Soccer

San Francisco hits pay dirt, outlasts North Carolina 2-1

Posted May 6
Updated May 7

— At the height of the California Gold Rush, San Francisco grew from a sleepy settlement of 200 residents in 1846 to a city occupied by nearly 40,000 by 1852.

But the first gold rush in the United States actually occurred in North Carolina, nearly 50 years before gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill, when a 17-pound gold nugget was found in Cabarrus County. By the 1830s, North Carolina was home to roughly 56 mining operations and boom towns were established to support the thriving industry and its 25,000-plus workforce. A U.S. Mint was opened in Charlotte, and all the gold coins in the country were made from Tar Heel bullion.

It was prospectors from San Francisco who came to North Carolina and hit pay dirt Saturday in Cary as two set piece goals by the San Francisco Deltas proved the difference and the visitors overcame an 85th minute equalizer by Billy Schuler to defeat North Carolina FC, 2-1.

San Francisco found cord first when a Cristian Portilla corner kick in the 22nd minute skimmed the top of defender Reiner Ferreira’s dome, misdirecting the sphere past tardy goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre for a 1-0 lead. The goal snapped a 292-minute scoreless streak for the Deltas.

“On the first goal, we knew their service would be good,” said NCFC manager Colin Clarke. “It mostly comes from Portilla, who whips a good ball into a good area. Part of what we preach to our players is you have to be ball-side and goal-side.

"Someone makes a run and gets across, I think it was Bolu (Akinyode), and he’s there for a free header from two yards out.”

NCFC’s best chance of the first 45 minutes came moments before the halftime whistle, when a Tiyi Shipalane cross found Saeed Robinson far post. But Deltas’ goalkeeper Romuald Peiser kick-saved Robinson’s one-touch shot off the volley, one of three saves for Peiser on the opening half.

Midfielder Lance Laing, who has two goals and two assists on the young season for NCFC, began tonight’s match on the bench after missing training this week for the birth of his child. The home supporters chanted “We Want Lance!” by the 75th minute. Clarke obliged five minutes later, playing Laing as part of a double substitution that also saw the entry of forward Billy Schuler.

The home side found an equalizer in the 85th minute as Schuler bodied away Ferreira to gather a long ball over the top, then poked it past the goal line to knot the score at 1-1. It was Schuler's first goal in NASL play.

With the 4,525 fans in attendance began buzzing for three points, San Francisco retook the lead for good just two minutes later. A free kick by Portilla off the left wing found a leaping, unmarked Jackson, whose header was true for the 2-1 game-winner.

“We have good players attacking the 18-yard box who we always trust for those plays,” Portilla said. “We knew it was only a matter of putting a good ball in … We work a lot on set play situations during the week.”

“Someone lost his mark,” Clarke said. “That’s down to heart and desire. At that stage of the game, you have to do everything you can to keep it at 1-1. Someone falls asleep and doesn’t stay with their man, and consequently, 2-1.”

Deltas manager Marc Dos Santos said his team’s strategy was to remain compact in defense and look for their counterattacking and set piece opportunities.

“We know that to play on the road you need to have a certain identity,” Santos said. “If you press too many times in the wrong moments, you’re just going to slowly stretch your lines, and then you start getting tired.

"We just felt that the way you would get a result here is by being very smart tactically, very compact. Let their center backs have the ball, then wait for the right moments.”

North Carolina FC held 60-percent possession, but was outshot by the Deltas 16-13.

“We did create chances,” Clarke said. “This is the first game we’ve played [this season] in which we haven’t scored the first goal.

"The first goal is always important and gives you confidence.”

North Carolina FC (2-2-2, 8 pts.) stays home next Saturday, May 13 to host the Jacksonville Armada, which drew 1-1 tonight with the New York Cosmos.

BOX SCORE

LINEUPS
NCFC:
Sylvestre, Black, Tobin, Ibeagha, Miller, Akinyode, da Luz, Robinson (Schuler, 74’), Shipalane (Laing, 75’), Albadawi, Fondy
SFD: Peiser, Burke, Attakora, Teijsse, Ferreira, Gibson, Portilla, Bekker (Stephens, 77’), Cruz (Jackson, 59’), Sandoval, Dyego (Lubahn, 82’)

GOALS
​NCFC:
Schuler, 85’
SFD: Ferreira, 22’ (Portilla)

CAUTIONS
​NCFC:
---
SFD: Teijsse, 84’

EJECTIONS
​NCFC
: ---
SFD: ---

ATTENDANCE: 4,525

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