This weekend’s opponent needs no introduction for Sacramento Gold FC fans. Saturday will see the latest edition of the NPSL’s biggest West rivalry, and this one has major implications.
Sacramento needs a strong finish to the season to secure a playoff berth, and arguably its toughest opponent is up next. In the latest edition of “Know Your Opponent,” learn more about the rival Sonoma County Sol.
City: Rohnert Park, CA
Stadium: Rancho Cotate HS
President: Greg Volker
Head Coach: Vincent Cortezzo
Sonoma County Sol is the oldest club in the Golden Gate Conference and the longest tenured member of the NPSL in the West Region. Founded in 2004, the Sol first played in the Men's Professional Soccer League (MPSL). When the MPSL folded and was replaced by the NPSL, Sonoma became one of the league's 14 founding deams.
There are plenty of reasons Sonoma has become a long-standing soccer power at a level where many teams fold after only a few seasons. Steady leadership at the top is one of them. President Greg Volker brings many years of success in the business world to his club, with the Sol reflecting his consistency and stability. Head coach Vincent Cortezzo took over in 2012 after several years of winning trophies with Casa Grande High School's girls soccer team. He hasn't stopped winning trophies with the Sol.
Cortezzo is just one of the local soccer power people working to keep the Sol shining. The Sol shares a close relationship with Sonoma State University, with many former Seawolves suiting up for the local NPSL squad. The club called Sonoma State's Seawolf Stadium home for a year before moving to Rancho Cotate High School in 2012.
Sonoma has become one of the few NPSL clubs to always be a favorite for the championship each year. The Sol has reached three NPSL championship games, winning the title in 2009. They've reached the playoffs each of the past three seasons, as well as six of the last eight. Their captain won league MVP in 2013. They've made it to five U.S. Open Cups. They'd be the undisputed kings of Northern California if not for the state's capitol.
After battling with the Gold's predecessor, Sonoma found an arch rival in the Sacramento Gold right from Sacramento's first season in 2010. Sacramento won the NPSL title in 2010, and the Gold and Sol have battled for supremacy ever sicne. In 2013, the Sol topped the Gold in the West Region Final. Last season, Sacramento returned the favor, winning the West Region crown over Sonoma.
Omar Nuno: A local product all the way from club and high school ball, Nuno has burst onto the scene in the Sol's offense. The forward is among the team leaders in goals in an attack stacked with talent. He announced his arrival to the big show in the Sol's second round game in the U.S. Open Cup, scoring two goals against Sacramento Republic FC in a 4-2 loss.
Chris Daly: Though his older brother, Mickey, has left for the greener pastures of the USL, Daly has kept Sonoma's midfield rolling. Perhaps the most well-rounded player on the Sol roster, Daly provides a dangerous second wave of attack behind Sonoma's talented forward line. He also plays excellent defense and will play a crucial part in Sonoma's answer to Sacramento's attack.
Tyler Hurst: Entering his eighth season with the Sol, Hurst is continuing to prove his worth amidst a team of skilled players. Hurst leads the team in goals this season, utilizing his experience to move intelligently off the ball. Hurst also has his brother, Trevor, to help him out on the offensive side of the field.
The Sol once again reached the U.S. Open Cup, winning the preseason qualifying tournament by beating Real San Jose and CD Aguiluchos USA. After beating Aguiluchos again to open the season, Sonoma was defeated by Sacramento at home.
Sonoma responded by going on a midseason roll, winning five straight games, including a 7-1 win over San Jose and a sweep of back-to-back games on their Northwest Road trip against Portland Spartans FC and FC Tacoma 253. Their run left them atop the Golden Gate Conference with 18 points.
Fatigue eventually caught up to the Sol. In their Open Cup game, they held their own for a lot of the time, but were eventually outclassed the Republic. Sonoma then saw its NPSL winning streak snapped with a crushing 5-1 loss to San Jose.
2014 Season Results:
Saturday, March 22: Sonoma 3 @ Sacramento 3
Saturday, April 26: Sacramento 0 @ Sonoma 1
Saturday, May 31: Sonoma 1 @ Sacramento 0
Saturday, July 19: Sonoma 0 @ Sacramento 2
2015 Season Matchups:
Saturday, April 4: Sacramento 3 @ Sonoma 1
Saturday, June 6: Sonoma @ Sacramento, 7 p.m., Capital Christian HS
Three Things You (Probably) Didn't Know:
Sacramento’s top soccer team features a former member of the Sol as an anchor of its defensive line. Mickey Daly, who helped lead Sonoma to the 2009 title, scored four goals (including April’s USL Goal of the Month) and recorded two assists last season for Sacramento Republic FC. Daly, along with former Gold players Dominik Jakubek and Max Alvarez, played integral roles during the Republic’s run to the 2014 USL Championship.
The Sol has made five appearances in the U.S. Open Cup (2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2015). Their most successful try came in 2009, when they defeated Orange County Blue Star in the first round. In the second round, they were defeated by the Portland Timbers, who had yet to be promoted to the MLS. Sonoma played the Timbers again in 2010, losing in the first round. In the 2013 Open Cup, Sacramento would lose to Portland’s U-23 squad in its only Open Cup appearance.
From 2004-2010, the Sol played at Santa Rosa High School’s Nevers Field. The field is named after alumnus Ernie Nevers, a member of both the College and Pro Football Hall of Fame. Nevers played for the Duluth Eskimos and Chicago Cardinals, scoring 40 points in one game in 1929 (still an NFL record). Nevers also played for the St. Louis Browns (now Baltimore Orioles) and served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II.
Photo credit (descending): Sonoma County Sol, Ruben Dominguez, Sacramento Republic FC.