Real Sao Paulo strikes two against SF City Reserves, last year's champions
SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- The Real Sao Paulo managed to get an important victory in their 3rd game of the 2009 season, striking 2-0 against last year's rivals SF City Reserves at Polo Fields #1 Stadium, Sunday afternoon. A 20th-minute goal by Diego Levinas and a 52nd-minute goal by Leandro Monteiro were the only goals in a game where Real Sao Paulo completely dominated the run of play, but couldn't find the back of the net more times.
The win brings not only the first 3 points in the league table for the Real Sao Paulo, but also motivates a lot the team since SF City Reserves had won last year's league by only one point ahead of Real. It was the debut of midfielder Rodrigo Vasconcelo who is counted on to be mainstay in the Real midfield.
A strong wind and the irregular pitch made for a harsh environment for quality football, but it did not take too long for the Real Sao Paulo attack to get rolling. Fabio Marques provided some spark in the 10th minute. After a long throw from goalkeeper Sandro Britz, he ran down the left side from the midfield to the inside of the box, but missed his shot. A few minutes later, a great combination between Fabio Carvalho (Fabinho), Fabio Marques and Rhuan Martins ended up with a nice back heel pass from Rhuan to Fabio free in the top of the box. Fabio managed to dribble the defender and cut inside onto his favored right boot. He unleashed a low shot from just outside the box to the near left post, but the goalkeeper well positioned managed to save.
In the 17th minute, Ricardo Costenaro flicked the ball magnificently over SF City midfielder's head (as we simply say in Brazil: a "hat") in the right flank and was fouled. After the cross, the ball ended up in front of Diego Levinas who took one of his six shots during the game. Diego hit the ball with too much power, not enough precision and not enough technique and it went over the cross bar. Three minutes later, Diego did not waste the opportunity. Rhuan recovered a ball in the defense field and passed it to Fabio Marques. Another split of a second passed by and Fabio had already sent the ball over the defense players to the forward Mauro Pinheiro flying down the field. Mauro saved the ball in the end line and passed it back to Diego who, after cutting from left to right, got the ball at the top of the restraining arc. The shot at the lower, left corner was too fast for the goalkeeper to react and Real Sao Paulo got the first goal of the game, 1x0.
SF City tried to give back early in the 25th minute. After stealing the ball in the midfield, SF City player took it all the way to the left and tried to score with what looked more like a cross than a shot. That was one of the only five shots to goal from SF City against 28 shots from Real during the whole game. Matt Gruber, strong Real stopper, made sure all remaining tentatives did not even reach Real's goalkeeper, Sandro Britz.
In the 30th minute, a combination of passes in the top of the arc exactly how Real's coach insists every practice almost increased the lead for Real. A ball passed by Diego to Fabio Marques went, through three consecutive first time passes, forward to Paulo, back to Mauro and forward again to Lucas Santos in the right flank who had supported the attack in more than ten times during the game. Lucas crossed and Diego almost scored his second goal in the game. Before the end of the first half, at the 37th minute, after a long ball from Lucas deflected by the defender, Marcos David found Armando Pereira free in the midfield. With another nice hat over SF City's player, Armando performed a quick back and forth pass with Leandro Monteiro, but his shot went left and wide.
The second half started very much like the first. The transition passes from defense to midfield and then to attack was working like a charm for Real Sao Paulo. In the 51st minute, a great combination among Fabinho, Ricardo, Marcos David, and Armando ended up easily for Rodrigo to score, but the ball went over the bar. Nevertheless, 2 minutes later, Fabio Marques blocks an SF City right back player pass and took the ball racing with the defender all the way to the end line. The cross went just high enough over the goalkeeper to leave Leandro Monteiro with an open wide goal for an easy score, 2x0 Real.
In the 71st minute, Fabio Marques took the ball in between two players and laid it back to Marcos David. Marcos passed it back to Fabio who decided to retribute the favor one more time, putting Marcos David inside the box. The shot hit the left outside of the net, but showed how Real center midfield players can support the attack eventually. Four minutes later, a great top spin long pass from Fabio to Diego almost increased the lead, but the shot was weak enough for the goalkeeper skills.
In the 85th minute, the goal kick was passed to Real's midfielder Armando Pereira who, in turn, tried a long pass to Fabio Marques. A bad clearance off a SF City interception fell to Fabio, but his volley from 18 yards in the left flank went straight to the outside of the net.
Before the end of the game, a Real counter attack started by Armando, found Andrew Fons in the top of the arc. Andrew opened to Fabio Marques in the left flank. Fabio tried a pass to Mauro Pinheiro ahead who was smart enough to let the ball pass between his legs to find Andrew alone behind four defenders. Andrew, who had entered the game 5 minutes earlier, ended up wasting a great opportunity blasting the ball in the goalkeeper with the whole goal opened in front of him. Fabio Marques still tried to shoot off the rebound, but the angle was too tight to get it in and the ball went out through the end line.
Throughout the afternoon, although they looked to be playing at friendly-game speed, the Real Sao Paulo had most of the ball, and almost all of the scoring chances, but couldn't seem to hit the target more often. Nonetheless, the transition from defense to attack seemed to have found its important glue components in the midfield. The Real Sao Paulo plays host to the Haitian Express next Sunday and the expectations for another win are high.
For a more detailed game report, including video highlights and game stats, please click here.