Match Report: LUFC vs Kitsap Pumas

May 14, 2016
Lane United FC earned their first points in five attempts against the Kitsap Pumas with a 0-0 draw last night in their home opener, but the Reds will walk away feeling that they might have even deserved a win against the reigning PDL Northwest Division champions for their efforts. Both teams had genuinely strong chances to score, with Kitsap coming closest when Hamza Haddadi hit the crossbar and Lane United forcing several point-blank saves out of Pumas goalkeeper Matt Grosey at key junctures. Reds head coach John Galas summed up his team’s sentiment by saying after the match that he’s “pleased with 180 minutes of clean-sheet ball, but the guys will be a little disappointed that they couldn’t grab a win from this game.”

 

LUFC:Kitsap 5:13 3The Reds picked up where they had left off following their season-opening win at Portland last Saturday by showing off some assured possession in midfield and solid defensive shape. The task would never be quite as easy against the generally larger and faster Kitsap squad, but the two teams were about even for the opening exchanges of the match. The first solid chance came ten minutes in, when Kitsap’s ChuySanchez—who has put a game-winner past Lane United before, in stoppage time of this fixture in 2014—curled a 20-yard shot just a few inches wide of Ben Willis’ left-hand post. A few minutes later, Ricky Lopez-Espin for Lane United decided to let fly from the top right corner of the box and forced asprawling save out of Grosey. Lane United seemed sure to score in the next passage of play a minute later, when Joel Rydstrand—metronomically dictating play from midfield alongside Binder for the second week in a row—snatched up an interception in Kitsap’s defensive third and was patient enough to slip in Vicente Mora overlapping to his left. The Spaniard raced into the box unmarked and had his first shot slapped back to his feet by Grosey; he elected to shoot again from a wider angle rather than square a cross back to Rydstrand, and Grosey threw himself in the way of that shot too.

 

The next incident was the first of several important refereeing decisions, when Jon Stadler, Lane United’s last player back, conceded possession under pressure to Haddadi and then seemed to haul him down at the top of the penalty box as he tried to shoot past an onrushing Willis. Referee Andrew Marihart, however, had a different view of the incident than most others, and decided that Haddadi had fouled Stadler in winning the ball off him. Kitsap were annoyed, but then had to feel lucky late in the second half, at the exact same point on the field, when Marihart did not award Lane United a penalty (and a sending-off for Kitsap’s Rene DeZorzi), for DeZorzi’s recovering tackle on Lopez-Espin after the big forward had rounded Grosey. DeZorzi did make contact with the ball, but it was fractional especially when compared with the contact he made with Lopez-Espin, who had to be substituted out due to injury after the play. Marihart managed to avoid doling out red cards in both incidents but never had another choice when Kitsap’s Cory Keitz flew studs-up and with excessive force into Daley Stevens in front of the Lane United bench in the 86th minute. By that point, though, the teams had mostly spent themselves and another chance did not materialize at either end for the remainder of the match, despite the imbalance in numbers

 

LUFC:Kitsap 5:13Both teams at times had potential scoring opportunities elude their grasp when poor individual touches were exacerbated by the unforgiving turf at the Willamalane Center. Haddadi, Ismael Fernandez and, most glaringly of all, Mike Ramos late in the second half after having been sent clear on goal—all watched in despair as the opposing keeper smothered runaway balls that could have been theirs to shoot. Lane United must be comforted by the fact that Willis, in the first 180 minutes of the season, has rarely had to stop a shot, his contributions mostly confined to intercepting through-
balls and crosses. Grosey did have several shots to stop tonight, including the most impressive of all after 80 minutes when he dove low and to his right to deny Lopez-Espin from 10 yards after he had won possession for himself deep in Kitsap territory. Aside from the controversial penalty decision, it was the last true chance for either team. A capacity crowd of 775 attended the match—Lane United’s first-ever goalless draw—but on the strength of the performance should have been persuaded to return for the rest of the season. The next match is at home to the Victoria Highlanders, who lost to Kitsap 3-0 on May 7th.