U.S. Open Cup qualifying match comes to Cox Stadium

SF State’s Cox Pavilion will host a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tournament qualifying match for the Nor-Cal Adult Premier League Jan. 31.

SF City Football Club will face Stanislaus United Academica and looks to become the first team in 17 years to represent the city in the U.S. Open Cup.

The team began four years ago when brothers Andrew and Jordan Gardner moved to San Francisco and wanted to continue to compete and keep in shape. Looking for pick-up games was their way of doing so, and eventually it led to the creation of the Ticket Arsenal Football Club.

Ticket Arsenal FC joined the semi-professional Nor-Cal Adult Premier League in September and later merged with the soccer organization San Francisco City Football Club.

“The team got more competitive because guys who used to play professionally showing up on a Sunday to play 50-year-olds just doesn’t work,” head coach Andrew Gardner said.

During that time, SF State hired Matt Barnes as their men’s soccer coach. Unable to put together a preseason with the late hire, assistant coach Mike Sharabi looked to Facebook to find a friendly match for the Gators. Andrew and Jordan Gardner jumped at the chance to play the team.

SF City FC, named Ticket Arsenal FC at the time, played the Gators and won 1-0. Andrew Gardner used that opportunity to build a relationship with the school and hoped it would lead to more home games.

“It planted a seed for something, for the future, which is awesome,” said Andrew Gardner, who believes that Barnes has the ability to build a strong soccer program.

“We’re (SF City FC) looking to build a relationship in the long run with SF State,” said Andrew Gardner, who hopes to draw audiences from outside the University to showcase the team. “Not just to use their facilities but to showcase what they have and hopefully bring our fandom to the SF State games.”

SF City FC has a strong fan base and is supporter-owned. Fans can pay $50 to receive a stake in the team and season tickets. They also have the ability to vote on team decisions.

“Our goal is to get to the highest level of soccer in two years,” said club CEO Jaques Pelham.

SF City FC will play Stanislaus United Academica (10-1-1) Jan. 31, who they defeated 2-1 Halloween night.

“We’re looking to show, not just to San Francisco but the nation, that San Francisco can produce high level professional soccer,” manager and player Jordan Gardner said.

Tickets for the game will be $5 for adults and free for youth under 18.

SF City FC is expecting large crowds of around 600 people at Cox Stadium this Saturday, according to Pelham.

“We’re stoked to be able to play at Cox Stadium,” Pelham said. “It’s a beautiful stadium and a beautiful facility. It should be a great day, hopefully it all comes together.”

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