The banging of the drums, the billows of blue smoke rising over downtown Fresno, year two for Los Zorros (Foxes) was underway and for many in the Valley, it was worth the wait.
Just under 8,000 fans showed up to Chukchansi Park, despite the neighboring FresYes Fest next door. An increase from last years total of 7,750, the Foxes battled to a 1-1 draw with Reno 1868 FC to stay unbeaten through the first three games of the season.
Fresno drew 1-1 with New Mexico United in the USL opener and won their next match 2-0 against Rio Grande Valley FC.
It’s no surprise attendance increased. The party atmosphere, the play on the pitch and the hometown feel has given soccer fans and newcomers in the area something to embrace. Watching Premier League games at different venues around town with supporters was fun, but Fresno FC is ours.
A beer from nearby Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company, a seat in the comfortable Chukchansi Park and your hometown team, it can’t get any better.
After a full season, where the Foxes finished 9-12-13, we now have a better feel for some of the key players that don the shirts that are so often on the backs of the Los Zorros faithful.
We’ve come to expect the class and leadership from Juan Pablo Caffa, the energy and skill from Jemal Johnson and the power and physical strength from former Bullard-Fresno standout Christian Chaney.
But this next chapter also provides the opportunity to learn and connect with new Foxes. Former Fuego and LA Galaxy II player Elijah Martin became the first player signed from the Fresno FC U23 team, making his debut for the club before the home opener.
Arun Basuljevic — former New York Red Bulls player and New York native — has already brought a spark to the Foxes with two goals in three games. Basuljevic recently selected in the USL Championship team of the week.
Hiroki Kurimoto from Japan and Qudus Lawal from Nigeria are among the contingent this season in hopes for an improvement on last season. Out of 21 players, 10 were born outside the United States.
Los Zorros’ diversity can be a strength for the team, just like it is for the community it represents.