If the San Francisco Glens aim to make the USL League Two playoffs this season, the fans will get an early inkling of how viable that goal might be.
Last week, the Glens announced their 2019 schedule, which opens with a perilous San Francisco road derby at Kezar Stadium against crosstown rival SF City FC on May 5, followed by a trip to Southern California and defending Western Conference champion FC Golden State Force five days later.
By the time the Glens finally return to Boxer Stadium for their home opener against Santa Cruz Breakers FC on May 17, they will have already played three road games with a potential nine points on the line for the standings.
“It’s going to be a gauntlet from the get-go, but we embrace the challenge,” said team president Mike McNeill. “We also have a month-long road trip in June, so this will be good preparation for what’s ahead.”
Playing just 14 games over a three-month span in an eight-team Southwest Division where only the top two finishers have a shot at the postseason, the Glens’ regular season is akin to college football. Every result counts, right down to each winning or losing margin, due to tiebreakers decided by goal differential.
“The level of competition is extremely high, so starting off that way is expected,” said head coach Javier Ayala-Hil, who doubles as the head coach at San Francisco State. “For us coming into our second year, we know what we’re getting ourselves into.”
In 2018, the Glens — who got their name from the local Irish community which spawned them in 1961 as an amateur soccer club—competed for the first time in the USL PDL, which has since rebranded and is now called USL League Two.
Though they finished their inaugural season on a four-game unbeaten streak that included a 1-0 victory at Kezar over SF City and a 0-0 shocking stalemate with FC Golden State, the Glens had dug too deep of a hole early in the campaign to propel them back into the playoff hunt.
“It’s never easy to play away, whether it’s in SoCal or San Francisco,” Ayala-Hil said. “For us to overcome that last season and get those results lifted our spirits and confidence, especially since early in the season, we had gone to L.A. and lost games in the 85th minute.”
In addition, the Glens became victims of their own success in scouting and development of local college stars when four of their players were selected in January’s Major League Soccer SuperDraft, with defenders Sam Junqua (Cal) and Roy Boateng (UC Davis) taken in the first round alone.
“We were fortunate to have players to move into MLS,” Ayala-Hil said. “That’s the type of platform we’re providing, where players can play hard within the framework for the team but also for themselves to take the next step to the pros, whether it’s in the MLS, USL Championship, or abroad.”
The addition of ex-U.S. National Team captain Jimmy Conrad as technical director and head associate coach should help in terms of reloading the roster with more young talent. A World Cup veteran and MLS Cup champion with the San Jose Earthquakes, Conrad brings a multitude of experience and a vast network of scouting contacts.
“To have someone who’s won championships as a player at the highest level but also knows how to translate that to the players is hard to replicate,” Ayala-Hil said. “Someone with such a high winning mentality is hard to find.”
Gabe Saucedo, who has led Skyline College into a top 20 junior college program in the nation the past three seasons, will round out Ayala-Hil’s staff.
“I’m extremely confident in the team we’re assembling and the coaching staff we have in Javier, Jimmy, and Gabe to be ready for anything this season,” McNeill said.
The San Francisco Glens are entering their second season at Boxer Stadium, with new amenities like the Carlsberg Beer Gardenand Fan Zone, along with new pre-game and in-game entertainment. Learn more about the 2019 schedule, season ticket memberships, our food truck selection, upcoming open tryouts, and more at SFGlens.com or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @SFGlensSC.
Read the original article in the SF Examiner HERE.