A flurry of goals in the first half led Lansing Ignite FC to a 5-0 victory over FC Tucson at Kino Sports Complex Friday night.
Pato Botello Faz opened the scoring in the 16th minute after Phillip Ejimadu gave the ball away cheaply in his defensive third. Following the turnover, Rafael Mentzingen drove towards the endline and played a low cross into the path of Pato’s near post run. Pato got enough on the cross to poke a shot through Ejimadu’s legs and give Lansing an early lead.
Pato doubled the visitors’ advantage and completed his brace in the 26th minute, this time heading home Xavier Gomez’s serve from a free kick on the right flank. The goal was Pato’s seventh of the season.
The Mexican striker turned provider on the third goal, slipping Tumi Moshobane in behind the FC Tucson defense with a clever flick. Once in behind, Moshobane shrugged off two defenders before curling a left-footed shot past Ejimadu to make it 3-0 inside of the first 35 minutes of the match.
Substitute Rhys Williams joined in on the goal scoring action in the second half, cleaning up Elma N’For’s flicked header following an in-swinging corner kick to make it 4-0.
Moshobane scored his team-high eighth goal of the season in the dying moments of the match, curling a brilliant free kick around the wall and past Ejimadu to make it 5-0 after N’For was fouled just outside the box moments earlier.
Stefan Cleveland was forced to make three saves in goal to earn his seventh clean sheet of the season for Lansing at Kino Sports Complex.
Friday’s victory was Lansing’s fourth consecutive, while FC Tucson was pegged with its first loss in five outings and just its second at Kino Sports Complex this season. Ignite FC is now unbeaten in its last ten matches and sits five points back of first-place North Texas SC who clinched its spot in the playoffs Friday night. Lansing will host Chattanooga Red Wolves SC next Saturday with the hope of closing in on a playoff place of its own.
The loss dinged FCT’s playoff hopes, but didn’t destroy them due to the side’s game in hand. Tucson remains in seventh place, one point back of Chattanooga, Forward Madison FC, and South Georgia Tormenta FC who are all vying for the fourth playoff spot. Tucson heads to South Carolina to play Greenville Triumph SC in the club’s final road match of the season next Friday night.
Ronaldo Damus extended his lead in the Race for the Golden Boot with a brace as North Texas SC beat Orlando City B, 3-1, at Montverde Academy Friday night.
John Nelson opened the scoring for North Texas SC in the 22nd minute, cleaning up a rebound Christian Herrera spilled after Ronaldo Damus’ shot from a tight angle. The goal was Nelson’s first of the season.
North Texas had a chance to double its lead after earning a penalty in the 47th minute, but Arturo Rodriguez struck the penalty too close to Herrera and the 6-7 goalkeeper got a strong hand to it to keep it out.
Orlando pulled themselves level from a corner kick in the 52nd minute. Luis Ontivero served an in-swinging ball towards goalkeeper Carlos Avilez. Avilez looked set to collect the service, but Brandon John beat him to it and headed it home to equalize and score his first goal of the season.
The lead did not last long as Damus charged down the opposite end and tucked away his 12th goal of the season two minutes after the equalizer to put the league-leaders back in front.
North Texas earned its second penalty of the match in the 69th minute when Gibran Rayo was chopped down in the 18-yard box after an impressive build-up through midfield. Damus slotted the penalty home, sending Herrera the wrong way to notch his league-leading 13th goal of the season and second of the match.
The win extends North Texas’ lead at the top of the table to eight points, with second-place Lansing Ignite FC set to play late Friday night in Tucson. NTSC has won three straight to put itself in a position to punch its ticket to the League One playoffs if either Forward Madison FC or FC Tucson fail to win as Week 24 continues this weekend.
Orlando, meanwhile, has gone 13 matches without a win and has already been eliminated from the playoffs. Friday’s loss to North Texas marks OCB’s final home game of the season.
Orlando will play its final four matches of the season on the road beginning next week at Toronto FC II. Next up for North Texas is a rematch with the Richmond Kickers at home on Tuesday night.
Eamon Zayed’s late goal helped Chattanooga Red Wolves SC earn a point in a 2-2 draw with Toronto FC II Friday afternoon at BMO Training Ground.
Jordan Perruzza opened the scoring for Toronto FC II in the 31st minute from the penalty spot. Griffin Dorsey earned the penalty after picking up the ball on the right flank and driving into the penalty area, forcing Leo Folla into a poorly-timed, lunging tackle. Perruzza sent Alex Mangels the wrong way on the penalty, slotting it in to his left to score his tenth goal of the season.
The Red Wolves earned a penalty of their own as Tony Walls was pushed down in TFC II’s 18-yard box just after halftime. Steven Beattie stepped up and finished with a strong strike to his right to score his ninth goal of the season.
Chattanooga nearly pulled out in front minutes after Beattie’s equalizer when Walls served a teasing ball in behind the Toronto back four. Beattie got on the end of it but goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky did well to come of his line and smother the chance.
The hosts scored a go-ahead goal in the 72nd minute from another dead ball situation. This time it was Jordan Faria who curled a free kick over the wall and past Mangels from a tight angle. The goal was Faria’s first of the season.
The Red Wolves equalized for the second time ten minutes when TFC II failed to fully clear a corner kick. The failed clearance rolled out to Timmy Mehl on the right flank 25 yards from goal. Mehl found Connor Doyle unmarked at the back post with a cross field pass. Doyle brought the ball down and slid a pass to Eamon Zayed who finished easily into the open net to score his sixth goal of the season.
The draw momentarily moves Chattanooga into the fourth and final playoff position with the other eight teams set to play later this weekend. The Red Wolves have a one point lead on Forward Madison FC and South Georgia Tormenta FC who play each other at Breese Stevens Field Saturday night. FC Tucson can also catch Chattanooga should they beat Lansing Ignite FC tonight at home. Winless in their last four, the Red Wolves will head to Lansing for a run-in with the second-place Ignite next Saturday.
The draw does little to help TFC II’s playoff hopes and extends the clubs winless run to eight games. Toronto moved into eighth place with the point earned against Chattanooga, but the ninth place Richmond Kickers are only a point back with two games in hand on The Reds. TFC II will look to win its first match since July 12 next Friday when it hosts Orlando City B at BMO Training Ground.