Austin Aztex News Release - www.austinaztex.com
Saturday, April 18, 2009
AUSTIN, TX -- The expansion Austin Aztex opened their inaugural USL First Division campaign Saturday evening with a 1-1 draw against the visiting Minnesota Thunder courtesy of a goal from defender Lyle Adams, who tallied the team's first official goal.
With a total of five preseason matches under its belt against top-level competition including four MLS teams, the Aztex came out looking prepared against its first-ever USL First Division foe, the Minnesota Thunder. The Thunder, however, was equal to the task and managed to get out of town with a tie.
The game got off to an ominous start for the home side when in the third minute goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo sustained an injury following a collision with teammate A.J. Godbolt. Gallardo stayed on the ground several minutes before getting to his feet and being tended to by medical staff. Gallardo stayed in the remainder of the contest with a dark bandage on his head.
After the injury scare, the 4,891 fans at Nelson Field saw an attacking Aztex squad that threatened, but never managed to get any solid shots on goal in the early going. The first threat came in the 16th minute when forward Eddie Johnson sent in a cross from the right side to fellow striker Kyle Brown who managed to get a solid header off on goal. It caromed off just a few feet to the right of the post.
Five minutes later the Thunder had an offensive response of its own when midfielder Ricardo Sanchez made his way through the Aztex defense before firing a knuckleball shot at Gallardo. The keeper went to his knees and secured the ball to eliminate the threat.
The Aztex threatened one more time in the first half, when former Cuban U23 player Yordany Alvarez sent a cross in the middle to Johnson, who headed the ball up over the crossbar.
Coming out of the half with a scoreless tie, both teams looked determined to go on the attack. For Minnesota, it paid off in the 52nd minute.
That’s when forward Leonel Saint-Preux dribbled the ball into the heart of the Aztex defense. Several Austin defenders collapsed in the middle including David Sias, who appeared to intercept the ball. Somehow, the ball deflected back out of the Aztex mix to an awaiting Saint-Preux who was standing 10 yards in front of the left post. Gallardo charged hard trying to cut down on the angle, but Saint-Preux made a quick move to his left, avoided the keeper and lofted it into the net.
It didn’t take long for the Aztex to respond, more specifically, Aztex head coach Adrian Heath. That’s when Heath subbed in defender Zack Pope for A.J. Godbolt and forward Sullivan Silva for Ryan McMahen. Silva, who has dazzled fans throughout the preseason, provided instant offense for the Aztex attack.
While Silva wasn’t necessarily the one delivering the cross or getting shots on goal, his presence was felt and opened up the left side of the pitch. The benefactor on one such occasion occurred in the 67th minute when Brown, who took the ball up the left side, fired a cross into the middle where forward Gifton Noel-Williams jumped over the Minnesota defense and headed the ball to the left of Thunder keeper Nic Platter. Platter didn’t stop the ball. The right post did.
Two minutes later the offensive persistence of Austin paid dividends. That’s when Silva’s cross into the middle missed its target including all Thunder defenders, and managed to find the left foot of defender Lyle Adams, who was playing forward. Adams settled the ball then fired a rocket from 30 yards out.
Platter barely moved as the ball sailed over his left shoulder into the upper right corner of the net to knot up the score at one apiece.
Following the goal by Adams, both teams continued the back and forth of attacking and counterattacking. In the 78th minute, Minnesota’s Sanchez tried to duplicate the efforts of Adams just minutes before. He almost succeeded. From 30 yards out, Sanchez’s shot sailed high toward the upper right corner of the Aztex goal, where Gallardo jumped and just managed to tip the ball up over the crossbar.
While the action remained at a fever pitch the remaining few minutes of the contest, neither team was unable to break the deadlock.
Heath said he was reasonably satisfied with his team’s USL-First Division debut performance.
“I thought we were better in the second half. We were nervous when we started. The game was food for thought. If we had started better, we could have relaxed sooner. I thought we would nick it in the end.”
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