What was pegged as an international friendly turned out to be both feisty and festive as Monarcas Morelia beat Napa Valley 1839 FC on Sunday afternoon 2-0 at Memorial Stadium. The match turned out feisty due to multiple yellow cards being handed out to both teams and a red card towards the end of the game. It was also festive due to an estimated crowd of 2,000 enjoying a sunny afternoon of some very entertaining soccer filled with spectacular play, amazing saves, and world-class soccer.
The first five minutes was fast paced for 1839 as they tried to force the action early. The speed of Bryan Marin, Max Alvarez, and Andrew Carlile were clearly on display, but the final touch and finish was lacking due to the strength of the Monarcas backline. Once Monarcas settled down they began to show why they are the next players up for the Monarcas senior squad. They showed superior midfield play and creative attacking opportunities, missing on several clear opportunities in front of the goal. The 1839 defense tried to hold on strong with a couple massive saves by Javier Valdez. To make matters worse, 1839 fouled Monarcas in the penalty box forcing a penalty kick. Valdez saved the day again and the game was left tied 0-0 at halftime. Going into the locker room, 1839 must have felt somewhat fortunate.
The second half was more evenly matched as 1839 started penetrating on Monarcas’ left side. Multiple corner kicks were taken, but the organized Monarcas defense continued to close down the 1839 attack. Things started to get chippy as players exchanged yellow cards in the 54th minute, which prompted the PA announcer at Memorial Stadium to quip, “this is meant to be an international friendly.” As tempers continued to flare, 1839 fouled Monarcas 30 yards away from the goal. It was on this set piece where Monarcas drew first blood. A beautiful, curling ball was sent deep into the box, which was headed back into play for Claudio Zamudio to pounce on the ball in the 58th minute for the game’s first goal.
Towards the last 20 minutes Monarcas subbed in forward Julian Varela and the midfielder paid instant dividends by challenging the defense with his talented play, eventually setting up the second goal on a defensive breakdown by 1839. The feisty play resumed as 1839’s Juan Carlos Flores received a red card in the last 10 minutes. However, there was no give up in the 1839 players as Bryan Marin received a wonderful through ball inside the penalty area and the defender had no choice but to bring Marin down. Max Alvarez was ready to notch his first goal for 1839 but the keeper made a wonderful diving save to keep the clean sheet.
This Saturday, March 10, Napa Valley 1839 FC will host a double-header to open the regular season as Bill Dodd Stadium at Justin Siena High school. The first game features 1839 2nd team versus Contra Costa FC at 5:30 followed by 1839 FC hosting Academica of Turlock. $10 will get you in the gate for both games.