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Monterey Bay F.C. 2 Grabs Advantage, Redlands FC Dazzles in Week 1 Storylines

By Staff, 05/13/24, 2:00PM EDT


Almaden FC, Hattiesburg FC and Des Moines Menace round out early headlines

A group of Monterey Bay F.C. players celebrates during a match

Our first major weekend of League Two action is behind us, and already we've got our share of twists and show-stopping performances in the opening days.

Read below for our weekly recap of the biggest stories and performances from around the league!

Almaden FC uses late blitz for statement win, Monterey Bay F.C. 2 earns key advantage

After a goalless first half, all looked relatively calm for San Francisco Glens as they were grinding out a tough, but professional, win against expansion side Almaden FC. They got their goal early in the second half, and were fighting to maintain.

In the 70th minute, all hell broke loose for the visitors. A goal by William Wiersdorf leveled the match, which would be punishment enough, except the hosts won the ball back and earned a free kick only about 90 seconds later. A sweet, curling far-post finish from Gilberto Rivera followed, and in the blink of an eye, Almaden was on the edge of a win in their first-ever League Two match.

It was an incredibly important result, not only for Almaden, but for the Glens as well. To go from three points to zero in the space of two minutes is a brutal event, and doubly worse when the opponent is one that didn’t previously challenge one of the division’s playoff spots last season.

Elsewhere in the division, Monterey Bay F.C. stamped their dominance in resounding fashion, putting six goals (from six different scorers!) past Academica SC in the club’s opening match. The match never looked in doubt – the hosts at Cardinale Stadium had a 3-0 lead in only half an hour of play, and both goals from Academica were responded to in six minutes or fewer.

The 2023 Nor Cal champions take an early lead on the division again, and with a match against SF Glens next week, have the chance to take a real stranglehold of the division before the calendar flips to June.

The Mid-South has contenders

With the departure of Texas United from League Two competition, the primary rival of Little Rock Rangers, and the consistent thorn in the club’s side last season, was gone. Little Rock returned several key players, as well as adding more talent, and it looked to be all set up for them to run away with the division from day one.

If expansion side Hattiesburg FC showed anything from Saturday, it was that they weren’t going to let the division go quietly into the night. Defender Salia Carr took everything Little Rock threw at him and sorted out the danger with aplomb. It allowed Leonel Toro to get forward and create problems out wide and in the midfield, as Carr ranged from the center of the pitch to the wide defensive areas throughout the match.

Hattiesburg didn’t come out of the match with anything, losing 1-0, and they’re certainly not going to be in the business of moral victories. But going to War Memorial Stadium and making sure Little Rock’s hands were completely full bodes well for the rest of Hattiesburg’s season. They’ll play again at War Memorial on June 8th, with the reverse fixture coming on the last day of the season in mid-July. This could evolve into one of the season’s great rivalries.

Redlands FC's historic thrashing of Southern California Eagles

Dating back to 2016, Southern California Eagles entered yesterday conceding no more than five goals in any match (twice to FC Golden State Force in 2017). Through 45 minutes on Saturday, Redlands had put four past them, and superstar winger Omar Yehya was on his way to a hat trick.

He’d complete the hat trick only 11 minutes into the second half, and Redlands FC put up eight goals before an answer from Kailend Terentieff in the 81st minute made it 8-1. Noah Lopez added a ninth goal five minutes later, and the damage was fully done.

It’s often hard to take sweeping conclusions from scorelines this lopsided. We can glean from this result, though, that Redlands have to be the favorites to repeat in the Southwest Division, and Yehya may well be the division’s best player. The Eagles have been in and around playoff contention the last two seasons, but with this start, it looks unlikely unless they can turn their performance around in a big way. The club has 13 more chances to accrue points, and they’re going to have to get in the way of either Redlands or Ventura to collect them.

Cracks in the Des Moines armor?

It would be foolish to ever spend significant time underestimating the Des Moines Menace. The five-time regular season champions and two-time playoff champions are one of the most decorated clubs in league history, and possess talent in spades.

They also, however, possess some uncertainty. First-time head coach Troy McKerrell had to settle for a draw against Peoria City, and it wasn’t necessarily a smash-and-grab draw by City. Luke Persenico showed his mettle throughout the game, defending and getting into good areas in attack. He was rewarded with the equalizing goal in the 53rd minute, which locked in the 1-1 scoreline that remained at the final whistle.

Valley Stadium is a difficult place to take points from – teams don’t usually do so. The Menace faithful will be optimistic that it’s only a blip, and a slow start, but a flat second half from the Menace cannot be repeated if the club hopes to maintain its top level aspirations.

As for Peoria City, it was a great result away from home. Opportunities existed to grab a win, but the players and coaches won’t be too bothered by that. Changes at halftime to suffocate the game worked to perfection, and they won’t have to see the Menace again until early July. A long way to go yet in the season, but that could be a match with the Heartland division on the line.

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