Match Recap – TSS Rovers, July 1
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.