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Match Recap – Victoria Highlanders, July 14

July 18, 2018

Lane United FC finished off their 2018 league campaign in style Saturday, beating the Victoria Highlanders 4-0 in Canada. Results elsewhere during the week meant that Seattle Sounders U-23 had taken up an unassailable second-place position in the USL PDL Northwest Division, but the Reds entered the match knowing that a draw would be sufficient to edge out TSS Rovers FC for third place. They did one better than that, though, going ahead through Gerard Hernando in the 24th minute and holding off the Highlanders comfortably thereafter, before a ten-minute blitz in the middle of the second half added another three goals to the scoreline. “I’m very proud of these young men. We traveled with 14 players, with nothing to play for with regard to playoffs, and the boys showed up and put in a great shift, took all three points, and ended the season on a high note,” said a delighted head coach John Galas.

Lane United are a team who look comfortable in possession against most opponents, and that effect was even more pronounced as the match kicked off in balmy conditions on the pristine natural grass of Victoria’s Centennial Stadium. After weathering a few early storms and surviving a penalty shout from the Reds’ Sam Engle, the Highlanders conceded the first goal of the match after 24 minutes when Nick Moon—one of Lane United’s outstanding performers on the day and on the season—hounded defender Peter Schaale out of possession as he looked to play back to his own keeper, Ty Venhola. Moon carried the ball into the area himself and when Venhola charged out to meet him near the endline, squared an unselfish pass to Hernando to tap in in between his marker and the stranded keeper.

Victoria seemed to carry very little threat going forward,  and while Moon and his strike partner Engle should have scored several more times before the first half was over, the midfield trio of Hernando, Sergio Diaz, and Willie Spurr did an excellent job of keeping the supply lines open. Unfortunately, wasteful finishing from Engle and uncertain last-minute decision-making from Moon doomed several promising attacks.

In the 34th minute, Victoria could have easily pulled back an equalizer with their one clear chance of the match, but the fullback Jonas Smith chunked a tame open shot straight at the Lane United goalkeeper, R.J. Noll, from 10 yards out. That defensive lapse notwithstanding, the Reds continued to control possession and tempo after the halftime interval, and twenty minutes into the second period the floodgates opened when Diaz scored at the end of a brilliant team move. Moon, Willie Spurr and Engle’s triangular combinations down the right side bamboozled the Victoria back line and led to Engle swinging in an uncontested cross that was only half cleared to Charlie Spurr on the left side of the box. A shot could have been on, but left-back picked his head up to volley a layoff to his brother Willie Spurr at the penalty spot, who unselfishly cushioned a knockdown into the path of Diaz who hit a neat half-volley past an exposed Venhola.

The unselfishness and cohesion that had bred the second goal quickly created a third, two minutes later: the Reds applied a tenacious team press high up the pitch and one loose touch from Victoria’s Thomas Shores allowed Hernando to snap in and knock a hopeful ball forward to an unmarked Moon who made no mistake and finished with a comfortable dink over the onrushing Venhola. There was time after that goal for Engle to blaze another gilt-edged chance over the bar before, in the 74th minute,  Moon would win a penalty going over the outstretched leg of Jonah Smith at the left edge of the Victoria penalty area. The Milwaukee man buried the ensuing spot-kick low to the right for his second goal of the afternoon.

Not content with two goals and an assist, Moon then went for his Gordie Howe hat trick as the match ticked into its final ten minutes, getting involved in an altercation that started when Matthias Binder had been deliberately and cynically fouled by Victoria’s Marcus Campanile. Moon would receive a yellow card for his role in the ensuing mass confrontation, while Campanile and Binder were both sent off. With both sides down a man, Victoria nearly stole a goal late with a long ball over the top finding substitute, and storied veteran Blair Sturrock in his final appearance for the Victoria side, who knocked the ball past the on-rushing Noll only for the Reds center-half Andrew Boyd to produce a spectacular goal-line clearance. “Finishing third in this division is certainly something to be very proud of. Year in, year out, this club continues to improve in all areas. These boys represented the club with class and professionalism all season long, and they should be proud of earning the most points, the most goals scored, the best goal differential, and the highest position in the division in LUFC history,” said Galas. “Overall they played some wonderful soccer all season long, they were a pleasure to coach and lead this season, and I hope we made the fans proud.”

Match Recap – TSS Rovers, July 8

July 9, 2018

Lane United FC edged out the visiting TSS FC Rovers 2-1 on Sunday afternoon to regain ground in the race for a playoff spot in the USL PDL Northwest Division. Rebounding from the heavy 4-0 loss incurred to Calgary Foothills FC, on Friday night, the Reds looked much more comfortable on this day as they possessed the ball confidently and had a clear edge in the number of chances created. Willie Spurr enjoyed another standout performance for the Reds in the creative midfield role and it was his assist to his brother Charlie, playing in a wide attacking role, that opened the scoring in the 30th minute before center-half Drew Boyd found the ball at his feet in the TSS box midway through the second half and slotted home Lane United’s second. The visiting Rovers failed to create many scoring opportunities throughout, but nonetheless clawed a goal back in the 89th minute through their best player on the day, Daniel Sagno, but were unable to pinch an equalizer in stoppage time.

The Reds fielded a strong lineup to start the match and the lively trio of Nick Moon, Willie Spurr, and Sergio Diaz showed no ill effects from the match that had concluded less than 48 hours earlier against Calgary. It was this trio, often combining with the tireless and crafty Anthony Macchione down the right wing, that looked irresistible at times throughout the first half, combining easily and often leaving the Rovers back line looking somewhat exposed. The goal after half an hour was a clinic in one-touch passing, as Diaz’ entry pass to Macchione was cleverly flicked to Willie Spurr, who was able to prod the ball forward to his brother Charlie, by this point startlingly unmarked in the TSS box. With the back line completely taken out of position, the Macalester College man took a touch to settle and placed a low left-footed shot into the bottom corner of Mario Gerges’ net for a deserved 1-0 lead, an advantage which never looked threatened for the remainder of the first half.

Gerges’ name would be called often throughout the second period, as he put on a stellar performance that served to keep the contest close. Moon on two occasions was denied by the Rovers’ keeper from point-blank range, as was the substitute Gerard Hernando later on in the half once the Reds had already doubled their advantage. That goal came from central defender Drew Boyd, who, after venturing into the opposition box for a corner kick, stuck around long enough to receive a cross from Moon, who had overpowered his marker while dribbling in from the right wing. Boyd’s first touch actually led to Willie Spurr having a crack at goal from fifteen yards which was blocked, but the big center-half was on hand to stab home the rebound to make the score 2-0. The Rovers bench and several of their players protested loudly about Moon’s brusque method of riding the challenge that freed him up for the initial delivery into the box, but center referee Isaiah Vlad was unmoved.

The match could easily have been tied at 1-1 just after halftime, had the Reds backline not produced an improbable series of blocks in a goalmouth scramble, culminated by holding-mid-turned-left-back Jose Benavides’ goal line block of Daniel Sagno’s shot from a yard out. It was certainly the most promising of the Rovers’ few chances to score all afternoon. Sagno, who carried the main threat for the visitors, did bag a goal toward the end of the contest, making an incisive diagonal run into the Lane United box that was spotted by Matteo Polisi, who lofted a ball over the top; Sagno then did excellently to settle the ball and despite being channeled away from goal on the right side of the penalty area, turned a low half-volley back across goal to tuck it inside the far post just out of Paul Kruse’s sprawling grasp. TSS threw everything forward in the final minute plus stoppage time, but unfortunately for the Canadians that fine effort from Sagno was too little, too late, and they leave having only picked up one point from three matches on the season against their closest divisional rivals.

The win now puts Lane United level with TSS on points but well ahead on goal differential for the third spot in the division, one point behind Seattle in second. TSS host the second-place Sounders FC U23s on July 11, with Seattle then moving on to play in Calgary, while Lane United travel to face the Victoria Highlanders next Saturday, July 14 with all to play for in this incredibly tight race for second in the PDL Northwest Division.

Match Recap – Calgary Foothills, July 6

July 7, 2018

Having already wrapped up the USL PDL Northwest Division, Calgary Foothills FC stretched their lead Friday night with a 4-0 victory at Lane United FC. The one-sided scoreline belied the balance of play, which was for long periods very even between the two teams, but it would be a stretch to say that the visiting Canadians didn’t deserve their victory, the visitors staying very disciplined and organized. Ajeej Zakaria and Carlos Patino had put Calgary up on either side of halftime, and despite occasional close chances, Lane United were unable to make up any of the deficit before late goals from substitutes Ali Musse and Topa Fakunle put some gloss on the scoreline. “It was a tough loss at home, in a season where we’ve been in the playoff hunt,” said Lane United head coach John Galas.

Lane United started proceedings on the front foot and the match could have had a very different tone were it not for an early error on the part of the officials. The Reds should have had the lead after only three and a half minutes when Casey ChubbFertal sidefooted a shot off the crossbar and Willie Spurr was on hand to head in the rebound, but the goal was disallowed for offside by the far-side assistant Jordan Vlad—wrongly, as it turned out, since replays showed two Calgary defenders standing a few yards closer to the goal than Spurr at the time ChubbFertal’s initial shot came off his foot. It would be a long time before the Reds could produce another chance, and in the meantime the division-champion visitors began to show their quality, with Kyle Jones slamming a 20-yard effort off the post, Jason Camargo shooting disappointingly straight at the Reds’ Paul Kruse after springing the offsides trap, and Calgary generally able to manage the flow of the game. In the 23rd minute the Canadians made their breakthrough, with Nico Pasquotti raiding down the right wing, getting a fortuitous bounce off a ChubbFertal challenge but taking full advantage by delivering a wicked low cross into the penalty area for Ajeej Sarkaria to crash home from close range.

Opportunities to draw level were at a premium for the rest of the half, but Nick Moon really should have converted the one-on-one break that he forced a few minutes after the Calgary goal. Fighting through two 50-50 challenges, he willed himself into a clean breakaway only to be stuffed by an onrushing Marco Carducci after a heavy penultimate touch. And with one of the last actions of the half, Sergio Diaz was only inches away from what would have been the most spectacular goal in the league this season—picking the ball up in the center circle, he decided that headwind be damned, it was worth it to try to lob Carducci from 50 yards, and it nearly worked, as his attempt grazed the top of the crossbar with the Calgary keeper backpedaling and flailing helplessly into his own net.

After a decent spell from the Reds to begin the second half, which included Moon being inches away from getting a toe to a dangerous Anthony Macchione cross, Calgary got their second goal through their substitute midfielder Carlos Patino. The Lane United back line had an uncharacteristic complete breakdown after a giveaway from a throw-in at midfield and Zakaria was allowed to waltz in alone against Kruse, who initially did a good job diving at the attacker’s feet to intervene but was powerless to stop Patino from passing the rebound into a largely abandoned net. For the last half-hour, the Reds were limited to speculative efforts and final-product-less final-third pressure, until giving up two rapid-fire goals on the break in the 84th and 85th minutes, first from Musse—straight from a Lane United free kick—and second from Fakunle’s low shot from the right side of the penalty box. “We were throwing everything forward to claw our way back into it, and it obviously didn’t work out the way we had hoped,” said Galas. “At 1-nil up after 5 minutes, it’s a completely different game, and as we showed in Calgary, we are capable of stifling their attack, so that bad call was huge. Now we’ve just got to get back to work, put this one behind us and prepare for an important match against TSS Rovers on Sunday.”

Match Recap – TSS Rovers, July 1

July 1, 2018

Lane United FC and the visiting TSS FC Rovers played out a 1-1 draw on Sunday afternoon in Springfield in a match which was finely balanced from the first kick to the last. Midway through the second half, Willie Spurr bagged his third goal in as many days for the Reds to equalize only four minutes after the Rovers had gone ahead through their #9 Dan Davidson. The result leaves Lane United just ahead of their Canadian counterparts on goal differential to hold the second-place spot in the USL PDL Northwest Division.

Both sides came into the contest on short rest. Lane United, though, had won their Friday night match 5-0 at home against the Timbers U-23s whereas TSS had fallen to a 1-0 defeat on the road at Victoria Highlanders. It was no surprise, then, to see the two teams feeling each other out in the opening exchanges, hesitant to apply pressure high up the pitch and prioritizing security at the back above all else. It took 40 minutes for the first truly threatening spells of pressure to arrive for either team, first when Lane United had a series of shots blocked in quick succession in the TSS penalty area, then a minute later when the dangerous Zach Verhoven teed up Dan Davidson for a 15-yard shot that somehow deflected off another Rovers forward and out for a goal kick when it seemed easier to score. TSS then had a strong claim for a penalty in the 44th minute when Casey ChubbFertal hauled down the opposite fullback Janko Vong clean through on goal behind him. Unfortunately for the visitors, the referee Lucas Brooks—whose past matches in Springfield have tended to be marked by bad tempers and a general loss of control—saw nothing wrong with the challenge. With the Rovers bench incandescent and some of their players apparently distracted, the Reds’ Nick Moon snuck in behind the back line at the other end no more than 20 seconds later only to be denied by goalkeeper Mario Gerges one-on-one. The half ended with Brooks blowing the whistle in the middle of a threatening Rovers counter-attack.

The second half proved much more entertaining fare but for more of the right reasons, as the teams frequently traded attacks back and forth. In the first fifteen minutes both Moon and Gloire Amanda saw good chances for the Reds, only for the ball to get stuck under their feet at the crucial moment of shooting. Lane United were enjoying the lion’s share of possession in the middle of the half, albeit without creating many clear-cut chances, but in the 62nd minute disaster struck—a cheap giveaway in midfield saw the substitute Rovers midfielder Erik Edwardson racing forward toward an exposed back line, and it was only a matter of a simple pass to Davidson for a low first-time finish underneath Paul Kruse, and the Canadians were up 1-0.

Lane United pushed back almost immediately though, and no more than four minutes later had their equalizer. Jon Stadler, Moon and Sergio Diaz combined effectively on the right wing, as they so often did this game, with Moon eventually popping up near the top of the box and finding a completely unmarked Diaz with a reverse ball back to his right. Diaz turned and sidefooted a shot to the far post that forced a sprawling, clawing save from Gerges, but unfortunately for the Rovers keeper he was helpless to control the rebound and Willie Spurr and Gerard Hernando crashed in to scramble it into the net. The final touch was judged to have gone to Spurr, and the Reds were level—and for the next ten minutes, it seemed they had smelled blood, as they pushed forward for the go-ahead goal. Amanda saw a brilliant chance deflected by a last-ditch block 10 yards away from goal off a Moon cross, then again down the same wing five minutes later the substitute Anthony Macchione drilled a low ball in that Hernando backheeled on frame from six yards out, only for Gerges to just about manage to squeeze the shot down and stop it from going over the goal line.

After the 75th minute, it was TSS Rovers’ turn to enjoy good pressure, with William Raphael coming closest on a breakaway that forced Kruse to make a diving intervention at the attacker’s feet. Proceedings rather ground to a halt after 83 minutes when Matteo Polisi and Matthias Binder wrestled each other to the ground in the center circle, sparking a confrontation that involved all outfield players for both teams as well as Gerges the TSS goalkeeper; in the end, Binder and Polisi were shown yellow cards for their roles in the skirmish. Both teams, to their credit, spent the final minutes of regulation plus stoppage time actively searching for a winner, snapping into challenges and attempting to break quickly upon winning possession, but ultimately no goal would be forthcoming for either team. The result means that for the moment Lane United will hold onto the second spot in the USL PDL Northwest Division on goal difference, although a Seattle Sounders FC U-23 win against the Portland Timbers U23s on Tuesday would put the former into second place alone.

Match Recap – Portland Timbers U-23s, June 29

Lane United FC cruised to a 5-0 win against the Portland Timbers U-23s on Friday night, a result that sees them vault from fifth place to second in the USL PDL Northwest Division. Nick Moon and Willie Spurr led the Reds with two goals apiece, with the substitute Gloire Amanda adding a fifth late in the second half to round off a comprehensive team performance. The visiting Timbers threatened sporadically in the second half to make up some of the deficit, but ultimately failed to get even one effort past the exceptional Paul Kruse in the Lane United goal.

The Reds started off the match with the vast majority of possession and pressure, with Casey ChubbFertal the first player to get a clear sight of goal when his free header from a corner kick forced Tobias Holstein in the Timbers net to sprawl and tip the goalbound effort over the bar. The Timbers soon after produced what would end up being one of their best chances of the entire match, a 20-yard low bullet half-volley that forced an equally athletic diving save from Kruse at the other end. But the Reds continued knocking on the door and in the 21st minute made their first breakthrough, when ChubbFertal wrapped a pass from the left wing around the back line for Moon to chase—finding himself one-on-one with Holstein, he calmly rolled the ball around the Portland keeper and slotted into an empty net.

Straight from the ensuing kickoff, Lane United ramped up the pressure even further and only 90 seconds later had their second goal of the match through Spurr. With the Reds flooding forward in numbers, Spurr found himself with space to shoot at the top of the penalty arc, and after shifting the ball onto his right foot he made no mistake in burying a curling effort into the bottom right corner. Willie’s brother, Charlie Spurr, nearly got in on the act a few minutes later but missed a 45-yard empty-net shot after Holstein had sold himself completely trying to intercept a ball over the top, and in the 29th minute he was denied by Holstein from a more point-blank range after having been played in by the exceptional Sergio Diaz on the right wing. The torrid pressure continued for the rest of the half, and Moon bagged his second in the 40th minute, taking control of a half-cleared cross, after Diaz and Gerard Hernando had terrorized the Timbers back line yet again, and dispatching the ball into the roof of the net with extreme prejudice from 18 yards.

Portland substituted three quarters of their back line between the 35th minute and the start of the second half in an attempt to stem the bleeding, and for 10 minutes at the start of the second period the strategy appeared to be paying some dividends, with Lane United barely able to string multiple passes together. But despite some worrying spells of pressure from the visitors, the Reds would add a fourth goal in the 57th minute, courtesy of Willie Spurr again. Diaz, who continued his first-half pattern of bamboozling any defender unfortunate enough to be stuck in front of him, this time beat the substitute fullback Alan Cruz at a canter and squared a ball to the right channel of the box for Spurr to gather, stride forward with and slide under the desperately exposed Holstein for 4-0. At this point, the Timbers seemed thoroughly defeated, and they were lucky not to be down a man and another goal when Holstein cleaned out the Lane United substitute Gloire Amanda, who was clear through on goal, with a terribly timed challenge in the 67th minute, only for the referee to look the other way for some reason. Amanda would exact revenge in the late late stages of the game though, exchanging a simple 1-2 with Eduardo Lorente in the Timbers penalty area between some statuesque defenders and thumping home a right-footed finish. The ensuing air-guitar celebration with the corner flag was emblematic of the Klopp-style “heavy-metal football” the Reds had been playing all evening. They now have less than 48 hours to recover before meeting the visiting TSS FC Rovers—fresh off a 1-0 loss to Victoria Highlanders—on Sunday afternoon at 2:00.

Match Recap – Sounders U-23s, June 17

June 19, 2018

Lane United FC surrendered a two-goal advantage to draw 3-3 with the Seattle Sounders FC U-23 on Sunday afternoon in Sumner, Washington. The Sounders opened the scoring through Jamael Cox in the 23rd minute but by midway through the second half Lane United had responded with three unanswered goals. The Reds appeared to be on cruise control until, but out of nothing, Niklas Brodacki clawed a scrappy goal back for the home side in the 85th minute and then three minutes later disaster struck when Eddie Na won a penalty in a challenge with the Reds’ Jon Stadler, who was subsequently sent off for his remonstrations.

Seattle enjoyed the first decent spell of pressure for either team around the 15th minute, with Hayden Criollo and Leeroy Maguraushe—the latter twice—getting good chances to shoot at R.J. Noll’s goal within the space of three minutes, with LUFC starter Paul Kruse having failed his pre-game fitness test with a thigh strain. That pressure subsided until the 23rd minute, when the Seattle fullback Jamael Cox opened the scoring with a brilliant solo effort, albeit one straight from a Lane United corner kick. At the back post from that corner, he managed to nick possession after an LUFC communications breakdown and simply never looked back, breezing past two Lane United players in the open field and charging into a three-on-two situation at the attacking end. His two Seattle teammates made smart runs off the ball to give the last two Reds defenders an impossible choice of who to mark, and when they backed away from Cox one step too far, he let fly from 20 yards and buried his left-footed shot into the bottom right corner.

There was little in the way of response from Lane United for the next quarter of an hour, but finally in the 38th minute they produced their best chance of the game when Anthony Macchione crossed low and hard from the right for Sam Engle crashing the six-yard box. He turned his glancing shot on target but was denied by a brilliant save from former Red Ben Willis in the Sounders’ goal. But a minute later, Lane United would kick the door down, with Sergio Diaz clipping a clever ball over the top for Macchione to run onto. Willis, so soon after his exceptional save, made the decision to race out to cut down the striker’s angles, but Macchione had a third option and sublimely lobbed ball over Willis and into the vacated net from just outside the penalty area. A minute after that, Seattle’s Santiago Patino almost restored the advantage with a wicked half-volley from 25 yards that brought a sprawling low save out of Noll. Lane United then finished the first half on the front foot with a spell of pressure but the teams went into the break tied at one apiece.

Seattle threatened briefly at the start of the second half, but for the next 20 minutes the momentum was with Lane United, and they made the most of it through two well-worked goals. The first came in the 58th minute after a sustained period of goalmouth pressure resulted in multiple corner kicks for the Reds; on one of those, Sergio Diaz aired a tantalizing delivery to the back post for an uncontested Sam Engle to head back over Willis with Maguraushe’s despairing attempt at a goal-line clearance hitting the roof of his own net. With Seattle failing to mount much of a response, Lane United went two up in the 71st minute when an interception by the Reds’ back line found Nick Moon near the center circle. Moon turned and unerringly picked out halftime substitute forward Gloire Amanda, who had already peeled out to the right channel for a run in behind the floundering Seattle back line. With all the time in the world to shoot and the Sounders defenders failing to catch him, the Oregon State forward placed a low shot underneath Willis’ right hand from the right side of the penalty box.

Seattle’s spirit was so visibly lackluster in the ensuing fifteen minutes that it was unclear where the inspiration to get back into the match would come from. But in the 85th minute, their substitute #10 Hugo Delhommelle curled a nicely weighted ball just over the heads of the Lane United center-halves and another substitute, Brodacki, steamed into the space between the back line and an onrushing R.J. Noll to get the faintest of touches on the ball, which bounced awkwardly into an empty net. Seattle were immediately re-energized by the surprise development and went in search of an equalizer, which came after Stadler was judged to have tripped Na in the box. Stadler clearly felt Na had instigated the contact after pushing the ball by him, and something the Reds defender said to the referee, Christian Clerc, as the penalty kick was being lined up resulted in a red card being shown. The influential Delhommelle slotted the penalty to the bottom right corner, having sent Noll the wrong way.

“I’m certainly disappointed with the manner in which the final minutes unfolded. We needed to be much more professional in our approach to closing this game out. We made two silly mistakes that ultimately cost us vital points in this incredibly competitive division.” said head coach John Galas. “I’m equally disappointed in the sending off of our captain Jon Stadler. He’ll miss a crucial match against the Highlanders this Friday night, and his sending off puts us in a difficult spot” That difficulty is amplified by center-halves Connor Ramlo having picked up an injury early in the match and Julius Fohr having returned to Germany to spend time with his ailing grandmother.

Even as Seattle frantically pressed for a winner through five minutes of stoppage time against the undermanned Reds, and the Reds trying desperately to undo the four-minute catastrophe, no clear-cut chances materialized for either side. The match finished 3-3, the Reds’ second consecutive match ending with that scoreline and a load of late drama.

Match Recap – Timbers U23, June 14

Lane United played its first ever game in Bend, Oregon Thursday night, and those who weren’t in attendance missed out on some of the best drama the PDL can offer. The Portland Timbers FC U23 hosted the match at Summit High School as part of their sponsorship agreement with exceptional local golf resort, Tetherow, also a longtime sponsor of Lane United. While not live-streamed for the interested viewers worldwide, the in-state rivals battled to an unforgettable 3-3 draw in front of a curious Bend crowd, and a raucous traveling contingent of LUFC’s own Red Aces.

Under the beautiful sky of the high-desert dusk, the game kicked off dramatically with some sloppy midfield play by Lane United leading to a simple, yet incisive, direct pass from deep-lying Timbers midfielder Camden RIley toward the LUFC box. An interested Benji Michel didn’t need to be asked twice to engage in the awkward dance center-half Julius Fohr and onrushing keeper Paul Kruse had created for themselves, Michel gliding between them and prodding the ball into the gaping net.

The opening goal was a bit of a slap to the face of the Reds, who were trying to replicate the gritty form that saw them earn a rare draw in Calgary, and beat the Timbers at home 3-2 in dramatic fashion. The slap didn’t land hard enough though, with the remainder of the first half being somewhat unremarkable other than a predictably well-worked free kick by the diminutive Rey Ortiz which glanced the outside of Kruse’s post. Most of the first half excitement came from the small West Stand at Sunset High School that had been taken over by the Red Aces, their drums, flags, and famous tifo.

With some tactical direction, and a halftime kick up the backside from head coach John Galas, the Reds worked themselves into the second half with some renewed vigor. A Tony Macchione goal was adjudged to have been offside due to lack of intent on a backpass from the Portland defense, but that was merely a reflection of the pressing and intent from the tireless Macchione. With the Reds playing higher and higher up the pitch looking for the equalizer, disaster struck, and not in the way one would suspect. Instead of being subjected to a counter attack due to their pressing, LUFC were undone by a loose ball squirting to the back post off a corner-kick, only to be poked in by the ever-diligent and un-marked Benji Michel.

After the effort put in to get back in the game, especially by Macchione who was running himself ragged alone in attack, it would be understandable if that were the end of the story, but the Reds were just getting started. The Timbers goal offered Macchione support instead of relief. Sam Engle had been stripped and ready to replace Macchione, but once the Reds went down 2-0, Engle’s substitution card read Binder instead. Binder had been fighting in a holding midfield role for over an hour, in spite of suffering from illness all week, but down by two goals, it was time to change formation, leaving Jose Benavides alone to protect the back four while Engle partnered Macchione up top.

The change of score and the change of formation led immediately to a change in the game. The Reds were now controlling the pace and structure of the proceedings. The Timbers midfield had collapsed upon its defensive ranks, and were taking every opportunity to poke the ball aimlessly forward into space hoping the immensely talented and athletic front line could make something of the undirected service. Gio Magana-Rivera and Timur Zhividze were brought on for the Timbers hoping to gain a bit of control in midfield for the Timbers, but Lane United’s dominance continued, albeit with a lack of real chances on goal other than Sergio Diaz flashing a loose ball off the crossbar from the edge of the box.

The Reds finally clawed themselves back into the game in the 76th minute when Sam Engle took a deep cross from Sergio Diaz and headed it back across goal and past Timbers keeper Mario Sequeira, meeting the diving head of the on-rushing Tony Macchione. Macchione immediately scooped the ball out of the back of the net and sprinted back to midfield in order to go look for the equalizer. The Reds thought they had a lifeline for that equalizer when a ball popped out of the box off a corner only for Diaz to smash it back on frame, past the keeper, and have it saved off the line by the Timbers’ Wouter Verstraaten, by all eyes except the officials’ with his hands. The official assessment was that Verstraaten blocked the shot with his face, so after some treatment, neither bloody-nosed nor concussion-related, Wouter returned to the fray to ward of the impending equalizer.

That equalizer came just minutes later when a well worked LUFC move left Engle with the ball facing goal inside the Timbers box, and instead of lashing a shot, he astutely found a sliding Casey ChubbFertal at the far post after a gut-busting run from mid-field. An equalizer in the 85th usually results in an unintentional detente, but not in this match. A Timbers corner two minutes into stoppage would normally not amount to anything once half-cleared by the Reds’ defense, but Gio Magana-Rivera had other ideas, smashing a sublime half-volley through traffic off the rebound into the back of Kruse’s net. While the Timbers celebrated wildly, the Reds’ regrouped for kickoff, and did what they had to. They went right back to their quick passing possession game and once again sprung ChubbFertal out of the left-back position who then beat his man, powered a low cross past the keeper, and found an unmarked Willie Spurr inside the six-yard box for a tap in, Engle and Macchione having made runs that ripped the Timbers’ defense open.

At the end of a beautiful evening in Bend, Oregon, the in-state PDL rivals left their respective coaches nerve-racked and shaking their heads in post-game handshakes while the Red Aces cheered the away-day triumph of a dramatic point, and the locals were treated to a Northwest Classic. On this night, the Reds showed grace under pressure in a game they simply refused to lose.

Match Recap: LUFC vs Timbers U23

June 2, 2018

Eugene, OR- Last night’s match between Lane United FC and Timbers U23 was an exciting, back and forth battle to the last minute. Lane United came out victorious with a 3-2 win, but Timbers U23 proved to be a very worthy adversary.

The scoring opened up in the 19th minute when LUFC’s golden boot boy thus far in the season, Willie Spurr hit a first time ball that was set back at the top of the eighteen, slotting it into the bottom corner of the net. Shortly after that, in the 25th minute, as momentum was in LUFC’s corner, Red’s number 9 Nick Moon got a through ball about 35 yds out, taking it right at the keeper. Moon drew the Timbers’ keeper out and then chipped a neatly placed finish to put the Red’s up 2-0 going into the half.

The Timbers U23 were not about to let that be a score that would stand for long. Within the first two minutes of play in the second half, the Timbers got a goal back off of the run of play and shortly after in the 61st minute drew a PK which was then converted to bring the score line back to a 2-2 draw. After the thrilling first 62 minutes, the game leveled out a bit, with both sides pressing to get the go ahead goal. Lane United finally got that, on another through ball that was slotted to Anthony Macchione’s feet who calmly placed the ball on the ground in the far post side netting to bring the Red’s back on top 3-2.

“I’m pleased with the result. The boys executed a wonderful game plan, and stuck with it for the full 90. They are disappointed in the manner in which we let the Timbers back into the match, but they showed great character and determination to get the game winner. We had three different players on the score sheet tonight, it was a comprehensive team effort from everyone.  Moving forward, we need to sharpen up in a few areas and finish teams off when we have the lead. We made things very interesting last night when we could have easily put this game to bed in the second half.  Portland is a quality side, they move the ball so well, and full credit to them for tying things up at 2 all in the second half. I thought Macchione and Moon were fantastic up top tonight, and I’m thrilled for Anthony to get the game winner.” Says Coach Galas.

Last night’s match brought the standings in the northwest conference even tighter as Calgary and TSS both sit on top of the table with tied 3-1-1 records followed by LUFC with a 2-2-1 record.  Lane United is away for the next two weeks to play Calgary on June 9th followed by games on June 14th and June 17th against Timbers U23 and Sounders U23, respectively. The Red’s will return home June 22 to face Victoria Highlanders.

Match Preview LUFC vs Timbers U23

May 31, 2018

Lane United will be back in action Friday, June 1 for the next home match against local rival, Timbers U23.  Kick off is set for 7:00pm at Les Schwab Sports Park.

Timbers U23 come down from their new home in Salem with a tied record to that of the Red’s, 1-2-1 but a -3 goal differential score. Coming off of their most recent draw against top of the table, Calgary FC, where they got the point just seconds before the final whistle blew. Both teams were playing with 10 men, as both sides were shown red cards. The Timbers top goal scorers are Malcom Dixon with two goals, and Camden Riley and Abjulkadir Haji each with one goal on the season.

The Red’s are coming off of two hard fought battles over the weekend, a 0-1 loss against Victoria Highlanders and a 1-1 draw with Sounders U23. The game against Sounders U23, proved to be the hardest to swallow as the Red’s were up 1-0 until the last kick of the game when a ball fell to the feet of Seattle’s forward at midfield who took the ball all the way into the Red’s box before slotting the ball in the back of the net.

“Huge test for us Friday night.  Timbers coming off a tough Calgary trip and they’ll be as good as advertised.  They have some real quality on the field with Ortiz, Michel, Magana-Rivera and Dixon, all from University of Portland.  This will be yet another stern test for us.  Haji is proving to be one of the best midfielders in our division, and GK Zach Nelson is one of the top GK in the nation.  We will have to  play a complete 90 minutes for a result against a very good team.  I don’t think we have played a complete match to date, if this team can overcome a few mental breakdowns in matches, we can be as good as anyone is this league.  We are heading into the crux of the season, dropping points at home is not an option.” Says Coach Galas

As the two teams are tied in record, this game will be an important one for both sides. Kick off is set for 7pm at Les Schwab Sports Park. Single game tickets are available here.

Match Recap: LUFC vs Sounders U23

May 27, 2018

Sunset Stadium, WA – Lane United FC and Sounders U23 set off for their second match up of the 2018 season resulting in a 1-1 draw with goals scored by Lane United’s, Willie Spurr and Sounders’ Maguraushe. Prior to this, the two teams played at Les Schwab Sports Park last Sunday resulting in a 3-1 LUFC loss, bringing a lot of tension to this match. On top of that, both teams had matches on Friday, Sounders played TSS Rovers, coming out with a 2-2 draw, where they gave up two late goals and Lane United coming off of a 1-0 loss to Victoria Highlanders.

The game started off much like their previous match up, a lot of possession between the boxes, not many dangerous chances going either direction. Going into half time a 0-0 draw brought out a lot of energy for the second half.

The second half started quickly with shots for both sides equating to more in the first 5 minutes than the entire previous half. Then in the 74th minute, Nick Moon got the ball just outside the box on the left side of the field, beat his defender and sent a lofted cross into the back post to the head of Willie Spurr. Spurr redirected the ball with his header back to the near post to bring LUFC up 1-0.

The next 15 minutes were spent playing hard defense for the Red’s as the Sounders pressed hard to get a goal back. Sounders got their chance in the 93rd minute when Maguraushe picked the ball up just under half field from a long ball forward, ran at the Red’s back line, had one blocked shot that ended up back at his feet, and finally he put it in the back of the net for the equalizer just before the game was called.

“Tough one to swallow today. I feel bad for the boys. They put in a wonderful team performance. Unfortunately we didn’t manage injury time very well and ultimately cost us two points. I’m extremely proud of their ability to execute the game plan, they we superb in that regard, but in this league, and I hope we learn from it, we have to finish plays and close games out. Honestly it feels like a loss. At the end of the day we’ll take a point on the road against a very good Sounders team, but this one stings a bit. “ Says Coach Galas.

Lane United’s goal scored by Willie Spurr was his third goal on the season. This result brings Lane United to 1-2-1 record. The Red’s will be back in action to take on Timbers U23 back at home on Friday June 1.

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