Match Recap – Calgary Foothills, July 6
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.”