The San Francisco City Football Club will take the pitch at Kezar Stadium in front of its home crowd for the first time this season on Saturday afternoon against the Las Vegas Mobsters.
City FC sits atop the Central Pacific division of the Premier Development League with a 3-0-1 record in its first year in the league.
The homecoming represents a day first-year head coach Paddy Coyne and his team have been anticipating.
“Las Vegas are a good program, they’ve been going for a few years,” Coyne said. “But we’ve looked at videotape and we’ve trained really well, so I think it’s something we can win, especially with the support of our home crowd.”
The club is owned by supporters who purchase single-season or lifetime-memberships, creating a level of fan engagement unseen by most soccer fans in The City.
The young team’s raucous supporters, dubbed The North Siders, can be found, naturally, in the north side stands of Kezar Stadium waving banners, cheering on the team and bringing a bit of international soccer culture to San Francisco.
Team President Jacque Pelham says the fans are as essential as the play on the field.
“Our main supporters group really do a great job of setting the atmosphere and getting the energy really high supporting the team,” said Pelham. “Those are the guys out there with the drums, singing the songs. They’re a huge part of the match: Not just supporting the team, but creating a really unique experience for the folks that are in attendance.”
The action on the field promises to be impressive as well as more than 70 percent of players drafted by Major League Soccer teams spent some time on one of the PDL’s 67 squads across North America, according to the PDL.
The City FC roster is filled with local top-tier collegiate players including athletes from University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University and City College of San Francisco. The league is beneficial for the athletes who want to continue to hone their skills without forfeiting their amateur status.
Pelham expects a few thousand in attendance for Saturday’s 3 p.m. kickoff.
“We take pride in that the supporter group and the fans are like a cross-section of San Francisco as a whole: folks that work in tech, folks that grew up in the Mission, folks that played soccer their whole lives, that never played and just really like to watch,” he said. “It’s a really cool thing to see.”