Both clubs in the race for first place impressed on the road, but victories elsewhere showed how quickly things can change in the middle of the League One standings. Here are five things we took away from the past weekend’s action.
TORMENTA STICK TOGETHER: As you’d expect, road wins have been hard to come by so far this season across League One. In fact, South Georgia Tormenta FC’s 1-0 win against Forward Madison FC on Saturday night was just the ninth time the visitor had taken victory in 37 games so far this season. With that sort of ratio, it also made Tormenta FC’s victory arguably the most impressive of the campaign so far as South Georgia defeated a side that also sat in the top four of the standings entering the day with another stellar defensive display. With shutouts in half of their eight outings, and a sub-1.00 goals against average overall, goalkeeper Pablo Jara and his cohorts are getting the job done very well indeed.
SILVER LINING FOR FMFC: For Madison, the first loss on home turf saw the side slide out of the top four in the standings and in fact sink down to seventh overall, but given the club’s overall outlook it would be silly to take a glass-half-empty view of a game that certainly could have gone its way. From a remarkable first-half save by Jara to deny a rasping shot by J.C. Banks to a pair of late chances that went just stray of the target, the Flamingos were easily a match for Tormenta FC. The next outing isn’t an easy one going to North Texas SC, but Madison should enter knowing they’ll have a shot at accomplishing something no-one else has done yet this season.
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT: That accomplishment would be defeating North Texas, which remained undefeated – if not still perfect – thanks to its late comeback in a 2-2 draw against Lansing Ignite FC on Saturday night. There have been some valid questions about NTSC’s ride to the top of the League One standings thanks to a home-heavy schedule and lack of games against teams at the top of the standings, but it certainly felt like North Texas answered some of those in Lansing. From Ricardo Pepi’s remarkable free kick to Arturo Rodriguez’s equalizer with a minute to go, the visitors never stopped battling to take something from the game. That sort of spirit can carry a side a good way on its own, but even more when it’s got the talent that this North Texas side has.
UPWARD SHIFT: We got a taste of the homefield advantage FC Tucson might have on opponents in their prior outing against Lansing Ignite FC, but Saturday night’s four-goal display showed a side that might be coming into its own as it wrapped up the first quarter of its season. The hosts effectively counterpunched against a more patient Chattanooga Red Wolves SC side that while it held 65 percent of possession only finished with two shots on goal. Tucson, meanwhile, got out at speed and peppered the Chattanooga goal with nine shots on target, and another by Jordan Jones that rang the right post before Devyn Jambga cleaned up the rebound. Tucson is handily placed in fifth ahead of two winnable games on the road in Toronto and at home to Orlando over the next two Friday nights.
OVER THE LINE: It took until the club’s eighth game of the season, but Orlando City B finally bagged three points on Friday night to become the final team in the win column in League One’s inaugural season. What’s more, OCB was good value for its 2-0 victory against Toronto FC II, which continued its downward spiral in a performance that saw the visitors record only one shot on goal early in the second half. Orlando, by contrast, played some genuinely exciting stuff that first led to Moises Tablante opening the scoring just before halftime and the side win two penalty kicks, one of which it converted. It’s going to take more positive displays against better opposition than Toronto brought for this to be considered a turning point for OCB, but it’s a step in the right direction ahead of a midweek game with the Richmond Kickers and that’s what matters for now.