BURLINGAME, Calif. -- If there is one thing that Bay Area sports fan enjoy more than anything, it's watching their teams compete in the playoff. Following their 4-0 victory over the Las Vegas Mobsters, the Burlingame Dragons FC have secured a postseason berth in the USL PDL playoffs, rewarding their supporters for the second straight season.
The Dragons, an amateur team that serves as the U-23 affiliate of the San Jose Earthquakes, was founded in 2015 and plays on the campus of Burlingame High School in the stadium known affectionately as "The Dragon's Lair." With a roster comprised primarily of local college soccer standouts, the club also features players that have come through the Quakes youth academy system.
On Sunday afternoon, in front of a crowd of 3,024 on hand for the Burlingame's last home game of the season, the Dragons (7-4-2) put on a clinic against the visiting Mobsters. Goals from Jamael Cox and Corey Baird in the first half were followed up by insurance strikes by Khalid Arramdani and Luis Hernandez late in the game, and goalkeeper Nico Corti earned a comfortable clean sheet.
"I'm proud of the guys for having that drive and focus to take care of business today," said head coach Eric Bucchere to Center Line Soccer following the win, "and to do so against a team that did not have a lot to play for. It can often be tough to crack a team like that."
Las Vegas (3-7-3) had played the day before, against San Francisco City FC at Kezar Stadium, dropping a tough 2-1 contest. The Mobsters only dressed 12 players on Sunday to face the Dragons, making it tough to match up against the hosts, and the 4-0 loss, which sends the Dragons into the postseason, officially eliminated them from playoff contention.
"We've got our standard and we wanted to live up to it," said Bucchere. "We knew we controlled our destiny, so we tried to go out there and play at the level we are used to."
In seven home games, Burlingame has outscored its opponents 15 to 9, including a 5-3 goal-fest against LA Laguna to open their home schedule, and the Dragons have only been shutout once all season. The attack minded philosophy of the club was a big reason the Dragons were such a strong draw for local soccer fans, and the 4-0 home finale thrashing of the Mobsters was especially entertaining.
The Dragons also played earlier this weekend, facing up against the Central Pacific division leaders Fresno Fuego on Friday night at the Dragon's Lair. Goals from Arramdani and David Musovski completed a 2-1 comeback after the Fuego had scored early. The Dragons first playoff game will likely be against the Fuego on Tuesday, July 19, in Fresno, with the winner being crowned Central Pacific division champions and moving on to the Western Conference final four.
"It's been a good ride so far, and we want to keep it going a little longer," said Bucchere.
The Dragons have one more game to take care of on their regular season schedule, a visit to SF City FC on Friday, before their playoff odyssey can begin. With Musovski and Cox leading the way on offense, and Earthquakes academy graduates Josh Morton and Nick Lima anchoring the defense, Burlingame's chances to improve on last year's division championship with a run through the conference final four look promising.
"We feel really good," said Bucchere. "I think the team is playing at the best level they have competed at all year. They've trained hard, we have a deep roster, and they are healthy. There's going to be some tough competition to make the playoff roster of 18, as it should be."
Burlingame has already faced the Fuego three times this year, so the foes will not be strangers in their playoff match up. In the Dragons season opener on the road, they secured a 1-0 victory, but a month later dropped a tough 2-1 game in Fresno to even the season series. Last Friday's win over the Fuego in Burlingame pushed the Dragons further up the division table, but not enough to avoid a playoff game at Chukchansi Park next week. Still the team is looking forward to playing their division rival, no matter the venue.
"The season has been really good, and now we have more chances to play," said Bucchere. The guys are very happy to be continuing the season and getting to play in more meaningful games. I'm really happy for the guys to get that opportunity."
The USL PDL playoff match against the Fuego is expected to be streamed live. Information for viewers will be released later in the week at www.burlingamedragons.com