By Charles Cuttone
The Bay Area Ambassadors are the only rookie among the teams at this week’s championship round of the NPSL playoffs. They take on Chattanooga FC in the nightcap of Friday’s semifinal doubleheader at 7:00 pm PT.
Coached by Mohammed Mohammed, the Ambassadors finished 9-1-3 in the regular season, then beat the Sonoma Sol to advance to the NPSL Finals.
The Ambassadors made easy work of the Sol, winning 4-1 to complete an undefeated season at home.
In the third minute, Jordan Keyes crushed a header into the goal off a corner from Javier Hill. Stefan Clemens slipped a ball in behind the defense for Emrah Klimenta to finish, giving the Ambassadors a 2-0 lead. Klimenta scored his second goal of the game with a shot combining placement and power off a pass from Dylan Murphy for a 3-0 halftime lead.
The Sol had one breakthrough with a shot from outside the eighteen-yard box by Sean Callahan to make it 3-1. In the 89th minute, Nick Cashmere used his impressive speed to track to down a punt from Derek Lesley and loop it over the Sol’s goalie for the fourth goal of the game.
Mohammed, who also coaches in a local youth program and has coached many of the Ambassadors players since they were kids, favors a possession style of soccer, with a patient buildup working out of either a 4-3-3 formation or a 4-4-2.
While this is their first time on the national stage, the team has seen some regional success, winning the Region IV Championship in 2010 and playing in the U.S. Open (Amateur) Cup, while also making the NPSL Playoffs.
When the club was founded in 2008 by former Nigerian International Tony Igwe and local businessman Arif Khan, part of its purpose was to help players progress in professional soccer. One of the team’s standouts, co captain Yousiff Samy, also plays for the San Jose Earthquakes reserve team. Hill is the former captain of Cal-Berkley, and was a draft pick of Chivas USA.