Monterey Bay F.C. 2 is barely in its first year of existence in the USL League 2, which typically leads to a rough start for most first-year organizations.
However, that hasn’t been the case for the Union who recorded back-to-back wins over NorCal Division-rival Academica SC to officially clinch a playoff spot.
With a postseason spot locked up, the Salinas-based development club is on the verge of securing the top spot in the division standings.
The Union currently own a 9-1-1 overall record with 28 points atop of the NorCal Division. They will square off against division rival Project 51O in the regular season finale at Cardinale Stadium in Seaside on Saturday at 3pm.
“I’m extremely happy for the boys,” said MBFC2 head coach Ramiro Corrales in a press release issued by the team. “It’s never easy to start a team from scratch, so right away with the tryouts we picked guys that not only were talented but had good attitudes, and that went a long way.”
Corrales said prior to the season he emphasized two things: attitude and effort.
“Always have a good attitude when you step on the field, whether it be practice or a game, and do that day in and day out. And I’m extremely happy because they’ve done that all season long. We have a good team, we’ve proven that.”
Watsonville natives Hugo Vargas and Anthony Orendain are two of 14 local players ranging from Aptos, Santa Cruz, Salinas, Carmel, Seaside and Soledad who have helped the team thrive in its inaugural season in the USL League 2—a league established to provide top amateur players a place to compete and still maintain college eligibility.
Vargas, a Pajaro Valley High alumnus, was actually supposed to play in Florida but then quickly changed his mind when he heard MBFC2 was coming to town.
“It’s nice to be able to have my family out there and see me play,” he said. “Overall, it’s been a great experience. I mean, [we] kind of have all the best players in the 831.”
Vargas, 21, played four seasons with the Santa Cruz Breakers Academy and one season with the San Jose Earthquakes Academy.
He continued his career at Cabrillo College before making his way to CSU Monterey Bay, where he played with current teammates Alexis Sanchez of Soledad High School, Jose Madrigal of San Francisco and Francisco Ponce of Soquel High School
“I used to know about these guys just playing against them,” Vargas said. “Now that we got the opportunity to play together, we got that connection right away.”
Vargas said at the end of the day they’re all trying to fight for a spot on the starting lineup and the opportunity to get called up to the next level with Monterey Bay F.C.
One of the biggest challenges for Vargas and company is that they are a new team. So, playing against teams that have already been in the league for up to five years can be at times difficult.
“It’s been challenging, but overall I think the team has done a good job,” he said. “I think I’ve done a good job fighting for my place and it’s been good, so far.”
At the beginning of the season, Vargas didn’t believe they’d be on their way to the postseason in the first year of existence.
The Union now has a chance to clinch the NorCal Division just one year into the franchise’s existence.
Orendain, a Watsonville High alumnus and former soccer standout, struggled along his pathway to MBFC2. Yet, he continues to love the process and just takes it day by day.
He began at University of the Pacific where he recorded 14 goals and eight assists. The 25-year-old was well on his way to the next level until the Covid-19 pandemic shut everything down, including his lifelong dream of becoming a professional soccer player.
Lucky for him, several local players wanted to improve and they started a group chat, which is how he met a lot of his current teammates.
“It was something that we dreamt from a while ago,” he said. “So it’s nice to have something close by to inspire more people to strive to become better.”
Without even realizing it, Orendain was already bonding with his teammates before MBFC2 was ever assembled.
“It’s like a family here,” he said. “We all try to help each other out, it’s an amazing environment.”
Plus, he wanted to be part of history by playing in the team’s inaugural season.
Orendain said it’s been an honor to be able to represent Watsonville and the goal from here on out is to advance with MBFC, but also stay playing and training at a high level as much as possible.
“The more exposure we get, the more games we win, the more people see us,” he said. “It doesn’t just bring exposure for me, but for all the other players that are on the team, as well.”
MBFC2 will play Project 51O in the regular season finale at Cardinale Stadium in Seaside on Saturday at 3pm.