LOCALS: Santa Clarita claims playoff berth

The game of the year for minor league soccer around these parts produced an unexpected result amid huge momentum swings and left one Southern California club joyous and another heartbroken.

Tyler Coombes' 14th goal of the season lifted FC Santa Clarita, a first-year club born from the ruins of the Lancaster-based Rattlers, past the previously unbeaten San Diego Flash to claim the second Southern Conference berth for the National Premier Soccer League's Western Division playoffs.

Coombes (Palmdale/Palmdale HS and Cal State L.A.) scored twice as the Storm (8-3-3) posted a 4-3 victory Sunday at Canyon High School in Canyon Country, rallying for the winning goal in the 89th minute after the Flash (11-1-2) overcame a three-goal deficit. Sergio Valle Ortiz's second goal of the evening pulled San Diego just a minute before Coombes provided the victory.

The goal was a must -- a draw would have given the No. 2 spot to the Fullerton Rangers (8-4-2), whose 4-0 rout of San Diego Boca in Santa Ana, fueled on goals by brothers Andre and Diego Turoldo (both Torrance/North Torrance HS and Cal State Dominguez Hills), wrapped up about an hour before Coombes struck.

Martin Galvan scored the first goal and assisted two more for the Storm, who were up, 3-0, when Alex Harlley (Rosamond/Rosamond HS) tallied three minutes into the second half.

Santa Clarita will visit Hayward-based Bay Area Ambassadors (9-4-1), the Northern Conference champion for Saturday's Western semifinals. The Flash are home against Sonoma County Sol (7-3-4) in the other semi, and the winners will meet next week for a spot in the NPSL final four.

Fullerton looked likeliest to finish second after beating Santa Clarita, 3-0, on June 24, but it fell to third after a 5-1 loss to the Flash a week later.

It also was a big week for another So Cal side: Pali Blues claimed the W-League's Western Conference title. Another, Beach FC, failed in its bid for the Pacific-South crown in the Women's Premier Soccer League.

The Ventura County Fusion, who are headed to the Premier Development League playoffs for the fourth straight year, can claim the Southwest Division championship Wednesday.

Elsewhere in minor-league soccer:

USL PRO: The L.A. Blues (5-8-2) are in crisis following shutout losses Friday and Sunday to first-place Orlando City (12-1-4) -- they haven't scored in 287 minutes, have lost five in a row and dropped to eighth place, three points off the playoff pace in a crowded field of contenders. Both games this weekend in Florida against last-place Antigua (3-10-1) are must-win.

Orlando City's lead is up to nine points, with Rochester (9-4-4) back in second place after victories over Antigua and Dayton. That's three wins in four games for the Rhinos, who had been struggling since mid-May. Charleston (10-6-0) dropped back after successive shutout losses to Charlotte (6-8-2), which has won four in a row to vault to sixth.

NORTH AMERICAN SOCCER LEAGUE: Eric Wynalda has already made an impact with last-place Atlanta (2-9-5), which upset Minnesota, 2-0, in their second game after his appointment as interim coach. He's brought in three of his Cal FC stars, too: midfielders Danny Barrera (Thousand Oaks/Westlake HS and UC Santa Barbara) and Pablo Cruz (Azusa) and former Galaxy/L.A. Blues defender Mike Randolph (Chino Hills/Ayala HS). They're in action Saturday against the Puerto Rico Islanders.

UC Irvine alum Amani Walker scored the last of the goals in Minnesota's 4-0 rout of Puerto Rico (7-4-4), which took just one of six available points last week and dropped three behind expansion San Antonio (8-2-4) in the second division league. Third-place Tampa Bay (7-5-3) is just a point behind the Islanders, who face San Antonio on Wednesday night in Bayamon.

PREMIER DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE: The Ventura County Fusion (10-2-2) are on the verge of their second Southwest Division title in three years and can clinch with a win Wednesday night at last-place Pali Blues (2-9-3). They'd be celebrating already but for a 2-0 loss to visiting Fresno, which was then knocked out of the playoff chase with a 2-1 loss at Pali, which got two goals from Thomas Canales.

FC Tucson (8-2-4), which claimed the second playoff berth with a scoreless draw Sunday against Ogden, needs to make up four points in two games to overtake the Fusion, and both remaining games are in SoCal: Wednesday at Southern California Seahorses and Friday at Orange County Blue Star.

The Southwest teams match up with the Northwest Division in the playoffs. Sounders FC U-23 (10-2-3) won the title, and reigning PDL champ Kitsap Pumas (10-4-2) or 2010 champion Portland Timbers U-23 (9-4-2) will get the second berth. The Northwest teams have swept the postseason openers the past two years.

NATIONAL PREMIER SOCCER LEAGUE: The Fullerton Rangers (8-4-2) wrapped up with a 4-0 rout over San Diego Boca, and Thousand Oaks' FC Hasental (4-8-2) closed with a 3-0 romp at winless Phoenix.

The Flash head into the playoffs with successive losses, although the first didn't count: a 6-1 decision in a U.S. Olympic Training Center friendly against Mexican Primera Division's Club Tijuana.

Bay Area (9-4-1) clinched the Northern Conference title with a 3-0 win over last-place North Coast, and Sonoma County (7-3-4) claimed the second playoff berth after rallying for a 1-1 draw at San Francisco.

USL W-LEAGUE: Pepperdine's Lynn Williams netted a hat trick in a 5-0 rout of Colorado Rapids and scored another, from 35 yards, in a 2-0 win over Colorado Rush as Pali Blues (12-0-1) clinched the Western Conference title. The Seattle Sounders (8-2-1), with Veronica Perez scoring two more goals, snatched the other playoff berth with a 5-0 romp against Victoria. Williams has 10 goals; Perez has 11.

The Sounders are in L.A. this week for games against Pali, Santa Clarita Blue Heat and L.A. Strikers, then will be back down for a showdown with the Blues for a spot in the national final four. The Blues have the best record in the W-League, but Atlantic Division leader D.C. United (10-0-1) is within striking distance, and maybe Central leader Ottawa Fury (10-1-0), too.

Blue Heat (3-5-4) tied both Colorado teams, giving away a four-goal first-half lead in a 4-4 draw against the Rapids. The Strikers (3-7-2) toppled the Rapids on Caitlin Muñoz's last-minute strike.

Victoria (1-12-1) went 0-12 against everybody except archrival Vancouver, which the Highlanders beat in the opener and tied in the finale.

WOMEN'S PREMIER SOCCER LEAGUE: The hugely anticipated showdown between Beach FC and San Diego SeaLions fizzled out when the Long Beach club lost to Ajax America the day before, giving the SeaLions the title and lone playoff berth from the Pacific-South. Ajax, from the South Bay, blanketed star forward Kristina Larsen (Mission Viejo/Mission Viejo HS and UCLA) -- one of three former Women's Professional Soccer players on the Beach roster -- and got a second-half goal from Irene Maximova for the 1-0 win.

Beach (4-2-0) handed the SeaLions (5-1-0) their first loss, with Larsen and Jordan Marada getting the goals in a 2-1 triumph. Rosie Tantillo (USC) scored on a free kick for San Diego to match Larsen with a division-best 10 goals.

Maximova scored the lone goal again as Ajax (3-3-0) wrapped up its season against Los Alamitos' L.A. Vikings (0-6-0), who failed to score all season.

Sacramento's California Storm (4-2-3) dropped from first to fourth in the Pacific-North last week and leapt back to first this week with a win and a draw. They're ahead of North Bay FC (4-1-3) on goal difference, and three more teams are within three points heading into the final week. The Storm have just one game left, Saturday against North Bay, and the other contenders have two to play.




Last week's results (home teams listed first)


Richmond Kickers 1 (Heins 66), L.A. Blues 0


Dayton Dutch Lions 1 (Priestley 86), Pittsburgh Riverhounds 0

Rochester Rhinos 4 (McFayden 3, 18, Hoxie 77, 81), Antigua Barracuda 1 (Byers 29)


Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2 (Costanzo 25, Amoo 80), Harrisburg City Islanders 3 (Mkosana 18, Touray 81, Pettis 87)

Charleston Battery 0, Charlotte Eagles 2 (Thornton 48, Guzman 79)

L.A. Blues 0, Orlando City SC 1 (Bernard 2)


Harrisburg City Islanders 1 (Touray 92+), Antigua Barracuda 1 (Aldred 71)

Rochester Rhinos 2 (Earls 3, Kissi 90), Dayton Dutch Lions 0

Wilmington Hammerheads 1 (Hertzog 66), Richmond Kickers 0

Charlotte Eagles 1 (D. Roberts 36), Charleston Battery 0


L.A. Blues 0, Orlando City SC 4 (Chin 7, 17, Alexandre 70, Molino 78)


1. Orlando City SC (12-1-4) 40 points; 2. Rochester Rhinos (9-4-4) 31; 3. Charleston Battery (10-6-0) 30; 4. Wilmington Hammerheads (7-5-4) 25; 5. Harrisburg City Islanders (6-4-5) 23; 6. Charlotte Eagles (6-8-2) 20; 7. Richmond Kickers (5-6-5) 20; 8. L.A. Blues (5-8-2) 17; 9. Pittsburgh Riverhounds (3-8-5) 14; 10. Dayton Dutch Lions (2-8-6) 12; 11. Antigua Barracuda (3-10-1) 10.

This week's games (all times Pacific)


L.A. Blues vs. Antigua Barracuda at Bradenton, Fla., 4 p.m.

Rochester Rhinos at Wilmington Hammerheads, 4:30 p.m.


Dayton Dutch Lions at Harrisburg City Islanders, 3 p.m.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Richmond Kickers, 4 p.m.


L.A. Blues vs. Antigua Barracuda at Bradenton, Fla., 4 p.m.

Wilmington Hammerheads at Charleston Battery, 4:30 p.m.

Rochester Rhinos at Orlando City SC, 4:30 p.m.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Charlotte Eagles, 5 p.m.

Leading scorers

Andriy Budnyy (Wilmington) 8, Dennis Chin (Orlando City) 8, Nikki Paterson (Charleston) 8, Bright Dike (L.A. Blues) 7, Corey Hertzog (Wilmington) 7, Jose Cuevas (Charleston) 6, Christopher Agorsor (Richmond) 5, Yann Ekra (Harrisburg) 5




Southwest Division

Last week's results (home teams listed first)


Ventura County Fusion 0, Fresno Fuego 2 (Reinhart 48, Caceres 90)

BYU Cougars 3 (Patino 45, Green 69, Losee 80), Ogden Outlaws 1 (Burnham 47)


FC Tucson 3 (Lohn 35, Montes 46, 49), BYU Cougars 0


Pali Blues 2 (Canales 7, 18), Fresno Fuego 1 (Islas 78)


FC Tucson 0, Ogden Outlaws 0


1. Ventura County Fusion (10-2-2) 32 points; 2. FC Tucson (8-2-4) 28; 3. Fresno Fuego (7-5-3) 24; 4. Ogden Outlaws (6-7-3) 21; 5. BYU Cougars (6-6-2) 20; 6. L.A. Misioneros (4-4-7) 19; 7. Orange County Blue Star (3-6-5) 14; 8. Southern California Seahorses (3-8-3) 12; 9. Pali Blues (2-9-3) 9.

This week's games


Ventura County Fusion vs. Pali Blues at Palisades HS (Pacific Palisades), 7 p.m.

FC Tucson vs. Southern California Seahorses at Biola University (La Mirada), 7 p.m.


FC Tucson vs. Orange County Blue Star at Concordia University (Irvine), 5 p.m.

BYU Cougars vs. Ventura County Fusion at Ventura College, 7 p.m.


FC Tucson vs. Orange County Blue Star at Concordia University (Irvine), 5 p.m.


Pali Blues vs. L.A. Misioneros at Carver Middle School (Los Angeles), 6 p.m.

Leading scorers

Gyasi Zardes (Ventura County) 8, Jaime Chavez (Misioneros) 7, Travis Bowen (Ventura County) 7, Daniel Burnham (Ogden) 7, Alex Caceres (Fresno) 6, Paul Islas (Fresno) 6, Francisco Lopez (Ventura County) 6, Garrett Losee (BYU) 5, Cesar Samaniego (Misioneros) 5, Ryan Shaw (Southern California) 5



Last week's results (home teams listed first)


FC Santa Clarita 4 (Galvan 26, Coombes 37, 89, Harlley 48), San Diego Flash 3 (Valle Ortiz 52, 88, Sawyer 54)

Fullerton Rangers 4 (G. Piechota 33, A. Turoldo 58, D. Turoldo 75, Madrigal 85), San Diego Boca 0

Phoenix Monsoon 0, FC Hasental 3 (Cazares 62, Velasquez 72, de la Piedra 77)

North Coast Tsunami 0, Bay Area Ambassadors 3 (Walle 14, Clemens 63, Rana 90)

San Francisco Stompers 1 (Hadley 49), Sonoma County Sol 1 (Lombardi 63)

Real San Jose 3 (Kehoe 8, Pacheco 58, Gonzalez 64), Sacramento Gold 3 (John Jones 22, Sandoval 47, 81)


Southern Conference: 1. San Diego Flash (11-1-2) 35 points; 2. FC Santa Clarita Storm (8-3-3) 27; 3. Fullerton Rangers (8-4-2) 26; 4. San Diego Boca (5-6-3) 18; 5. FC Hasental (4-8-2) 14; 6. Phoenix Monsoon (0-12-0) 0.

Northern Conference: 1. Bay Area Ambassadors (9-4-1) 28; 2. Sonoma County Sol (7-3-4) 25; 3. Sacramento Storm (7-6-1) 22; 4. Real San Jose (4-6-4) 16; 5. San Francisco Stompers (3-7-3) 12; 6. North Coast Tsunami (3-9-1) 10.

This week's games (all times Pacific)

Divisional semifinals


FC Santa Clarita at Bay Area Ambassadors, 6 p.m.

Sonoma County Sol at San Diego Flash, 7 p.m.

Regular season


San Francisco Stompers at Phoenix Monsoon, 7:05 p.m.

Leading scorers

Tyler Coombes (Santa Clarita) 14, Ross Middlemiss (Sonoma County) 11, Eder Roldan (Fullerton) 10, Javier Hill (Bay Area) 8, Manolo Piña (Sacramento) 8, Greiner Pacheco (Real San Jose) 7, Justin Picou (San Diego Flash) 7, Brandon Zuniga (San Diego Flash) 7, David Arvizu (Fullerton) 6, Alex Harlley (Santa Clarita) 6, Ladule LoSarah (San Diego Flash) 6




Last week's results (home teams listed first)


Santa Clarita Blue Heat 1 (Borges 75), Colorado Rush 1 (og Miranda 83)


Pali Blues 5 (Huffman 28, Williams 49, 70, 90, Engen 52), Colorado Rapids 0

L.A. Strikers 1 (Stockdale 71), Colorado Rush 1 (Bock pen. 74)

Seattle Sounders 5 (Patterson 25, 27, Perez 53, 71, Manthey 92+)


Santa Clarita Blue Heat 4 (Luis 4, 22, Fernandes 19, Borges 39), Colorado Rapids 4 (Richter 56, Culton 71, Gunther pen. 79, Fulitudulu 84)


Pali Blues 2 (Williams 16, Huffman 88), Colorado Rush 0

Vancouver Whitecaps 1 (Vega 55), Victoria Highlanders 1 (Anderson 38)


L.A. Strikers 3 (Fernandez 3, Bell 38, Muñoz 90), Colorado Rapids 2 (Price 23, 55)


1. Pali Blues (12-0-1) 37 points; 2. Seattle Sounders (8-2-1) 25; 3. Colorado Rush (5-4-3) 18; 4. Colorado Rapids (4-5-3) 15; 5. Vancouver Whitecaps (3-4-5) 14; 6. Santa Clarita Blue Heat (3-5-4) 13; 7. L.A. Strikers (3-7-2), 11; 8. Victoria Highlanders (1-12-1) 4.

This week's games (all times Pacific)


Colorado Rapids at Colorado Rush, 6:30 p.m.

Seattle Sounders vs. Santa Clarita Blue Heat at Valencia HS (Valencia), 7 p.m.


Vancouver Whitecaps at Colorado Rush, 6:30 p.m.

Seattle Sounders vs. L.A. Strikers at Occidental College (Eagle Rock), 7 p.m.


Vancouver Whitecaps at Colorado Rapids, noon

Seattle Sounders vs. Pali Blues at Palisades HS (Pacific Palisades), 3 p.m.

L.A. Strikers vs. Santa Clarita Blue Heat at Valencia HS (Valencia), 7 p.m.

Leading scorers

Veronica Perez (Seattle) 11, Lynn Williams (Pali) 10, Edite Fernandes (Santa Clarita) 6, Mele French (Vancouver) 5, Erin Gunther (Rapids) 5, Laura Luis (Santa Clarita) 5, Nikki Washington (Pali) 5, Brittany Bock (Rush) 4, Ana Borges (Santa Clarita) 4, Danica Evans (Rush) 4, Megan Manthey (Seattle) 4, Jenna Richardson (Vancouver) 4



Last week's results (home teams listed first)


North Bay FC Wave 2 (Mosbacher 42, 45), San Francisco Nighthawks 0


Beach FC 0, Ajax America 1 (Maximova 59)

California Storm 1 (Sissi 16), West Coast WildKatz 1 (Rittman 15)


San Diego SeaLions 1 (Tantillo 29), Beach FC 2 (Larsen 19, Marada 66)

Ajax America 1 (Maximova 8), L.A. Vikings 0

North Bay FC Wave 2 (Carlberg 13, Knopp 81), Central Californian Heat 0

San Francisco Nighthawks 1 (Jones 54), California Storm 4 (Wagner 52, Whitney 61, Mercik 81, 89)


South Division (final): 1. San Diego SeaLions (5-1-0) 15 points; 2. Beach FC (4-2-0) 12; 3. Ajax America (3-3-0) 9; 4. L.A. Vikings (0-6-0) 0.

North Division: 1. California Storm (4-2-3) 15; 2. North Bay FC Wave (4-1-3) 15; 3. West Coast Wildkatz (3-1-4) 14; 4. Bay Area Breeze (3-2-3) 12; 5. Central California Heat (4-4-0) 12; 6. San Francisco Nighthawks (0-8-1) 1.

This week's games (all times Pacific)


North Bay FC Wave at Bay Area Breeze, 7 p.m.


West Coast WildKatz at Central California Heat, 1 p.m.

North Bay FC Wave at California Storm, 7 p.m.


Central California Heat at San Francisco Nighthawks, 1 p.m.

West Coast WildKatz at Bay Area Breeze, 4:30 p.m.

Leading scorers

Kristina Larsen (Beach FC) 10, Rosie Tantillo (San Diego) 10, Najma Homidi (Bay Area) 5, Ashley Sherr (Central California) 5, Leah Jones (San Francisco) 4, Shelby Murphy (San Diego) 4, Nikki Petracca (San Diego) 4




Wednesday's games (all times Pacific)

Sporting Kansas City (MLS) at Philadelphia Union (MLS), 4:30 p.m.

Chivas USA (MLS) at Seattle Sounders (MLS), 7 p.m.




1. Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS) 7-10-2

2. Chivas USA (MLS) 5-7-5

3. Ventura County Fusion (PDL) 10-2-2

4. Los Angeles Blues (USL Pro) 5-8-2

5. San Diego Flash (NPSL) 11-1-2

6. FC Santa Clarita Storm (NPSL) 8-3-3

7. Fullerton Rangers (NPSL) 8-4-2

8. Los Angeles Misioneros (PDL) 4-4-7

9. Orange County Blue Star (PDL) 3-6-5

10. Southern California Seahorses (PDL) 3-8-3

11. San Diego Boca (NPSL) 5-6-3

12. FC Hasental (NPSL) 4-8-2

13. Pali Blues (PDL) 2-9-3


1. Pali Blues (W-League) 12-0-1

2. San Diego SeaLions (WPSL) 5-1-0

3. Beach FC (WPSL) 4-2-0

4. Ajax America (WPSL) 3-3-0

5. Santa Clarita Blue Heat (W-League) 3-5-4

6. Los Angeles Strikers (W-League) 3-7-2

7. L.A. Vikings (WPSL) 0-6-0