Real San Jose opened their 10th NPSL season home schedule in their new venue at PAL Stadium Saturday night in front of an enthusiastic crowd. The home side entered the match with a 1-1-0 record, sitting on top of the Golden Gate Conference standings with four points. For the Stompers it was their 2016 NPSL season opener and their first-ever match as part of their new East Bay FC branding.
The first half was eventful with a lot of back and forth action between both clubs. The Stompers were in Real San Jose’s half of the field for the first 15 minutes of the match, but were unable to create any chances. This was to the credit of San Jose’s stingy defense led by goalkeeper Jonathan Arellano.
A strong defensive effort should have been no surprise as San Jose had conceded just one goal in their first two previous contests.
Midway through the first half Real started to develop an attack of their own with strikers Jose Avalos and Danny Martinez creating multiple chances. The Stompers defense of Prince Bere, Luigi Castillo, Brian Gomez, Emanuel Vasquez, and Alex Valdavinos were equally up to the task, denying opportunity after opportunity.
The first half showed a slew of cards being shown to RSJ players as three yellows and a red were issued.
The second half started with the Stompers (now with a man advantage) controlling a majority of the possession. Great midfield play led to multiple attacks on goal. In the 51st minute the man advantage paid off as former RSJ standout Jesse Kehoe slotted Stompers strikers Khalid Arramdani, who finished a 1 v 1 opportunity to put East Bay out in front 1-0.
Stompers newcomer Jorge Salazar placed a beautiful corner kick that met the head of captain Tommy Rodda, who got all of the ball to tally his first-ever NPSL goal and put EBFC up 2-0 just eight minutes later.
“I am really excited to become a Stompers player and I hope to have a good season,” Salazar commented. “My personal expectations for this season are as every player to give all for the team and help the Stompers go as far as possible. As a team I have a lot of expectations because we have a very strong team.”
East Bay controlled the majority of the second half, but RSJ did not go quietly as they were able to create chances despite being a man down. A genuine team effort, led by goalkeepers Jose Majano (who came on at halftime) and Valdavinos, helped the Stompers put up a clean sheet and start the season on a positive note.
Arturo Gomez earned Man of the Match honors for his ability to control the flow and possession of the ball in the midfield, an honor which Kehoe could have equally shared.
“The boys worked hard during preseason and executed,” East Bay FC Stompers head coach Martin Sierra concluded. “A win well deserved. RSJ has a great group. I expect big things from them this season.”