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San Diego Boca FC Host U.S. Open Cup Match
San Diego Boca FC Host U.S. Open Cup Match | San Diego Boca FC, NPSL, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup

SD Boca FC goalkeeper Steve Gonzalez in action in 2011

Soccer News: San Diego Boca FC Prepare for 2012 NPSL Season


San Diego Boca FC, one of two National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) teams in San Diego, will prepare for the 2012 season with a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Qualifying match against fellow West-South Conference club Phoenix Monsoon on Saturday, March 24, at Balboa Stadium. The game was originally scheduled to be played on St. Patrick’s Day, but the heavy storm that hit the area over the weekend resulted in the change of date. The meeting will be the first between the two teams, as Phoenix begin their first season in the league.

“We are excited to get this season out the door as it’s been a busy off season,” said San Diego Boca FC’s President and General Manager Yan Skwara. “The U.S. Open Cup Qualifier this weekend against Phoenix certainly gets things moving quickly, as we are basically looking at this match as a must win.”

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is the world’s oldest ongoing soccer competition, having been run 98 times since it was first held as the National Challenge Cup in 1913-1914. It is a single-elimination tournament which includes U.S.-based teams in men’s Division I, II and III professional leagues. This year 32 professional teams from MLS, NASL and USL PRO will join 32  amateur teams (including NPSL, USL PDL and US Club Soccer) in the largest field ever in the modern era.

Boca spent the off season rebuilding from 2011, making several coaching and personnel changes. Karim Ben Mazouk has been brought in as head coach, replacing Papo Santos who left during the last season. The Moroccan-born Mazouk has over 30 years of experience coaching from the youth through high school, collegiate and professional levels. Backing up Mazouk on the sidelines will be new assistant coach Miguel Garcia, who spent time in goal with Necaxa and the San Diego Sockers in the 1980s.

Returning from the 2011 squad will be forward Juan “Kichi” Perez, defender Jared Kikura and veteran goalkeeper Steve Gonzalez. “This is going to be a tough season, as is every season,” said Skwara, “but we feel we are prepared. We have worked hard during the off-season keeping the players that we wanted from last year’s squad along with identifying and adding the new talent that is necessary to make this a winning season.”

Among the new talent that will join the team are two young athletes from Switzerland, midfielder Mustafa Samatar and forward Gabriel Buckson. The two arrived in San Diego over the winter and have been training regularly with the squad. Skwara expects both to make an immediate impact on the pitch.

“I think our fans will enjoy the goal scoring punch that Gabriel brings to the table,” Skwara said, “as he has great speed and very good technique with the ball not to mention a great shot which every good forward possesses. Mustafa on the other hand brings a work ethic into the midfield that is very solid and consistent and he knows how to break down plays and start a new attack.”

Samatar will face competition for playing time in a crowded midfield from three-year Boca veteran Andreas “Apache” Canizales, South African Adam Meltz, a crop of San Diego natives, and other playmakers. They will be feeding Buckson, Perez, and San Diegan Alfredo Rodriguez on the forward line.

Fronting Gonzalez along the back line with Kikura will be newly-signed defenders Jamel Wallace and Jordon Grider and San Diego State University graduate Zach Luzczynski. The defense will be augmented by Mexican defender Bernardo Fernardo, Brent Zuniga and John Cardona.

“Our coaches and players are prepared and committed for the season,” promised Skwara, “as we have high expectations of ourselves. Playing an attractive brand of winning fútbol that our Boca fans can enjoy is our objective this season and I like our chances.”

Boca look to improve on their 6-1-7 record in 2011 as they battle Phoenix, SD Flash, Fullerton Rangers, FC Santa Clarita and FC Hasental for the conference title. The winner of the Boca-Monsoon match will face 2011 West-South Conference winner SD Flash in a second round of U.S. Open Cup qualifying.

Related Articles: San Diego Boca FC on SoccerNation

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