Playing in the Premier Development League (PDL) and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup wasn’t part of the original plan for Allisson Faramilio or FC Golden State, but neither is willing to change where they are right now.
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“This is such a great opportunity for the players to play at the highest level,” said FC Golden State Force owner Bob Friedland. “In a sport like this you have to take opportunities as they come up, and when they come up we’re going to take them.”
(The Force of PDL never planned to reach the 4th Round of the Open Cup - but talent's talent. Photo Michael Carranza)
Friedland started FC Golden State in 2007 with 11 teams and the help of coaches from South America and Europe. The club has grown to more than 100 all-ages boys and girls teams across the length and breadth of Southern California. “I don’t know if we had it mapped out 11 years ago,” said Friedland, “but we always had in mind to give the best opportunities to the kids at the highest level we could possibly do.”
New Blood; Fresh Goals
In 2016, Friedland gave FC Golden State some serious Open Cup credibility when be brought in Alex Lujan as Director of Football Operations. Lujan, who had previously helped lead Irvine-based amateur team PSA Elite to a pair of Open Cup appearances (2014, 2015), stepped into a day-to-day role with the club’s newly-minted PDL team.
“Playing in the U.S. Open Cup against a team like LA Galaxy is the type of experience you want to give a young player,” said Lujan. “I’ve seen it [PSA Elite also played a game again LA Galaxy in the Fourth Round in 2015] and have been lucky enough to get there again with this group.”
After a solid first term in 2016 that included a late-season push and an appearance in the PDL Western Conference final, FC Golden State Force had some growing pains and a good amount of front-office turnover. But when they stepped back on the field in 2017, they did so scoring truckloads of goals en route to the PDL’s Southwest Conference title.
“We scored over 50 goals [in 17 games] and won the conference over a lot of really strong teams but unfortunately our season got cut short,” said Lujan, referring to the PDL semifinal in Thunder Bay, Canada, where six of the team’s starting 11 players were unable to travel for a season-ending 1-0 loss. “It was a good second year, a good sophomore year,” Lujan said. “And this year we’re trying to build off the momentum and make another push.”
(Faramilio, 30, has bounced around the globe chasing the game - now he's settled in SoCal. Photo Michael Carranza)
Realizing they had reached a new ceiling, Friedland and Lujan agreed to broaden their player recruitment strategy in an effort to set loftier expectations. “We changed our philosophy a little bit: different coach, a different formation,” Lujan added. “And there were a lot of different things we were trying to do both on and off the field.”
Previously, FC Golden State Force had focused primarily on collegiate players from the numerous and thriving UC men’s soccer programs in the area, including UCLA, UC Irvine and UC Riverside. This is the traditional schema for a team in the PDL, which is largely considered a summer-league for ambitious and talented collegiate players. With a change in scope, however, the Force’s management began considering a number of international players. “Traditionally we’d have a lot of those UCLA-type players, and this year we did a little external recruiting and picked up some very strong players from outside of the States,” explained said.
Allisson Faramilio was one of those players. He grew up playing at the fabled Sport Club Corinthians Paulista in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but he didn’t make an appearance with the club’s senior team. Instead, he spent the better part of the next decade bouncing from one club to another in his home country.
An established professional with a wife and child in Brazil, Faramilio went on loan to Matsumoto Yamaga FC in Nagano, Japan in 2012 before taking the somewhat extraordinary step two years later of accepting a contract with Hyundai Mipo Dolphin FC in Ulsan, South Korea.
His travels outside of Brazil grew more varied and adventurous. He moved on to play for FK Kukesi in Kukes, Albania in 2015 and after that with Zakho Sport Club in Dohuk.“It was a change in tactics and a change in playing style,” said Faramilio through Force teammate and stand-in interpreter Marcelo Manfredini. “It was the chance to learn new cultures and another way of life."
Faramilio briefly returned home to Brazil after 2016, but after mulling a number of local offers he agreed to join FC Golden State Force as an amateur and try life in Los Angeles. “The opportunity to live this new experience with FC Golden State and score goals has been a blessing to me,” said Faramilio. “I’m still trying to get better with each game and keep scoring in every game.”
(Faramilio got one of his two goals against Las Vegas Lights from the spot. Photo Michael Carranza)
The 6-foot-2 striker, now 30-years-old and a veteran by any measure, scored twice in FC Golden State Force’s 4-2 victory over Las Vegas Lights (USL) in the Third Round of the Open Cup, and he’s now among the tournament’s leading scorers with four goals in three games. “I’m doing my best to play very well, to score a lot of goals and have people see the club,” added Faramilio, who also netted goals in wins over Open Cup regulars and national amateur powers L.A. Wolves FC (UPSL) and Orange County SC (USL) in the first two rounds.
Goals Flow for Faramilio
“He’s got an impressive background and has played professionally on an international scale that our guys simply have not experienced,” said Lujan, happy to build a team around a player with the pedigree of Faramilio. “He’s probably played at a higher level than a lot of the guys that we’ll face on the Galaxy.
Working on his English during the day, Faramilio trains with the club and on his own at night in order to put himself in the best position to help the side succeed. “I have an opportunity here to do well and have even more opportunities,” he said, clearly not satisfied with a run in the Open Cup and life in the PDL. “This could be the chance I get to be on a bigger stage or have another bigger opportunity.”
(The Force, amateurs of PDL, have a chance to shock MLS' LA Galaxy in the 4th Round. Photo Michael Carranza)
Faramilio has made important contacts regarding gaining residency status for himself and his family, and his hopes are high that a top performance against the Galaxy will lead to a shot with a professional team in the USL or MLS. “It’s part of the dream,” said Faramilio, a wanderer again in a new land with a ball at his feet and an opportunity in front of him.
The last decade has led to this moment for both player and club. Only Wednesday night will tell what happens next.