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San Francisco's El Farolito soccer club feeds need to bring passion to the pitch

El Farolito soccer club feeds need to bring passion to the pitch
El Farolito soccer club feeds need to bring passion to the pitch 02:31

SAN FRANCISCO -- In San Francisco, El Farolito soccer club, named after the beloved chain of Bay Area taquerias owned by Salvador Lopez, has flourished.

Gabriel Arias, a 25-year-old center midfielder, epitomizes the spirit of El Farolito. 

After playing the sport in college, Arias brings passion to the soccer field, surrounded by a community he affectionately refers to as his brothers. 

"It means a lot. It brings peace of mind to me, being able to step on the field with my teammates. I like to call them brothers," Arias said.

While the club competes in the National Premier Soccer League, the players from diverse backgrounds and age groups maintain day jobs to sustain their love for the sport. Many speak English as their second language.

Arias, for instance, juggles his role as a construction engineer during the day and pursuit of soccer excellence by night. He would like to go pro in the future however, even during practice sessions, the demands of his work press on him. 

"It's a whole different world, being an engineer in the field of construction. There's way more stuff going on. When you come here, it's all just brotherhood," Arias said.

El Farolito's evolution mirrors the growth and vision of Salvador Lopez's taqueria empire, which now boasts 12 locations across the Bay Area. 

Patrons like Taylor Burks, who frequents the chain, find joy in supporting both the food and the sport. 

"I love soccer. I'm a soccer player myself so it's good to support soccer wherever I can and the burritos are good so it's a win-win," Burks said.

As the club continues to thrive, the team has its sights set on greater achievements, from success in the Open Cup to maintaining strong standings in the NPSL. 

Gabriel Arias envisions a bright future for El Farolito.

"There's great talent here. More scouts should come out here and look at all the great talent there is," Arias said.

With talent, passion and boundless aspirations, El Farolito embodies the essence of community, unity and the pursuit of dreams on and off the soccer pitch. 

Their next game is scheduled for May 4 against the Oakland Stompers.

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