Spartan Summer: Junior Burgos

Efrain Burgos, Jr., just concluded a successful 2008 summer season with the San Francisco Seals of the United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL). Burgos, a native of Santa Ana, El Salvador, who graduated from Westmoor High School in Daly City, Calif., totaled 11 points from five goals and one assist in just his first season of college soccer a year ago, leading the Spartans with 63 shots while finishing 10th in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation in goals per game and 13th in points per game.

This summer, the attacking central midfielder led the Seals to the brink of a playoff spot, as they fell narrowly short on the last weekend of the regular season with a third-place finish in the 10-team Southwest Division of the PDL Western Conference.

“The PDL has become a very competitive league all throughout the United States, and for the San Francisco Seals to be at the top of the chart each week, finishing one win shy of the league title, was quite an accomplishment,” remarked Burgos. “We had a great group. (San Jose State and Seals teammate) Lewis Sweeney was definitely a big part of our success, and all of the players made soccer easy for everyone to play, as we were all very good. I thought my individual performance was good. I had four goals and two assists for a total of 10 points. Also, I was able to get used to my teammates, and I scored some key goals that changed the outcome of important games.”

Burgos continued about what he worked to improve on this summer, with the start of San Jose State training camp just three short weeks away on Wednesday, August 13.

“This summer, I was able to work on my fitness. My work rate has increased, and I was able to accomplish several tasks that were given to me by my coach. Defensively, I was more composed. I worked harder in covering spaces. Offensively, I tried to be more explosive and felt like I was helpful to my team.

“Other than soccer, I have been working for a company called Fisher Development, Inc., which is a very prestigious general contractor that is currently building a West Elm (furniture store) down in Emeryville. Architecture is my main goal in academics, and this experience will definitely help me in that area.

“I have also been playing for my father’s (Efrain Burgos) U21 Bay Oaks. It has been a pleasure to play for my father, as he knows and understands soccer like nobody else, and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to play for him.”

In a home game at the University of San Francisco’s Negoesco Stadium on Saturday, July 12, Burgos’ blast from 35 yards out in a reserve role in the 89th minute proved to be the game-winner over the Los Angeles Legends, as the Seals went on to score again a minute later to take a 2-0 decision and extend their late-season win streak to three games.

San Francisco would then edge the Lancaster Rattlers, 3-2, to take control of its own postseason destiny heading into the final two games. A pair of home wins over the Bakersfield Brigade and the rival San Jose Frogs would have assured the Seals of the Southwest crown, while just one victory was enough to cement a top-two playoff berth.

It was not meant to be, however, as the Seals were first blanked by the Brigade at USF on Friday, July 18, and then again by the Frogs thanks to a trio of Spartan affiliates, 3-0, on a chilly and rainy night in the City on Sunday, July 20. A 2-1 victory by the San Fernando Valley Quakes over the Fresno Fuego, also on Sunday, put an end to the Seals’ campaign.

Eleven current or former Spartans were on hand for the PDL’s Bay Area derby between the Seals and the Frogs. San Francisco began the match with team captain Richard Halvorsen (2001-04) at center back, Rawlston Masaniai (2001-02) in central midfield and Yousef Samy (2006-07) at right back, with Burgos and senior-to-be Lewis Sweeney on the bench as the back-up goalkeeper.

The Frogs started with Nelson Diaz (2004-05) at striker, senior-to-be Gavin Wenyon at right back, sophomore-to-be Ricky Dorrego in central midfield and Dan Oka (2005) on the right side of midfield. Johnny Gonzalez (2002-05) was on the substitutes’ bench, while Savio Carrijo (2005-07) was not available.

Though it was San Francisco that needed to win to keep its season alive, the first half was all Frogs, as the visitors got on the board in just fifth minute when Oka pounced on a loose ball near the top of the Seals’ penalty area on the right side and put a low, hard shot into the left corner of the goal.

In the 22nd minute, San Francisco’s deficit grew to 2-0, as Dorrego latched onto a cross from the left by teammate David Frank and powered a right-footed shot at the near post past the diving Seal goalkeeper. Dorrego, who was not among the Frog players in uniform in a 4-2 win the night before over the Brigade, found the field and played effective soccer all night, highlighted by his goal, before exiting in the 83rd minute.

That second goal brought Burgos into the fray for the home side. As the only two freshmen to see action for head coach Gary St. Clair’s Spartans a year ago, he and Dorrego will be counted on heavily during the upcoming 2008 campaign.

Burgos made his presence felt immediately against the Frogs. His sensational right-footed free kick from the left diagonal hit right where the crossbar met the far post and glanced away, before a pair of pinpoint cross from the left for tall striker Peter Lovell in the middle narrowly missed being goals. The first effort was a corner kick that Lovell put a point-blank header on, only for Frog goalkeeper Stefan Frei to make the save.

After that trio of scoring opportunities, it was once again San Jose that found the back of the net, just before the halftime break in minute 44, as nice combination play eventually saw Oka provide a beautiful back-heeled flick off a cross from the right, for Diaz to gather at the back post and poke home low and on the ground past the goalie.

Though both teams had chances, there was no scoring following the interval. Diaz and Oka were replaced in the 58th and 76th minutes, respectively, before Gonzalez came on for Dorrego with eight minutes to go. Wenyon, Masaniai and Samy played the full 90.

Their game against the Brigade on Saturday night at San Jose’s James Lick High School marked both the 2008 home finale for the Frogs, as well as the debut match for new head coach Peter Weiss. San Jose’s starting lineup included Diaz at forward, Wenyon at right back, Oka on the right wing and Carrijo in central midfield.

Diaz, an All-Far West Region pick in 2005, opened the scoring with a 16th-minute strike, while Oka assisted on a second goal late in the period for a 2-0 halftime lead for the hosts. Bakersfield pulled one back in the 59th minute to make things interesting for a few brief moments, before a pair of San Jose goals over the next eight minutes cleared up the final outcome. Gonzalez came on for the final 14 minutes, while the tense affair ended in a 10-versus-nine with the Frogs holding a man advantage for a total of 73 minutes.

The Seals finished in a third-place tie with the Ventura County Fusion at 27 points apiece at 8-5-3 on the year, while the Frogs rallied to conclude the year in fifth with 24 points at 7-6-3. The Fuego play host to the Southwest Division regular-season champion Quakes, as well as Northwest Division winners Tacoma Tide and Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency, in the Western Conference tournament in Fresno, Calif., July 26-27. The 19-team PDL playoffs got under way on Tuesday, July 22.

Past 2008 Spartan Summer Features
June 12 - Jason Martin, Baseball
June 13 - Alex Sofranac, Baseball
June 16 - Craig Hertler, Baseball
June 19 - Ricky Dorrego, Men's Soccer
June 23 - Max Peterson, Baseball
June 26 - Danny Stienstra, Baseball
June 30 - Karson Klauer, Baseball
July 8 - Kyle Bellows, Baseball
July 10 - Gavin Wenyon, Men's Soccer
July 13 - Ed Brand, Men's Soccer
July 23 - Junior Burgos, Men's Soccer