Puget Sound Gunners 1, Lane United FC 0
Lane United FC lost to the Puget Sound Gunners 1-0 on a cool, drizzly evening in Issaquah, Washington. In the 17th minute, Justice Duerksen curled in a beautiful free kick from 25 yards to give the home team the lead, and they withstood the ensuing 75 minutes of nearly constant possession and patient pressure from Lane United to claim victory. With head coach John Galas shifting his team into a 4-5-1, the game had a completely different shape from the previous two ragged losses; Lane United’s midfield quintet regularly held onto possession for long periods and minimized the cheap giveaways that had cost them so frequently against Seattle and Victoria. Dirk van der Velde at right back frequently played far enough forward to count as a sixth midfielder, but Puget Sound played calculated defense, sitting deep and never allowing themselves to be overwhelmed by the numbers.
Galas said afterward that he was “happy with the team’s performance,” noting that “we did everything right, played solid defense, but lacked the killer ball in the final third.” Aside from the expertly taken goal, Puget Sound’s only other real chance came when Jeffrey Rose rattled the crossbar with a thunderous 30-yard shot out of nothing in the middle of the second half. Josep Baldoví, Lane United’s clear leader on shots over the course of the game, twice forced Keegan Rogers, the Gunners’ keeper, to tip well-struck efforts from mid-range over the bar. But no one on the Lane United side ever forced Rogers into a save with a shot from inside the penalty box; the closest chances besides Baldo’s two efforts came when the keeper left his line to barely cut out passes or crosses. Rolando Velazquez and Conner Bevans, so adept at making runs past a high defensive line, were unable to find the necessary space for shots against a defense that was willing to drop back into the penalty area at the first hint of pressure.
Galas said that “we’ll take a lot of positives out of this match; our passing was very fluid at times and we didn’t make too many careless mistakes.” The Reds head to Salem on Tuesday for what is nominally an away game against the Portland Timbers U-23s, then to Canada later in the week for a demanding two-games-in-24-hours test against Vancouver and Victoria.