Not many at USF know we have a professional soccer team playing down the street from campus. This team, the San Francisco Deltas, received approval to build a squad and play at Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park at the end of October 2015. For such a new team, the Deltas have had a phenomenal season.
The Deltas have made the North American Soccer League Championship game in their inaugural season. Incredibly, the Deltas also finished 2nd in the standings in both the fall and spring sections of the season.
The Deltas started their season unbeaten, six draws and three wins — including a preseason 1-0 victory over the MLS’s San Jose Sharks, and a 0-0 draw against the Cal Golden Bears. One of the Deltas’ standout players is forward Tom Heinemann. Heinemann has previously played in Major League Soccer, both for the Columbus Crew and Vancouver Whitecaps FC since 2011. Heinemann has scored 11 total goals this season, nine in the NASL and two in the US Open Cup.
The Delta’s first loss of the season came against the New York Cosmos, who they would eventually play against at the NASL Championship game against last Sunday. These two teams faced off three more times throughout the season, two draws and a loss for the Deltas. These four match-ups throughout the season made the Championship game truly interesting.
The Deltas started off their post-season run against the oldest team in the NASL, North Carolina FC. Midfielder Tyler Gibson’s goal in the 40th minute was the difference maker and sent the Deltas into the Final.
Dusk fell over Kezar Stadium on Sunday night as the New York Cosmos and the San Francisco Deltas took to the pitch to decide who the best club in the NASL is. The game started scrappy, with fouls on both sides. The Deltas put pressure on the well-known Cosmos.
The Cosmos conceded a questionable penalty in the 18th minute. Cosmos’ goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer sprinted out towards the ball as it was deflected out of bounds by a fellow Cosmo. While sliding towards the ball, Maurer got a piece of Jackson. Tommy Heinemann stepped up, and drilled the ball up the middle as Maurer dives to his left, putting the Deltas up 1-0. The Cosmos did not disappear, and instead, increased their attack force trying to equalize.
In the early stages of the second half, the Cosmos lifted the ball, which was easily controlled by the Deltas’ goalkeeper Romuald Peiser. However, Peiser ran into a Cosmos attacker trying to get out of the way, and landed abruptly on his left hip. Each time the camera panned over Peiser, he looked like he was asking to be taken out. The Deltas did have two additional goalkeepers on the roster. However, only one was suited up for the game.
One of the Cosmos’ best chances to score in the game came in the 75th minute on a diving header that was misdirected across the frame of goal instead of going into the net. However, the shot went off a Deltas player and resulted in a corner kick. This corner was lofted towards the back post and almost deflected into the back of the net.
After the 80th minute, the Cosmos threw everything they had forward, staying with two center backs holding on the midfield line on free kicks and counter attacks. Nothing would fall into the Cosmos’ lap, like the penalty they committed did for the Deltas. Not only did the Deltas’ defense shut down the Cosmos’ attacks, the pitch was not in ideal conditions, with players slipping left and right while in attacking positions on both sides.
The Deltas’ countered the Cosmos throwing everything forward with a strong counterattack. Devon Sandoval received a pass around Maurer and dribbled the ball into the back of the net for their second goal of the game which secured the NASL Championship in their first season.This is huge for a team that didn’t exist two years ago.
Featured Photo: Kezar Stadium Opening Night for the San Francisco Deltas Nicki Dugan Pogue/Flickr