CD Aguiluchos USA played host to the April 30th NPSL National Game of the Week at Burrell Field in San Leandro, California. NPSL newcomer Napa Valley 1839 FC traveled south to play the undefeated Golden Gate Conference leaders. This was the second meeting ever between the two clubs. The first one ended 2-1 in favor of the Aguiluchos in Napa Valley’s inaugural game.
The match got off to a quick start as the visitors took the lead inside the first two minutes of the game. Gabriel Borges opened up the scoring as he found himself unmarked at the back post to fire Napa into the lead.
A few hard fouls from both sides early on slowed the game down just a bit before the Aguiluchos found the equalizer on a free kick in the 13th minute. Defender Jose Cabeza played a perfect ball into the box that found Ahmad Hatifie’s head for the equalizer to pull the score back to level at one goal apiece.
For the next 30 minutes, the Conference leaders, CD Aguiluchos, dominated the majority of the chances and the possession. Napa Valley had to play with nearly all 11 men behind the ball and inside their own half, looking only for counter attack chances.
The Aguiluchos’ possession dominance eventually led to a second goal and the lead, as Adan Martinez’s cross found the head of the birthday boy, Selaad Ghafouri.
Ghafouri headed home from close range to make the score 2-1 with five minutes left to play in the half.
The half didn’t finish exactly as the Aguiluchos would have liked. Their first goal scorer of the day was sent off by a straight red card in the 44th minute for a reckless challenge, as the half time whistle approached. The half ended 2-1, but the Aguiluchos would have to play the remainder of the match with only ten men.
The second half got underway as Napa tried to take the game to the Aguiluchos, as they now had the man advantage. However, they found it difficult to break down the Aguiluchos defense to create any dangerous goal scoring chances. The heat also began to slow the game down quite a bit, as both sides began to look fatigued.
The Aguiluchos played patiently and looked to strike on the counter attack with long balls over the top to lone striker, Simon Rawnsley. This eventually worked when Leopoldo Morales played a great ball to Rawnsley in the 65th minute. Rawnsley shrugged off the challenge from the Napa defender and fired a rocket into the back of the net to give the Aguiluchos an insurance goal and bring the score to 3-1. This was the two-time defending NPSL Golden Boot winner’s seventh goal of the season in just six matches. He has scored in every game so far this season.
Napa continued to push the game, but they eventually began to tire and opened up in the back. The Aguiluchos got a few more chances for a fourth goal, with the best one coming in the 90th minute when Morales took on the shot instead of playing in Rawnsley alongside him. This forced a big save from Napa keeper Javier Valdez-Raya.
The game ended 3-1 with the result that the Aguiluchos have taken a commanding ten-point lead in the conference standings at the halfway point. They have collected the maximum 18 points from six games.