Austin Aztex News Release
The game got off to an inauspicious start for the Aztex in just the 6th minute as Puerto Rico’s Scott Jones made a run up the left side before sending in a sharp cross into the box. Puerto Rico midfielder Jonathan Steele shot through a pair of Aztex defenders and left-footed the ball out of mid-air past Aztex goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo for the early 1-0 lead.
Less than 10 minutes later the news got worse for the Aztex, not because of a goal, but because of an injury to Gallardo. Gallardo appeared to injure his left knee when he came out to the edge of the box and took on a hard-charging Islander player. Gallardo took the brunt of the collision and stayed down on the ground for several minutes receiving medical attention from the Aztex training staff. The Austin keeper managed to stay in the game.
Gallardo’s teammates didn’t help his cause later in the first half when defender Kieron Bernard made a hard challenge on Puerto Rico forward Kendall Jagdeosingh deep in the box. Bernard received a yellow card and Islanders’ Cristian Arrieta drove the ensuing penalty kick past a diving Gallardo to put the home side up 2-0.
Austin appeared down, but it wasn’t out. Deep into stoppage time, Austin midfielder Jean Alexandre, who is on his second loan from Real Salt Lake in the last couple weeks, made a highlight reel goal when he collected a pass just past the center circle, settled the ball then fired from 35 yards out. The ball sailed past several Puerto Rico defenders and goalkeeper Bill Gaudette into the top right of the net and gave the Aztex a much-needed boost heading into the half.
The Aztex came out a different team in the second half, literally. Gallardo was replaced in net by Sam Reynolds, and offensive attackers Sullivan Silva and Kyle Brown both came in for the second 45.
Unfortunately, the lineup changes didn’t appear to provide much of an offensive spark for the Aztex. Instead, the visitors spent much of the second half chasing against the attacking Islanders. After a couple of missed opportunities in the 61st and 63rd minutes by Jagdeosingh, the Islanders added to their total on the second penalty kick of the night following a handball in the box by Austin’s A.J. Godbolt in the 70th minute. While Reynolds guessed right on the kick, Arrieta managed his second tally of the night as he slid the ball just underneath the Austin keeper for a 3-1 lead.
Puerto Rico put the capper on the night when attacker Nicholas Addlery beat a pair of Aztex defenders late in the contest for the final 4-1 tally.
The disappointing loss finished off the first leg of a nightmarish trip from Austin to the Caribbean island that included four stops in between including New York’s JFK airport. The Aztex made stops in Houston, Philadelphia, Newark, New Jersey and New York before finally reaching its final destination around lunch time on Friday.
Despite being road weary, the Aztex continues its two-game trip with a game on Sunday in Miami before returning to Austin for a home game on Tuesday in second-round U.S. Open Cup action against the El Paso Patriots.