- Fresno Fuego
Football club infobox
clubname = Fresno Fuego
fullname = Fresno Fuego Futbol Club
nickname = Fuego
founded = 2003
capacity = 12,500
chairman = flagicon|Mexico
J. Alfredo Guzman
manager = flagicon|USA
USL Premier Development League
season = 2008
position = 2nd, Southwest Division
Playoff Conference Semifinals
Fresno Fuego are an American
soccerteam, founded in 2003after the franchise rights were transferred to them from former 2-time PDL champions, the Central Coast Roadrunners. The team is a member of the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League(PDL), the fourth tier of the American Soccer Pyramid, and plays in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference against teams from Bakersfield, Calabasas, Glendora, Irvine, La Mirada, Lancaster, San Francisco, San Jose and Ventura.
They play their home games at
Chukchansi Parkin the city of Fresno, California, and have a successful cross-promotional partnership with the Fresno GrizzliesAAA baseball team, the first of its kind in the PDL. The team's home colors are red and black. Their away colors are all white.
* USL PDL Western Conference Champions 2007
* USL PDL Southwest Division Champions 2007
* USL PDL Western Conference Champions 2004
* USL PDL Southwest Division Champions 2003
Fuego made their debut in PDL competition in 2003, having picked up the franchise rights from the former PDL champions, the
Central Coast Roadrunnersfrom San Luis Obispo. Playing on the campus of San Joaquin Memorial High School, Fresno made a blistering start to their first campaign, scoring eight goals in back-to-back wins over Nevada Wonders, California Goldand Orange County Blue Star, with striker Orlando Ramirezimpressing. Fresno's impressive early season form also saw them qualify for the US Open Cup, where they made it all the way to the fourth round with victories over Chico Rooks, Utah Blitzzand El Paso Patriots, before they finally fell 3-1 to Los Angeles Galaxy. Fresno's home form was superb during their first season, losing just one game - a 3-2 turnaround to California Gold- the entire year. Fuego's Latin American connection, led by Ramirez and Fabricio Codeceirawas hugely influential, and by the end of their debut year they were sitting proudly atop the Southwest table, ahead of Orange County Blue Staron goal difference. The playoffs were a disappointment; after defeating Northwest champions Spokane Shadow, Fresno fell to Blue Star in the conference final.
2004 saw the Fuego move to a new home at
Fresno Pacific University, but the change did not affect their on-field performances, which included two 5-1 thrashings of the San Diego Gauchos, and nine-goal haul over 2 games against California Gold. Orlando Ramirez, Edgardo Contreras, Jose Luis Espindolaand Milton Blancocontinued their free-scoring exploits, and by the end of the 18-game season they finished just four points behind divisional champs Orange County Blue Star, and for the second year in a row made the playoffs. This time, however, Fuego took the conference title after wins over Cascade Surgeand Blue Star. However, progress on the national stage eluded them, a 3-0 defeat to central conference champs Boulder Rapids Reserveending their dreams of the PDL title. Nevertheless, two straight trips to the playoffs was impressive for a 2-year franchise.
2005 saw expansion in the Southwest, and Fresno suffered a little. Despite a opening strongly with 3 wins in their first 4 games, a mid-season slump saw them drop points against the
Southern California Seahorses, California Goldand BYU Cougars. As a result, the gap between them and the divisional leaders - Blue Star and Seahorses - was too great, and despite winning 5 of their last 6 games - and scoring 15 goals in the process - they eventually finished third in the table. Veteran Edgardo Contrerasand new signing Amaury Nuneswere the top marksmen, knocking in 8 goals each, while Brazilian Fabricio Codeceirawas a midfield dynamo, registering 7 assists for the season. Once again, Fresno's playoff campaign was a short one, falling to Orange County Blue Starin the first game.
2006 was more difficult still for Fuego. First of all, they found themselves without a permanent home stadium, and instead were forced to travel all over the city - to
Golden West High Schooland Central High Schoolamongst others - in search of a pitch on which to play. Secondly, even more expansion in the division raised the level of competition considerably. Fresno stuttered inconsistently through their opening games, beating San Diego Gauchos5-2, then losing 4-0 to Los Angeles Storm, thrashing San Diego 4-0, then losing 4-1 to the expansion San Francisco Seals. Fabricio Codeceiraand Amaury Nunesremained potent in front of goal, netting 18 times between them, but their spotty form was their downfall, and by the end of the season head coach Scott Alcorn's men were a distant fifth behind league leaders Orange County Blue Starand Southern California Seahorses.
2007 saw a huge change in fortunes for the Fuego. Before the season began the team signed a partnership with the AAA baseball franchise, the
Fresno Grizzlies, resulting in cross-promotion, publicity, and a new home: Chukchansi Parkin the heart of downtown Fresno. Buoyed by fan support which reached 3,000 spectators at home games, Fuego were resurgent: impressive early-season wins over the Southern California Seahorsesand the San Fernando Valley Quakeskept them in the hunt for the playoffs, and their impressive home form meant that, by the end of the year, they were one of the four teams battling for the two playoff spots. A final day 3-1 victory over the San Francisco Seals gave them the divisional title over the San Fernando Valley Quakeson goal difference; prolific Brazilian striker Pablo Camposscored two of his 18 goals, and cemented his position as the league-leading goalscorer. The playoffs, which were hosted by Fresno at Chukchansi, saw them demolish Tacoma Tide4-1, and then knock off Northwest champs BYU Cougars to take their second conference title; but once again their national challenge saw them fall at the first hurdle, losing 1-0 to eventual PDL national champions Laredo Heat.
Notable former players
* Paul Moran
* Stadium at
San Joaquin Memorial High School, Fresno, California2003
* Stadium at
Fresno Pacific University, Fresno, California2003-05
Chukchansi Park, Fresno, California2006-date
* Stadium at
Golden West High School, Visalia, California2006 (2 games)
* Stadium at Central High School,
Fresno, California2006 (5 games)
*2008: 3,384 (3rd highest in PDL)
*2007: 3,068 (2nd highest in PDL)
*2006: 1,147 (5th highest in PDL)
* [http://www.fresnofuego.com/ Fresno Fuego]
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