One of the most storied teams in American soccer came to town Saturday, but the big story was the night being dedicated to ending the cycle of gun violence in this country.
Before its National Premier Soccer League Members Cup contest against the New York Cosmos at Justin-Siena’s Dodd Stadium, Napa Valley 1839 FC sold soccer jerseys emblazoned with the slogan #ENOUGH, with all proceeds going to the Alaina’s Voice Foundation.
According to 1839 FC owner Arik Housley, whose daughter Alaina was a victim of gun violence mass murders in 2018 at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, the jerseys have a list of every city that has had a mass shooting since January 1, 2017, when Napa Valley 1839 FC was founded.
“There are also 15 names on the jerseys, including the 12 victims of Borderline, where Alaina lost her life along with 11 others,” he said. “There are all also the names of the three people killed at the Veterans Home (of California on March 9, 2018), because we felt those 15 had a special connection with the Napa Valley.”
Napa sporting goods store The Coliseum donated $19,040 from proceeds of jersey sales to the charity.
Napa Valley 1839 FC players wore the black jerseys as they took on the Cosmos, a team for which soccer legend Pelé once played and is often credited with introducing the U.S to soccer.
New York displayed a level of skill and confidence not often seen in these parts in a 7-0 win over 1839 FC.
“They didn’t miss a shot until there was 10 minutes left in the half. Their first five opportunities they turned into goals,” noted 1839 FC head coach Rogelio Ochoa. “We had a couple of opportunities, and we could have put them in. We did a good job protecting the ball, even in the first half, we didn’t look uncomfortable and got out of tight situations.”
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Even so, there was no denying the Cosmos had the better of the play all evening.
In the ninth minute, Ali Hassan chipped in a pass from Giuseppe Barone for a 1-0 lead. Just four minutes later, a left-footed blast from David Diosa beat Napa goalie Andres Delgadillo and make it 2-0.
The sides traded blows for the next few minutes, before Cosmos midfielder Efran Burgos scored a hat trick inside of 10 minutes to send the visitors into the locker room with a 5-0 lead.
In the second half, Kevin Venegas sent a rocket off the left post into the Napa goal in the 73rd minute before Aaron Dennis capped the scoring four minutes later.
Despite the lopsided score, Ochoa was not ashamed of his team’s showing.
“I’m proud of the way we played, but they really capitalized on their opportunities – it seems like every single one,” the coach said. “I felt like we stepped up and stayed with them, but it was the little things. If we play like this next weekend, we’ll get a much better result.”
Still this night was about more than soccer, and at the end of the day “Alaina’s Voice” was the big winner.
Napa Valley (1-8) has been outscored 29-2 this Members Cup campaign, which it will wrap up at 7 p.m. this Saturday by hosting Michigan Stars FC (2-6-1) at Dodd Stadium. The Stars won the first meeting, 2-0, in Detroit.