As if combining with his younger brother on an amateur team to beat his former professional team, 4-0, Tuesday to book a date at one of Major League Soccer's best venues wasn't surreal enough for Diego Barrera.
The Cal FC attacker and captain was going up against one of his best friends, defender Dylan Riley, his former Thousand Oaks High, Ventura County Fusion and Wilmington Hammerheads teammate.
"It was just really bizarre that all of us were there," said Barrera. "He has his car there, which made it seem like home, which made it even more bizarre."
"We were playing against our best friend," explained Barrera's brother Danny, the former Westlake High, UC Santa Barbara and Fusion star.
The 2004 CIF-SS Division 2 champions weren't really matched up against each other ("That would have been really weird," said Barrera), but Riley did receive a yellow card for a challenge on his longtime friend.
"He took me out!" Diego laughed. "I knew the contact was coming, but I touched it around him and he was last man. I kind of sold it a little, but he did take me out."
Having qualified from the fifth tier of the American soccer pyramid and eliminated defending Premier Development League champion Kitsap (Wash.) Pumas and Wilmington of the United Soccer League's Professional Division, Thousand Oaks-based Cal F.C., the year-old La Gran Liga de Oxnard side, will visit the Portland Timbers Wednesday in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup.
"I'm just taking it all in," said Diego.