Tormenta With A Lot To Fix In Final Stretch
Madison, Wisconsin- Tormenta FC hits the road this week for a match that could prove pivotal in shaping the USL League One playoff race. Tormenta, Forward, and Chattanooga all sit tied for fourth place with 32 points, making picking up all 3 points even more necessary. If Tormenta loses this match and FC Tucson picks up at least a point, we would see Tormenta drop even further down to 7th place in the league standings. So there is clearly a lot riding on this match.
Forward has been one of the harder teams to predict in USL League One. We’ve seen Forward struggle, at times, scraping the bottom of the league. Now, they’re one of the higher scoring teams in the league and have been in the playoff race for the last month.
Tormenta and Forward have met two times so far this season, each team picking up 3 points at their opponent’s homefield. Way back on May 18th, Tormenta (who were comfortably in the playoff mix) stole all three points at Breese Stevens Field following Conner Antley being in the right place at the right time on a corner. When Forward came down to Statesboro on July 6th, it was a totally different story. Madison looked the more cohesive and dominant side throughout the 90 minute match. The ‘Mingos went on to win 2-1 but the scoreline did not reflect the dominance they had throughout the match. Forward dominated statistically as well, 45.5% shooting accuracy to Tormenta’s 26.7%, had more shots on target, more interceptions and more tackles. Forward took smarter shots when they had the ball and defended much better than Tormenta did compared to the first match.
Now, here we are. The third and final round of this inaugural season. A loss this late in the season would truly be detrimental to the playoff lives of either team. IF Tormenta are able to use their last two matches as motivation, this team could turn it around. We’ve seen Tormenta get outscored 9 to 1 by the first place team in the league and a team that was sitting in 9th. Not a good look for a team that spent more time in the Top 2 than anywhere else. Over two matches, Tormenta conceded the same amount of goals that they conceded through the first 13 matches. Thirteen. That stretches from the inaugural match versus Greenville way back on March 29th to the previously mentioned 2-1 loss to Forward on July 6th. Time for this team to wake up.
What Needs To Change:
Shot Selection and Team Identity: Tormenta needs to get smarter when it comes to picking their shots. Over the first 13 matches of the season, when Tormenta was at their best, the team was stellar at this. Tormenta would see their opportunity and take it. It led to a lot of 1-0 or 2-1 matches, but I think Tormenta fans would even take 1-0 wins right now. The team needs to get back their version of a killer instinct before it’s too late. The final five matches of the season are set to be a tough hill to climb. Tormenta goes from Forward, to North Texas at home, up to Lansing, up to Toronto, and finishes the season off at home versus Greenville. All these teams (even Toronto at times) have appeared as complete squads throughout the season. Teams that know WHAT their identities are and stick to it. Tormenta needs to get back to the team that’s built around their defense and able to grind out a 1-0 win.
Consistency: Over the course of Tormenta’s recent struggles, we have seen a variety of different formations and squads played. Players have moved into secondary positions, formations have shifted focus to the defense, and when it does not work, the team goes back to the traditional 4-2-3-1. Another thing that shaped Tormenta in the early days of the season was WHO they put on the pitch. Conner Antley was known for causing havoc offensively but locking down a whole side of the pitch on defense, Marco Micaletto who could control the match from the midfield or the wing, Charlie Dennis who would whip in crosses into dangerous areas, and the deadly holding pairing of Nil Vinyals and Ricardo Gomez who stayed cool under pressure and locked down the midfield. Yes, names such as Vinyals, Coutinho, O’Sullivan, Eckenrode, and so on make up the rather long injury list for Tormenta and that has hurt consistency. What Tormenta needs to do now is to stick to their guns and plug holes with the same players in each spot weekly. Keep crucial players where they perform best, so there is some form of consistency on the pitch that feels familiar to the players.
Forward Madison is a tough team to beat. It takes a team that knows their own identity, has a solid gameplan, and confidence in their own ability to go into Breese Stevens and come out with all three points. It appears that all three of those have been missing at times for Tormenta. With only a handful of matches left, Tormenta needs to figure it out before they’re on the outside looking in.
Forward Madison FC (9-9-5) v. Tormenta FC (8-7-8)
Breese Stevens Field, Madison, Wisconsin.
Saturday, September 7th. 8:00 PM. ET