NAPA, Calif. – A chance for redemption was denied at the death, as Sacramento Gold FC sees a point slip away in a 1-0 loss to Napa Valley 1839 Saturday at Dodd Stadium.
The hosts were called for a penalty in stoppage time, but Steven Wright’s effort was saved by a great play from Napa goalkeeper Javier Valdez-Raya, adding more heartbreak to an increasingly frustrating season for Sacramento.
After some initial pressure from the Gold in the first few minutes, Napa began to slowly gain more control of the game. However, the first close chance came from the visitors. In the 25th minute, Danny Mititelu stole the ball just beyond midfield and hit Matt Wiesenfarth for a breakaway. Wiesenfarth tried to chip Valdez-Raya, but the ball went off the crossbar and out of bounds.
Just two minutes later, it was Sacramento goalkeeper Hector Grajeda who would have to come up big. After Napa earned a free kick, Francisco Mendoza fired a wicked shot that seemed destined for the right of the goal. However, Grajeda dove to his left and made a fantastic save to deny the hosts.
At the half hour mark, Lukas Schubert leapt in front of a Sacramento defensive pass and sprinted up the field for a breakaway. Schubert sent a cross to the middle of the box, where Mendoza ran on to it and sent a blast just wide right of the goal.
Napa did eventually get on the scoreboard, but the goal didn’t come from a home player. Mendoza got a breakaway and both Wright and Grajeda went to deny them. The shot went off Wright’s leg and deflected in, putting the hosts up just before halftime.
The home squad had a great chance to double their lead in the 56th minute thanks to an absolute rocket of a shot from Mendoza. However, Dominik Jakubek got in the way of the ball, sending it out of the box.
Then, Sacramento began to turn up the heat. In the 62nd minute, Solomi Olajide played a nice ball to Danny Cuevas in the left side of the box. Only a sliding Valdez-Raya was able to deny the goal.
Napa came inches from making it 2-0 in the 69th minute when Schubert got free and played a great ball to Mendoza. Just before Mendoza got a shot off, Nico Gonzalez slid in the way and did enough to knock the ball away from danger.
On the very next chance, Sacramento nearly tied the game three different times. A shot by Jose Martinez hit the post, then Cuevas nearly headed the bouncing ball in, then both Cuevas and Sammy Gonzalez almost fired home rebound after rebound. But, when the dust settled, it was still 1-0.
The score remained the same through stoppage time. On the Gold’s last chance of the match – a free kick just to the right of the box – the referee called a penalty kick after Wright was dragged down in the box. Wright went to take the penalty, tie the score, and redeem himself from his own goal at the end of the first half. However, Valdez-Raya’s great play was the final nail in the coffin for the Gold.
Sacramento will be back on the road next week, this time in Oakland to face CD Aguiluchos USA. Kickoff is set for Saturday, May 19 at 7 p.m. at Raimondi Park.