Don Smart’s penalty kick canceled out Jordan Jones’ opener as FC Tucson and Forward Madison battled to a 1-1 draw at Kino Sports Complex in the final match of a Friday night League One triple-header. Victory would have clinched a playoff berth for Madison, but the Flamingos were unable to find the winning goal.
After an even start to the match, it was Jones who broke the deadlock with a pinpoint header in the 31st minute. The striker did well to find space in the box and latch on to an excellent cross, expertly placing his shot inside the post for his ninth goal of the year. But Madison would draw level just before halftime when Smart cooly dispatched his spot kick, the first penalty kick goal of the season for the Flamingos.
The two teams traded chances throughout the second half. FC Tucson goalkeeper Carlos Merancio made an excellent point-blank save right after the break, and though both sides generated some decent chances, neither goalkeeper was truly troubled in the later stages as the match ended with Madison and Tucson each taking a point.
While Madison could have wrapped up the fourth and final playoff spot tonight with a win, the Flamingos are still well-positioned to get over the line. A Chattanooga Red Wolves draw or loss against Richmond Kickers in tomorrow night’s contest would see Madison clinch a playoff berth. Even if the Red Wolves beat Richmond, Forward Madison would still be one point ahead and remain in control of its own destiny heading into the final game of the regular season against Lansing Ignite.
Though FC Tucson are already eliminated from playoff contention, the players and staff have plenty of positives to take away from their overall performance on the night. Tucson concludes its 2019 campaign against North Texas SC next weekend.
Orlando City B earned its first win since June 7 on Friday night, shocking Greenville at Legacy Early College and putting a serious dent in the Triumph’s hopes of hosting a League One semi-final.
Having clinched a spot in the playoffs in Tucson on Tuesday, the Triumph returned home in search of a win that would have put them in the driver’s seat for the #2 seed. A first-half of few chances gave way to a more exciting second-half. Eight minutes after the break, Orlando City B broke the deadlock when a free kick was whipped dangerously into the box. The ball pinged around and appeared to come off Orlando’s William Bagrou last, flummoxing Greenville goalkeeper Dallas Jaye.
The Triumph’s urgency increased in search of an equalizer as they piled pressure on the OCB defense. Cameron Saul generated the best chance of the match for Greenville with a brilliant turn and shot on 74 minutes, but his curling effort was well-matched by Orlando goalkeeper Juliano Chade. OCB were reduced to 10 men when Serginho was sent off late, but there wasn’t enough time for Greenville to make the advantage count and Orlando held on for a narrow 1-0 victory.
With the loss, the Triumph remain three points behind Lansing Ignite for second place and the right to host a playoff semi-final. With its destiny now out of its own hands, Greenville need to beat South Georgia Tormenta and hope that Lansing loses to Forward Madison on Saturday in order to leapfrog the Ignite into second spot.
The win was Orlando’s first on the road all season, and its season wraps up against Richmond Kickers next week.
Franco Ramos Mingo’s first-half header was all Toronto FC II needed to pick up three points at home, as the Canadian side defeated South Georgia Tormenta FC 1-0 on Friday afternoon. The result eliminates Tormenta from playoff contention.
The game got off to a frenzied start, with both teams coming close to scoring inside the opening two minutes. Toronto’s Jacob Shaffelburg did well to create a yard of space at the edge of the penalty area before unleashing a wicked strike that clanged off the outside of the post. Tormenta then took possession and went straight up to the other end. Marco Micaletto got in behind the Toronto backline, but goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky was equal to the task of stopping Micaletto's shot.
Jordan Perruzza thought he’d opened the scoring for Toronto in the 14th minute, but his header from a corner was disallowed for a foul. Nine minutes later, Franco Ramos Mingo put the ball in the back of the net for the home side from nearly the exact same position on another corner, and the goal stood the second time around to give Toronto the lead. That one goal proved enough for Toronto to walk out as winners after they withstood late offensive pressure from Tormenta.
The result eliminates Tormenta from playoff contention, but they’ll look to close out the season on a high note when they host Greenville Triumph in their season finale next week. Though Toronto’s playoff hopes were over before this match, the win is their eighth on the season, an all-time high for the club in a USL league. Toronto have a two-game road-trip to take on Richmond and Chattanooga to close out the 2019 campaign.