Austin Aztex News Release - www.austinaztex.com
Saturday, April 25, 2009
AUSTIN, TX -- After two hard-earned, come-from-behind draws to start the season against two 2008 playoff teams, including USL First Division champion Vancouver Whitecaps, the Aztex secured its first-ever win, a convincing 3-0 victory over fellow USL-1 newcomer, the Cleveland City Stars Saturday night.
The 3,248 fans in attendance at Nelson Field saw the home side come out attacking early. With a stiff southerly breeze at its back, the Aztex didn’t wait long to get on the board. In the 13th minute, Aztex midfielder Yordany Alvarez found striker Eddie Johnson streaking up the right side. Johnson dribbled the ball, then lofted it up over hard-charging Cleveland goalkeeper Hunter Gilstrip for the early 1-0 lead.
The visiting City Stars had a difficult time getting into any offensive rhythm early and had limited possession on the Aztex side of the field during the first 20 minutes of the match. It wasn’t until the 24th minute before Cleveland had its first corner.
Three minutes later the City Stars had their first shot on goal when forward Jason Hotchkin beat an Aztex defender before firing at goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo. Gallardo dove and deflected the shot beyond the post for a Cleveland corner.
The Aztex had several more chances in the first half but managed to go into the break with the team’s first lead of the season.
In the second half, the City Stars had an obvious uphill battle against a fired up Aztex squad and its fans, and it got even more difficult in the 49th minute when Cleveland midfielder Ryan Stewart flagrantly elbowed Aztex midfielder Ryan Caugherty. Stewart received a straight red card and was sent off.
Despite being down a man, the City Stars managed to put together several offensive charges over the course of the next 20 minutes. The best chance at knotting up the score came in the 66th minute when Godfrey Tenoff took a pass in the middle before delivering a line drive toward Gallardo. Gallardo made a diving save to his left to keep the City Stars off the board.
From that point forward, it was all Aztex.
In the 71st minute Austin added to its lead when Johnson made a run up the right side with the ball before making a precise pass back to the center of the field to an awaiting Sullivan Silva. Silva never hesitated and fired the ball on goal. Cleveland’s Gilstrip didn’t have much of a chance as the ball hooked into the upper-left corner of the net to give the home squad a 2-0 lead.
The remainder of the game, with a tiring City Stars squad, and numerous Austin substitutions, the Aztex dominated possession. As time elapsed, the Aztex made one final offensive push, and it paid off. Defender Zack Pope, who had come in just a minute earlier for A.J. Godbolt, took the ball up the right wing where he found and distributed the ball toward a fast-charging Johnson. Johnson took the ball after a Cleveland defender deflected it, then drove a shot into the back of the net for the game’s final tally.
Aztex head coach Adrian Heath was understandably pleased with the team’s performance and first win in franchise history.
“I was a little bit critical at halftime. I felt like we should’ve been up by more than one. We were always confident that we’d win,” Heath said. “I’m really pleased Eddie got a reward for his efforts and Sully got a reward for all he does, engaging the crowd.”
Johnson, following his two-goal performance, admitted it was important to get off to a fast start. “We needed to get off good since we had been starting down in the previous games. I think the guys are getting used to what it’s going to be like. A lot on the team are new to professional football. And, we’ve been training real hard this week.”
With the victory Austin moves to 1-0-2 on the season. Cleveland falls to 0-2-0. The Aztex return to action on Friday, May 8 at Nelson Field against the Puerto Rico Islanders in a nationally televised game on Fox Soccer Channel. The City Stars are back in action next Friday, May 1, for their first home game of the season.