Despite the low scoreline that we’ve come to expect in the series, Wednesday’s Greenville-Tormenta match was not short on dramatics. Living up to the billing of a close battle between well matched teams, the first vs. second place game brought high stakes early on in the shortened season.
South Georgia took the momentum of the match early on and created chances for playmakers Luca Mayr and Marco Micaletto, but all shots came from outside of the opposing 18 yard box and weren’t too troubling for Triumph keeper Dallas Jaye. The match remained locked in a stalemate for the remainder of the first half, with neither side able to get dangerous opportunities behind some of the league’s best defenses.
The second half brought much more open, back and forth play. As things heated up, both teams exchanged shots off the crossbar, but still looked destined for a scoreless draw. In the 89th minute, a breakaway from halftime Tormenta sub Daniel Jackson placed him one on one with Jaye, and a shot placed to the far post was kept from breaking the deadlock by a fantastic kicksave. That save proved to be vital to the result of the match, as minutes later a scramble of chances in the opposite end was finished from close range by none other than JJ Donnelly, a Tormenta FC 2 product, earning his first professional goal since signing with Greenville after the USL League Two season ended last summer.
The stoppage time goal earned the Triumph a big 3 points, increasing their total to 10 and their lead at the top to 5 over Tormenta. The second place spot held by South Georgia now appears unstable, catchable by every other team below them in the table with their two games in hand. This makes a win over Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday all the more valuable in the tight race for only two League One Final tickets.
The new Inter Miami affiliated, Jason Kreis managed Ft. Lauderdale CF luckily shows up as the last place team, having conceded the most goals in the league to start off their inaugural season. They weren’t given a very warm welcome, though, playing Greenville to a 2-0 loss and losing 2-1 to Tucson after holding a one goal lead for nearly 80 minutes while losing two players to red cards just in the first half. However, it’s fair to say we haven’t seen Ft. Lauderdale at their best quite yet.
Tormenta, with three players (Micaletto, Mueller, and Mayr) leading in the chances created stat, will be a lot to handle for the mostly inexperienced Ft. Lauderdale, but their squad does have some identifiable players that could cause trouble. Midfielder Servando Carassco was a longtime MLS player, making 163 total league appearances for the likes of the Seattle Sounders, Houston Dynamo, Sporting Kansas City, Orlando City, and until last year, the LA Galaxy. Minding the net is former ATLUTD2 goalkeeper Dylan Castanheira, who currently leads the league in saves (no thanks to the defenders to his front). Other plays like Guediri and Lopez-Espin have League One experience, and frequently seeing time off the bench is another Tormenta 2 product, Chris Lue Young, who hopefully won’t follow in his former teammate Donnelly’s footsteps.
This will be Tormenta’s last home match for nearly a month, as they embark on trips to play Madison, Chattanooga, and OCB. Thankfully, these matches will be more spread out than the previous month of two-a-week games, but a win at home will be big heading into the away stretch. Let’s see if the boys in blue and magenta can get it done tonight in front of a limited home crowd.
Ft. Lauderdale CF
Prediction: Tormenta FC 2-1 Ft. Lauderdale
South Georgia Tormenta FC vs Ft. Lauderdale
USL League One Regular Season, Week 4
Erk Russell Park, Statesboro, Georgia
Saturday, August 8th, 2020, 8:00 P.M. EST