Saint Louis Club Atletico suffered their second loss of the season at home to the Little Rock Rangers. Club Atletico outshot the Rangers 17-4 but could not find the net more than one time. The first half saw Club Atletico dominate possession while Little Rock sat back in a defensive shell. Atletico’s first scoring chance came in the 11th minute when Brayan Lopez earned a corner after a cross from the right side of the field was deflected out of bounds by the Rangers. The ensuing corner was Atletico’s first of many missed opportunities as a scramble in the box led to a shot the was pushed wide.
In the 31st minute Little Rock’s midfielder Gabriel Viola committed a foul in the midfield, which led to another Atletico chance. Brayan Lopez sent a lofted ball into the box where Junior Kazeem’s header was stopped by Rangers goalkeeper Walid Birrou-Essafi. Then a quick counter by Little Rock gave Alex Guadron’s the ball and he beat two Atletico defenders and shot the ball by Atletico’s Ziggy Camejo for a 1-0 lead.
After the Little Rock’s goal, Club Atletico had two great chances before the half ended. The first one came when Pandelis Popgeorgiev beat two Ranger players and took a right-footed shot from 35 yards out and keeper Birrou-Essafi bobbled the shot and Mitch Moncanda shot the rebound wide. The next chance came in the 45th minute when Allando Brown served a dangerous ball into the box and Brayan Lopez’s header was stopped. The halftime score 1-0 was in favor of Little Rock.
The second half saw more of the same defensive shell from Little Rock, while Club Atletico came out strong and pressed the Rangers even more. In the fifty-first minute Atletico saw four corners in a matter of a minute or two. The Rangers defense had all ten guys in the box and blocked five shots by Atletico. After the fourth corner and a blocked shot, Little Rock came out on a quick three-on-two counter, which stopped by Camejo. After that stop, Atletico had a counter of their own which led to another corner. This time Atletico converted and tied the game at one.
The goal was started by Brayan Lopez who served the corner to the back post where Jair Hernandez headed the ball back across the box where Eric Lopez hit an amazing bicycle kick that hit the post, but Matt Moran was there for the rebound and buried the first timer. Coach Ricardo Garza said,” After we scored I thought we had a ton of momentum and really felt like we were going to score a few more goals.”
Atletico did have a handful of chances after that including a barrage of shots which was started by Atletico’s Man of the Match Will Linder. Linder beat three guys on the dribble out of the backfield and shot the ball, but Birrou-Essafi made the save. The rebound off that save saw Atletico take four cracks at the net but the crossbar and a few defenders got in the way of a second goal. A corner kick for Atletico was their next chance, but Little Rock’s defense held solid and led to yet another counter attack and the speedy Donald Benama beat everyone down the field and finished his chance in the eighty-sixth minute.
Atletico tried to tie the game and had yet another corner at the 90th minute mark and once again Benama beat everyone down the field after a clearance from the Rangers defense. Benama scored on the breakaway and put a dagger into Atletico’s hopes. Club Atletico’s next match will be Saturday June 2nd at St. Mary’s Stadium where they will play Tulsa Athletic.
Contributor: Saint Louis Club Atletico
Photo Credit: Saint Louis Club Atletico