For the 1,000 fans inside PayPal Park for the U.S. Open Cup game on March 6, it was a game they’ll never forget.
But not just for the reasons you would expect.
Yes, the final result was one that shocked most people within U.S. soccer circles. But even beyond that, it was a special moment for soccer in the Bay Area.
As supporters walked up to the 18,000-seat Major League Soccer stadium in San Jose, many were there to see their respective teams play in person for the first time.
For Monterey Bay FC fans, their team isn’t hosting a home game until a month into the season because their stadium is still under construction. Which meant the recent U.S. Open Cup was the best opportunity to watch their newly-founded club play in person.
For Bay Cities FC, the U.S. Open Cup represented a chance, on its biggest stage to date, to expand the club’s visibility and grow the supporter base in a region that already has plenty of options.
“Games like the U.S. Open Cup provide new opportunities to get the community involved,” shared Ivan Martinez, one of the Bay Cities FC founders. “It takes time to build up a club but as we continue to engage with more and more people in the community, and they learn what this club is all about, they start to buy into the process.”
Right now, Bay Cities FC is one of five professional teams all within a 1-2 hour drive covering California’s Bay Area – San Jose Earthquakes, Sacramento Republic FC, Oakland Roots, Monterey Bay FC, and Bay Cities FC. The latter two of which are the most recent additions to the mix.
As all new clubs do, Monterey Bay FC and Bay Cities FC are in the early stages of developing an identity and their supporters are equally excited about what the future will hold.
In fact, many of the Monterey Bay FC fans in attendance were loyal San Jose Earthquakes fans first. Some are switching allegiances entirely, while others are becoming season ticket holders for both.
“It’s nice to finally have a team in our part of the region for once,” shared one fan clad in light blue who made the trip up from Santa Cruz.
Dan Devlin Jr., one of the most active Monterey Bay FC supporters on Twitter to date, echoed those sentiments and talked about his excitement for the opening season.
“The announcement of a professional football team coming to the Monterey Peninsula is special to me for a number of reasons but probably the most important is that I have been lucky enough to be involved in it, from the very first public announcement,” explained Dan “The Union is me, my family, my community, my hometown, my NorCal region, and I’m a little bit ecstatic with that connection.”
Like so many, Dan has been a San Jose Earthquakes supporter since the early days and now he finally has a team he can support that’s right down the road.
So yes, after the final whistle blew and Bay Cities FC completed the David-Over-Goliath story, the fans walked away having witnessed an unforgettable upset. Beyond that though, the game marked a historic milestone for two clubs and their respective supporters who hope to build a long-lasting legacy within for Bay Area soccer supporters.