The San Francisco Deltas acknowledged they fell asleep in the first 10 minutes of Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup loss to the San Jose Earthquakes after conceding in the fourth and sixth minutes.
Yet on two occasions in the opening exchanges of their NASL match against FC Edmonton on Saturday, they allowed open chances on goal. This time, though, goalkeeper Romuald Peiser prevented an early conversion.
That helped San Francisco beat Edmonton, 1-0, and extend its unbeaten streak in league competition to five games despite playing three times in the past week.
“There was fatigue accumulated in our players,” coach Marc Dos Santos said. “It’s important for us to have won a game even being tired like that. When you’re able to win in a week that was so heavy, it’s good.”
In the seventh minute, Edmonton forward Sainey Nyassi intercepted a slow pass between defenders and sprinted free. But Peiser blocked his one-on-one shot after remaining upright in anticipation of a dribbling maneuver from the Eddies attacker. Dos Santos claimed that was a pivotal point in the match.
“It was a game-changer,” Dos Santos said, “because you’re not chasing the game. If they score there, it’s 1-0 for them and then we start chasing.”
Peiser watched another effort dart outside his right post two minutes later after Edmonton forward Tomi Ameobi shouldered defender Patrick Hopkins off the ball to set up a wide-open attempt.
In the 25th minute, the goalkeeper failed to handle a high-arcing cross from the left wing with the sun in his eyes. But after the ball evaded his flailing hands, it clanked off the post and rolled out of danger.
“With the sun you don’t see anything,” Peiser said. “I wore a hat, but the sun was so low that even with a hat you don’t see anything. So it’s very tough.”
Despite its slow start, San Francisco struck first.
Forward Devon Sandoval, in the starting lineup after coming on as a second-half substitute against the Earthquakes, converted a penalty kick in the 39th minute. He took two shots and drew three fouls in the contest.
“Sandoval helped the team in possession,” Dos Santos said of the 6-foot-1 target man. “He held the ball well.”
The Deltas applied more pressure in the second half. Forward Pablo Dyego hit a long curling shot that forced a diving save from Edmonton goalkeeper Nathan Ingham. Forward Danny Cruz forced a stop with a hard right-footed effort from the right wing.
In the 80th minute, Dyego slipped Sandoval in on goal, but the forward failed to finish into an open net after dribbling past Ingham.
“It definitely felt like we had more of the ball in the attacking third in the second half,” Sandoval said. “We created some quality chances. Would have liked to put [my miss] away, but everyone fought really hard.”
At the final whistle, defender Nana Attakora, who played 90 minutes after going the whole game against the Earthquakes, fell onto his back at midfield. Other players hunched over and placed their hands on their knees.
Their effort was rewarded with a victory.
“It took a lot from our guys,” Dos Santos said. “You’re not always going to have pretty games. Some are going to be very tough, and it’s good that we got the three points.”