Photo Credit: theprojectfc
One of the Deltas’ many unsung heroes, Tyler Gibson, scored arguably the Deltas’ best goal of the season to send San Francisco into the NASL Final with a 1-0 victory over North Carolina. In what was a cagey affair, that didn’t see many chances for either side, Gibson stepped up in a bigger way than he has all year with a world-class goal from the top of the box, late in the first half.
It was his first of the season and a deserved goal for the man the Deltas’ Captain Nana Attakora called the team’s MVP of the 2nd half. “Tyler has been the MVP the 2nd half of the season for us, and I just can’t thank him enough,” expressed Attakora. “Tyler came up big for us. We’ve been making fun of him all season, his shots that sometimes just bounce to goalie, but that was world class and we needed it.”
Marc Dos Santos, much like Attakora, was quick to praise the defensive midfielder who took over for one of the team’s best players in the first half of the season Christian Portilla, saying: “What a goal to put us in the final. The thing you might not know about Tyler is the person, his heart, his mentality, to have a prize like that is incredible.”
Tyler Gibson, post-game, was his usual humble self, saying, “Yeah I’ve been trying all season and coming close. All my teammates see me do it in training and keep on me saying you got to score now. It was just perfect timing, I felt like I was going to score tonight and several of my team mates thought I was going to [as well], so it was pretty awesome.” When asked if he’d ever hit one that sweet before he said, “Not in a game.”
The Deltas won the game 1-0 using a usual Marc Dos Santos defensive tactical master class that he has become known for across North America. The Deltas did not allow North Carolina a single shot on target, as the Deltas entire team from front-to-back, was tactically and mentally prepared by the man who will be entering his 3rd consecutive final with three different clubs with this win. “It’s great with everything we went through. Guys were always in doubt on the future of the club. It shows a mental strength and it shows a mentality. It’s great,” said Dos Santos about his side after the match.
“We played a good game. It was very calculated from both sides, two good teams, but we deserved more than Carolina to be in the final,” said Dos Santos about his team’s performance. “I can’t talk tactically too much, but overall we were the better team. We should have killed the game.”
The Deltas celebrated both Gibson’s goal and the final whistle like they hadn’t done all season. “I don’t think we celebrated like that all season,” said Captain Nana Attakora post game. “We have a team here. It’s not a one-man show,” Attakora went on to say.
The Captain admitted to feeling some nerves as he returned to the starting line up for the first time at Kezar stadium since a 3-1 home loss to Miami back on July the 15th. “I was so nervous before the game. It was my first home game in 3-4 months,” said Nana post game. The nerves didn’t seem to show however, as he won the first big tackle of the game just minutes into the match to set the tone for his side defensively.
The Deltas will now host what might be the last ever NASL Soccer Bowl at Kezar Stadium next Sunday at 5 pm (PST) against the two-time defending champion, the historic New York Cosmos. “SF Deltas here it’s a dream, to play a final at home. It’s quite ironic, with everything that is happening that maybe the stars are getting aligned,” said the Head Coach about hosting the NASL Final.
“It doesn’t matter what’s happening behind the scenes. It’s all about what you do on the field, and it’s up to us. It’s a dream come true for a first-year club [to host a final],” said the goal scorer Tyler Gibson. While the Captain Nana seemed to be already focused on the Final when he said, “Hosting will be great, but Cosmos are a team that you don’t really want to play in the post season.” Dos Santos summed it all by simply saying, “At the end it’s important that we are in the final.”