The Bay Area's super soccer weekend continued on Saturday, one night after the sold-out 2016 Copa America Centenario tournament opener at Levi's Stadium, as the Burlingame Dragons FC outlasted L.A. Laguna in an entertaining 5-3 goal-fest at the Dragons' Lair.
The visitors struck first via an outstanding free kick goal, but two goals from both Jamael Cox and Danny Musovski gave the Dragons a commanding 4-1 halftime lead, and the San Jose Earthquakes U-23 affiliate weathered a Laguna comeback attempt to win their USL PDL season home opener 5-3 in front of over 3000 enthusiastic supporters.
Burlingame, the defending PDL Southwest Division Champions, had opened their 2016 season with six straight road games, compiling a 2-3-1 record and 7 points in that span, but had not won in four games. The match against L.A. Laguna marked the first of five straight home games for the Dragons at Burlingame High School Stadium. In all, the Dragons will play 7 of their last 8 games to end the regular season at the Dragons' Lair.
As fans were filling in the shady side of the stadium Saturday afternoon, the Dragons were already imposing their will on their opponent. Burlingame had faced L.A. Laguna in game two of the season and secured an impressive 4-0 victory on the road. However, the bright start was erased when L.A.'s Emmanuel Escobar cracked a perfect free kick into the upper 90 to give the visitors a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute.
The Dragons never dropped their heads, and on the ensuing kick-off raced down the field to equalize. Cox, the team's leading scorer this season, split the defense and calming slotted the ball through the goalkeeper to make the score 1-1 in the 19th minute. The crowd roared to life, and the momentum of the match turned irrevocably to the Dragons.
Musovski was next on the scoresheet, as the UNLV standout -- PDL players are typically pulled from the collegiate ranks to build team rosters -- slammed home a pass in the box to give their Dragons a lead they would not surrender. Musovski, whose name was not even in the game program, had finished classes earlier in the week and had only arrived in Burlingame the night before.
A scary moment came minutes later as former Earthquakes Academy standout and current Stanford Men's Soccer midfielder Amir Bashti was fouled hard outside the Laguna penalty area. Bashti bore the brunt of the collision with his face, and he exited the field on his own accord, holding his nose in the process.
The Dragons were fired up following the collision, and in short order score goal number three when Cox laced a perfect free kick past the L.A. 'keeper in the 39th minute.
Musovski closed out the first-half scoring binge with a clever finish on an assist by Cox. With two goals in 45 minutes, the Runnin' Rebel was subbed out at halftime after a very successful Dragons debut.
The second half was as exciting as the first, as both the Dragons and L.A. played end-to-end soccer. Burlingame goalkeeper Nico Corti was kept busy by the visitors, conceding a goal in the 51st minute that gave Laguna hope. However, substitute forward Khalid Arramdani's well taken breakaway effort put the game out of reach for L.A., and the Dragons cruised to an important victory.
Burlingame, with 10 points halfway through their USL PDL regular season schedule, moved into a tie for second place in the Southwest Division with the win. With 6 or their remaining 7 games at home to close out the season, the Dragons will look to make up for lost ground and earn the division crown for the second straight year. The Dragons return to action this Friday night at 7:00 p.m. against the BYU Cougars at Burlingame Stadium.