(June 22, 2009) The playoff picture in the National Premier Soccer League Western Conference just got clearer over the weekend. In short, Real San Jose is tied with Salinas Samba for the 4th and final spot in the four-team playoff. As a result, this coming weekend could very well determine RSJ’s postseason position if any. This all came about over the last weekend when RSJ fought back to gain a tie against the Samba and the Samba upsetting Bay Area Ambassadors the next day. Should RSJ make the playoffs, the dramatic comeback of June 21 could be the reason. While playing a man-down San Jose forced an away draw against the Samba.
“We were confident that we would win the match, but then injury and sickness to two key players, a hard Watsonville wind, and a poor first half display forced us to battle back and be happy with a draw. It was exciting, and I think the final match between Salinas and us will be the same way. It is safe to say that the playoffs have already begun as we each have three games remaining. We could be looking back at this game as either a huge result or a disappointing draw,” said RSJ manager Nick Arellano.
Salinas started the match with a strong wind at their back and took a 1-0 lead into halftime. The goal came on a 20-yard shot that literally blew past RSJ Nico Arellano, who was making his first appearance in goal this season. RSJ, as has been the case all season, had spells of good ball control, but the final touches were of enough quality to generate any goals.
The second half saw RSJ with the advantage provided by mother nature. That advantage was dropping by the minute as the evening sun moved behind the mountains and out of site. Still, the dramatics were about to start. First, midway through the second half, RSJ defender Kemo Djedovic literally turned a yellow into a red card. Second, Nico Arellano moved to striker and was replaced by his younger brother Jonathan in goal. Third, Nico scored a minute later. And finally, Jonathan (RSJ’s regular starting keeping in 2009) saved the day by making four outstanding saves to preserve the tie.
RSJ and Salinas have played twice this season with both matches ending in a 1-1 draw. Both teams play games on Saturday and then meet a final time in a match that will most likely determine the fourth and last playoff team.
On June 18, RSJ defeated the Seleccion de Asociacion de Futbol de San Jose in the first ever competition played between the two organizations. The hero was also Nico Arellano, who is just now showing signs that he is recovering from a bad ACL tear that has slowed him down last season.
Regulation ended 2-2, and that meant kicks would decide the match from the spot. Nico came up big in penalties. He made three saves and was RSJ’s sixth shooter. In that fateful round, Nico scored his spot kick and saved the final Asociacion shot to award his club with the trophy.