It was a balanced team effort from Sacramento Gold FC Saturday, with three goals from three players and a sturdy defensive performance across the board in a 3-0 win over a shorthanded Real San Jose at Capital Christian High School.
Erick Vega and Alex Bettencourt scored early for Sacramento, while Chimdum Mez added a third for insurance in the second half. Goalkeeper John Connolly (and substitute Andres Olmedo) pitched the Gold’s second shutout of the season, with help from the efforts of Man of the Match Zach Ulrich and the rest of the defense.
The first time these two teams met this season, the Gold could not put one by San Jose goalkeeper Jonathan Arellano over 90+ minutes. This time it took until the 13th minute after Sacramento earned a corner kick. The kick sailed over to the left side of the box, where Vega and a San Jose defender were waiting. Both jumped for a header, sending the ball straight back into the air. Vega recovered first, taking the ball, turning towards goal, and firing a shot into the right corner of the net to make it 1-0.
Sacramento doubled its lead just ten minutes later. The Gold offense wound its way through the San Jose defense with the ball eventually finding Jose Martinez on the right side of the box. Martinez turned and found Bettencourt, who was left alone in the middle. Bettencourt made no mistake, putting the ball by Arellano for his first Gold goal and a 2-0 lead.
The next goal didn’t come for another half of game time, but when it did, it was another first for a Gold newcomer. After Cesar Mendoza was brought down about 35 yards from goal, Sacramento was awarded a free kick. Off the set piece, Mez leapt up and got his head on the ball, sending it over the outstretched arm of Arellano and into the left of the net for a 3-0 advantage.
The Gold’s first goal almost came from a corner kick ten minutes before the eventual opening score.
Three minutes into the game, Danny Lomeli plated a short corner to Andrew Robles, who sent it back to a now open Lomeli. However, Lomeli’s shot was about a foot higher than the crossbar.
San Jose nearly leveled the game moments after Sacramento took the lead. In the 14th minute, Heriberto Guerrero made a run up the middle before crossing over the Gold defense on the left side. Connolly came out to contest the shot, diving down, claiming the ball, and ending the threat.
In response, Sacramento got the next two good chances. In the 16th minute, Vega sent in a cross from the left side. The ball floated to the middle, where Sammy Gonzales one-timed it over the bar. One minute later, Martinez made a nifty move to get by his defender on the right. However, his cross across goal was about a second too soon for a sliding Bettencourt. The two would connect six minutes later. In the 35th minute, San Jose got another chance which seemed a carbon copy of their 14th minute effort.
This time, it was Juan Carlos Leal who got by the Gold defense on the left side. Again, Connolly was called upon to come up with a big save. Again, Connolly was up to the task.
Gonzalez almost helped Sacramento get its third goal twice before the end of the half. In the 39th minute, Gonzalez whipped a free kick into the box, where Bettencourt sent a header just above the crossbar. Two minutes later, Gonzalez got the ball about 25 yards from goal. Gonzalez smacked a strong shot at goal, and only a push from Arellano kept the ball out of the net.
Gonzalez was also involved in the first good chance of the second half. It was a Gonzalez cross which Martinez headed towards goal. However, Arellano managed to get a hand to it. The rebound bounced to Mez, whose header was also saved by Arellano.
The series of saves seemed to give a boost to San Jose’s offense. After narrowly heading a corner kick wide left in the 49th minute, Francisco Camacho ripped a 25-yard shot towards goal in the 53rd. Connolly, however, was able to make the save. Five minutes afterwards, a cross freed up Guerrero on the left post. Once again, Connolly was able to dive wide and swipe the ball away.
In the 67th minute, it was again Guerrero who got free on the left side. This time, he was able to fight off the defense and center the ball to Javier Hernandez at the top of the box. Hernandez ripped a shot towards goal, though it ended up sailing wide right.
After Mez stopped the momentum with Sacramento’s third goal, he was a foot away from giving the Gold a fourth. In the 83rd minute, Mez was played towards goal alone on the right side. Mez ripped a goal-bound shot which Arellano managed to get his trailing foot to, preventing it from going in the net. In the 89th minute, San Jose came inches from finally breaking through the Gold defense. A short corner ended with Jose Avalos alone on the right side of the box. Avalos fired a shot which seemed destined for the right corner of the net. However, the recently subbed on Olmedo dove in time to deflect the shot away. The rebound fell to San Jose, though Cesar Sosa slid and blocked the following shot. That rebound fell to another attacker, though the third shot was wide right. The Gold defense was able to see out the rest of the game.
Sacramento will now head back on the road for their first match of the season against the East Bay Stompers. The kickoff is set for 5 pm on Saturday, April 23 at CSU East Bay’s Pioneer Stadium.