USSF Division-2 Soccer
August 12, 2010
AUSTIN, Texas – Last night’s 1-1 result against the Tampa Bay Rowdies maintained Puerto Rico’s slim one-goal advantage over its opponent for the eighth seed in the USSF D-2 playoff race –bringing with it a chance to face the Austin Aztex in the first round. Saturday matches up the possible first-round preview for the first time in Puerto Rico at 7:30 p.m. (CST) at J.R. Loubriel Stadium.
Twice before this season, the Aztex and Islanders have squared off, with the 1-0-1 advantage favoring the home standing Aztex. In their first match on June 5, an 80th minute goal sealed the 2-1 win for Austin in a bruising defensive struggle. Less than a month later, an own goal by Puerto Rico gave the Aztex a 1-0 lead, but this time it was a late goal by the Islanders that thwarted the decision to give each team a point for the draw.
Austin has not lost a decision since June 12 and flies into Puerto Rico riding its seven-game unbeaten streak. On the other hand, Puerto Rico comes in nearly as hot, having not dropped points in its past six matches. A win or draw on Saturday would match Austin’s season-high unbeaten streak of eight games, which the Aztex pulled off earlier this year from May 1-June 9.
Three wins in the past three games for the Aztex by an aggregate score of 9-3 has carried the squad into first place by two points (with three games in hand) over the Rochester Rhinos. In its last match against FC Tampa Bay, Austin racked up a franchise record four goals in the first half and held on for a 4-2 victory. Two of the goals were scored by defender Jay Needham, who had not previously scored this season.
The superlatives run rampant for the Aztex offense this season, as the club has put together a streak of goals that is nine better than the second highest scoring team in the league, while only accruing the eighth most corners. The Aztex forwards are second, third and fourth in the league in points, second, third and fifth in goals and second, fifth and sixth in shots taken. In addition, Austin has six players that have three assists or better, putting them at the tops of the league in that category as well.
Puerto Rico has led a three-pronged attack this season too, with three at four goals or more thus far. David Foley has the team high at six, but both Joshua Hansen and Nick Addlery lurk close behind with four a piece.
The game will be streamed live on the Austin Aztex website: www.austinaztex.com, as well as Puerto Rico’s site: http://www.prislandersfc.com. Austin’s next match comes on August 22 at home against the Carolina RailHawks, who are the lone team Austin has not yet played this season.
Series History: After four meetings between the two clubs, the aggregate score stands at 8-8. Last season, the Aztex and Islanders played three matches to a 1-1-1 stalemate. Austin and Puerto Rico drew at 1 in the first meeting at Nelson Field, followed by a dominating 3-1 Aztex victory in the same stadium. Just two weeks later, the Islanders returned the favor, crushing the Aztex 4-1 at JR Lovoriel Stadium in Puerto Rico. This season, the Aztex hold a 1-0-1 advantage, though total goals between the two teams stand at 8-8 in their five matchups.
Leading the Team: The Aztex top six career point scorers all play for this year’s squad, with Eddie Johnson leading the way at 35 points. Jamie Watson and Max Griffin both stand in second place with seven goals and four assists each.
Better Off Away? The Aztex hold a 5-0-2 record on the road this year and have eight road contests left, compared to only three home games.
Injury Report: Forward Jamie Watson will be held out of this weekend’s contest with a fractured collarbone and will be joined on the sidelines by Stephan Campbell (groin) and Max Griffin (rest). Watson’s injury could possibly put him out on August 22 as well, but he will be re-evaluated before then.
And Then There Was One…: With Yordany Alvarez’ one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation last week, Miguel Gallardo remains the last Aztex player to play in every minute of every game this year. Lawrence Olum and Jay Needham have also missed one game on the year and are tied with Alvarez in minutes played for the second most on the team.
One Safe Bet: In its two years as a professional team, Austin has been nearly unbeatable when taking a lead into the locker room. After last week’s two-goal halftime lead stood, the Aztex improved their record to 15-1-3 when leading at the break, and 18-0-5 when leading after 75 minutes. However, the 4-2 result was the first win in franchise history when conceding two goals or more to its opponent (1-9-3).