Photos By Vanessa S. Nelson.
Three Sacramento Gold FC players -- midfielder Danny Cuevas, forward Matt Wiesenfarth, and defender Selvin Bonilla -- were named among the Best XI in the NPSL's Golden Gate Conference by Midfield Press.
The honors cap stellar seasons for the trio. Cuevas was the engine that powered the Gold offense all season long, having finished as one of a handful of Golden Gate players to play in all 12 regular season matches. He finished with six goals (the most of any midfielder in the conference) and dished out plenty of assists as well. Cuevas was named Sacramento's Man of the Match three times, tied for the most by one player all season. In addition to the Best XI honor, Cuevas was also named the Midfield Press 2017 Golden Gate Conference Player of the Year.
Not to be outdone, Wiesenfarth was also named the Gold's Man of the Match three times. He finished the year with nine goals, the second-highest total in the conference and the fourth most in the entire West Region. The Best XI honor is the latest in a series of accolades bestowed upon Wiesenfarth this season, having been named the Mitre NPSL Player of the Week for his first half hat trick against the rival Sonoma County Sol in April and included in the Football Manager NPSL Team of the Week for another hat trick against Napa Valley 1839 in June.
Perhaps the biggest (and most underrated) success Sacramento had this season was its improvement on defense, with Bonilla as one of its main anchors. The Gold defense only gave up 18 goals during conference play (fewer than any other Golden Gate team) and produced four shutouts (more than any other Golden Gate team. Bonilla's steady presence on the back line was a key factor in that defensive prowess. Sacramento gave up more than three goals in only one game, in which Bonilla did not play. He also earned a Man of the Match honor this season.
In addition, three other Gold players -- goalkeeper John Connolly, defender Zach Ulrich, and midfielder Danny Lomeli -- were named to Midfield Press' Second Team Best XI for the Golden Gate Conference. Connolly was a brick wall between the posts, claiming two clean sheets on the season and keeping more than enough shots out. Ulrich was another anchor on the stellar Gold defensive line, blocking more shots than most could count. Lomeli continued his improvement as an offensive threat, while scoring perhaps Sacramento's goal of the season with a long, nifty chip against the East Bay Stompers in April. Both Connolly and Ulrich were also Golden Gate honorable mentions last season.
Midfield Press is an independent website focused on American minor league soccer (including the USL, NASL, NPSL, PDL, UPSL, ASL, and PLA), as well as the top women's (NWSL) and indoor (MASL) leagues in the country. It is also one of the few media outlets to provide consistent coverage of the NPSL Golden Gate Conference.
The full Best XI roster and more information about the selections can be found here.