Not since 1997 had a team from San Francisco qualified for the annual Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, but that changed on Saturday when SF City FC beat Stanislaus United Academica 3-0 to capture the NorCal Premier League Championship and a berth in American's oldest soccer tournament.
SF City FC, a supporter-owned organization that was founded in 2014, hosted the match at Cox Stadium on the campus of San Francisco State under beautiful summer-like skies and in front of many ardent fans. The match was billed as a "win and you're in" contest for a U.S. Club Soccer qualifying spot in the 2015 U.S. Open Cup, and both sides seemed eager to capture that honor.
A scoreless game in the opening stanza soon turned in the home side's favor when forward Gabriel Silviera beat the defense to a through ball and deftly beat the Stanislaus goalkeeper in the 36th minute. Silviera, who last summer featured with the San Jose Earthquakes U-23 PDL squad in Turlock, scored again two minutes later to double the host's lead and deflate the opponents.
Halftime provided a welcome respite for Stanislaus, but the second half was played more to City's advantage, and the visitor's were never able to recover. Nearly twenty minutes into the half, Taylor Amman added a third goal for SF City, putting the game out of reach for Stanislaus United. The central valley side, which qualified for the U.S. Open Cup back in 2012, the first year a U.S. Club Soccer representative gained a berth in the now 102-year-old tournament, got more physical as the minutes ticked away, but they never really threatened to chip into City's three goal lead.
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With the championship, SF City FC has secured a place in the four-team qualifying round for the 2015 U.S. Open Cup. Expectations were that the club would be awarded a direct entry into the knockout rounds, but U.S. Soccer announced that SF City FC, the U.S. Club Soccer representative, along with the USSSA representative to be determined in March, will be paired against two geographically close USASA sides.
For the latest update on the Open Cup format and the path SF City FC will embark upon as it seeks the progress in the tournament, including their possible qualifying round opponent, check out the details here.