Riverside’s Coras USA Smacks SoCal SC

RIVERSIDE (Calif.) — It might not have the gravitas of older, more traditional soccer derbies, but the budding rivalry between Riverside-based club Deportivo Coras USA and San Bernardino’s Southern California Sports Club is getting heated.

Steven Henry, a second-half substitute, scored twice as Coras USA ran away with a 4-1 victory over SoCal SC in a National Premier Soccer League game on Sunday night, May 29, 2016, at UC Riverside.

CorasLOGO“We feel that because of the fact that they are real close to us, we want to maintain that superiority,” Coras USA interim head coach Gabriel Esqueda said. “We respect them but we know that they’re coming for us so we’re going to respect that, but definitely be prepared for them.”

The victory moves Coras USA (4-2-1 overall, 13 points) into second place ahead of SoCal SC (3-3-2, 11 points) in the NPSL’s Southwest Conference. Coras sweeps the season series vs. SoCal, 2-0-0.

“We know it’s going to be tough and be a rough-neck soccer game, but once it settles down we feel like we have the upper edge on them,” Esqueda said.

Coras goalkeeper Alonso Lara-Barajas made two crucial saves early in the first half — including a diving stop of a penalty kick in the 23rd minute — before a counter-attack led to a corner kick in SoCal’s end.

Fernando Cabello got on the end of Edgar Llamas’s corner into the box as Coras took a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute, but SoCal’s Christian Gonzalez-Diaz equalized six minutes later to turn up the intensity going into halftime.

SoCalSCLOGO“They play aggressive (and) we made mistakes in the second half, not marking properly on corner kicks,” SoCal SC assistant coach Mario Mejia said.

Henry entered the game to start the second half and Coras USA narrowed its focus, controlling the ball for long stretches and producing some crisp attacking soccer.

The 5-foot-9 midfielder put Coras USA up 2-1 with a left-footed finish from a Llamas’ corner in the 55th minute, and gave the home side a two-goal lead five minutes later.

“Really, just trying to find that second ball,” said Henry, a Cal State East Bay alum. “The biggest thing is we get great services from (Llamas), and for it’s what we’re going to do after that first ball bounces off somebody.”

Ramon Nunez added Coras’ fourth goal on the run of play, with Shane Shelton providing the well-timed through ball to beat SoCal SC keeper Ashkan Khosravi, a former UC Riverside standout.

“The important thing about tonight is that the boys focused on committing to their game plan in the second half,” Esqueda said. “Once they did that the game opened up for us. We found our spaces, we got some critical crosses in and definitely put some finishes in.”

With five games remaining in the regular season, Coras USA next plays first-place San Diego Albion SC (4-0-3, 15 points) at San Diego Mission Bay High School on Saturday, June 4.

SoCal SC travels to Thousand Oaks (Calif.) to take on FC Hasenthal at Oak Park High School on Sunday, June 5.

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