It’s one of the biggest matches in the three-year history of Napa Valley 1839 FC, a local men’s amateur soccer team.
On Sunday, March 24, head coach Rogelio Ochoa leads Napa Valley 1839 FC into an international friendly against Chivas de Guadalajara Reserves at 4 p.m. at Justin-Siena High School’s Dodd Stadium. Gates open at 2 p.m.
It’s the under-20 Chivas de Guadalajara Reserves team from Mexico that Napa Valley 1839 FC will face.
“It’s an international game against a top-quality team, arguably one of the best U20 teams,” said Ochoa. “It’s going to be great for our community. It’s going to be great for our soccer community. It will be great exposure for our soccer players and our local talent.
“It’s exciting for the boys, as they will get to see what this level is literally about.”
Chivas de Guadalajara Reserves, a professional team, has a match on Friday against Arizona FC at Mesa High School.
“Just to witness and see these players that are young and have experience at the highest level, it’s just mind blowing,” said Ochoa, who is also the men’s soccer coach at Napa Valley College. “You can tell they’re prepared, they’re ready. They’re very young, but they are really trying to reach their dreams and establish themselves in the professional field.
“It’s what we want our boys to get to.”
Napa Valley 1839 FC plays in the West Region of the National Premier Soccer League’s Golden Gate Conference. The conference includes Academica SC of Turlock, East Bay FC Stompers of Oakland, El Farolito of San Francisco, FC Davis, Sacramento Gold FC, San Ramon FC and Sonoma County Sol FC.
The NPSL is a member of the United States Adult Soccer Association and is affiliated with the United States Soccer Federation, according to npsl.com.
Napa Valley 1839 FC won its season opener, 2-0 over Academica in Turlock on March 9.
“It wasn’t the prettiest, but considering all of the circumstances – the conditions, weather, it was raining, it was on a grass field – we got a good, positive result,” said Ochoa. “We started off the right way.”
Alan Castillo and Adrian Calderon each scored one goal for Napa in the match.
Ochoa takes over for Jesus Medina, Napa Valley’s coach for its first two seasons. Medina was released as coach and is an honorary founder of the organization, said Arik Housley, one of the team’s owners.
“It’s definitely an honor to be able to be the head coach for this club,” said Ochoa, a former Napa High head coach for boys soccer. “The club is heading in the right direction. There is a lot of hunger, a lot of desire from the club to do well.
“Our goal is to really get a good core of guys and keep them hungry, keep them motivated, to be able to win the league, if not at least get into playoffs. The goal this year is to do the best that we possibly can. Our main goal is to win our league and to perform well and to shock the league, more than anything.”
Napa Valley 1839 FC is led by Max Alvarez, Francisco Mendoza and Victor Calderon.
Also on the team are Keagan Angevin, George Binda, Cesar Castillo, Robert Doeland, Salvador Gomez-Avila, Nomialay Hashim, Sebastian Herrera, Jorge Lualua, Miles Montgomery, Mike Muniz, Luis Ochoa Martinez, Arturo Ortega, Andres Prieto, Marco Reyes Gomez, Gary Tovar, Javier Valdez-Raya, Osvaldo Velazquez Vazquez, Alejandro Villalpando and Jonathan Villeda.
Tryouts were held earlier in the year for the team, which will play 10 matches during the NPSL season.
“We have the talent, the depth, the desire, the hunger,” said Ochoa, who teaches Spanish at Napa High. “We have the support from ownership, management. I think we’re going to do well.
“We’ve been training well. We’ve had solid training. We’re doing well so far. Obviously there’s a lot of room for improvement. We’re trying to become the best team we can. We have to take it one game at a time.”
Mendoza, a forward, was named to the 2018 National Premier Soccer League Golden Gate Conference Best XI, as announced by midfieldpress.com, a soccer website.
Mendoza is on the second team.
Omar Nuno, a forward for Sonoma County Sol, was named as the Conference Player of the Year. Nuno is also on the first team.
El Farolito, a nine-time San Francisco League champion, won the conference title.
CD Aguiluchos USA was second and Sonoma County Sol was third.
Napa Valley 1839 FC went 4-9-1 last year.
General admission tickets for Sunday’s game are $25. It’s free for kids ages 6-and-under.