Every soccer team has injuries, but Napa Sporting SC’s growing list looks to be catching up with it.
Sporting fell out of a first-place tie in the United Premier Soccer League’s Wild West Conference with its first setback of the season, 5-3, to host Chico City Rangers FC on Saturday at Pleasant Valley High.
“We hope to get healthy as only 14 traveled from our 24-man roster,” Sporting head coach Bernie Ochoa said. “Injuries have hurt us, as we have not been able to field our starting unit since Game 1. But we’re managing, getting all our guys into the starting rotation.”
The scoring started in the 16th minute with a flurry of goals, three in three minutes.
Samer Elkadi gave Sporting (4-1-1) a brief 1-0 lead with an assist from Manny Cruz, but Chico (2-2-1) promptly tied it and took the lead, and then went up 3-1 in the 41st minute.
Sebastian Herrera, assisted by Chris Martinez, cut Sporting’s deficit to 3-2 by halftime with a goal in stoppage time.
The game’s last three goals came in rapid succession, too. Chico scored with 12 and eight minutes left, before Sporting’s Julio Leal Ruiz used an assist from Francisco Arreola to cap the scoring with seven minutes remaining.
“Like most games for us this year, we have struggled in the first half, hoping we could step up and make a comeback in second half,” Ochoa said. “We just couldn’t put things together and match Chico’s intensity.”
Chico recently lost 7-1 to a California Victory squad that Sporting tied 3-3.
“It was one of those games where we just didn’t show up ready to play, and shows you can be beaten any given day,” Ochoa said. “We stress to the guys every game, ‘You must be mentally, physically and tactically prepared.’ We now watch film, have a fitness day and tactical Thursday to prepare for our next match.”
Sporting was without Jesus Ochoa (shoulder), Eric Martinez (groin), Juan Chavez (ankle), Eddie Gutierrez (groin), Cesar Ramirez (knee), Luis Ochoa (knee), Saiaz Saenz (ankle), Jorge Martinez (elbow) and Sal Gomez, who plays for Sonoma State and had a spring soccer commitment.
Bernie Ochoa said Jorge Martinez is out for the season.
It won’t get any easier for Sporting this Saturday, when it visits the Western Nevada Coyotes FC for a 5 p.m. match at Golden Eagle Regional Park in Sparks, Nev.