Report: IE Teams in the 2022 SoCal Premier Open Division

Kicking off in February, the SoCal premier open division was a small competition consisting of 10 teams fighting for a spot in next season’s SoCal premier regular season. When the open season finishes, the clubs will be filtered to the SoCal premier’s three divisions based on their opening division placement. There were four from the Inland Empire; IE Republic, Temecula FC, CDC Dominguez, and Fontana Legacy among those ten teams. Here is a summary of how these teams finished it off.

Fontana Legacy

A new team starting this season, Fontana legacy made its debut in the SoCal premier after the owner contemplated other leagues. Like most new teams from scratch and without previous soccer history or youth club backing, the fountain city team struggled. They suffered losses by two-goal margins and drew other teams for the first half of the season. They ultimately found their footing, defeating another new Fontana team CDC Dominguez 6-1 on week 8, their first-ever win as a club. The momentum kept going as they blanked ASLA II 1-0 the following week, ending their debut season on a high. Despite the strong finish, the season ends for the Legacy. They finish in 6th place with a 2-3-5 record, scoring 15 and allowing 26 goals.

Fontana Legacy owner Angel Sandoval also shared his thoughts on his team’s first season and what the future holds for the club. “Very impressed with the level of competition. Regardless of each result, you had to come prepared and focused to compete with our opponents.” Angel learned from the competition that team practice is crucial and having a game plan before each game and making sure his players go through it. His goal before the season started was to win as many games as possible and promotion to the second or first division. This is his goal for next season, and he mentions that not all (current) players will return, and Fontana will have scrimmages and tryouts soon.

CDC Dominguez 

Like Fontana Legacy, CDC Dominguez came to the local soccer scene out of nowhere. Nonetheless, they came to the league with the right foot forward, beat their Fontana neighbor 3-1 in their first game, and defeated Disciples FC II 2-1 the following week. Like sparklers, CDC’s winning streak comes to an end as the rest of the season was filled with two ties and six losses, including a postponed game against IER. That postponed match was rescheduled to the final week of the season, and sadly they forfeited, allowing the San Bernardino team to take the 1st place crown. They ended the season in 7th with a 2-2-6 record, scoring 18 and allowing 36 goals.

The signs of mismanagement didn’t end there. In March, they fielded another team in the UPSL D1 SoCal East. The UPSL season started around week 4 of the SoCal Premier open competition. While it’s not unusual for a club to field multiple teams in multiple leagues, the scheduling and player pool didn’t seem adequate for the new group. As of late May, their UPSL team record is 0-0-9, with sources saying they dropped from the league. Since their social media presence seems absent, there is no telling whether they will return or not. When they reached out for comments about their season, they did not respond.

IE Republic 

In their second appearance in the SoCal Premier system, the San Bernardino-based team returned from competition after a 2-month winter break. Their last appearance in the SoCal premier was in the COVID formated premier division, where they fielded their reserve squad. They won the league by default due to Magia Academy forfeiting their final matches of the season. They returned with their first team and hit the ground running in 2022, winning their first game 3-0 vs. Problems FC, but then they were hit with stiff competition. Matchweek 2 was against fellow IE big names Temecula FC where they fell short 3-2. The hiccup continued the following week with a 3-1 loss to FC Colonia. Fortunately for coach Gabriel’s team, it would be the last loss of the season. They headed into match-week three with a bye due to CDC Dominguez postponing, and from there on, they went on a four-game winning streak: 4-1 win vs. ASLA U-19, 6-2 win vs. Fullerton Disciples II, 8-1 win vs. Fontana Legacy and a 5-0 win over Problems FC.

On match week nine, they had the chance to redeem their first loss to Temecula FC by hosting them, but they settled on a 2-2 draw. The season got interesting in the last match week as IER (who were in 2nd place) defeated FC Colonia 5-0, and they had to pay attention to the result of Temecula FC (in 1st place) and Problems FC. The quails won 5-2 and ended the season with 21 points, while IER had 19 points. Fortunately for IER, they had a game at hand with CDC Dominguez and must get a win if they wanted to finish first while all the other teams had already finished. In an anti-climatic end to the season, CDC called off the game and forfeited, giving IER the 3 points needed for them to finish on top. IER ends in first place with 22 points and records a 7-1-2 finish with a GD of +27.

After the open season ended, IER wasn’t a trophy recipient automatically. They would play a final matchup against Olympiacos (from the SoCal Premier 1st division south) for the SoCal Premier championship despite Olympiacos already in the first division. However, the final was played on May 22nd at Biola University, where the San Bernardino team was down 1-0 in the first three minutes. Eventually, they would come back to lead 4-1 by the half and then hold the lead to win 5-3 to be crowned champions. This final marked their 2nd SoCal Premier title. Coach Gabriel was not able to share his comments about the season.
Here are the highlights of the game.

Temecula FC 

After almost 5+ years in the NPSL, TFC moved to put their marbles in SoCal premier and left the National Premier Soccer League. Although this is their first appearance for the first team, TFC fielded a U-23 team back in the 17-18 season. Nonetheless, TFC looked like the favorites to win the season, and they got 6 points in their first two games. However, a shocking result ensued in the 3rd match week where Temecula fell to Problems FC 5-3 after a 2-1 lead by the quails. They would bounce back with back-to-back wins against Disciples II and Fontana Legacy, followed by a mix of wins and ties leading to the final week. Ultimately, the game at hand for the IE Republic left the quails crossing their fingers that CDC Dominguez would defeat the boys from San Bernardino. To their disappointment, the CDC team forfeits, giving the second-place team IER the 1st place spot.

Brandon Jantz, the owner of Temecula FC, shared his thoughts on the competition and what’s next for the quails. “I felt the competition was of a good standard. I learned we need a different type of player or mentality to win the league compared to the NPSL. The games are much more physical in SoCal which many of our players could not cope with. Pre-season goals was to win the league. We now have tryouts at the end of May to develop a squad to play US Open Cup qualifying in September.”

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