By: Thomas Viola
04/17/2017 2:38 AM
Sacramento — It was a long trip for the East Bay FC Stompers from Hayward to play Sacramento Gold FC on Saturday night, the longest of their regular-season schedule. But for the Stompers, the game itself might have felt even longer.
The Stompers fell 3-0 to the Gold in Massie Stadium on a night marred by a rough performance between the goalposts as well as deficiencies in the attack. It was the first time East Bay FC had been shut out in a match since falling 2-0 to CD Aguiluchos USA on June 18.
East Bay FC (0-1-3) was put on the defensive early in the game and found itself trailing 1-0 after just 15 minutes, when defender Diego Garcia sent a high back pass to goalkeeper Victor Meraz. Meraz tried to control the ball, but instead it danced away from him, allowing nearby Gold attacker Matthew Wiesenfarth to steal it and walk it into the net for his first of two goals on the evening.
The Stompers continued to fight, pushing aggressively toward the Sacramento goal, but things got even more challenging in the 42nd minute when Meraz was sent off after charging too far out of the 18-yard box to stop a breakaway. Meraz dove to the ground and tipped the ball away from the attacker, but that forced the referee to immediately halt play and produce the red card. That brought the Stompers down to ten men and brought goalkeeper Jose Majano off the bench for the second half.
The teams went into halftime with the score 1-0 in favor of the Gold. Stompers head coach Martin Sierra said he reminded his team that they were not out of the match yet.
The Stompers weathered a relentless Sacramento attack for the first 15 minutes of the second half, but Wiesenfarth broke through again in the 63rd minute, receiving a pass in front of goal that he one-timed past Majano to put the Gold (2-0-2) up 2-0.
Two goals and a man down, the deficit was too great for the Stompers to overcome despite solid stretches of possession and attack. In the 83rd minute, Daniel Lomeli launched a strike from 30 yards away that sailed over Majano’s head and into the goal to seal the victory for the Gold.
After the game, Sierra lamented the team’s struggle with injuries. Striker Khalid Arramdani and midfielder Prince Bere — the latter a goal-scorer in East Bay FC's 3-3 tie with Napa Valley 1839 FC the week before — were sidelined for the game, and the Stompers' attack suffered.
“We are four games in, and we have yet to play our starting eleven,” said Sierra. “We have the Aguiluchos next week, and then a two-week break, so I’m hoping that in those two weeks we can get everyone healthy.”
Despite only having one point in the standings after four games, the head coach remained positive about the team’s chances at a playoff run as well.
“We have seven games left," he said. "That is plenty to make a playoff run.”
The Stompers return to Pioneer Stadium on Sunday evening with a tall order in hand against CD Aguiluchos USA, which defeated Sonoma County Sol 3-2 on Saturday with a hat trick from reigning NPSL Golden Boot co-winner Simon Rawnsley. The Aguiluchos have yet to drop a point this season, boasting a perfect 4-0-0 record.
Photos: Donnie Graham/East Bay FC