In a hard-fought, physical clash, all it took was one soft kiss off the inside post to give Northern Virginia United FC a 1-0 victory over FC Frederick on Tuesday night.
The rare midweek contest played at Thomas Athletic Field on the Hood College campus, pitted the teams that were standing in first and second place in the Mid-Atlantic Conference. By the end of the night, Northern Virginia had secured its place atop the conference with a 3-1 record and a regular-season sweep of FC Frederick, while the home-standing team slipped to 2-2-1 and fourth, in a tightly packed group.
Northern Virginia’s Tommy Buono scored the winning goal in the 84th minute, assisted by Giovanni Vasquez. Buono’s shot toward the left corner of the goal slipped beneath the arms of FC Frederick keeper Phil Breno, bounced off the inside post and the slow roller crossed the line before Breno could recover.
“Disappointing, frustrating,” was the way FC Frederick coach Chris Spinks described the outcome.
“[Northern Virginia] had a game plan and it worked for them,” he said. “They restricted our creativity up top, they restricted our chances … and to have the ball trickle over the line like that is deflating.”
In what is becoming a common thread in FC Frederick matches is a high number of fouls. The teams combined for 19 fouls and three yellow cards.
“They played physical with us, and didn’t allow us to move the ball as quickly as we like to, and some of our guys shied away from it (the physical play) and that was disappointing,” Spinks added. “At times it was men against boys.”
The match was largely an even contest with neither team generating many quality scoring chances. FC Frederick’s best opportunity came from a header that was off target. Northern Virginia keeper Colin Shutler made five saves but was never stretched as the shots were directly to him. Breno finished with four saves.
Northern Virginia held a 10-9 edge in shots and 4-2 in corners.
“The league is wide open,” Spinks said. “We had a really good opportunity to put a gap between us and some teams, but to lose the three points keeps us in the mix with everyone else. We have to learn from tonight.”
FC Frederick returns to action Friday against FC Baltimore, the current fifth-place team in the six-team conference.
Contributor: FC Frederick
Photo Credit: Cody Cervenka/FC Frederick