San Diego is set to host the National Premier Soccer League West Region Final this Saturday at 7pm at Mission Bay High School. It will feature a historic powerhouse in Sonoma County Sol, a team that will be advancing to its 5th Regional Final. It will also feature Albion SC Pros, the undefeated expansion team that has made waves nationally for their results on and off the pitch. Albion Pros have brought a degree of professionalism and dedication in Southern California in a short period of time, unseen before at this level. It’s a Battle for the Best in the West between the traditional powerhouse and the undefeated startup with something to prove on the national level.
Last week, Albion Pros provided some exhilarating action in San Diego as they defeated OSA FC (Seattle, WA) by a score line of 2 – 1. Ultimately it came down to the heroics of experienced midfielder Raymundo Reza to blast a first time volley from 30 yards out into the bottom corner in the 86th minute. (HIGHLIGHTS) Matt Clare had opened the scoring in the 5th minute after finding some space from a Tre Hayes through ball. Left Winger David Coly momentarily pegged one back from the visitors from the penalty spot early in the second half, but Reza had the last word.
In Northern California, Sonoma County Sol FC confidently dispatched North County Battalion by a scoreline of 3-0 to end the Battalion’s expansion season. Sonoma Sol’s Diego Lopez proved to be Man of the Match with his two goal performance (56’, 58’). Taylor Varnadore had opened the scoring for Sonoma County after a good interchange of three passes then curling his effort under the cross bar for the first goal of the game. Now both teams look to find their top form for Saturday’s West Region Matchup. Albion Pros look to keep their quest for a National Championship dream alive. Sonoma County also looks to continue their season, like they have done many times in the past.
Here are the 3 Things to look out for as Albion Pros host Sonoma County Sol:
- Albion Pros Forwards
Matt Clare has continued his red-hot form with another goal last week, continuing his streak of six straight games with at least one goal. Forward Tre Hayes has contributed to the attack in the form of good hold up play and causing problems for opposing team’s central defenders. Hayes had an assist and earned a penalty last week for the Pros. Can Clare continue his goal scoring hot streak and can Hayes find the back of the net himself? Strike Partner David Luquen has come up big in important matches so far this season. He will also look to create dangerous chances and put one into the back of the net.
- Midfield Shuffle
Raymundo Reza rightfully earned the adulation last week for his Man of the Match performance and his game-winning thunderbolt volley. Can he provide the moment of magic again this week? Felipe Liborio continues to lead the energy and pace from the midfield position. You know that he will be everywhere on the field, raising the level and being a headache for Sonoma Sol to guard. Finally, Homegrown talent Luis Cardona returns to the lineup after a week out with a head injury. He will provide the passion, grit and set piece deliveries for Albion Pros.
- Jean Antoine and Albion Pros defense
The West Region’s best goalkeeper, and possibly the nations, again proved to be a star man for Albion Pros last week. He was brave on crosses and had some vital stops to maintain Albion’s score advantage. Sonoma County Sol is an attacking juggernaut having scored 40 goals this season so Antoine will probably be busy once again. However, the Albion Pros defense has been strong all season and will be well organized to prevent Sol from being comfortable in attack. Centerback Ricky McKenzie will lead the defense with his no-nonsense style of play and ability to keep the rest of his defenders organized.