Los Angeles Soccer: Diego Turoldo
The game of the year for minor league soccer around these parts produced an unexpected result amid huge momentum swings and left one Southern California club joyous and another heartbroken.Tyler Coombes' 14th goal of the season lifted FC Santa Clarita, a first-year club born from the ruins of the Lancaster-based Rattlers, past the previously unbeaten San Diego Flash to claim the second Southern Conference berth for the National Premier Soccer League's Western Division playoffs.
Coombes (Palmdale/Palmdale HS and Cal State L.A.) scored twice as the Storm (8-3-3) posted a 4-3 victory Sunday at Canyon High School in Canyon Country, rallying for the winning goal in the 89th minute after the Flash (11-1-2) overcame a three-goal deficit. Sergio Valle Ortiz's second goal of the evening pulled San Diego just a minute before Coombes provided the victory.
The goal was a must -- a draw would have given the No. 2 spot to the Fullerton Rangers (8-4-2), whose 4-0 rout of San Diego Boca in Santa Ana, fueled on goals by brothers Andre and Diego Turoldo (both Torrance/North Torrance HS and Cal State Dominguez Hills), wrapped up about an hour before Coombes struck.
Martin Galvan scored the first goal and assisted two more for the Storm, who were up, 3-0, when Alex Harlley (Rosamond/Rosamond HS) tallied three minutes into the second half.
Santa Clarita will visit Hayward-based Bay Area Ambassadors (9-4-1), the Northern Conference champion for Saturday's Western semifinals. The Flash are home against Sonoma County Sol (7-3-4) in the other semi, and the winners will meet next week for a spot in the NPSL final four.
Fullerton looked likeliest to finish second after beating Santa Clarita, 3-0, on June 24, but it fell to third after a 5-1 loss to the Flash a week later.
It also was a big week for another So Cal side: Pali Blues claimed the W-League's Western Conference title. Another, Beach FC, failed in its bid for the Pacific-South crown in the Women's Premier Soccer League.
The Ventura County Fusion, who are headed to the Premier Development League playoffs for the fourth straight year, can claim the Southwest Division championship Wednesday.
Elsewhere in minor-league soccer:
The Fullerton Rangers won their qualifying final for a U.S. Open Cup berth, but it took a few days before they knew they were in the 64-team field.
The Rangers, who have joined the National Premier Soccer League for this season, were selected over the Bay Area Ambassadors for the fourth-division league's final automatic berth in the 99th edition of American soccer's oldest competition, Commissioner Dan Trainor confirmed Monday night.
Fullerton beat San Diego Boca, 3-2, on Friday night in San Diego, with Hope International University goalkeeper Jhovany Hernandez (Garden Grove/Huntington Beach HS and Cerritos College) converting a penalty kick three minutes into second-half stoppage for the winner. Former Cal State Dominguez Hills standout Julio Madrigal (Inglewood/Inglewood HS and L.A. Harbor College) was fouled to win the kick.
The Rangers scored on an own goal right after opening kickoff and were ahead, 2-0, after Cal State Dominguez Hills' Diego Turoldo (Torrance/North Torrance HS) tallied in the 10th minute. Boca had tied the score by the 50th minute.
The NPSL, a national semipro/amateur league, was granted 6.5 spots for this year's Open Cup, with 1.5 going to the West Division. The Bay Area Ambassadors, who beat 2010 NPSL champion Sacramento Gold on penalties after a 1-1 draw in Saturday's North Flight qualifying final, must beat a U.S. Club Soccer representative to reach the main competition. The opponent, date and locale for the playoff have not been announced. The first round of the Open Cup is slated for May 15.
Hollywood United FC is awaiting word on a National Premier Soccer League rival's appeal of sanctions for fielding an ineligible player to find out, for sure, that it is headed to the U.S. Open Cup.
The Hitmen are set to take one of four NPSL slots in the annual competition after the San Diego Flash, an ambitious club led by former English pro and current Fox Soccer analyst Warren Barton, forfeited two games for using an ineligible player, Englishman Lee Underwood.
Early-season games in the NPSL double as qualifiers for the Open Cup, which dates to 1914 and features clubs from all strata of American soccer -- amateur to Major League Soccer -- and the forfeits gave the Flash's berth to HUFC. First-round games are slated for June 14.
It's all pending appeal, but the Hitmen's record becomes 7-0-1 after a 3-1 loss to San Diego (now 5-2-0) in their opener was changed to a 3-0 victory. The winless Bay Area Ambassadors also picked up a win.
HUFC's five-game winning streak was stopped Saturday in a 1-1 draw with visiting Sacramento Gold.
Elsewhere in the NPSL:
- Santa Ana Winds (5-1-0) won their fifth in a row, beating San Diego Boca, 3-1, on goals by Chong Yong Park, Torrance's Diego Turoldo (North Torrance HS/Cal State Dominguez Hills) and Carlos Godinez. That puts them on top in the Southwest Flight, because, it turns out, Hollywood United is in the Northwest Flight. That's according to HUFC, who learned of it only on Monday. The Hitmen were listed in the Southwest on the league's website until last week.
- Thousand Oaks' FC Hasental (2-4-1) toppled Boca, 3-1, the day after a wild, 5-4 loss loss to Sonoma County Sol. Los Conejos let a 4-2 lead slip away in the last half-hour.
- Lancaster's Rattlers FC won its first NPSL game, winning, 2-1, at Real San Jose on an 82nd-minute goal by Roberto Mariscal (Palmdale/Palmdale HS). Miguel Guillen (Rosamond/Rosamond HS) also scored for the Snakes.
PDL: Defending Southwest Division champ Ventura County Fusion (3-0-1) grabbed first place with shutout victories over L.A. Blues 23 and Southern California Seahorses in the USL Premier Development League. Former UC Santa Barbara standout David Walker (Orange/Villa Park HS), a 2010 Houston Dynamo draft pick, scored and set up two more goals in Friday's 4-0 romp over the Blues, then assisted UCLA's Reed Williams (Newport Beach/Corona del Mar HS) to start Sunday's 2-0 win against the Seahorses.
Hollywood United FC has piled up 23 goals in its past four games, setting scoring standards that could make the Hitmen the class of the National Premier Soccer League's Western Division.
Only San Diego Flash -- not nearly as flashy but just as successful, perhaps more, than HUFC -- seems to stand between the revered L.A. side and the division title.
Hollywood United improved to 5-1-0 last weekend with a 5-3 romp over San Diego Boca as Cuban forward Jose Miranda netted a hat trick, the club's second in as many matches. Former Chivas USA winger Brent Whitfield (Long Beach/Poly HS and Cal State Fullerton) scored three in the 11-0 destruction of Real San Jose eight days earlier.
Rene Corona (Corona/Centennial HS and Santa Ana College) also tallied twice as HUFC remained ahead of the Flash (5-0-0) on goal difference -- it's plus-19 to plus-9 -- and impressive wins. HUFC crushed both of the divisions Northern California powers on a mid-April trek north; the Flash beat the Sonoma County Sol, 1-0, in San Diego last weekend.
The victory that matters most was the Flash's over HUFC, which took a first-half lead through Miranda but surrendered two second-half goals in a 3-1 decision.
Elsewhere in the NPSL:
- Santa Ana Winds (3-1-0) ran their winning streak to three games, beating Rattlers FC, 3-0, in Palmdale as Diego Turoldo (Torrance/North Torrance HS and Cal State Dominguez Hills) scored his third and fourth goals and Mike Piechota (Cal State Dominguez Hills) added a goal and an assist. The teams meet again Saturday in Santa Ana.
- Omar De La Piedra (L.A. Mission College) scored a big goal for the second straight week, lifting Thousand Oaks' FC Hasental (1-3-1) to a 2-2 draw with visiting Bay Area Ambassadors. Johnny Gonzalez netted his third goal for Los Conejos.
PREMIER DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE: UCLA sophomore Chandler Hoffman scored twice and assisted San Diego County high-schooler Adrian Avila's goal as Orange County Blue Star opened its Premier Development League campaign with a 4-0 romp over the L.A. Legends.
Hollywood United FC is finding that the National Premier Soccer League's Western Division not as tough as it hoped it would be.
The Hitmen, atop the Southwest Flight, hammered Real San Jose, 11-0, on Saturday night to improve to 4-1-0. The last three wins, all shutouts over Northwest Flight clubs, have been by an 18-0 margin. HUFC joined the NPSL, primarily for financial reasons, after playing several seasons in the rival Premier Development League, and club management cited the competitiveness of NPSL clubs when they announced the switch.
It's clear the divisional championship, barring something wholly unexpected, will be going to HUFC or the San Diego Flash, who are 4-0-0 after a 3-0 win over Bay Area Ambassadors up in Hayward. The Flash beat the Hitmen, 3-1, on April 9
Former Chivas USA winger Brent Whitfield (Long Beach/Long Beach Poly HS and Cal State Fullerton) had a hat trick after 34 minutes, and Jose Miranda and Andy Contreras pitched in with two goals apiece.
HASENTAL WINS: Thousand Oaks' FC Hasental claimed its first victory, spoiling Rattlers FC's NPSL debut with a 3-1 victory at Palmdale High School. Romanian forward Lucian Leu, Johnny Gonzalez and Omar De la Piedra (L.A. Mission College) scored for Hasental (1-3-0).
Santa Ana Winds (2-1-0) made it two in a row on the road with a 3-2 triumph at San Diego Boca on a last-minute strike by Diego Turoldo (Torrance/North Torrance HS and Cal State Dominguez Hills).
GRIFFIN STRIKES AGAIN: Max Griffin (Palmdale/Littlerock HS and UCLA) has two two-goal games in three games for Orlando City FC in the third-tier USL Pro. He netted a pair in a 2-2 draw Friday with Puerto Rico United and leads the third-tier league with four goals.