Conservative Sonic blanks Buffalo 1-0
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • June 13, 2011 @ 12:42pm
It’s not easy to ignite a comeback when the opponent packs ten defenders behind the ball, focusing almost entirely on stagnating the game rather than creating any offense. There’s little room to turn on the ball, the 18-yard box is congested, there are few alleys for through-balls and 50/50 challenges are even more of a bear to win.
That was life for FC Buffalo after a defensive mix-up in the box led to Joe Puleo’s goal in the 6th minute, and FC Sonic held on to the one goal lead for the 1-0 final. While the Blitzers held the lion’s share of the possession—probably 70% in the second half—FC Sonic’s backline remained composed and impenetrable. Former Pocono keeper Troy Hernandez, a perpetual thorn in the Blitzers’ side, registered the clean sheet for the Lehigh Valley squad.
“It’s frustrating, I feel like we had most of the possession, we had the better play; it’s frustrating to not get a goal out of it,” FC Buffalo striker Mike Reidy said. “We’re used to getting at least one [goal], but we’ll have to bounce back. It was just one of those games where [the ball] doesn’t go in.”
When asked about FC Sonic’s conservative tactics, FC Buffalo coach Dan Krzyzanowicz shrugged them off: “[Their numbers] made it difficult, but to be honest, it’s nothing that they did, it’s everything we did. We created a million opportunities like we do every game, but we didn’t finish any of them. That’s soccer—we made a mistake and they capitalized on it—it’s frustrating when you work so hard and you come up with nothing.”
The visitor’s goal resulted from costly indecision by the Blitzer backline. Backup keeper Craig Yanni was tentative in leaving his line to chase down a ball at the edge of the box—defender Josh Faga nipped in and initially compensated for Yanni’s blunder, but the Blitzer defender was dispossessed by Ryan Hess as he tried to dribble out of the box. Hess played the ball square to Puleo, who roofed his shot inside Yanni’s near post.
The Blitzers responded with three near misses in the next twenty minutes. Two minutes after the goal, Matt Stedman rung Hernandez’s near post after the keeper muffed Andy Tiedt’s cross. In the 15th, Mike Reidy took a Tiedt lay-off and cut horizontally along the 18-yard box, but his drive towards goal was blocked by Troy Robinson. In the 27th, Mike Unwin lofted a pass over a defender and onto Reidy’s chest; one-on-one with the keeper, Reidy touched the ball a few feet wide of the far post.
Puleo and Cody Antonini created a few dangerous chances for FC Sonic; the latter’s long stride and deft ball-control tormented the FC Buffalo midfield, while Robinson won many tackles with his power and balance. Even so, the second half entrances of FC Buffalo’s Krystian Witkowski and Patrick Zelko, combined with a shift of Faga from left back to center midfield, generated even more offensive pressure.
In the 61st minute, Witkowski weaved through the Sonic defense before laying off to Unwin along the right flank—the former UB midfielder’s out-swinging cross was struck wide by Reidy off the rebound. A few darting runs down the left by Zelko troubled Sonic briefly, but the final pass or strike on target left Blitzer fans frustrated.
“We need a little more combination play in the final third—around the 18—and ultimately better finishing, getting the ball in the back of the net,” Reidy admitted.
“We had one too many touches, one too many moves, took on one too many defenders,” Coach K added. “The reality is that we had a lot of good chances but we didn’t tuck any away.”
The Blitzers are scheduled for a friendly match against the Rochester Rhinos on June 19 before back-to-back away games against FC Sonic and Pocono on June 24 and 25. The much-anticipated international friendly against the Bedlington Terriers is slated for June 29—get tickets here.