Alexandria Reds Fall on PKs in USASA Region I Amateur Cup

By Sean Maslin/NPSL.com

It is often said that tournament soccer is a marathon and not a sprint.  That sentiment was certainly on display on Sunday night as Alexandria Reds and Christos FC went the distance, going to penalties in the USASA Region I Amateur Cup’s First Round after ending regulation 1-1.  Christos FC would eventually win 4-2 on penalties. 

While both teams are just starting their seasons, the start of the first half saw both teams exhibiting a strong sense of chemistry and organization. Led by defenders Mudhi Jagha (Alexandria) and Malcolm Harris (Christos FC) each team was able to build long, sustained possessions out of the back. 

Through their efforts in the midfield, Alexandria drew an early foul in dangerous territory.  In the fifth minute, forward Peter Mattocks drew a foul deep in Christos’ defensive third.  While Jagha delivered a scintillating chance, it went wide of the mark. 

Mattocks continued to make the most of his chances inside of Christos’ defense throughout the early part of the first half.  In the 20th minute, he found enough space to hit a strong shot on target that was ultimately stopped by Christos goalkeeper Daniel McCleary.

After surviving a few early scares, Christos began to break out of their backline and move forward.  Harris and midfielder Brian Graham combined on multiple 1-2 opportunities to move the Baltimore-based team from a defensive posture to an attacking down the left flank.  Their hard work nearly paid off in the 20th minute when Graham found midfielder Alejandro Arbelaez in front of goal.  Arbelaez framed his shot perfectly, but the chance was denied by Reds goalkeeper Maxim Davis.

The chess match through the midfield continued until the end of the half with the teams trading goal-scoring chances.  Off of the counterattack in the 45th minute, the Reds came the closest to breaking the deadlock with Manny Ruiz lacing a crisp diagonal pass into Grayg Noirreault. However, the defender was ruled offsides.

After coming close to finding the first goal just before halftime, Alexandria surged ahead.  In the 52nd minute, Ruiz surged past the Christos defense and hit a low shot past McCleary to give Alexandria the 1-0 lead. 

Despite going down a goal Christos continued to apply pressure on the flanks of the Alexandria defense.  Reds captain Robert O’Neill was more than up for the challenge, tightly marking their attackers and making multiple key clearances.  His work with second-half substitute Fomu Chunga helped slow down Christos’ attacking ambitions while also giving them chances off of the counterattack. 

Christos’ best chance for an equalizer came in the 75th minute with Arbelaez getting through the Reds defense.  But Davis was there once, making the diving effort before a shot could materialize.  Although he was one of the younger players on the pitch, Davis remained cool and composed under pressure.

In injury time, Christos would finally break through.  Cody Albrecht slid a clever ball into open space for Kyle Saunderson.  Then Saunderson placed a low driving shot past Davis to make it level and force the game into extra time.

After a short break, Christos continued to work on the undermanned Alexandria defense.  In the 105th minute, Toga Katsuma found Jamie Merriam right in front of the Reds goal.  His low effort though was thwarted by Davis.  Christos would continue to press the Alexandria backline with O’Neill and Davis working together to keep the game tied and forcing the match into penalties. 

After trading goal for goal with Alexandria matching them on each opportunity, Christos pulled ahead 3-2.  On the ensuing kick for Alexandria, they got a bit of luck when Edixon Morelia’s shot hit the post.  Nicholas Richardson expanded the Christos lead to 4-2 with a shot drilled past Davis.  The Baltimore-based team’s spot in the next round would be sealed with Zeiad Elsayed’s final attempt for Alexandria rattling the woodwork. 

 

Photo Credit: Sean Maslin/NPSL.com

 

 

 

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