SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Opening matches don’t come any tougher than traveling to the defending league champions, and Real San Jose found this out the hard way, falling 2-1 to NPSL titleholders the Sacramento Knights, courtesy of second half goals by Patrick Nelle and Elliot Ricks-Chambers. RSJ’s lone tally was a strike from Ricardo Zarate in second half stoppage time.
The Knights opened the match laying siege to the Real goal, and only the heroics of goalkeeper Nico Arellano, and some wayward finishing from the Knights’ forward tandem of Anthony Chimienti and Jimmy Frazelle kept the first half scoreless. Arellano twice denied Chimienti in one-on-one situations, the first with the match just two minutes old. The second came in the 22nd minute after Frazelle had put Chimienti in the clear.
Meanwhile, Real’s offense found the going difficult, although forward Arturo Santana did break free in the 36th minute, with his shot stinging the palms of Sacramento keeper Mark Torguson. The half belonged to Sacramento however, and the half-time whistle came not a moment too soon.
Real head coach Arellano made several changes at half-time in order to stem the tide, reverting to a four-man backline, and the changes initially paid off with the visitors seeing more of the ball. But Sacramento’s introduction of Nelle had an even greater impact, and it was the substitute who finally provided the breakthrough in the 56th minute. Frazelle’s lofted ball found Nelle open on the right side of the box, and his rocket shot flew past the younger Arellano and just inside the far post for a 1-0 Sacramento lead.
Chimienti nearly doubled the home side’s advantage eight minutes later when midfielder Scott Lucky put him through on goal, but Arellano was on hand to save his shot at point blank range.
Real nearly tied the match in the 70th minute when Hector Gomez met Manny Avila’s cross with a looping header that forced Torguson into a full-stretch save. Richie Gharapetian also went close with a long-range effort two minutes later, but Torguson was equal to the task.
With Real beginning to pile on the pressure, Sacramento responded with a classic counterattacking goal in the 85th minute. Midfielder Pedro Luperico broke free down the right wing and picked out a wide open Ricks-Chambers in the penalty area, and the Sacramento forward made no mistake, depositing the ball past Arellano to make the score 2-0.
The insurance tally proved critical, as Real finally broke through deep into stoppage time. Gomez fed Zarate in the box, and the RSJ midfielder slotted the ball past Torguson to pull Real within a goal. But referee Jorge Magaña blew the whistle for full time shortly thereafter, and Real’s first NPSL match was in the books.
Real San Jose (0-1-0) vs. Sacramento Knights (1-0-1)
May 6, 2007 – Consumnes River College
SAC – Patrick Nelle (Jimmy Frazelle) 56
SAC – Elliot Ricks-Chambers (Pedro Luperico) 85
RSJ – Ricardo Zarate (Hector Gomez) 92+
Real San Jose – Nico Arellano; Matthew Morales (Manny Avila 8), Pedro Alaniz, Adrian Corder, Ricardo Zarate, Matthew Amaral; Ryan Villalpando (Richard Gharapeitian 45), Peter Lovell (Jose Flores 63), Adam Perez (Tulin Mendoza 45); Arturo Santana, Ricardo Moran (Hector Gomez 45)
Sacramento Knights – Mark Torguson; Jorge Lamba, Raymond Harris, Didi Cordova (Eliseo Lopez 45); Scott Lucky, Ozzie Perez (Donnie Ribaudo 45), Pedro Luperico, Matt Scammacca (Jeff Neuner 71), Chris Ciampa (Patrick Nelle 45, Nick Clark 86); Anthony Chimienti (Jorge Fernandez 63), Jimmy Frazelle
Total Shots: RSJ 9 (Hector Gomez 4); SAC 19 (Anthony Chimienti 5)
Shots on Goal: RSJ 6; SAC 11
Fouls: RSJ 10; SAC 10
Offsides: RSJ 6; SAC 5
Corner Kicks: RSJ 2; SAC 3
Saves: RSJ 9; SAC 5
RSJ – Ricardo Zarate (caution; hard foul) 40
Referee: Jorge Magaña
Referee’s assistants: Derek Francis, Julian Rodriguez
4th Official: Jim Sanderson