Real San Jose was on the verge of making it a second fall season victory and third straight shutout on October 7 at PAL Stadium. Then came the 93rd minute. A short corner by San Leandro United was perfectly placed as was the resulting header that hit the back of the RSJ net. It was a frustrating end to a match that was clearly a tale of two halves.
The first half was dominated by RSJ who were unlucky to only net one, a 41st-minute goal by Akash Kothari. Kothari's goal demonstrated the talent the player has. He received the ball along the left wing rounded a defender by the end line, cut back toward the middle and slid the ball between the goalkeeper and the post.
Second-half action was dominated by San Leandro United as RSJ's midfield and front line seem to have lost all energy. Still, the defense held down by Nick Vargas, Danny Corral, and goalkeeper Jonathan Arellano kept a clean sheet. Despite the SLU pressure, it was RSJ that nearly sealed the win when substitute Jensen Escobar who shot over the top from close range.
Real San Jose's next home game is scheduled for November 3 against the Oakland Stompers. It is entirely possible that a makeup game versus San Ramon Dynamos will be scheduled before then. In addition, RSJ will travel to Oakland to face the Stompers in an Open Cup qualifying match on October 20.
Real San Jose earned a dramatic 1-0 victory over the Oakland Stompers on April 29 at Oakland's Raimondi Park. The match was an intense affair from start to finish and with everything on the line in the last minute of extra time it was goalkeeper Jonathan Arellano saving a penalty kick to secure San Jose's first victory of the 2018 UPS L Fall Season.
"To get a shutout on the road against the Stompers was huge for us. We did what we had to do to get three points in that situation. We knew it was going to be a tough game and we stepped up to the challenge," said Arellano.
Real San Jose's earlier big moment came in the 68th minute when Bader AlMustafa scored the game's only goal. Just three minutes earlier AlMustafa and Mike Tomsic came on as substitutes. Tomsic started the play by dispossessing a Stompers player in midfield. He then pushed forward and played the ball to the right to Akash Kothari. Kothari continued forward and then deftly put the ball over the Stomper's goalkeeper into the path of the hard-charging AlMustafa to head into an empty net.
"I saw AK had the ball on the wing, I took the defender on the inside. When he came close to me I sprinted in the box and screamed for the ball. AK played the ball that was rather hard to miss then hard to score," explained AlMustafa. "Very happy to score my first goal for the club. We got three crucial away points which is the most important thing right now."
This result is the second shutout for Real San Jose in two games this season, and in both of those, they finish the game with only ten men on the field. As the Stompers pushed forward, midfielder Naveed Ettefagh was whistled for his second yellow card in the 85th minute. Oakland pressed hard forcing Arellano to make to big-time saves before getting the penalty kick opportunity. The penalty call came when the ball crashed against the arm of Tomsic and some called for a penalty while others claimed the arm was against the body. The referee pointed to the spot.
RSJ is 1W-1T-0L after two games and returns to PAL Stadium on October 7 for 4 PM kickoff against San Leandro United.
Real San Jose opened the 2018 UPSL Fall season with a goalless draw against JASA on April 16 at PAL Stadium.
"Difficult home opener against last years conference finalist. A game where we stood defensively very well. The whole team stood strong and acted as one block. Danny Corral set the tone very early in the game with a tackle that showed that the team came to fight. I am very pleased with the result seeing where we are in the process. We had some breaks that we need to finish better. We had chances and JASA had chances, overall I believe that a draw was the natural outcome. This game was a great start in the season and I hope we can pick up where we left next game," said RSJ Coach Markus Kothner.
To say that Corral had an impact in his RSJ debut is an understatement because when he went off injured with ten minutes remaining JASA found their best chances to score. Then another injury, this time an Eddie Guerro hamstring, caused RSJ to play a man short for the final few minutes. But in the end, the RSJ defense led by Corral's center back partner Nick Vargas and goalkeeper Jonathan Arellano held on to earn a difficult point.
Luis Avalos captained RSJ and turned in an expressive performance in midfield.
Jonathan Arellano had a successful return to the RSJ lineup since being injured midway through the spring season by recording the shutout.
Defender Justin Fathali and defensive midfielder Daveed Ettefagh both played a Leigh High School and made their RSJ debuts against JASA. Both turned in strong defensive performances in the shutout.
RSJ gets a week off before returning to UPSL action on September 29th when they travel to play the Oakland Stompers.