By Simon Provan/Milwaukee Torrent
After suffering through several narrow defeats in recent Members Cup action, the
Milwaukee Torrent finally grabbed all three points on a cold and windy night at Hart
Park with a 2-1 victory over guests Michigan Stars FC.
In its final home game of the 2019 season, the Torrent was hungry to send the Milwaukee
faithful away with a full result, something not witnessed at Hart Park since August 10,
which was match day one in Members Cup play.
Both sides featured strong starting IXs, including two players on each squad that had
been selected to the NPSL Members Cup September Team of the Month – Paris Martins
and Michael Mayberry for Michigan Stars F.C. and Giuseppe Barone and Stephan
Ruggeri for Milwaukee. Torrent manager Cacho Cordoba was also able to feature a
starting lineup that welcomed back several first-choice players who had been suffering
from injury, giving Milwaukee a renewed sense of confidence on the night. Such players
included Lucca Lemos, Leo Areal, Gerardo Saavedra, and Jeison Valencia.
From the first whistle, the match was an intense and chippy affair. Milwaukee would get
the first say on the scoreboard midway through the first half. After a streaking run
towards the right side of the Stars’ goal, Valencia took a shot that bounced off of a
Michigan defender’s foot and careened to the left. Santi D’imperio, who had made his
way in the Michigan box on the opposite side of the goal, pounced on the loose ball,
sending it past Michigan goalkeeper Tatenda Mkuruva and giving Milwaukee the 1-0
Though it looked like the teams would head to the locker rooms a goal apart from each
other, Milwaukee would double the lead with the last whistle of the first half after an odd
set of circumstances. On a Milwaukee Torrent corner kick, Mkuruva safely grabbed the
ball out of the air and started to make a routine run to the top of the box. Mkuruva then
looked as if he was going to punt the ball. However, at the last second, Mkuruva decided
to not release the ball for the punt and instead tried to pull himself back into the box after
stepping over the box.
Because Mkuruva had never released the ball from his hands, he was whistled for a
handball infraction, setting Milwaukee up for a heroic finish to the first half. With the
ball at the top and middle of the 18, Leo Areal stepped up to the spot and delivered a
perfectly placed ball, sending it over the Michigan Stars FC wall and into the side netting
of Mkuruva’s goal, giving Milwaukee the 2-0 lead at the break.
While Milwaukee had the better run of play in the first half, Michigan Stars FC looked to
gain control early in the second half, and that they did. Three minutes into the second
half, the Torrent defenders were caught sleeping in the back. After an offside call against
Valencia, Michigan quickly moved the ball down the field.
Mayberry had a nice turn of the ball on the left side of the field and crossed the ball into
the Torrent’s box. Diego Loza came flying through the air unmarked and slammed home
his header past Torrent goalkeeper Kevin Tenjo, bringing the Stars to within a goal of the
Though Michigan pressed quick and often, Loza’s goal awakened the entire Milwaukee
Torrent side. From that moment on, Milwaukee tightened up its defensive holes,
including several outstanding saves from Tenjo, who on more than one occasion used
every inch of his 6-foot frame to keep Michigan out of the Torrent goal. Michigan did,
however, find themselves with one final opportunity to leave Hart Park with a share of
In second-half stoppage, Michigan Stars FC defender Omar Sinclair received the ball
from a throw-in on the Torrent’s side of the field. Recognizing a wide-open Loza on the
opposite side, Sinclair sent a strong diagonal ball through the Torrent box and to the feet
Loza’s one-time, left-footed shot, which caught Tenjo flat-footed, rolled across the face
of the Torrent goal and out for a Milwaukee goal kick. Milwaukee would spend the rest
of the game killing off the clock and claiming all three points for the club’s final home
game in the 2019 Members Cup.
With the win, Milwaukee and Michigan switch places in the Members Cup table. Though
both clubs have seven points on the year, Milwaukee’s better goal-differential has them
in fourth place and Michigan in fifth.
Photo Credit: Milwaukee Torrent