Match Report: Lane United Defeats #1 Calgary Foothills FC

June 17, 2016
Lane United FC beat Calgary Foothills FC 1-0 in Springfield, Oregon, in the first of two matches in two nights against their Canadian visitors. The result puts the two teams tied atop the USL PDL Northwest Division at 13 points apiece, with Calgary ahead only on goal difference and still boasting the best offensive record in the division. In a match where the visitors produced significantly more clear-cut chances, it was the host Reds who took the lead in the 80th minute, when a friendly bounce gave Jose Carlos Terron the chance to cross over a stranded goalkeeper for Stefan Tomasevic to head into an empty net. Lane United head coach John Galas said, “I’m obviously happy with the three points—you know, I’ll take it—but we didn’t produce too many chances besides the goal, and at times our defensive effort wasn’t what it could have been. We struggled with getting to second balls all night and couldn’t get them to break down defensively, because they’re a very strong and well-organized club.”
Galas might be underselling the fact that despite Calgary’s occasional dominance in attacking play, Reds goalkeeper Ben Willis was only ever forced into two saves from shots on goal. The second was from a late, long volley from the substitute Kyle Jones, but the first was more significant: it came with only seconds to play in the first half, when Calgary’s Nico Pasquotti found himself with an open look from fifteen yards on the right side of the box and took aim low to the far post, only for Willis to get a hand down to deny it. Though Pasquotti came the closest there, it was the other forward, Dominic Russo, who was the more persistent and alarming threat to the Lane United back line; throughout the game he found opportunities to muscle in between the center-halves and fullbacks within the Lane United box and fashion shots or hard crosses from those channels. He had already had two such chances before halftime, and he continued the theme in the second half, shooting just over the bar with the exact same type of attempt, from the same position, that Matthew Coffey had used to score against Seattle on Sunday—a hard high near-post hit from the right side of the six-yard box. On two occasions, first in the 54th minute and second in the 93rd, Russo was able to fire dangerous balls across the face of goal from similar positions; the first was just too high for three crashing teammates and the second was denied by Lane United’s Mitch LaGro, whose brilliant defensive anticipation and intervention denied Calgary’s Jonathan Wheeldon a chance to head in from three yards and salvage a point for his side.
The lone goal had come 12 minutes earlier, and it was no surprise that Lane United’s most frequent offensive threat, Terron, was the chief cause of it. Nominally a defensive player at left fullback, Terron was the frequent target of diagonal, crossfield balls the entire match—attempts to switch the point of attack from one side of the field to the other in the minimum amount of time. He had already spurned Lane United’s best chance of the game in the beginning of the second half when he struggled to take control of a cross from the right, all alone at the back post, and then sent a wayward shot with his weaker right foot directly into Tomasevic’s arm for an infraction. But he redeemed himself in the 80th minute by leaping between two Calgary defenders at the edge of the penalty box for what seemed at first like a somewhat hopeless long ball from Jonathan Stadler in the back line; when the ball bounced off some combination of the two defenders and Terron, it fell kindly in his continued path. The Calgary goalkeeper, Dylon Powley, came out to reach it but Terron did so first, prodding a short lob to Tomasevic, who headed, almost in slow motion, into an empty net from the penalty spot.
The Reds defended doggedly for the remaining ten minutes of the match, plus stoppage time, the most notable incidents being LaGro’s last-ditch goal-line intervention and the continued dominance of Akeem Ward at right fullback. If Galas was critical of his team defense, it seems impossible to think that he could have had Ward in mind, so consistent and precise was his positioning and tackling for the full 90 minutes. The teams meet again tomorrow night: the difficulty and expense of travel to and from Calgary frequently results in their having to play games against the same opponent in quick succession, both home and away. Galas said that he “doesn’t know what to expect (from two games in two nights against the same team), because we’ve never done it before,” but it seems likely that Calgary will rue their spate of missed chances and come eager to secure their first point on American soil this season, as well as reassert their dominance atop the Northwest Division table. Whether Lane United will be in a mood to oblige them remains to be seen until Part II.