SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Two first half goals from Cuco Martinez powered Sacramento Gold FC to three valuable points in a 3-1 win over Real San Jose Saturday at Capital Christian High School.
Jason Jones tallied his first goal since returning from a two-month injury layoff to clinch the win for Sacramento. Angel Heredia netted San Jose’s lone goal from the penalty spot.
Martinez broke the ice in the 26th minute. A long pass from Erick Vega set Martinez up on the left side of San Jose’s box. Martinez’s shot curled past the outstretched fingers of Real goalkeeper Jonathan Arellano and into the right side of the net to put Sacramento up 1-0.
The Gold struck again ten minutes later. This time, it was Josue Araiza who set up Martinez with a nifty back heel to the half circle. Martinez’s shot took a deflection which fooled Arellano and doubled Sacramento’s lead to 2-0.
The game got a bit closer in the 75th minute when Sacramento was called for a handball in the box. Heredia was able to send Gold goalkeeper John Connolly the wrong way and half the deficit to 2-1.
Jones clinched the win for Sacramento just five minutes later. Johnny Muresan’s run up the left line freed Jones at the top of the box. Jones took the pass and fired a cracking shot by Arellano restore the Gold’s two-goal lead at 3-1.
Jones nearly put Sacramento on the board in the tenth minute. Nate Nugen made a run up the left and found Jones wide open in the center of the box. However, Jones mishit the ball over the crossbar. Six minutes later, Nugen used his head to find Jones again, though his shot was saved by Arellano.
In the 23rd minute, Araiza sent the ball across to Martinez on the left side. Martinez, on the left side of the box, sent his shot curling wide of the goal. Martinez would make good on his next chance from the left side three minutes later.
Both teams spent a few minutes trading back-to-back chances just after the half hour mark. In the 33rd, Araiza got onto a cross in the box, but his shot was over the crossbar. In the next minute, Luis Avalos headed it to Jose Avalos in the center, though his shot went over the bar as well. The Gold nearly scored a minute later after Araiza centered a perfect ball to Martinez. However, his shot was accidentally blocked by Jones in the box.
After his goal in the 36th, Martinez was forced into action on defense a minute later. Off a corner kick, San Jose got possession of the ball in the left corner of the inner box. The shot bounced by Connolly, but Martinez was in position to make goal line clearance, which kept Sacramento’s lead at two goals heading into halftime.
The first good chance of the second half came in the 52nd minute from Nugen, who managed to dribble through several defenders in the box. After making several moves, Nugen was eventually outnumbered by the San Jose defense, who blocked his shot on goal.
Jake Wiffen came inches from bringing San Jose halfway back in the 58th minute with a curling shot from the left side of the box. The shot curled by Connolly, but ricocheted off the post and out of bounds.
Wiffen also set up San Jose’s next chance, finding Jose Avalos wide open on the left side in the 72nd minute. With a clear run at goal, Avalos’ run was timed perfectly by Connolly, who dove to collect the ball before Avalos could get a shot off.
Both teams had good chances to add to the scoreboard in the final ten minutes. In the 83rd minute, Wiffen launched a shot from distance that just sailed over the crossbar. Five minutes later, Padge McCullough was able to get a head to a cross in the San Jose box. While Arellano was able to make the save, Sacramento was still able to hand on for the win.
While Real San Jose was eliminated from playoff contention with the loss, Sacramento still has a chance to clinch a postseason berth. Though it needs a bit of help to make it, the Gold can put itself in the best position to win by taking care of business in the regular season finale.
Sacramento ends the 2015 NPSL regular season with a road contest against CD Aguiluchos USA in which three points could prove essential for postseason play. The action gets started on Saturday, June 27 at 8 p.m. at Raimondi Park.
LINEUPS/SUBSTITUTIONS: Sacramento Gold FC: G John Connolly, D Zach Ulrich, Danny Lomeli (Edric Soltero 46’), Erick Vega, Danny Mititelu, M Andrew Robles, Fernando Cabadas (Eliot Chambers 64’), Cuco Martinez (Ali Radmand 83’), Josue Araiza (Johnny Muresan 55’), F Nate Nugen (Gabe Padilla 63’), Jason Jones (Padge McCullough 83’)
Real San Jose: GK Jonathan Arellano, D Joseph Kay, Cesar Rodriguez, Giovanni Troini, Nick Vargas, M Noah Pederson (Baris Demirlioglu 83’), Jake Wiffen, Angel Heredia, Salifu Jatta (Luis Avalos 26’) F Jose Avalos, Anthony Velasquez