(Photo by Vanessa S. Nelson)
SAN LEANDRO, Calif. – Timely offense and strong defense helped Sacramento Gold FC hand CD Aguiluchos USA its first loss of the season with a 3-1 effort Sunday at San Leandro.
Danny Cuevas and the Gonzalez brothers – Sammy and Nico – led the way for Sacramento on the attacking end, while Gold goalkeeper John Connolly and the rest of the defense kept CDA’s high-powered offense limited for most of the match.
Offense was expected to be a major factor between these two squads. In seven of the past eight games, no less than four goals had been scored between Sacramento and CDA each match, with the majority of them (including four of the last five) saw at least seven balls go in the back of the net. However, the most recent result was shockingly low scoring, with the two splitting a 1-1 draw (the only game Aguiluchos had not won going into Sunday). As it turned out, this clash would follow the original attacking trend.
With temperatures reaching triple digits, both offenses were hot to begin the game. Possession changed hands many times, as both teams raced down the field. However, only a few semi-serious chances came of it. That is, until the 28th minute, when Cuevas and Sammy Gonzalez linked up to break the deadlock and give the Gold a 1-0 lead.
At the end of the half, the temperature on the field boiled over after a stretch of physical play. The Aguiluchos’ Jesus Maldonado was hit with a red card for violent conduct, leaving Sacramento with both a one-goal and one-man advantage at the break.
The Gold kept turning up the heat in the second half, until a six-minute stretch put the game out of reach. In the 63rd minute, Cuevas doubled Sacramento’s lead. Then, in the 69th minute, after a Gold player was brought down in the box, Nico Gonzalez converted from the spot to make it 3-0.
Simon Rawnsley was able to get one back for the hosts in the 82nd minute. However, the end result would remain the same.
The three points – arguably the biggest of the season for the Gold – increase Sacramento’s lead over both the East Bay Stompers and Sonoma County Sol for the second (and final) playoff berth in the Golden Gate Conference. The Gold has 16 points, while the Stompers (one game in hand) have 11 and the Sol (two games in hand) have 10. East Bay and Sonoma will face each other next, with the result setting up the potential playoff scenario for all three teams.
When Sacramento Gold FC does return, it will be at home for the 2017 NPSL regular season finale against the Stompers, with postseason chances on the line. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 1 at Capital Christian High School.