By Pawl Espinoza Twitter: @pawlespinoza on September 15, 2016, 4:47pm

Football has no mercy. Which means it definitely has no mercy rule. This past weekend, Santa Ana Winds FC exploited that fact in a game against Fontana International SC at the Ralph M. Lewis Sports Complex in Fontana, CA. Even though not at home, it was the biggest margin of victory for the Winds in their franchise history, and it was the first time ever the club scored 10 goals in a single game. Normally, I would recap the highlights of the game, but in a 10 to 1 victory, it doesn’t make sense to focus on each goal scored. Instead, let us rejoice in the fact that the Winds played nearly perfect ball and reflect on the overall play of the game.

Ball Movement
One aspect of the game that has not been much of an issue for the squad this season has been their unselfishness. Six of the ten goals scored this game came off of assists. And two of the other goals came from opportunities created by smart team play. The midfielders constantly surveyed the field and the strikers were always looking to make the right play. Clean, point passing seemed like a priority for the Winds and no single player attempted to dominate in ball possession.

Winds FC has had a habit of allowing stoppable goals in the second half of each game. It has taken almost half a season, but it seems like they’ve begun to remedy that issue. Against Fontana, the defenders protected the keeper better than we’ve seen all season. Each time the ball came into their territory they made the right play. Whether it needed to be cleared, held, given to the keeper, or passed up field, the right call was made on just about every possession. The one exception happened to be Fontana’s only goal in the 27th minute, but it was honestly because of Fontana’s only shining moment of the game. They scored on a series of volleys that just happened to beat Santa Ana’s defenders. It was the classic case of good defense, better offense.

The Santa Ana Winds are making a name for themselves with their fast-paced style of play. It can be a little better controlled at times, but overall it has been the driving force for the team. Sometimes it leads to turnovers, but it often leads to breakaways. This specific win demonstrated exactly how commanding they can be. For instance, back-to-back goals in the 36th and 41st minutes both came off of passes from midfield to a sprinting forward. In the first instance, Carlos Andrade was able to juke the opposing striker after sprinting up the left field chasing a deep pass by Zaid Khalil. After catching up to the ball, Andrade beat yet another defender to create the opportunity for a cross into the back of the net. The second example went similarly when Andrade returned the favor to Khalil with a deep pass that Khalil was able to chase down. Khalil brought it up, juked a diving defender, and created a 1-v-1 with the goalkeeper for a seamless goal. 

Fontana International SC isn’t exactly the toughest competition the Winds will face, especially with the first qualifying rounds of the U.S. Lamar Hunt Open Cup coming up this weekend, but the Winds did exactly what they were supposed to do against lower-ranked competition. They revealed that they can play as a premier unit, seemingly improving with every game, but only time will tell how dominant they will become.

Catch Santa Ana Winds FC in their U.S. OPEN CUP QUALIFYING GAME this Sunday, September 18, 2016 at 6:30pm in Colton, CA. The game features Santa Ana as the home side and La Habra City FC as the visitors at Colton High School.