompers know their goalkeeper will always keep them in the game. Castro has been solid betweent he pipes all season, posting a clean sheat against San Jose. The Gold attackers certainly know him well. Sacramento's 3-0 win could easily have been greater if not for Castro's efforts.
Jacob Talarman: The often overlooked forward has played a hand in San Francisco's recent success. After half a season of frustration, it was Talarman who put the nail in the coffin against San Jose with a quality strike. He's also able on defense. It was Talarman's goal line clearance that kept the Stompers alive against the Sonoma County Sol.
The Stompers' season certainly got off to a rough start. After being thumped 8-1 by Aguiluchos in Open Cup qualifying, San Francisco lost its first four regular season games -- at home against Sacramento and on the road against San Jose, Portland Spartans FC, and Tacoma -- by a combined 10 goals.
Despite the rough start, San Francisco has rebounded nicely. The Stompers got revenge on both Northwest opponents, winning back-to-back against Tacoma and Portland. After a tough defeat against Sonoma, San Francisco put forth their best effort of the season with a 4-0 thrashing of San Jose. The Stompers are coming off a 2-1 loss at Aguiluchos.
2014 Season Results:
Saturday, April 19: San Francisco 3 @ Sacramento 5
Saturday, May 24: Sacramento 1 @ San Francisco 0
Saturday, June 28: Sacramento 10 @ San Francisco 0
2015 Season Matchups:
Saturday, March 28: Sacramento 3 @ San Francisco 0
Saturday, May 30: San Francisco @ Sacramento, 7 p.m., Capital Christian HS
Three Things You (Probably) Didn't Know:
Before the 2015 season began, the Stompers were invited for a friendly against Major League Soccer (MLS) club San Jose Earthquakes. Playing in one of the first games ever held at the Earthquakes' new facility, Avaya Stadium, San Francsico was defeated by San Jose 4-1, though Arramdani did manage to keep the Stompers from being shut out.
Though this is only their fourth season in existence, the Stompers have called four different stadiums home. After starting at Pacifica's Terra Nova High School, San Francisco spent all of 2013 at Boxer Stadium. The team now splits between Boxer and Lowell High School Stadium in addition to playing a few games at the famous Kezar Stadium.
The Stompers' name is a homage to the former Oakland Stompers of the old North American Soccer League (NASL). Notable alumni include former United States national team member Mike Flater, former Liverpool player Alec Lindsay, former Bayern Munich player Karl-Heinz Mrosko, former Red Star Belgrade player Joe Raduka, and Andy Atuegbu, a two-time NCAA champion at the University of San Francisco.