AUSTIN, Texas – Four games ago, the Austin Aztex traveled to Puerto Rico while riding a seven-game unbeaten streak, but without many of its top players and were subsequently defeated at the hands of the Islanders, 2-0.
At 7:05 p.m. (CST) on Saturday, Austin gets one more crack at the club at J.R. Loubriel Stadium, where it is 0-2 all-time. The Aztex and Islanders have played twice at House Park already, where the Aztex beat the Islanders, 2-1, in June and drew, 1-1, in July.
This time around, Austin is yet again without the services of a few of its starters and is also missing a handful of reserves. Ruled out for the weekend match are: top goal scorer Eddie Johnson (Yellow card accumulation), midfielders Lawrence Olum (Groin), Joey Worthen (Hamstring), Stephan Campbell (Groin) and defenders Jay Needham (Hamstring) and Sam Brill (Muscle Strain). Also unable to make the trip due to his heavy travel load is newcomer Tsuyoshi Yoshitake, who the club recently received on loan from Crystal Palace Baltimore.
Puerto Rico comes into the match having lost two of its past three, but is 2-1-2 in its past five at home. The Islanders two leading scorers David Foley and Nick Addlery both scored to cement their 3-2 victory over Carolina on August 28 in its last win. Foley sits at fifth in the league in goals with eight, while Addlery follows close behind with six.
Only Johnson outduels Foley for the Aztex with his 13 goals, but Max Griffin (seven goals) and Jamie Watson (six goals) are in the top 15 in goals in the league as well. Austin leads the USSF D-2 Pro League with 45 goals, while Puerto Rico is fifth with 32.
After a victory over NSC Minnesota over Labor Day weekend, Austin took back over first place for the first time in three weeks, but still has two games in hand on second place Rochester. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico dropped its last match against Montreal, which sent it down to seventh place in the current standings with four games left on its slate.
The trip to Bayamon, Puerto Rico, begins a three-game road trip for the Aztex, who follow with matches at Tampa Bay and AC St. Louis. Five of the club’s next six games are away from House Park. The 7:05 p.m. (CST) kickoff can be seen streamed live on the Aztex website: www.austinaztex.com, or on Puerto Rico’s: www.prislandersfc.com.
Series History: Austin is 2-2-2 against Puerto Rico all-time, with both losses coming at J.R. Loubriel Stadium (both in 2009 and 2010). This season, Austin is 1-1-1 against the Islanders. The two clubs last met on August 14.
Nearing the Finish Line: Only six games remain on Austin’s schedule, while multiple teams in the league have just four games left to play. The USSF D-2 Pro League playoffs will begin on Wednesday October 6 and carry through the month of October as a three-round, eight-team bracketed playoff. Each round will be a home-and-home aggregate series. Austin’s first game will be on October 7, followed by a match at House Park on October 9. If the standings held today, Austin and NSC Minnesota would be first round opponents, while Puerto Rico would face second-seeded Vancouver. The other two matchups pits Rochester against Montreal and Carolina against Portland.
Wiping the Slate Clean: Aztex goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo recorded his sixth shutout of the season on September 4 against NSC Minnesota. The Aztex have now risen to fourth in the league in goals against, behind only Rochester, Vancouver and Portland. Not coincidentally, these four teams are the top four teams in the league.
Too Many Cards: Aztex leading goal scorer and USSF D-2 Pro League MVP candidate Eddie Johnson will be held out of Saturday’s game against Puerto Rico for accumulating his fifth yellow card of the 2010 season. Midfielder Yordany Alvarez was also forced to sit for a game for the same penalty earlier in the year. Despite this, the Aztex have the sixth least fouls and the fourth least misconducts overall.
Keep Rising to the Top: All year long, the Aztex trio of scorers have been amongst the league leaders in that category. After Eddie Johnson scored two goals on two assists by Jamie Watson, the combo stayed in the top five this week. Johnson moved into a tie for second with Miami FC’s Paulo Araujo Jr. with 30 points (13 goals, 4 assists), while Max Griffin stands alone with 19 points (seven goals, five assists) and Watson just behind him with 18 (six goals, six assists). Portland’s Ryan Pore leads the league with 34 points on 15 goals and four assists.
Injury Report: Ruled out for the weekend match are: top goal scorer Eddie Johnson (Yellow card accumulation), midfielders Lawrence Olum (Groin), Joey Worthen (Hamstring), Stephan Campbell (Groin) and defenders Jay Needham (Hamstring) and Sam Brill (Muscle Strain). Also unable to make the trip due to his heavy travel load is newcomer Tsuyoshi Yoshitake, who the club recently received on loan from Crystal Palace Baltimore.