SF Deltas draw even in first league match against Indy Eleven
PHOTO: Timothy McLaughlin
For its first time ever, the archway at Kezar Stadium was illuminated in red lighting as the San Francisco Deltas played their inaugural season. Their new supporters group Delta Force chanted away and landmarks like City Hall and Coit Tower were alit in the Delta’s red. Vendors, tents and merchandise were all on sale as an estimated four thousand fans, including Mayor Ed Lee, were in attendance. The second division team is NASL’s only club operating in the western half of the U.S. and Canada kicked off their first match against spring season champions Indy Eleven.
The Deltas fielded in the first half a 4-3-3 formation with MLS veteran and team captain Nana Attakora and Reiner Ferreira as fellow defenders, with #20 Karl Ouimette and Kenny Teijsse on the flanks. #30 Michael Stephens covered the wing #8 Cristian Portilla at center and #10 Kyle Bekker on the adjacent wing. Tommy Heinemann covered the front with #7 Jackson and #25 Danny Cruz on either side.
The Deltas had a rough start to the match with Indy pressing against the Deltas’ backline and nearly stretching it out before the timer hit double digits. At the 8th minute Indy had a shot on goal that would have given them the scoreline advantage had Romauld Peiser missed the ball and Indy’s only shot for the entire first half was easily dealt with by Delta’s keeper.
San Francisco answered back with increased pressure on the Indy backline that tested veteran keeper Jon Busch. The Delta’s outshot Indy two to one in the first half and one of those resulted in a goal by Kyle Bekker with an assist by forward Danny Cruz in the 31st minute of the first half. Both of San Francisco’s shots came from inside the box despite low possession. Indianapolis dominated the first half at Kezar with 55% of ball possession versus 44.8% for the Deltas.
Indiana would maintain its possession advantage for the remainder of the game against the Deltas into the second half 56.7% in favor of the Indy Eleven versus the Deltas’ 43.2%. Pressure was being applied to San Francisco with more crosses and more shots. Indiana had 7 shots inside the box versus the Delta’s 1 shot during the second half.
The pressure built until Indiana scored an equalizer early in the second half. Midfielder Tanner Thompson, brother of Quakes midfielder Tommy Thompson, found an early shot in the 58th minute to put a shot through the Delta’s net with an assist from Ben Speas. San Francisco would fail to equalize and at times looked like the front three couldn’t coordinate on a solid chance to gain advantage even with six minutes of stoppage time.
“At the end of the day the result is fair,” Deltas head coach Marc Dos Santos said. Dos Santos praised his team’s first half performance but said things slowed down enough in the second that they couldn’t produce the second goal. Indy Eleven shot more attempts at the Delta’s net 8 to five by the end of the 96 minute match with twice as many crosses.
“We didn’t deserve to win but we didn’t deserve to lose,” he said.
Canadian national team member and former Montreal Impact forward Kyle Bekker, who scored the team’s only goal, said “For us it’s not just coming out in our first game, we want to win.”
Both men agree that while the club is still fresh, only 8 weeks old according to Dos Santos, they’re still working on the kinks.
“That stuff takes time,” Bekker said. “We have a by-week, we have some time to sort those things out to move forward.”
The Deltas have a two week break before their second game North Carolina FC back at Kezar.
Photos by Timothy McLaughlin