NORTHRIDGE, California – Watching the team you coach give up ten goals in three matches to start the season while only scoring once in that span can be frustrating, even more so when the front office executives are pressuring you for results to see the team win now.
FC Santa Clarita (0-3-0; 0 points) head coach Martin Rubio found his breaking point quick to start the season as they traveled to Northridge coming up short 0-2 losing against Valley United (2-0-1; 7 points) that saw his side complete a three game losing streak.
After their first three games into their inaugural United Premier Soccer League (UPSL) season Rubio had enough and began acting unprofessional during the first half of the match then started a fight with executives on the sideline while play was in progress.
Casey Phillips had another stellar game in the post as the Valley United keeper made a couple great saves while keeping a clean sheet for the match. This was Phillips second clean sheet of the season holding Santa Clarita Storm two weeks ago scoreless to open the season.
The match started off awful for Rubio and his talented men as Valley United’s Laura Garcia out coached Rubio from the start orchestrating the first goal of the game in the 9th minute when Simon Deeley received a pass through the shambolic FC Santa Clarita defense from Saragon Barkawi, then Deeley turned the ball into a rocket off his boot that zoomed past the keeper before anything could be done.
With the visitors losing 1-0 in the early part of the match, Rubio needed to take his frustration out while being out coached by Garcia and in the 30th minute his embarrassment finally bubbled over. Rubio walked over to FC Santa Clarita owner Gerald Brunner as he was standing with the team general manager as they were watching the game not far from the team bench then began yelling something at them before the General Manager and Rubio were in a loud yelling fight. Brunner broke up the heated exchange and Rubio returned to the bench to finish trying to coach the debacle unfolding.
Rubio’s unprofessionalism rubbed off on his team who managed to gather three yellow cards in the second half being booked in the 65th minute after taking down a Valley United player in the box, then in the 77th minute another yellow card for a dangerous play.
The bookings did not help FC Santa Clarita as they were on their heels and discombobulated only to stand by as they gave up the final goal of the night in the 88th minute quickly followed up two minutes later by another yellow card. This booking was for unsporting behavior that became the prelude to a dust up and skirmish between the two teams. After the dust settled the referees called the game and put an end to FC Santa Clarita’s third lose in as many weeks to start the season.
Their may have been warning signs before Rubio’s in match breakdown starting with when Rubio and his assistant coach Oscar Moreno began having issues dealing with the local media a few weeks ago. Moreno began to refuse to answer any questions saying if he gave any information regarding the team, a player might read it and become unhappy pretending to be sick and not show up for a game. Moreno’s reasons in his alarming statements to a reporter from a coach of a professional soccer organization was shocking and perhaps the first indication of trouble.
The media began to bypass the coach getting information directly from the team owner and players who were more than willing to be helpful and seemed happy with the job the local media had been doing. For all of Rubio’s failures and leading a team that is a perennial underachiever the media were surprisingly soft on their criticism.
What a shame that a brilliant front office executive and a team loaded with talent that’s under performing could be held back from being a contender due to a coach in over his head. You shake your head at what’s going on with FC Santa Clarita or purportedly going on and how they could not figure out how to get along for the good of the organization.
If a UPSL title is the most important thing to FC Santa Clarita owner Brunner, then how does a overwhelmed, unprofessional and media unfriendly coach fit in with making that goal a reality? There is no way anyone can say a terrible marriage between a coach and front office doesn’t affect the team, or at least any team that isn’t winning.
No one wants to be known as the coach who takes a team on their longest losing streak and a personality that wears downs players excitement.
No one wants to be known as the team who holds on to a coach to long as your top talent ages and the door to win a championship slams shut.
In the end it was unfixable, the General Manager looking to be the more mature man resigned his position effective immediately after Brunner took no actions of disciple against Rubio for his unprofessional behavior mid match.
FC Santa Clarita with many front office issues not seeming to be settled anytime soon hope the product on the field can improve when they try to stop the losing streak at three in a row next Sunday, May 31 against the Las Vegas High Rollers (1-1-0, 3 points).