UPDATE: This post previously stated that La Máquina advanced in USASA National Cup qualifying. Instead, the club won its first of three matches to be played in a group stage, before going to knockout rounds. The top two finishers of each group advance.
La Máquina defeated defending USASA Region IV Champion, and fellow UPSL club, Moreno Valley FC on Sunday April, 9 at Centennial Regional Park in Santa Ana in a comeback victory.
The Santa Ana-based club opted to not use one of the city’s recently renovated fields at their heavily-used Dan Young Soccer Complex at Centennial, according to league president Leonel López. “We offered to help them get a field at the complex, but they went at it alone,” said López. That decision paid off, as La Máquina opted to play on grass, on an unassuming field, but one putting the game on a rugged pitch, the type where clubs like La Máquina are forged over time. It was by design, looking in retrospect, leaving a befuddled observer like myself wondering why they weren’t on a field at the complex. They took the game to their rugged field roots, where many upcoming Santa Ana players evolve their game.
It was a tight affair throughout, with all three goals coming late in both halves. Moreno Valley scored first in first-half stoppage time, on a pinballed and failed clearance in the box, after a corner kick.
La Máquina, through strikers Edwin Borboa and Ronaldo Pineda, had some missed scoring opportunities in the first half. Cal State Fullerton midfielder/ striker Ronaldo Pineda came on as a sub in the first half, blasting a shot off the bar from distance just minutes after coming into the match, and unphased from the immediate, targeted tackling coming from Moreno Valley.
So was the first half, a quasi-chippy one, with Máquina players getting chopped down.
The second half belonged entirely to La Máquina, who saw much more possession and controlled the game that way from that point on. The club pulled the game out in under the last ten minutes, the first one on a swarm on goal, the ball looking forced into the net by sheer will. About three players converged to knock the ball in.
The second goal came on a header late in the game, that sealed La Máquina’s grinded out, come from behind victory. With the win, La Máquina advances in US Adult Soccer’s National Amateur Cup qualifying.
La Máquina put on a display of why they’re a tough competitor, a rival incómodo, going back to their roots, and put on a lesson in true fútbol.