Monthly Archives: May 2015
Washington Crossfire beat a nine-man Lane United FC side 3-1 in Redmond, Washington on Sunday afternoon. The Reds were ahead courtesy of Alex Pantoja’s brilliant individual goal seven minutes into the match but failed to add to their advantage before disaster struck in the form of Jordan Jones being sent off for two cautionable offenses in quick succession at the tail end of the first half. The Crossfire equalized through Beau Blanchard — arguably topping Pantoja for individual skill and beauty — in the 52nd minute before the Reds’ problems were compounded by the expulsion of goalkeeper Chris Lowrimore for handling the ball outside his penalty area and denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity in the process. Lane United were forced to insert defender Brenden Anderson at goalkeeper, Matt Bersano having been suspended after his red card on Friday, and though he acquitted himself well and the nine-man Reds were able to still produce attacking spells, they were powerless to stop the Crossfire’s two winning goals eventually flying in.
In front of a crowd of no more than 30 fans, Lane United started off the match in clear control, and were rewarded by Pantoja’s silky early goal. Picking up possession from a loose ball at the top right corner of the box, he croquetaed through two challenges, cut inside and blasted an unstoppable finish with the outside of his right boot into the top left corner of Crossfire goalkeeper Tyler Visten’s net. For long stretches after the highlight-reel goal, however, Lane United conceded their superiority and survived a number of scares in their own box from Crossfire crosses and set-pieces. The Reds almost doubled their lead anyway in the 39th minute when Raul Muntean at the back post met a perfect cross from Amer Sasivarevic — one of Lane United’s standout performers on the night — only to see his volley denied by a sprawling save from Visten.
Shortly afterward, the Reds’ troubles began. Jones was initially yellow-carded for getting in a wrestling match off the ball with Michael Gallagher, a Crossfire center-half. Gallagher was also cautioned for his role in the incident. Only a minute later, Jones committed a late challenge on a Crossfire defender who was clearing the ball, and center referee Jeff Arthur-Holtz produced another yellow, followed by a red. The Reds went into halftime clinging to a 1-0 lead regardless, but it evaporated in the 52nd minute when Washington’s Blanchard, starting on the left touchline, beat two defenders, rouletted past another and then, figuring the fates were on his side, let fly with an incredible 20-yard shot that curled a few inches inside Lowrimore’s far post. A few minutes later, the plot thickened when Crossfire forward Hamza Haddadi picked the ball off the feet of Chris Lowrimore; he then attempted to pass the ball into the unguarded net from 20 yards, only to have Lowrimore lay out at his feet and stop the shot with his hands just outside the penalty box. It was a simple sending-off decision at that point, although Lane United head coach John Galas thought that Haddadi had fouled Lowrimore when he won the ball: “At the time I thought it was a foul, but I’d have to watch film of it to confirm.” Because of goalkeeper Matt Bersano’s suspension, also for a last-man incident, in the Sounders U23 match on Friday night, Lane United were forced to throw Brenden Anderson, more comfortable as a center-back, in goal to replace Lowrimore.
Down to nine men and with a field player in goal, the Crossfire’s comeback seemed inevitable, although Lane United defended and even attacked bravely in their attempts to resist it. In the 66th minute, though, Haddadi did break down the Reds’ back line, holding the ball up in a crowd at the top of the box before slipping it out wide to Mason Robertson, who slotted a mostly uncontested shot from 15 yards low past Anderson. Haddadi also assisted the final insurance goal, in the 89th minute, heading across the box for another substitute, Nicco Piacentini, to nod home. In the meantime, the Reds had actually created a few chances, including Rolando Velazquez dragging a shot wide and several corners being swung into the box, but it was ultimately too little and too late. Galas lamented his team’s inability to “manage the match with the early lead and get 3 points on the road.” “We didn’t play well enough to win,” he said, “and we made too many mental and physical mistakes. We deserved everything we got today.”
The Reds return to Oregon for a spate of five home games starting with a match against PDL newcomers FC Calgary on Friday, June 5 at 7:00 p.m. at the Willamalane Center. They then play four more home matches in June before eventually getting back on the road for a June 27 contest against Kitsap Pumas.
Lane United FC lost to the Seattle Sounders FC U23s in Bonney Lake, Washington, conceding from a 78th-minute penalty kick by Joseph Gjertsen in what was otherwise a largely even match. There had been decent attacking and possession by both sides before the penalty incident, which also saw starting Lane United goalkeeper Matt Bersano sent off for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity, but only one crystal-clear goalscoring chance until then, a breakaway from Guillermo Delgado in the 8th minute which Bersano was responsible for spectacularly denying. Reds backup goalkeeper Chris Lowrimore, thrust into the unfortunate situation of having to stop Gjertsen’s penalty kick, got a hand to the Seattle forward’s attempt but couldn’t keep it out of the net, and though Lane United hoisted at least a dozen balls into the Seattle penalty box in the remaining 15 minutes of action, they were never able to scramble an equalizer.
The match tilted back and forth in 15-minute phases in the first half, Lane United commanding the first albeit with the hiccup of Delgado’s breakaway from a simple vertical ball. The Reds were assured in possession and moved around the field in cohesive units. A few half-chances came out of their early superiority, including Isma Fernández scuffing a shot at Sounders keeper Doug Herrick in the first 30 seconds, but they never truly came close to putting a goal on the board. Then suddenly, for a long spell in the middle of the half, the7 lost their ability to deal with Seattle’s pressure and turned the ball over into several threatening attacks, most of which somehow involved the extremely fast Delgado. Just before halftime, you got the sense that Lane United had regained level footing, exemplified by Alex Pantoja nearly finishing their best move of the game, only to see Herrick tip his first-time shot off a pullback from Daley Stevens over the crossbar. Mueller had also become entangled with most of the Seattle back line by that point, including being apparently dragged down when Jon Zabasajja floated a cross towards his head in the 30th minute. Unfortunately, the referee, Chapalo Street, whose laissez-faire standards bordered on ineptitude, chose not to award the penalty, although he did deservedly caution Mueller a few minutes later for a late foul as a Seattle defender attempted to clear.
Lane United picked up the second half where they’d left off at the end of the first, forcing corners and working in crosses with regularity, although Herrick has to be complimented for commanding his area and corralling most of them. Mueller, saddled with his yellow card, was also substituted early in the second half, which reduced some of the Reds’ forward aerial threat. Seattle had scarcely threatened to break down Lane United, except for one scare off a long throw-in where the substitute David Olson headed narrowly wide, before the penalty incident occurred. Brenden Anderson tried to cushion a back-header to Bersano, but Gjertsen intercepted, bravely got a foot in on the ball and then was cleaned out by the Reds goalkeeper. With the ball trickling onward, other Lane United defenders were on hand to clear it away about five yards from the goal line, but Mr. Street determined that their presence did not preclude Bersano being guilty of denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity, and he was duly sent off, and Lowrimore thrown on to replace him and nearly save the ensuing penalty. Head coach John Galas was full of praise for his team’s response to the unlucky series of events, noting that “we won about five corners in the last ten minutes and had the ball in their half almost the entire time. They’re tough to get through, though, and they cut out almost all of it, but I’m satisfied with the effort. We were dead even for 75 minutes on the road against Seattle; I thought we were a little negative at times in possession before the goal and it hurt us, but I’m not going to fault the overall play or the way the guys responded when they went behind. We just have to regroup and get ready for Crossfire Sunday.”
The Reds play Washington Crossfire in Redmond, Washington on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. That match will be covered on Twitter with @LUFCLiveTweets, and on the Lane United FC blog and YouTube channels after the game.
Timothy Mueller scored a first-half hat trick for Lane United FC as the Reds tied the Puget Sound Gunners 3-3 in what has to go down as the most entertaining match in the Oregon club’s short history. In a match that was played at a break-neck pace, with a chance seemingly every minute from the first to the 94th, Mueller and his counterpart Charles Pitts were the standouts, the latter getting two goals of his own, one in each half, and drawing the penalty that Adam Jones converted for the hosts’ second goal. Lane United were up 2-0, then later 3-1, before halftime had even struck, but let the lead slip away, much to the chagrin of head coach John Galas. He remarked after the game that “when we step back and look at it, a point on the road is still a good thing. We’re happy to take that away from today. But everyone’s frustrated in letting the lead go.” He added that his team “had good energy throughout, and I can’t fault the effort, but sometimes we were hit-and-miss and a few cheap mistakes cost us the three points.”
Puget Sound themselves might have been ruing similar mistakes, as Lane United’s first and third goals came from turning over possession around midfield and finding themselves suddenly exposed at the back. Mueller opened the scoring in the 20th minute — by which point both teams had already produced several strong chances, including Justin Fiddes having a goal disallowed for offsides — after being played in behind a hastily retreating back line and sidefooting an inch-perfect finish low across Gunners keeper Cody Jewett’s goal and in off the far post. That goal was with his less-favored left foot, and two minutes later he scored again by thumping in an Isma Fernández corner with his more favored head. Daley Stevens then almost immediately put the Reds up three by scooping up an interception 20 yards from goal and shooting a foot over the bar from inside the box, and Lane United were punished for that profligacy in due course by Pitts. In only the 25th minute, he advanced up the center of the park mostly unchallenged, cut onto his left foot and shot from the arc to beat Chris Lowrimore, who couldn’t get a strong enough hand behind the effort.
That goal made the score 2-1 after five of the most breathless minutes anyone is likely to experience all season. Things had finally quieted down by the 34th minute, when Isma and Mueller turned the volume up again. This time Isma latched onto a Gunners misplayed pass — forced by pressure from his countryman Cristian Cataluña — and did very well to cut inside his marker at the top of the box and curl a brilliant effort onto the crossbar. The rebound inevitably fell to Mueller, who blasted it into the net first-time through Jewett with his favorite right foot, finishing off his perfect first-half hat trick. At this point, Lane United were up 3-1 and hunting for more, with the attacking trio of Mueller, Cata and Isma pressuring the Gunners’ defensive players into giveaways from time to time. Unfortunately for the Reds, a deep midfield giveaway of their own led to Pitts moving upfield on almost the exact same trajectory which he had used to score earlier — only this time, before he could shoot, some combination of Dirk van der Velde and Brenden Anderson brought him down at the top of the penalty box with a stonewall foul. Jones, whom Galas believed was the Gunners’ best player on the night, stepped up and converted the spot-kick, though again Lowrimore got a hand to the high shot. The halftime whistle blew a minute later. 3-2.
The second half was played at a similar pace to the first, with a similar rate of chances, the only difference being both teams’ failure to finish as many of them. In the 56th minute, Mueller got a chance to add to his already impressive tally but was denied on a point-blank rebound shot by Jewett, just 30 seconds after Lowrimore had made a reaction save on Fiddes, who had stolen around the right side of the Lane United back line. Both keepers continued to play well throughout the second half, although Lowrimore was beaten once, in the 64th minute, by another powerful Pitts shot, the forward having again benefited from Lane United losing possession and exposing themselves at the back. He raced into the right channel of the penalty box and fired low through Lowrimore to equalize and make it 3-3; at that point, with 25 minutes plus stoppage time to play, it was anyone’s guess who would win. Lane United threatened several times with crosses from their fullbacks, Casey Phillips on the left and Jon Zabasajja on the right. Puget Sound threatened several times, either from long throws or from Fiddes’ frightening pace up front; Galas after the match praised Brenden Anderson, who played 90 minutes at center-half, for dealing with the powerful Gunners forwards the entire contest. In the end, no one could make a breakthrough, but it was not for want of trying. Galas said that it had been his team’s goal to get 7 points out of his team’s three trips Washington on the trot — this match, plus the two next weekend at Seattle Sounders U23 and Washington Crossfire — and that “while one point here makes it harder, it’s still well within our reach, and we can still set ourselves up nicely for the home stand in June.”
Lane United play the Sounders U23 on Friday, May 29 in Bonney Lake and the Crossfire on Sunday, May 31 in Redmond.
Kitsap Pumas defeated Lane United FC 2-0 in a chilly, cagey matchup at the Willamalane Center that saw few clear scoring chances for either team. The Kitsap defense, which had carried the Pumas to the PDL national title game in 2014 and playoff appearances in all but one season of their existence since 2009, proved almost impossible for the Reds to break down, and at the final whistle the opposing goalkeeper Matt Grosey had only been forced into two saves. Kitsap were hardly better off, with Matt Bersano in goal for the Reds having only had to make three saves; unfortunately, he had also been beaten twice. The first was a brilliant free kick from Justin Ortinau on the stroke of halftime that squeezed into the top corner of the Reds captain’s net; the second was a solo effort from the speedy and powerful forward Mike Ramos, who rounded the keeper after holding off two defenders on a breakaway.
Lane United head coach John Galas harbored no regrets about the loss, saying that his team “went into the game with the right attitude, and even once they were down 1-0 at halftime the mood in the locker room was positive and they were ready to get after it.” The problem was simply Kitsap’s “rock-solid organization on the pitch. They are in sync already and they always do well in the league, and they were very tough to get past when we were on the ball.”
The game began slowly, with eleven minutes passing before the first shot had even been taken, by Kitsap’s Trevor Jensen. Center referee Farhad Dadkho’s tendency to call the game unusually tight by PDL standards — although not necessarily by the standards of world soccer — meant that the action was frequently broken up by minor fouls in the middle of the pitch. Kitsap crashed a header against the top of the crossbar mid-way through the first half, but they had few opportunities to score until the 45th minute, when Amer Sasivarevic was called for what was deemed a handball at the right edge of the Lane United box. Ortinau stepped up and, right footed, dropped a perfectly placed free kick over the wall and to the far post, where Bersano may have gotten a fingertip to it but couldn’t keep it out of the top corner. Kitsap went into the break suddenly up by a goal.
20 mostly uneventful minutes into the second half passed before they had doubled their lead. Mike Ramos, who had shown an uncanny ability to hold onto the ball through challenges all game, turned on the jets after being chipped in behind the Lane United center-backs with minimal separation from them. Facing an onrushing Bersano, Ramos very coolly rolled the ball to his left at full speed to round the keeper and pass the ball into an empty net. Lane United continued to possess and fight well after going down by two goals, but virtually every move that looked like it might beget a goalscoring chance was squeezed out before it could gain the necessary momentum. The Reds’ clearest look of the second half came at the very end of the game, with a classic route-one big-and-little interplay between Mueller and Jones (who is only a “little” when paired with Mueller), Mueller flicking a header on to Jones and the latter racing into the box to shoot low and left-footed. Grosey saved on the stretch, and less than a minute later Dadkho’s final whistle blew.
After the game, Galas praised his players while acknowledging Kitsap’s nous. The Reds now have a week to rest and regroup, with the next game taking place on the road on Saturday, May 23 in Issaquah, WA against the Puget Sound Gunners.
Lane United FC fell to a 2-0 defeat in its first Premier Development League match of 2015, outmatched by a Portland Timbers U-23s side that created excellent scoring chances from start to finish. The Reds, who warmed up with a 3-1 win over non-league competition in South Sound FC last weekend, fell victim to Portland’s much more incisive attacking. The Timbers hit the crossbar twice and had a shot cleared off the line in the first half, then kicked the door in with two second-half goals, the first from Ivan Alvarado off a free kick rebound and the second from Ben White, Portland’s best player on the day, slotting home an inch-perfect cross. Lane United were not without chances, the best being Timothy Mueller’s mid-second-half shot that cracked off Portland ‘keeper Collin Partee’s near post. But in the end the hosts probably deserved their victory; LUFC head coach John Galas said that he was “thrilled with (Lane United’s) effort, but the guys just weren’t quite as sharp today as they had been in training.”
The match was played in front of an announced crowd of 4,921; most of them were schoolchildren on end-of-year field trips, but nonetheless the venue and the noise produced a big-game atmosphere that the Reds will be unlikely to encounter in any one of their away matches the rest of the season. “The Timbers away will never be easy, and especially not with an atmosphere like this,” Galas said. Lane United produced the first chance of the game when Isma was allowed to shoot after 30 seconds, but his effort was straight at Partee. The Timbers and Reds exchanged chances after that, with Greg Timmer for the Timbers smacking a 22-yard shot off the crossbar and Mueller shooting just wide when he snapped up a rebound in a congested box after a Lane United corner. Portland responded a minute later by coming literally inches from scoring, Devon Fisher beating Matt Bersano with a header off a corner only to see Baldo clear it off the goal-line with his own head. Baldo picked up a yellow card in the 20th minute and was substituted off with an injury in the middle of the second half, but the rest of the Reds will still be indebted to him for that spectacular piece of last-ditch defending.
Gaps started to appear in the back of both teams’ midfields at the end of the first half, the lack of match fitness at the start of the season perhaps playing a role. Lane United ended the first half on a high note with a few forays forward that were a misplayed final ball or a last-second tackle away from producing chances, but Portland came back from halftime a rejuvenated bunch. Within a minute Bersano had to sprint off his line to deny Ivan Alvarado from reaching a through-ball at the edge of the box. And 10 minutes later, Lane United were lucky not to concede a goal or any cards when Alvarado was fouled one yard outside the penalty box after being played through again. From the ensuing free kick, Bersano saved an effort headed for his top right-hand corner, but his rebound couldn’t get past Alvarado at the side of the six yard box. He stabbed his foot out to control, then turned and roofed his shot past a helpless Bersano.
The center of Lane United’s defense saw another warning shot in the 65th minute when Timmer somehow missed from six yards off a cross from White on the right wing, and a moment later Mueller hit the post for Lane United after carving out space for a shot on the left side of the box. Soon after, though, the Reds were down two, with Geoffrey Dee sliding a perfect cross for his strike partner White to crash home from 8 yards. The match was mostly settled after that point, with Mueller coming closest to pulling something back by chesting to himself for a bottom-corner-bound full volley from 22 yards that forced a diving save out of Partee. Ismael Fernández looked like he might have had a penalty claim in the 88th minute, but after deliberating for a second, the referee, CJ Koll, chose not to give the foul.
The Reds return home to face the Kitsap Pumas, the reigning champions of the PDL Northwest Division and national runners-up for 2014, at the Willamalane Center at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 16. “Despite the loss today, we’re all really excited for Saturday,” Galas said. “The Red Aces were incredible today, what with 50 of them or so making the trip … on behalf of all of the guys, I give a huge thanks to them and look forward to seeing what they can do for us at home against Kitsap.”
Lane United FC opened its 2015 account with an attractive 3-1 win over South Sound FC (Tacoma, WA) in a non-league friendly at the Willamalane Center. Having fallen behind early to a sloppy goal—a deflected shot after a giveaway at the top of the Lane United box—the Reds only produced a few chances in the remainder of the first half. The tide began to change, though, at halftime with the introduction of six of the “Spanish armada,” an eight-player contingent of Spaniards, most of whom were hand-picked from tryouts in Valencia in March. Only one of them, Richy Hurtado, had started the match, while the rest waited until the second half to be introduced. The change in tempo and spacing was noticeable, and all three second-half goals, two of which came off Spanish boots—those of Baldo and Isma—oozed quality. Timmy Mueller’s powerful third goal with almost the last kick of the game was the cherry on top of a deserved victory.
The match started jerkily, with Lane United’s inexperience as a unit (practices with the final squad only began last Sunday) occasionally manifesting itself in miscommunications or errant passes. After the 9th-minute South Sound goal, credited to Kloh Phillips, the Reds were able to settle into more succinct passing rhythms in midfield, but clear-cut chances still managed to elude them. The best came when Timmy Mueller pounced on a South Sound giveaway at the back of midfield and appeared to be in on goal only to be denied by a brilliant recovering tackle from defender Eli Peterson as they raced into the box. A few minutes later, Lane United goalkeeper Matt Bersano stonewalled Sam Zisette, who had gotten in behind the defense unnoticed, on the right channel of the area. South Sound strolled into halftime 1-0 up and would have been pleased at having interfered with most of Lane United’s designs hitherto.
Returning from the break, head coach John Galas deployed nearly his entire bench at once, which had been the plan heading into the match. “We got exactly what we wanted out of this game, getting to play the two separate halves with mostly different crews,” he said after the game. “It was a deserved win for us.” Josep Baldoví, the only Spaniard on the team who is a returner from 2014, began Lane United FC’s fightback with a brilliant goal in the 65th minute. After some slick passing to work the ball to him with his back to goal inside the box, he used some typically deft footwork to turn, beat his man and fire a mostly uncontested shot low into the right-hand corner from about 15 yards. Cristian Cataluña had deserved an equalizer a few minutes before, but his successful lob of the onrushing goalkeeper from 25 yards bounced off the hard turf and over the crossbar.
Eight minutes later, Mueller would have wrapped up Lane United’s Goal of the Season competition early had his first-time waist-high volley from a whipped-in cross not smashed back off the crossbar. The Reds were clearly gaining control of the game, but almost gave it away in the 79th minute when Zisette again tested Bersano, forcing him into the save of the game with a curling effort that was destined for the far post before the Reds captain pushed it around for a corner. Moments later, Isma Fernández demonstrated how to hit a proper far-post curler, beating a defender 1v1 in a similar position to Baldo’s goal and then whipping a left-footed shot into the side netting, leaving South Sound goalkeeper Colin Benham-Marin with no chance. Mueller applied the coup de grâce in stoppage time by chasing down a long, straight clearance starting around midfield, pulling away from Kloh, the only defender nearby, and keeping control of the ball and his composure to slot a finish underneath Benham-Marin. The final whistle blew only a few seconds after the ensuing kickoff, and the Reds were left celebrating their win in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 446 who had turned out on a resplendent spring evening.
“This was a great night for us and our fans,” Galas concluded. “Everyone got to showcase their talents—I mean, Baldo has scored in two straight games with us now dating back to last season—and get a feel for each other as a unit before we get started in the league. We got a deserved result on top of it, although that was hardly the point. The mood in the locker room is, understandably, pretty positive and we’re heading to Portland growing in confidence with each other.” The Reds take on the Portland Timbers U-23s in their first Premier Development League game at Providence Park on Thursday, May 14, then return to Willamalane on Saturday the 16th to face the reigning Northwest Division champions Kitsap Pumas.
Three more players, all from the Eugene-Springfield area, have been cleared to play for Lane United FC in 2015, the club announced today. Edgar Gomez and Luke Connolly, both of whom played for the Reds in the inaugural 2014 season, and Casey ChubbFertal, a 2014 graduate of South Eugene High School and varsity player at the University of Redlands in California, are all now officially rostered.
ChubbFertal already has immense playing experience, having been a four-year mainstay at South Eugene High School and then starting all 22 games for the University of Redlands in California during his freshman season in 2014. Lane United head coach John Galas said that ChubbFertal “comes from a great line of local players that will continue to represent Lane United. It’s great to have Casey on our roster; he is a young player that we are looking to groom for the future of Lane United, and he can play in a variety of positions.”
Connolly and Gomez will be familiar to Lane United FC fans from the 2014 season, when both earned regular playing time. Gomez is responsible for one of Lane United’s highlights from the year, when he curled in a peach of a free kick to equalize at home against the Vancouver Whitecaps U-23s in July. Overall, he featured in nine games for the Reds last season. “Having Edgar back will add more quality to our midfield,” Galas said. “Edgar really fits our style of play, and he will compete for more playing time this year.”
Connolly picked up about 450 minutes in the Reds’ back line in 2014, most of them coming in the second half of the season. “Luke brings another strong, physical presence to our back line,” Galas added. “Having been a part of the group last year, he understands our system and our standards, and I think he will certainly look to challenge the other center-halves for playing time this year. Both he and Edgar are great local additions to the roster.”
Lane United’s season begins this Friday with a home match at 7:00 p.m. against South Sound FC, of Tacoma, Washington. The Premier Development League (PDL) opener is the following Thursday, May 14, away to the Portland Timbers U-23s and the home league opener is on Saturday, May 16, again at 7:00 p.m., against the 2014 national PDL runners-up Kitsap Pumas.