San Francisco soccer club has high hopes for national tournament

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open cup is considered the country's oldest soccer tournament and it is also one of the few venues where amateur and semi-pro teams get a chance to take on a professional club. 

This year, the 108th open begins with a Bay Area battle with two San Francisco teams who are among the 28 amateur and semi-pro teams vying for the cup

In the first round, El Farolito Soccer Club, a well-established club will take on the newcomer, International SF Soccer Club. 

If you’ve never heard of them, that’s because it was only two years ago, in the middle of the pandemic, when Amir Darabi decided it was time to chase a dream. 

"I had this in the back of my mind that I want to do something that would just excite the people of the city," said Darabi.

He is a doctor but soccer runs deep and took him to Georgia Tech as a college athlete.  

The club’s assistant manager Pierre Hicks, is an optical engineer, and says "the odds of making a pro [team] in U.S. soccer just so ridiculously low that a lot of really good players end up, you know, just pursuing other careers."

Team captain Jack Callan played at LSU and St. Mary’s but says he still dreams of the next level saying, "I will not say no." 

And so they said yes, to a team that was literally formed in days. 

"He formed this team basically in like a week and a half," said Hicks.

"It was crazy," Callan says, "it's been an amazing experience. I mean, we started out at a random feel like a bunch of random guys, and it slowly progressed from there."

Darabi says the team has players from 12 countries, nine former pro players, several former college athletes, and some who thought they had said goodbye to the pitch. They've all been brought together by this idea that you never really say goodbye to a great love and a dream.           

"I said in the US. Open cup, we're going to get that in two years, and we could do that," said Darabi. "And then I said, the next milestone is going to be transferring from semiprofessional to professional in five years."  

And so now on schedule InterSF has earned a spot in the U.S. Open Cup 

"Every team in the country, regardless of if you are professional or if you're not professional and have a chance to qualify for the competition," Darabi said.

He goes on to call it "a big deal for a small club like ours because that is the only platform for us to be seen. It is knowing there is no other way for us to be seen by other big teams."

And so they practice in the city they love, a group of players chasing different dreams with one unifying goal.  

"You want to have you want to do something great," said Darabi. "This is more than a soccer thing. I tried to create a family."

If the U.S. Open goes the way they hope, balancing those 9-to-5 jobs with this may get a little more difficult. 

"Yeah. If we keep going on," laughs Hicks, "I'm going to have to keep finding ways to take days off." 

That’s not a bad problem to have.

Watch InterSF Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. in the U.S. Open by clicking here.